The Social Media Landscape in 2018

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It’s that time of the year again- when the marketing world is swapping stories, tips and predictions on what’s to come in 2018. The world of social media marketing got off to a brisk start this year with the announcement by Facebook that it will be changing its algorithm to favour user-generated content. If you missed it- you can read up on Clarity’s take on the change and how it will affect your marketing efforts.

Facebook isn’t the only platform to hint at changes in the new year. With the advances in augmented reality, a changing consumer landscape as Gen Z enter the work force and social media as a whole facing a backlash for its unhealthy societal effects, this year is going to be interesting. Here are our projections for what we think we’ll see in social media in 2018:

Facebook:

In 2018, we will see a return to a newsfeed that encourages people to connect with one another. At present, Facebook feels more like a media company- which isn’t in line with it’s mission statement to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

This means, plain and simple:

If you create content that doesn’t make Facebook feel like a media company you will be rewarded.

Moving forward, the algorithm will favour posts that receive a lot of engagement within a user’s unique community. It wants to steer away from populating the newsfeed with posts that encourage passive consumption, like funny fail videos and cat memes. It rang loud and clear that Facebook will be lowering the ranking on any content that encourages users to just sit back and consume without engaging (commenting and sharing).

Video are likely to be the medium that requires the most attention and adjustment in 2018. Brands must tweak their storytelling techniques to elicit user conversations through comments, likes and shares to stay relevant in Facebook’s eyes.

Instagram:

Of all platforms, Instagram had the most growth in 2017 in terms of time spent by users. Average daily usage by the app’s subscribers is up to an astounding 28 minutes per day. This was especially evident for stories- which had explosive growth in 2017. The stories feature is very appealing for marketers. Audiences have been trained to pay extra attention to this feature of the app, knowing the content is only there for a limited time and will disappear. It was reported that 1 in 5 organic Instagram Stories from brands received a DM from a potential customer last year. If you aren’t using stories, put that on your New Year's resolution list! Here’s what else you should be doing in 2018:

  • We’ll say it again: Stories! Story ads! Instagram has alluded that it will favour real, of the moment content moving forward. Also, don’t forget the recent update to stories which allowed accounts with over 10,000 followers to feature a link in their story. All in all, the marketing implications for this application are particularly salivating.
  • Live content. Instagram will continue to reward users for posting live video. You can stream up to 1 hour continuously, making it a great way to connect users to exciting product launches, events, speakers and announcements in real time.
  • Focus on partnerships with influencers on Instagram. Especially micro-influencers. There was backlash that began in 2016 against mega-influencers who were very obviously working with brands outside of their “lifestyle.” It may be attractive to imagine your product in front of the eyes of several million dedicated followers, but don’t let that fool you. Working with a carefully selected group of micro-influencers can not only be more cost-effective, but also drive more conversions. Micro-influencers are usually very closely situated to or in your target market and are eager to positively promote and interact with followers about your brand.
  • Face filters, stickers & other fun features like the “rewind” button will continue to grow in popularity in 2018. It is likely that Instagram will push out more of these tools in the new year. It is possible the platform will go the Snapchat route and roll out paid options on Instagram stories, so that brands can provide filters in geo-fenced areas for their fans.
  • If you aren’t using branded hashtags- you should be. 80% of hashtags that are used on Instagram are branded, like #sotafest. It a great way to collect content, participate in conversations and connect with your audience.

Snapchat:

Snapchat had a rough year in 2017, and didn’t make any improvements with its update launch at the beginning of this year. Instagram Stories managed to capture 50 million more users in a single year than Snapchat has in its entire 6-year lifespan. Snapchat is hoping to redeem itself this year, with an updated redesign that was launched early January but this did not go over well with users. Overall time spent on the app has stagnated. We will see how the platform adapts in response to these struggles over the year, but here is where opportunities lie with the app right now:

  • Snapchat has stated it will put more focus on its Discover Feature. In an obvious move to leverage new business brought on by Facebook’s algorithm announcement, Snapchat has stated it will focus on content marketing partnerships. It is making “content one of our top three priorities in 2018.” Focusing on “finding more ways [to] work together, and more ways support business goals.”
  • 2018 will see even more popularity on temporary content marketing channels, like Stories and Snapchat where content is only accessible for a limited time. Marketers reported great results from this style of distribution in 2017 - and are keen to continue investing in it moving forward. Testing ads that are only available for short bursts, when your audience is most attentive, is worthwhile. Although, be creative and focus on storytelling to stand out from the crowd.
  • More progress in Augmented Reality (AR). Snapchat has been on the forefront with AR in 2017 and is continuing to invest in its functionality for their app. With the recent launch of Lens Studio, Snapchat is giving marketers the tools they need to make selling a fun, interactive process with its audience. If you have the resources, take advantage of this powerful marketing tool in 2018.

LinkedIn:

LinkedIn spent 2017 quietly adjusting, testing and improving their platform. They added in live video capabilities for user accounts, began testing geofilters for videos and refined their messaging experience. In addition to these upgrades, pay attention for more opportunities in 2018:

  • There are predictions that LinkedIn will move into the live video space as well. This will allow businesses to stream professional content, hiring seminars and offer valuable real time information to its niche market of professionals.
  • More B2B businesses are using the hero story posts to get their message out on LinkedIn. Numerous businesses have seen their post reach amplified exponentially as it gains traction on the site due to LinkedIn’s unique algorithm. Success stories, overcoming obstacles and unusual solutions to common organisational issues fare well on the channel, so tailor your content to its more polished, career-focused audience to gain new leads.

Twitter:

Like Snapchat, Twitter had a difficult year in 2017. The network did little to improve user experience on the site, and faced immense criticism as Donald Trump took to the tool feverishly leading up to the presidential election. We’re curious to see how Twitter evolves moving forward, but for the meantime marketing opportunities have changed insignificantly:

  • Perhaps the most notable move by Twitter to streamline advertising was the launch of it’s monthly Promote Mode. For $99 each month, Twitter will automatically boost 10 posts it deems relevant. Generally, the boost results in 30 new followers and 30,000 new impressions for those brands that have tested it.
  • As we have seen throughout Twitter’s lifespan, the platform continues to dominate with customer-service related inquiries. Keep using the tool for social listening, and respond where appropriate with helpful, empathetic replies. Customers expect that brands will hear their complaints. Don’t let a customer feel ignored or avoided- we don’t need to tell you how powerful one voice can be when amplified by social media.

We’re excited about both the opportunities and advances we’re sure to see in the New Year. If you would like to discuss evolving your current marketing strategy further - we’d love to talkRemember - you can always sign up for one of our Social marketing workshops if you would like to learn more for yourself. Hope you all have a great year ahead!