By Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy
In 2017, Instagram reigned supreme, while sponsored content and ad transparency became big brand priorities. So, what’s on the agenda for the year ahead?
Here’s what our esteemed experts predict will be trending in the world of social media in 2018.
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Trouble ahead for Twitter?
Will Francis, co-founder and creative director, Vandal:
I’m sad to say that 2018 may be the year Twitter’s cooling off turns into terminal decline. Their product increasingly lacks focus and is unwelcoming to newcomers, whilst stagnant user growth and internal issues remain signs of trouble ahead.
The recent doubling of the character limit is a classic tech product death rattle, achieving nothing more than further blurring of the proposition.
Greater focus on messaging apps
Joanna Halton, founder, Jo & Co:
Chatbots/OTT messaging are coming of age. The last year or so has been all about the hype and innovators, but now businesses are seriously working out what value they can offer them and how they can incorporate them into their current systems and processes.
The results may be less sexy than some of the fun campaigns we've seen previously, but big players are banking on the technology making them big savings, especially from a customer service perspective. Juniper research forecasts that that this technology could save businesses $8 billion annually worldwide by 2022, up from $20 million this year.
Tom Pepper, head of marketing solutions UK, LinkedIn:
I think 2018 will bring something of an advent in the way marketers use messaging apps. We’ve already seen a growing trend for social media messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger - and even a rise in chatbots - but next year some of those tools are likely to be completely reinvented, giving brands a route to effectively communicate with audiences throughout every step of the marketing funnel.
As more people and brands adopt Instagram Stories and Snapchat, these fleeting photos and videos become increasingly the default language in digital. 2018 may be the year that ‘traditional’ social media posts start to feel stiff and corporate - just another marketing channel - whilst disposable content is where brand personality is crafted and true love and engagement earned.
We're going to see a lot more from AR next year. Not just from the likes of Snapchat's dancing hot dog that got more than 1.5bn views. But brands starting to look how they can use the technology in a way that suits them and their customers.
An example of this is BMW's latest foray where users could see what a new X2 would look like on their driveway without having to visit a garage. When the newest Apple devices incorporate special features and promote their ability to support a technology, like they have with AR, it's worth keeping an ear to the ground about where it's going.
Depesh Mandalia, founder and CEO, S M Commerce:
The two big waves to ride in 2018 are influencer marketing, which has seen a continued year on year rise in importance for brands, and potentially augmented reality taking video to the next level. Instagram and Snapchat are investing heavily in the video experience.
This opens up opportunity for brand engagement in more novel ways, putting control into the hands of the end user to create new, rich, immersive experiences.
Platforms and publishers working together
Looking ahead to the coming year, I believe that we’ll continue to see social media platforms using assets like live streaming and original content to keep users hooked. In particular, I’m excited to see more partnerships formed between social media platforms and publishers.
Alignment with IoT
In an ideal world I'd love to see social media converging with the internet of things to create an intelligence that's connected across your life. Imagine asking Alexa or Google Home for ideas of what food to order for home delivery, and recommendations based on your social connections or what others have recently ordered in your local area.
The potential implications are huge for both the end user and for brands. Perhaps this is where we may see AI converging right down the middle to give us faster, better options to the age-old question of what to eat tonight.
Measurement is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment but, beyond that, we really need to help marketers truly exhibit the great work they’re doing.
I’d love to see marketers step outside their comfort zone and not just measure what they know through traditional marketing metrics, but focus their efforts on measuring business value too. Doing so will allow marketers to prove the impact their activity has on a business’s bottom line.
Variety within video
It shouldn't come as a shock to anyone, but video is going to continue to grow as a predominant medium across social and digital overall. The predictions vary, whether it's Cisco's 80% of internet traffic by 2019 or Mark Zuckerberg's estimation that 90% of Facebook's content will be video-based by 2018.
Further supported by the launch of Facebook Watch and the success of Live. But either way, it's becoming the main way users prefer to consume content - especially mobile video. Marketers should consider that, according to the latest GlobalWebIndex report, mobile has now taken over as the primary way to access social media.
Brands will need to work out how they can use the variety of different video formats effectively as part of their content marketing plans.