6 social media trends for 2017

Social media is one of the fastest changing industries out there, with new tech, channel and devices appearing on the market roughly every six months. It can be hard to keep up. So, based on what the industry experts are saying, we’ve taken a look at six social media trends that are predicted to dominate 2017 to help you plan ahead.

1) Live video will become the next big thing for mainstream marketers

With Facebook launching its live video in Spring last year, and Instagram and Twitter following suit in November and December 2016 respectively, live video is the next frontier for marketers to conquer. According to Social Media Examiner, 14% of marketers experimented with live video last year, and new survey data from Wyzowl predicts that this figure will jump to 43% this year.

Many brands are already using live video to stream events, which helps to keep followers engaged with events that they might not otherwise have been invited to, or been able to attend. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg used Facebook Live to broadcast his end of year round up with Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg on Facebook Live in December.

2) Brands will tap into the power of messaging apps

Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and other messaging apps are not just the preserve of peer-to-peer communication anymore. Many brands are tapping into the power of messaging apps to connect, one-to-one, with their customers on these channels. Some have already begun experimenting with using messaging apps as a customer service channel, doing away with email and call-centres altogether.

For example, Hyatt now uses Facebook Messenger for 24-hour customer service, where its guests can make reservations, ask questions, and get recommendations for their trips.

3) Social media e-commerce will grow in prominence

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are now offering ways for consumers to purchase products from directly within their apps, and Snapchat also started testing and rolling out e-commerce features in the Spring of 2016 too.

According to a survey from Aimia, 56% of consumers said they followed brands on social media to browse products for sale, and 31% of online shoppers say they’re using social media specifically to look for new items to purchase.

4) Augmented and virtual reality will become more commonplace

The huge success of Pokémon Go last year woke brands up to the power of augmented reality, many have gone on to incorporate AR into their marketing strategy. Virtual reality is gaining momentum in the content space too, fuelled by many electronic and tech companies investing heavily in VR hardware. This means it’s only a matter of time before more brands begin to adopt AR & VR techniques into their marketing arsenal.

Last year saw big brands like The New York Times, National Geographic, Merrell Footwear, and Marriott International use VR to engage with their audiences and use it as new medium to tell impactful stories. Facebook also introduced 360 video on its platform, making it more accessible to brands with smaller marketing budgets this year.

5) Instagram Stories will gain traction

Just two months after Instagram launched ‘Stories’, BuzzFeed reported that Instagram Stories had 100 million daily active viewers, one sixth of Instagram’s entire user base. This has led many industry experts to predict that Instagram Stories may supersede the popular ephemeral social channel SnapChat.

Given that Instagram is owned by Facebook, it will have the advantage over SnapChat, it will be more attractive to advertisers than SnapChat, as the channel will be able to offer its customers targeted adverts and deeper audience insights. In addition, Instagram also lets users publish photos and videos in a permanent portfolio as well as offering ephemeral Stories, so users can more easily share content with their friends.

6) Chatbots will start to be integrated into social channels

Chatbots, a form of artificial intelligence, have already been integrated into Facebook Messenger, and many businesses have begun to use them to communicate with their customers. It’s predicted that chatbots will be adopted by other social channels in the year ahead in the hope that they will keep users on their platforms, rather than lose them to brands’ own websites.

According to Social Media Today, more than a third of people already prefer social media over a phone call for customer support. And, says an article in the Entrepreneur, Millennials want self-service and like to resolve their customer service issues using technology as it's fast, efficient, and brief.

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