Earlier, we talked about the most prominent trends that would define the best SEO in 2018. Actions that will put you higher in organic search, techniques to entrance the visitors and make them spend more quality time on your website – there was plenty to describe. However, Google isn’t the only battlefield for customer traffic; you can drive even more of it from social media if you play your cards right.
And since I’m not quite done playing Cassandra yet, today’s post has more future trends to share. This time, it’s social media marketing. Read on!
1. Short-lived content to eclipse evergreen
Evergreen content is great for SEO purposes. A web page that will stay relevant for a long time, attract many backlinks and get a lot of clicks from SERPs is a powerful SEO asset that will increase a website’s authority in Google’s eyes. It’s easy to assume this type of content will be just as effective in social media marketing, isn’t it?
You’ve got that wrong!
When Snapchat Stories came, short-lived (or ephemeral) content hogged the spotlight in social media. Pictures that are automatically taken down in 24 hours drew users in like a whirlpool. This content has the same effect on people as a falling star, or a famous singer’s last concert, or a baby’s first word: it’s one-of-a-kind and if you miss out on it, you’ll never get another chance to witness it. No wonder it works like a charm in social media, too.
Facebook and Instagram recognized the potential of this and created their own Stories. So when you build your social media plan, ephemeral content is going to be your new best friend.
2. Greater budgets spent on advertising
If you’ve been in the business for several years now, you might have noticed that this year’s online ads consumed more of your budget than before. You wouldn’t be the only one. In 2017, Facebook gained two million(!) new advertisers, and they’ve been spending generously. Ads are getting more expensive as a result, which will continue to be a prevalent trend in 2018.
In other words, you’re going to need deeper pockets and a really good budget plan.
3. Tighter online security
Online security is a serious matter. Statistics show that the vast majority of Internet users are worried about their private information getting stolen. Since online businesses often need to ask customers for their information, it’s of the utmost importance that you don’t become a part of the problem.
Social media platforms will be tightening up their security to make browsing a safer experience. As for businesses, it will be up to them to be transparent about their intentions when inquiring about customers’ information. A study by Janrain showed that people are much more comfortable with sharing their information when they are openly informed about why it’s needed and are promised benefits along with a better UX.
4. Shift from millennials to Generation Z
They are young, they are strong, they are looking for where they belong. Generation Z is coming of age and ready to take the world in its hands. It’s the natural order of things, and nature favors those who know how to adapt. That includes social media marketers – naturally.
We are talking about the first generation of people who grew up using computers and browsing the Internet. They know information technology inside out and have high standards for UX. With such an informed new audience, the shift in marketing strategies is going to be radical. How can you meet the expectation of the well-versed Generation Z?
- Give your digital content a polished, vibrant feel. Make sure it looks great on all devices.
- Use visuals to create value for your audience. The message of your content should be “this is what you’ve been looking for”, not just “buy this”.
- Spread wide and establish your presence on many social platforms.
- Post content that is short and can be digested in under 8 seconds.
- Enable and encourage feedback.
5. Chatbots and messaging platforms
Messaging apps are actively used by businesses as a channel to reach out to customers. It’s obvious why: every mobile device has at least one of those. Are messaging apps a factor in your SMM strategy? If not, you are missing out on one of the most prolific channels for communicating with your audience.
In order to make the most of messaging apps, you should add chatbots into the equation – for when you are unable to reply to customers immediately. Chatbots are easy to create, and their management requires no professional knowledge (although a clever head can never hurt). In skillful hands, they can be pretty good at simulating real conversations, and they will likely be improved even further with time.
6. Warmer interactions with audience
Automated chatbots are convenient and may become huge, but they will never beat good old human interaction. It’s going to take a super advanced AI to completely replace a human. Late 2010s is too early for that to happen, so for now, chatbots should only be used when a human isn’t around to take over. People prefer talking to other people, not machines. It’s 2018, and robots are still mistreated like that – unbelievable.
How would you describe a perfect employee whose duty is talking to customers? Warm, respectful, can hold a conversation? I imagine you’d consider those and plenty of other traits mandatory. Raise the bar high: professional behavior opens doors and wins hearts, and it can also make one rich. Act like a pro, and you’ll be treated by the world accordingly.
7. Leveraging user-generated content
Influencers and their multi-thousand audiences aren’t the only existing channel for raising brand awareness. There are more confined spaces where you can try and squeeze your message in. Targeting smaller audiences, or micro-influencing, can be done by spreading the word via user-generated content. Make your audience talk about you completely willingly, with no strings attached.
How does one make this happen? Here’s a well-known example: Starbucks. Their habit of misspelling their customers’ names on cups is notorious thanks to the Internet and little else. A funny gimmick is all it took to provoke the customers into discussing the brand, and now even those who don’t visit Starbucks know about it. Big success!
Then there’s United Airlines… You know what, I better stick to Starbucks as an example of leveraging UGC.
8. More video, especially live
Video must be the single most popular information medium of today. It’s everywhere – especially on social media platforms, and people keep asking for more. What will your social media campaign be if there are no videos in it? Hint: the answer starts with “b” and ends with “oring”. No, it’s not “beliquoring”. Holidays are over, don’t confuse your SMM with them.
What’s the best argument for using videos? Social media is where they are at their most effective. There they can be shared by users, thus spreading your message and raising awareness of your brand. What’s more, live videos (which are a fine example of trendy ephemeral content) enable your audience to engage with you in real time. Just make sure your audience will be watching before you go live.
9. Influencer marketing
Social media influencers have thousands, sometimes even millions of followers who respect their opinions. That includes their opinions on brands. If you manage to involve influencers in your campaign, your brand can receive a crazy amount of exposure – although I can promise you it won’t be an easy task. You’ll be just one of countless brands competing for an influencer’s support.
Even so, advertising brands with the help of influencers has proven to be an effective tactic before, so it’s going to become even bigger in 2018. Write down your list of thought leaders’ names and prepare to put it to good use.
10. More personalized content and audience engagement
Online ads are vastly disliked by users as it is. What about ads with content that goes against the users’ personal tastes or is outright offensive? You can imagine the reaction. Fortunately, such blunders can be prevented by analyzing the audience data and catering to their interests.
Find the answer to this question: what are the most common types of your buyers? What traits (such as age, gender, education level, preferences and more) do they possess? By creating user personas and tailoring your content to them, you can increase its worth for your customers. Put yourself in their shoes and see online content as they do.
That’s why tools and platforms for content personalization will see more use this year. Get on the bandwagon before it’s too late.
11. Twitter in trouble
Things haven’t been so great for Twitter these last few years. They’ve attracted significantly fewer new users than other social platforms, and 2018 shows no promise of being better yet. They will likely focus on overhauling and improving their strategy; no doubt increasing the character limit was one such step in the right direction. While Twitter is regaining its footing, however, other platforms will be busy with their own advancement, and the gap will keep growing.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t run a campaign on Twitter. Make the most of it! They don’t lose hope, so neither should you.
12. Building a presence on multiple platforms
Why stop at one social platform when so many of them exist? There’s so much game to hunt and so many good impressions to make. It’s rare for someone to be a user on just one platform, anyway. Think of all the traffic you can (and should) direct your way!
Branch out and try to cover all social platforms that can be beneficial for your business. The benefits offered by the union of social media and SEO vary depending on the platform, so choose wisely. Make sure to track your social engagement on every major social network you use; if it’s low, you will want to react.
One more thing to keep in mind: although most people hang out on several social networks, nobody can be everywhere at once. Time your updates so you would maximize the number of users who will see your content and engage with it.