“If you don’t like change, you will like irrelevance even less.” - General Eric Shinseki
Keeping current on social marketing affairs is swiftly becoming key to the relevance of most business industries under the sun and with that comes an ever-expanding wealth of knowledge.
Not all of us have the time to continually brush up on the new and exciting happenings of the social world so, to make it a little easier on you, we’ve put together 6 social media trends you should expect in 2017. Let’s get started!
1. The Game of Social Thrones
In past years it was easy to pinpoint which social platforms you NEEDED to be on and which could be left untouched. But, as I’m sure you’re aware, the internet is constantly changing and so are the importance levels of social media accounts - Kind of like the true leader of the 7 Kingdoms of Westeros.
Prior to 2016, your automatic picks should have been Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Now, if you aren’t already utilizing them, I would highly recommend taking on one (or both) of either Instagram or Snapchat.
Instagram alone is beginning to harness the power of the most highly sought after demographic of our time as well as gaining the support of Facebook and changing the game of seamless product advertisement (more on that in a bit). It’s like the Daenerys of social platforms - lurking on the edges of society and waiting to take over the world!
2. Did You See My Story?
On the topic of rising social platforms, Snapchat has taught us all the power of ephemeral content. We’re talking the, “Hey, I posted a thing and if you don’t go look at it in the next 24 hours you’ll never be able to see it again,” kind of content. Though birthed by Snapchat, Instagram has recently stepped up to bat and started knocking it out of the park this year, too.
The content is snapped on a phone, posted to your business’s “story”, and disappears after 24 hours, adding a sense of ultra-relevance. And, the production cost is easily manageable as viewers are expecting an “in the moment” experience versus something high production.
If you don’t believe me, look for yourself: Warby Parker is nailing it. You could be too.
3. Let’s Be Friends
Our next trend is slightly more emotionally driven and focuses on both new customers and loyal ones. Though relational marketing is not a new concept, social media as of late has been more focused on me-centric desires and transactions over cultivating community. 2017 is looking to be the year of change!
Some simple steps to personalizing your company right now are:
- Be Transparent. Share changes, trials, and accomplishments as they come up.
- Be Available to Engage. This doesn’t mean you need to answer your phone 24/7 but feel free to set up something like a Q&A every month and touch base. Respond when they rate your business and address concerns if they come up.
- Ask for Input. Most customers love feeling involved so don’t be afraid to give them a chance to make a difference. If you’re wondering how well they like your website, ask them!
- Use Their Names. If someone comments on your business’ Facebook, simply use their name if/when you respond.
- Showcase People. Most businesses aren’t built by one single person, share who’s on your team, or a business your partner with, and why they’re awesome.
- Give Personal Business Insight. Share what you’ve learned over the years. What’s worked, what hasn’t.
- Involve Your Followers. Something as simple as making a competition out of how much inventory you’re carrying of a customer favorite, invite people to guess the number and reward the winner!
- Celebrate Successes with Milestones. On Facebook, there’s an option to use their “Milestones” which shares key moments of your life and business accomplishments as specialized posts - like when someone moves to a new city or gets engaged.
- Post at the Right Time. There has been a hefty amount of research put into finding the optimal time of day to post to each social media account you have. It takes a little bit of trial and error but I’ve personally found 2:00 pm PST to work well for our office and keep a sticky note on my computer to remind me. [I can share a picture for fun?]
Show potential customers that there might be multiple options when finding a product or service but that you’re the RIGHT option by offering healthy, seamless and personalized experiences that are valuable and appeal to their emotions. If new and loyal customers can associate your business with value and positivity they will continue to purchase from you. Take a look at Apple: Their commercials always tug on my heartstrings.
People are done being fed directionless content and are actively seeking brands that resonate with them. Once you perfect that, prepare to be amazed!
4. Can You See Me Now?
A more in depth step to personalizing your brand would be to embrace the expanding world of live video streaming. Though it’s not exactly a new trend, the mass availability to watch and join in the community is, and it’s becoming more popular every day. From specific live streaming apps like Periscope to video hubs like Youtube, integration with social kingpins like Facebook and, most recently, Instagram, the opportunities are endless! Don’t worry about choosing the “right” platform right out the gate - if one doesn’t work, switch it up and find what works best for your business. No harm, no foul.
It’s building a stronger sense of community while adding transparency to your business - kind of like seeing through the smoke and meeting the actual wizard of Oz but less of a letdown.
“Great brands are great because they have great people... Brands need to make their people their rockstars!” - @isocialfanz
With live streaming, you’re doing just that. And while the platform will evolve and expand, it will always be something consumers will crave. It’s like the difference between a microwave dinner and going to a hibachi restaurant. Sure, you’re consuming food either way but watching someone flip a raw egg through the air and catch it inches from your nose is WAY more exciting.
5. The Rise of Omni-channel Marketing
Remember in our first point when I said we’d be expanding on the importance of seamless product advertisement? That starts with the shift to omni-channel marketing.
Most recently, marketers have focused their time and energy on multi-channel marketing, which gives them the ability to interact with potential customers on a multitude of platforms including print ads, retail locations, promotional events, websites, apps, word of mouth and more! While this is all fabulously important, it can get a little unruly at times and that’s where an omni-channel approach comes in.
Marketers need to provide a seamless experience, no matter what. Step into your customer’s shoes and see your world from their point of view. With the expanding access we have with each company we interact with - their physical stores, websites and apps, catalogs, and social medias - combined with the overabundance of ways to contact those businesses we should anticipate that our customers may use multiple channels to access our products. This means we need to make every single piece flow together seamlessly by creating a cohesive branded experience from logos, colors, fonts, and messages on every one of your channels.
6. Buy It!
Advertising on social platforms has been around since, well, since social platforms have been around. But only recently has advertising been integrated with news feeds in a way that feels natural. I don’t even realize they’re ads in certain platforms and, no matter where I’m seeing them, it’s so simple to click the “shop now” or "learn more" button! This simplicity can lead to an integrated cart experience and make it easier to convert your followers into real customers.
Here’s an example of what that might look like:
7. Quality is Key.
This is the age of high-quality content. No longer will consumers settle for grainy stock photography, clip art designs, and papyrus fonts. It’s time to rethink and redesign!
Consumers are targeted from all sides at all times so you need to make your brand stands out. Catch them off guard. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at companies like HUGE, Nike, Target, Artifact Uprising and even smaller companies like Spruce!
Each projects themselves in a way that fully embodies their company and carries an individual sense of beautiful aesthetics. Their content matches their character and ideas thoughtfully move from one platform to the next.
The Wrap Up
It’s easy to look at this and wonder where to begin. Especially if you’re just beginning to dip your toes into the universe of social! Fear not, you’re not alone. Many companies have made it their prerogative to help you create simple, beautiful content as well as share it. Places like Canva and Designbold make content easy, even if you’re not a professional designer, and others like Buffer and Hootsuite help you plan and automate social posts. If you’re looking to step away from stock photography, do a search for local photographers in your area and find one that fits your brand. It may cost you more than using Pexels and Shutterfly, but it’s worth it in the long run.
2017 is the year of change. Will you be ahead of the curve?