By Blaise Lucey
Last year, we interviewed twenty different social media experts about the most important social media trends for the New Year. We got a huge response from both the Bitly community and the experts themselves, so we decided to look ahead once again. This time, we talked to fourteen different experts to learn about the emerging social media trends in 2017.
We know that paid social strategy is the present and the future of social media marketing. But what will the best tactics be? What kinds of content will resonate and which channels will be most effective?
Here’s what they predict as we put 2016 in the rearview mirror and look ahead to the trends that will impact social media marketing in 2017.
1. The Rise of Custom Audiences & Personalized Content
“As we close our 2016, all of the major social media players (Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) support custom audiences. This gives marketers more flexibility in their segmentation to use tools like predictive analytics, profiling and more to slice their database and export to one of these platforms. In particular, I see more marketers leveraging this platform for account-based marketing (ABM) programs as they can identify their best target accounts and deliver personalized content to prospects.
With this increased functionality, there should be little need for Marketers to seek out ABM-specific adtech vendors to make sure they are staying in front of target accounts. In fact, many practitioners are arguing that with the rise of ad-blockers and declining traditional banner engagement for B2B – that reaching target accounts through social channels provides more coverage, better match rate, and an easy way to optimize marketing budget.
– Sean Zinsmeister, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Infer, @szinsmeister
3. More Interactive Content
“I think enterprises will shift towards more interactive content where the reader has to make choices that influence the outcome of the content. You’ve already seen this, since quizzes and tests were the most shared pieces of content in 2016. In 2017, however, this will go further and delve into interactive videos and blog posts. When readers have a direct impact on the content, they are more engaged and this increases their brand recall.
These pieces of content will be the focus of large social media campaigns in 2017. Brands not only want consumers to recall, they want them to be excited and share the content with their friends. They can then “compare results” with friends. This allows for a single piece of content to integrate social elements into it. Different people will have different experiences, while the brand as a whole wins out.”
– Russab Ali, Founder, SMC Marketing
5. The Big VR Push
“The adoption of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in social media seems likely as the year progresses. Facebook owns Oculus Rift for a reason and will make a steady push for VR use on their platform, everything to get VR into their live stream. Twitter will have to follow suit or risk becoming the next MySpace. Google+ will also move to adopt VR, because it’s Google.
Whether people truly take to VR in social media remains a question.”
– Dr. Tim Lynch, Psychsoftpc, @psychsoftpc
7. Instagram Keeps Growing
I think 2017 is the year of Instagram. Instagram has thus far been a great discovery tool and has one of the best engagements across social media platforms (after FB), but it lags behind in ROI for advertisers.
With the launch of Instagram Shopping in 2017, that could change. With ‘Shopping’, brands would be able to highlight up to five products in their posts and lead customers to product detail and shopping pages. This will increase activity across Instagram as more brands rush to try out the new promotion feature, and entice more of their followers to respond to their posts and click on the product shopping pages.
Facebook would continue to rule the social media world – both in terms of ad spends and engagement, being arguably the simplest and the most effective platform for brands and customers alike.
– Pratik Shah, Director of Marketing, Grin, @grincreatorapp
9. LinkedIn Gets a Facelift
My biggest prediction is that LinkedIn will have to overhaul its ad platform or it will see a drop in revenues, because Facebook and Twitter are definitely proving to be better platforms for B2B. Recent studies have shown a huge surge in advertising revenue and this will be the key differences to the platform over the next year. They will be integrating this onto their platforms as well as continuing to push themselves as proponents of video. Especially Facebook.
– Joshua Mason, Digital Marketing Consultant, Accuracast
11. Paid Amplification for Live Video
“The landscape is going to continue to shift towards an emphasis on video content in 2017, with more and more attention being put into live video.
Facebook specifically will allow for paid amplification of a live video while it’s happening (or you’ll be able to target/boost before going live). I also predict LinkedIn makes some sort of play to include Skype within their platform (both owned by Microsoft), either in the form of video interviews or live video sessions for influencers to answer questions.
Also, with Instagram releasing updates to directly combat Snapchat, in 2017 we’ll see Snapchat fire back. More specifically, Snapchat will introduce some sort of natural discovery, letting people find each other and connect with influencers in a much easier fashion.
– Jordan Scheltgen, Founder & CEO, Cave Social, @cavejordans
13. Employee Advocacy Goes Social
“2017 will mark the year that companies embrace their employees in representing the company on social media platforms. It’s a powerful option that’s free as long as it’s done correctly. Employees, and family members of employees, can be powerful advocates for cause marketing, brand awareness, positive PR and product evangelism.
However, it can’t be mandated or forced. A company’s social media must be “cool” enough for the employees to want to share it on personal platforms. Companies should have multiple options – Snapchat and Instagram for the millennial employees, Facebook and LinkedIn for Gen X and Boomers.
Deliberate and specific content on each platform gives anyone the options to preach company’s messaging to the masses. Again…it’s free. What better advertising do you want and need?
– Jake Messier, Principal & COO, Mungo Creative Group, @marcomfella
15. Storytelling through Lasting Video Content
“Our ongoing theory for the next shift in the social media landscape isthe demand for more content with substance and permanence, namely, in the formof video. Our reasoning is that Snapchat and Instagram have both implementedfeatures where users can tell stories through video.
Snapchat, while maintaining certain novelties (vanishing pictures/videos, filters, etc.), has strived to allow users to tell “stories”on their profiles. Snapchat users also have the ability to save their stories to their camera roll. This movement for permanence of content is a completely different direction than what Snapchat initially offered with the novelty of vanishing user content. This past summer, Instagram (a platform designed primarily for smartphone photography) finally enabled videos with a new limit of 60 seconds.They also released a story feature that completely mimics Snapchat’s.
The users have spoken and they want to make longer videos they can share and preserve in some way. This is a clear indicator to us that an app like Zipline will emerge in 2017 to be a powerhouse. Zipline is both an app for people to creatively and effectively capture and edit videos and also share them with their followers. It is the first app intentionally designed for users to create and share videos with the potential for stories to be told. Zipline is in complete opposition to a video based app like Vine that was centered on a gimmick and has since perished for its inadequacy and lack of innovation. ”
– Keven Tillman, VP of Communications / Cofounder, Zipline, @theziplineapp
17. Blogging Gets Social
“I think people are looking for more in-depth thought leadership content as opposed to 140 characters or the onslaught of fake news on Facebook. I think Medium will end up doing what LinkedIn Pulse is trying to do by becoming a platform for professionals to connect with other like-minded individuals the ideas of which intersect around similar, new movements in their field. In the same vein, personal blogs will be taken to a social realm where channels such as Medium will organically accumulate content about a series of different topics that will bring together new value networks. That is only if they allow full ownership to the contributors – that is vitally important to its success.”
– Monica Georgieff, Head of Marketing, Kanbanize, @kanbanizeinc
2. The Death of Twitter As We Know It
“Social media advertising through Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest will continue to grow as companies realize their audiences are more engaged on social than other digital marketing avenues. However, I predict Twitter will experience double digit decline in active users, become irrelevant to advertisers, and will get bought by another digital media company.”
– Cyril Lemaire, Managing Director of Traktek Partners
4. 360° Video
“A big trend in social media in 2017 will be 360° content. More and more people will be shooting 360° videos with their GoPro cameras to upload them on Facebook or Twitter so that their friends feel totally immersed. Businesses will also greatly benefit from this new technology. They’ll be able to show 360° videos of hotels, houses, cars, museums, art galleries etc. to their potential clients on different social media channels.”
– Gregory Golinski, Marketing Coordinator, Arizona Grand Resort & Spa
6. B2Bs Start Using Social for Selling
“2017 is going to be the year of social selling. Salespeople from large enterprises and SMBs alike will use social channels to engage with their sales contacts. It can be as simple as using Twitter to prospect a sales call or using LinkedIn to promote gated downloads to a target company. Whatever the actual channel or activity, the art of social selling is going to gain more momentum in 2017. Especially as more sales people start to find that right balance of reaching out to prospects, without overwhelming them.”
– Zaki Usman, CEO and Founder, Pagezii Marketing, @zaki_usman
8. Livestreaming Takes A Front Seat
I’m expecting to see a sharp rise in the amount of livestreaming done on social media. Livestreaming has been utilized by large social media personalities, but not businesses to the same result.
This is something someone looking to make their brand more personable and authentic should definitely be planning. For example, if you’re running a team-building exercise, consider streaming it to your audience and make them feel like they’re involved.
With the integration of Periscope into Twitter early in 2016, reaching your audience with this form of content has become easier than ever, as your audience is already there.
– Andrew Swindlehurst, Outreach Executive, Piccana, @PiccanaLtd
10. An Emphasis on Analytics and (Failed) Automation
As the election polls raised questions around datasets, we expect social analytics will become more integrated across departments as brands look to keep in tune with/gather feedback on products, services, and campaigns.
Additionally, more brands will investigate and invest in AI capabilities. But many will struggle with when to deploy a bot vs. human, and customers will still be left dissatisfied with their automated experiences.
– Dayle Hall, VP of marketing, Lithium
12. The Fall of Organic Facebook Content
“Facebook announced earlier this year that it would change its News Feed algorithm to prioritize posts from users’ friends and family over other sources – including publishers and brands. This means that if a Facebook user clicks ‘Like’ on your business’ Facebook page, they won’t automatically see new posts that you publish on your page within their News Feeds. Instead, that user must manually hover over the ‘Like’ button on your page and switch their setting from ‘Default’ to ‘See First’.
So, GetApp surveyed 500 small and midsize business (SMB) owners to ask how effective Facebook is at driving organic traffic to their business websites. One quarter of respondents said that Facebook’s “not effective”, and less than one in 10 ranked Facebook as either “extremely effective” or “very effective”. This is due in large part to the fact that average organic reach on Facebook now hovers around one percent.
These numbers signal a shift in how small businesses will use social media to gain qualified web traffic that converts to leads. We predict that in 2017, more marketers will shift their strategies to focus on Facebook as a paid marketing tool first and foremost. This will include an uptick in users of Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences tool, which allows users to upload lists of current customers and target new, similar prospects.”
– Lauren Maffeo, Content Editor, GetApp, @LaurenMaffeo
14. The Mainstreaming of Chatbots
“A number of platforms are introducing integrated bots to assist with shopping, booking and customer service. As consumers become more accustomed to talking to bots, the use of artificial intelligence will increase, allowing brands to optimize their customer service experience.”
– Bianca Illion, Junior PR Manager, Brandwatch, @brandwatch
16. Privacy Takes Center Stage
“With the focus on security and privacy – finally trickling down from a corporate issue to where everyday people are thinking about their privacy and security because of the stories in the media – we’re going to see more private networks pop-up.
And that’s going to lead to big issues for social media marketers. If more people start to leave the main networks – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat – for more personal one-on-one networks and communications, how are brands going to reach consumers? People are not going to be abandoning the main networks, but they’re going to be going more private.
Does this mean that influencers – the personal network influencers and tastemakers – are going to inundate friends with personal messages on private networks? It’s possible, but that will turn off people more to marketing messages. It’s going to see an explosion of mobile marketing for trying to reach people on messaging platforms, but also see a scramble by professionals trying to figure out what to do.”
– Jeremy Pepper, Consultant, Communimatic, @jspepper
The Crystal Ball, Refracted and Repeating
One prediction that caught our eye this year, just like last year, was social commerce. A lot of people think that 2017 is going to finally be the year that people want to buy stuff on social media. This has been a recurring prediction for a few years, but most surveys still find that people don’t use buy buttons on social networks. In one survey, just 12% of consumers said they Facebook or Instagram to by products. Pinterest fared the best, with 55% saying they used the social network to buy. But that’s still a long way to go.
The predictions that came true from last year’s post were all about Snapchat and Instagram. As mobile-first networks with decisively younger demographics, these are probably the apps that will see the most change and the most growth next year. We’ll see soon enough!