January is the worst month of the year, isn’t it? We spend it moaning about the cold weather, our post-Christmas weight loss goals (and how we’re failing to reach them) and searching down the back of the sofa on the off-chance we’ve stashed a £10 note down there.
January is also one of the best times to take stock of the previous year and look ahead to the coming months. With brands refocusing on their strategies and goals after the Christmas period, it can be a great time to pick up new business, explore new trends and get ahead of the game.
So with February on the horizon (how?!), I thought this was the perfect time to share what I learned in January about social media trends for 2017…
We want to discover, not search
Social media websites and brand apps are quickly becoming the first port of call for consumers looking to purchase or discover. With PayPal and Apple Pay making the ecommerce user journey faster than ever, consumers are cutting out the website middleman and choosing to purchase via brand apps, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. 2017 is set to see buying power via these channels soar, with a 106% YoY increase on social commerce recorded in 2016.
The rise of social discovery will also influence the way our media landscape works with sites such as Buzzfeed already looking at how their business model could work if they closed their website and converted solely to social channels.
Come to the dark social side
Despite sounding quite ominous, dark social actually represents an exciting opportunity for brands and a challenge to get creative. Dark social encompasses private social interactions via channels such as WhatsApp, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger and accounts for 82% of shared content on mobile. Brands need to create ways to infiltrate these platforms and get involved with these conversations, as well as create content that users want to share.
Some brands are already embracing this new communication channel through varying tactics. News channels such as Daily Mail, Buzzfeed and Cosmo have adopted Snapchat as a great way to share their content with running featured accounts, and the likes of Adidas and Greggs are embracing micro communities on WhatsApp.
Are you ready for your close-up?
Video was heavily in the spotlight in 2016, and it’s set to steal the show in 2017. Investing in video for social is crucial for brands this year and should form a serious part of marketers 2017 budgets. Video has taken over Facebook feeds and Instagram will be next with the introduction of its Live function.
The problem marketers will face with video is understanding how much to invest. You can create video for free or spend as much as £100k depending on the type of content, channel and who you want speak to. Creating cost-effective video doesn’t mean a reduction in quality; with careful planning and an understanding of what you want to achieve, create engaging video content doesn’t need to cost thousands.
Social channels are also introducing new features to enhance videos with the rise of 360 video and the monumental success of Facebook Live paving the way for Instagram to follow its lead, making it so easy and so accessible, anyone can do it.
Blink and you’ll miss it
With so much content being produced and pushed out across a raft of channels, consumers are increasingly becoming purveyors of disposable content. This trend is ideal for our fast-passed world where consumers want to enjoy a piece of content for a few seconds and move onto the next thing. Embracing channels such as Snapchat and Instagram’s stories feature, brands can show quick, ‘in the moment’ content which can engage and inspire audiences. These real time social moments are also usually lower in quality, but higher in value for consumers – especially millennials.
Giving power to the people
Finally, 2017 will be the year to turn workforces into brand advocates. More and more companies are beginning to realise the power of their employees to influence peer to peer recommendations and interactions, especially on LinkedIn. 21% of consumers would rather ‘like’ an employee’s post over a brand post or social ad, showing that mobilising your workforce to be your brand advocates could increase your content’s reach and ultimately lead to more sales.