Social media is arguably one of the most powerful tools in marketing today. It is pervasive, engaging, and reaches the majority of the population in the United States. 90% of young adults are using social network sites, and 20% of the total time spent online in the U.S. across desktop and mobile devices is on social media (Pew Research Center; Business Insider).
Social media has evolved from their beginnings as mere communication networks to powerful content and publishing distribution channels. As social media is quickly changing, we’ve outlined the most significant trends in social media shaping the way marketers are using the available space.
From 2005 to 2015, there has been a nearly tenfold jump of social media users, with currently 65% of all adults using social media (Pew Research Center). There continues to be growth in social media usage among groups that were not the early adopters, including older Americans.
However, even as more people join social media, social media platforms, apps, and channels are segmented by age groups. For instance, Snapchat reaches 41% of all 18-34 year olds in the US, but only reaches 14% of users who are more than 35 years old (Snapchat; Tech Times).
Social media platforms are taking heed of this age segmentation by establishing a “cool” factor, as seen with Facebook’s launch of teen-banded app, “Lifestage” (Forbes). Likewise, brands will need to learn to differentiate marketing campaigns across social media platforms.
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of dominant social media platform Facebook, has repeatedly urged brands to “catch up” in mobile (MarketingWeek). With nearly 80% of social media time spent on mobile devices, social media campaigns will need to be mobile-friendly (Marketing Land).
Access through mobile will also mean that brands will need to create content that is can be digested by viewers, taking into consideration a consumer’s intent, context, and immediacy (Think with Google). Further, half of smartphone owners ages 18-29 use messaging apps and 41% use apps that automatically delete sent messages (Pew Research Center).
This indicates that brands will also need to evaluate and leverage how individual mobile apps for each social media platform are used to best reach millennial spenders.
Facebook Live is only the latest of the livestreaming services available on social media platforms such as YouTube, Periscope, Meerkat, and Zapstream (Silicon Angle). Livestreaming video provides users a powerful and spontaneous way to share and interact with other people (Wall Street Journal).
Moreover, livestreaming can occur through mobile, allowing users to access content at any opportunity (Social Media Examiner). Livestreaming video is just another tool that brands will need to leverage to create exciting and in-the-moment content and reach audiences.
video via Facebook Newsroom’s “Introducing New Ways To Create, Share and Discover Live Video On Facebook”
Related Post: 11 Facebook Video Statistics Everyone Must Know In 2016
Of most trends in social media, the relationship of social media and shopping behavior is the most significant and telling to brands. A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that 67% of people say their shopping behaviors are influenced by reading or writing social media reviews (PwC). Moreover, social media is being used to increase consumer activity by building brand identity and loyalty frameworks (Think with Google).
Finally, social media offers opportunities for consumers to purchase directly from social media websites. For instance, Instagram recently launched a button to “Shop Now” to link audiences to e-commerce websites (AdWeek). As this trend develops, social media will continue to shape consumer habits as platforms continually change.
Females have long been lauded as “the heroines behind the success of e-commerce and online marketing, the rulers of the internet” (TechCrunch). However, research indicates that the gap is closing, with a 7 percentage point difference in 2015 from men to women (73% vs. 80%) as compared to a 15 percentage point difference in 2005 (53%t vs. 68%) (Pew Research Center).
This diminishing gender gap in social media is reflected in the increasing variety of social media content geared toward men. For instance, retailers on Instagram are acknowledging the existing male audience by launching separate Instagram handles for men’s fashion (@nordstrommen vs. @nordstrom; @asos_menswear vs. @asos) (Digiday).
Commitment to authenticity is the driving principle a brand and its customers. As brands take on social media, they will need to align to their audience’s ideals and values as well as its psychographic and behavioral attributes (Think with Google).
Currently, brands are having difficulty establishing a social presence with increasingly complex social media platforms and segmented/nuanced audiences. However, quite recently, brands have been finding solutions through influencer marketing.
By leveraging social media influencers properly, brands are able to use another social entity to break through to audiences and deliver content authentically.