It’s clear now that social media marketing is here to stay, and its massive staying power is attributable to one key characteristic—the fact that social media keeps evolving. It responds to new tech like mobile devices, constantly exceeds users’ expectations, and competes within itself to bring us more and better features.
So what does 2017 have in store for us social media marketers?
1. Snap’s Evolution Will Result in Interesting New Opportunities.
First up, I’d like to mention the enormous evolution Snapchat—now called Snap—has undergone, and where it may be headed in the future. Already, Snap has transformed user expectations and major trends in the social marketing world. It’s helped bring back a more moment-focused view of communication, leading to more in-the-moment and live content, it’s facilitated more mobile-centric app developments, and it’s introduced vertical videos into the mainstream. But now, it’s looking to develop products outside its main means of exchanging messages, introducing real-world glasses to help users capture first-person visual information. Expect big things from this recently-renamed company in 2017, and huge marketing opportunities to go along with them.
2. Twitter Fatigue Will Worsen.
Twitter isn’t doing so hot. People have been predicting the death of Twitter for the past few years, but I’m not here to say whether or not Twitter’s going to survive another year (it probably will). Instead, I’d like to point out one potential factor for the app’s decline, what I call “Twitter fatigue.” Twitter built itself on fast, bite-sized updates, but this leads to a barrage of both incoming and outgoing tweets. This was novel and exciting at first, but now users are starting to crave something different—bigger, more detailed, more interesting pieces of content that roll out slower, like once per day. You can see this trend taking hold already in platforms like Instagram.
3. Users Will Crave More Vicarious Experiences.
People are also starting to demand social media as a conduit for more vicarious experiences. It’s no longer enough to post your sentiments about an event; you have to show your users what it’s like to be there. You can do this with things like live video, 360 images and video, and even just more real-time posting. The idea is to make your users feel like they’re a genuine part of the experience, as it’s unfolding.
4. New Areas of Communication Will Emerge.
Historically, social media existed as a way for individual people to communicate online. When brands caught on, it also became a way for brands to speak to and advertise to consumers. But now, social media is evolving in new communicative areas. Some platforms are offering means of customer service, increasing the significance and interactivity of exchanges between brands and consumers. Others, like Facebook, are delving into more professional communication. Expect to see more diversity here as more brands catch onto the potential.
5. An Ad Renaissance Will Occur.
Organic visibility has been declining for a while now, as platforms try catering to individual users over companies and organizations. But the secondary benefit for social platforms is that it forces more companies to dabble in paid advertising. Increased competition and pressure to become (or remain) profitable have also forced social platforms to come up with more ingenious and creative advertising options for businesses. The combination of these factors may lead to a new resurgence in social media advertising in 2017.
6. Inspiration and Imagination Will Become Fashionable.
Practical posts get a lot of consumer attention. Emotionally charged posts have a greater likelihood of circulating virally. But inspirational and imaginative posts are starting to make their appearances as even stronger candidates for social media success. These are often artistic in nature, giving users something “pretty” as opposed to something pragmatic or reactive. It also forces a separation from any kind of company positioning or low-key advertising, giving users something truly valuable. In 2017, it will be valuable to forgo some pretense here, and just post beautiful images or sentiments.
7. Brands Will Choose Social Platforms According to Survival of the Fittest.
Every year, new social media platforms emerge to try and disrupt the status quo or find their place among the heavy-hitters of the social media world. But obviously, entrepreneurs and marketers can’t jump on every single platform that comes along. Instead, in 2017, we’ll see more of a trend toward refinement; rather than spending equal effort on five different platforms, more businesses will find one platform that works especially well for them, and narrow their focus on it. As a result, we may see greater stratification between the major platforms of our era.
You don’t have to incorporate all these trends into your strategy for the coming year, but there’s a good chance you’ll stand to benefit from at least dabbling and experimenting with them.
Then again, predictions in this field are tenuous at best—so we’ll just have to wait and see what comes.