For most of us, whenever the word ‘social media’ is mentioned in a conversation, Facebook immediately pops into our minds. And the reason is clear, it's the most popular social media platform with over 1.87 billion active users worldwide, simply too huge to ignore.
Today there are 2.3 billion active social media users in the world, which is almost one-third of the global population. But did you know Facebook is a relatively ‘recent’ phenomenon in the social media landscape?
Yes, you could go back to 1988, when Jarkko Oikarinen created IRC (Internet Relay Chat), a text-based messaging technology, which is considered to be the backbone for many chat clients today.
Or you could take the humble beginnings of Six Degrees, (1997), a social network that was based on the concept, “six degrees of separation” and at its peak hosted over 3.5 million registered users.
We sure have come a long way since then. Today we interact and engage with over half a dozen social media channels on a regular basis. From Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat, the list goes on…
With such massive numbers of users, today marketers too (over 83%) have happily capitalised on social media marketing to promote their brands, engage prospects, convert leads and generate customers.
However, Social Media is one of the fastest growing industries, it's subject to rapid disruptions in the mobile and communication technologies, changes in user behaviours and consumption trends.
If you’re looking to construct your social media strategy and build that competitive edge, it pays to keep a tab on the trends that shape the social media landscape. Here are the top 4 trends to look out for in 2017:
1. Content That Expires
The primary objective of creating ‘content’ is to attract attention, and brands big and small, have been producing massive amounts of content in the battle for ‘attention’.
However, this has also resulted in the creation of an overwhelming amount of content/information, much to the point it now resembles as ‘noise’ and ‘clutter’, making it challenging for brands to stand out.
To tackle this issue, a ‘radically’ unique approach was envisioned by SnapChat, where the created content has a very short life-span. Though it seemed counter-productive at first, SnapChat actually revolutionised the Social Media landscape with ‘expiring content’, cashing in on the ‘urgency’ card.
Users were easily persuaded to view the content, which they knew would expire any time soon. The content started as a 10 second video, which is completely wiped out after the first view. SnapChat added its next ‘vanishing’ content as ‘SnapChat Stories’, which only lasted for 24 hours.
Witnessing SnapChat’s success with this concept, Instagram was soon to follow suit with their ‘Instagram Stories’. For marketers, this unique idea of consuming content with limited life span can instigate many new opportunities, with marketing strategies allowing prospective customers to act faster with a sense of urgency.
2. Live Video Content
When it comes to videos, YouTube takes centre stage, but the concept has been taken up a notch by pioneers like Twitter’s Periscope, which offered videos in real time – i.e. 'Live Streaming' videos.
Though Meerkat was the first to make Live Streaming videos, it was Periscope that changed the game. Much of the leverage for this form of content comes from smartphone technology, whereby you can capture any live moment with your phone and use it as a broadcast device instantaneously.
Now, Facebook has already jumped on the ‘live video’ bandwagon with its ‘Facebook Live’ and is redefining ways how the masses are sharing their stories and how brands are educating, promoting and engaging with their audience.
Facebook is already generating over 8 billion video views per day and it's estimated that people spend three times (3X) longer watching video which is live, as compared to video which is no longer live.
Marketers and brands have been quick to capitalise on this feature by using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to ‘Live Stream’ events, for product demonstrations and Q&A sessions. And innovations are already on the rise, with Facebook launching 360 degrees capabilities to havea broader appeal to the videos with more engagement from the audience.
3. Intelligent Chatbots
Chatbots are those virtual assistants/agents, designed to stimulate intelligent conversations without human support.
They're embedded with AI and machine learning capabilities to automate tasks and retrieve data and strike an engaging conversation with users. Facebook has chatbots integrated with their messenger, which is already helping businesses to enhance their customer service by interacting and responding to customers comments/queries.
As shown below, Hipmunk, an online travel brand and Hyatt use Facebook Messenger to integrate bots to enhance their customer service experience:
Similarly brands like Slack also use chatbots to communicate with customers. The tool is to gain more popularity in the days to come, especially when Social Media is geared to keep visitors on their platform, instead of clicking away to other websites.
Facebook Bots have already taken the next step to consumer convenience by accepting major credit cards like; Master Card, Visa and American Express.
4. Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) may not have gathered much momentum, but it's definitely a trend that will sweep the industry soon.
As an example, we can take the ‘Pokemon Go’, a location-based augmented reality game, which amassed many gaming enthusiasts worldwide. This clearly shows the potential AR can have in finding new ways to interact and engage consumers.
Some of the implications of VR are being used with videos, which can offer an immersive and ‘out of this world’ experiences to the audience, encouraging more engagement. For example, take TOMS, it uses Virtual Reality to effectively communicate about its mission and the impact its ‘one for one’ initiative has made in the world:
The initiative ‘one for one’ pledges to match with each pair of new TOMS shoes purchased, a new pair for a child in need around the world.
The VR video showcases one such trip to Peru, where the team handed new shoes to children in need. The video is a 360 degree view giving viewers a unique perspective of the mission with its ‘transportative’ features when seen through a VR headset.
With the Facebook recently acquiring the VR Technology leader, Oculus, we're yet to see more applications of VR technology in Social Media and its impact in the industry.
To Sum It Up…
Marketers need to be highly agile and receptive to new trends in social media to deliver optimal business objectives. A constant experimentation, learning and pivoting one’s strategies as per the tides brought about by disruptions in technology, will safeguard a brand’s continuous success
If you'd like further assistance or would like to discuss anything covered today, we'd love to hear from you.
Call Andy Fox (me) on (03) 5249 5570 or email email@example.com
Our Website is element7digital.com.au