3 New Social Media Trends to look out for in 2017
Social Media Platforms are constantly evolving and changing the rules to make sure that users are mostly seeing relevant content and that brands advertise smarter. In 2017 the rules might change again, but here are some of the trends we predict might be worth investing in this year.
Facebook Messenger as a customer service tool.
Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging service and app that is integrated with Facebook, which provides text and video communication.
In Australia, Facebook Messenger is the third most active social media platform after Facebook and YouTube surpassing Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn (‘Digital in 2017’ report by We Are Social & Hootsuite).
A lot of brands already use Messenger actively to answer customers’ enquiries and communicate one-on-one. However, Facebook Messenger has upgraded its features to allow brands to further integrate advertising with Messenger as well as introduce chatbots.
Instead of linking ads directly to purchase or to a website, brands can link their ads to Messenger and with the use of chatbots, answer customer enquiries easily. This might be especially useful for products that aren’t sold online or ads promoting products that customers might have some hesitation in purchasing online. A chatbot can easily answer FAQs and make the path to purchase easier.
Facebook Messenger features even allow for the purchase to happen within the app making it a quick and direct process.
Facebook Messenger is instant, personal and available 24/7. It’s a social media platform and customer service tool that can’t be ignored in 2017.
The growth of video content
Video and social media seem to go hand in hand. A few years ago, YouTube was the leader in the video sharing platforms but Facebook videos are on the rise and Facebook Live, Instagram Live and 360-degree videos will only continue to grow in 2017. 40% of Internet users in Australia are watching some sort of video via social media every day (‘Digital in 2017’ report). And Facebook is already predicting that in the next 5 years News Feeds will mostly be displaying video content.
Brands need to make sure that their videos are highly engaging, by either being entertaining, funny or informational. Facebook calls this type of highly engaging content ‘thumb-stopping’ content, a video that will make you stop, watch and as a result, click to find out more, purchase or share. Who is doing this well? Buzzfeed’s Tasty quick recipe videos that everyone seems to share and follow; Nordstrom is also offering a 360-degree runway experience video allowing their fans to experience what only a select few usually can. Two completely different videos and audiences, but both highly engaging and shareable.
Facebook targeting is also improving its features by allowing brands to re-target customers that have previously watched their videos – an excellent feature when publishing quite specific video content.
What about Facebook LIVE? Many brands are already using the LIVE features of both Facebook and Instagram to live stream events, provide behind the scenes content and Q&As. Its popularity comes from its unfiltered and instant capabilities. It’s important to understand your audience and create LIVE content that they will want to watch. Maybe an unedited recipe video or a behind the scenes look at the latest shoot. LIVE video can’t be staged. It should be raw and unedited content that will connect brands even closer to customers.
Social media as a transactional platform.
Facebook and Instagram should not only be used as a marketing and branding tool, but as a transactional tool. Facebook and Instagram are increasingly updating their features to shorten the path to purchase by offering direct links to shop or purchases within the apps.
This push towards a transactional platform is no surprise since in 2016/17 browsing on mobile is almost on par with desktop browsing, a trend that will no doubt continue to increase as brands make it easier to browse and purchase instantly.
Brands are already investing heavily in mobile ads since these formed 80% of Facebook’s ad revenue in Q4 of 2016.
There’s a chance for brands to leverage these changing purchasing patterns and to use the latest social media features as transactional tools. The below are just some of the available features to do so:
- Facebook Shop allows brands to ‘tag’ their products so customers can easily click and purchase from an ad or via private message.
- New ad formats for Facebook integrate creative content such as videos with direct shopping links. This makes sure that customers discover the features, benefits and style of the brand/range/product with the opportunity to then instantly buy. Adidas used this format to highlight new range features in a video format and then following up the creative with the links to purchase each of the products.
- Instagram have also stepped up their game recently by allowing brands that have ‘ads’ to include links. Making it easier to instantly purchase or learn more from within the app.
Thinking about social media strategy might feel daunting with all the changing features and rules. However, it’s better to try these features, test what works and lead the change rather than sit on the sidelines and wait.