December 28, 2016

Jon A

Social media is always changing. And, 2017 will be no different.  Certain trends—like Facebook’s continued algorithm changes, the rise of virtual reality, live video and the continued rapid growth of Snapchat—are expected for 2017. However, what are five social media trends you might not be expecting in the new year?

1) Twitter Nears Death: It’s almost time for Twitter to say bye bye. Stock is down 29% year to date. Top executives, like CTO Adam Messinger, are leaving. And users of the platform are not growing. Pew Research Center reports 24% of online adults use Twitter, up a whopping 1% from one year ago. When you combine these factors with the fact that Facebook ad buys perform substantially better than Twitter ad buys in terms of ROI, you can see why Twitter might not be around much longer. Twitter—at its best—is a real-time conversation platform. When tied to trending events, it’s an engaging platform. However, it simply doesn’t work well for what a lot of brands do—planned content.

2) The Rise of Messaging Apps: Facebook Messenger now allows brands to advertise within it. More than 50% of new Snapchat users are over the age of 25. 29% of smartphone owners use general-purpose messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Kik. More and more, customers will want to engage with companies in one-to-one ways—not publicly on their Facebook wall—but within messaging platforms. More companies will utilize bots to automatically respond to customers. And, more apps like Venmo will up the social commerce game, allowing friends to exchange money through social messaging. The content on your Facebook page will be as important as the responses you’re providing in platforms like Messenger.

3) Measuring Offline Sales: Thanks to advancements in Facebook's software, you can now link sales in your store to your Facebook ads. Through partnerships with point-of-sale systems like Square and Marketo, Facebook will be able to provide analytics of how views of Facebook content and ads lead to purchases and store visits. Basically, Facebook gets right into cash registers to pull real-time, in-person results. This ties nicely into the SoLoMo—Social, Local, Mobile—trend. Hyperlocal is a perfect match for social media success.

4) The Continued Rise of Paid Social: I’m still shocked more companies are not taking advantage of the power of paid social. For every $1 you spend on creating content, no one will see that content unless you spend $2 promoting it. You can target customers and new business leads in your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, people who have visited specific pages on your website, and even a lookalike audience of your current email database. The targeting is precise and makes it easy to reach the right people with the right message at the right time. Why not utilize it more? According to Advertising Age, social media spending grew 55% in 2016 to $10.9 billion, up from the previous year's $7 billion. That number could hit $15 billion in 2017.

Pew Research 2016

5) One Channel May Be Enough: When social media burst on to the marketing scene, brands were like “we gotta have a Facebook page!” Pinterest came out— “we gotta be on Pinterest!” Instagram was unveiled— “we absolutely, positively must be on Instagram!” Snapchat— “we’re afraid of Snapchat but…well…should we be on there?” 2017 will be the year more brands finally incorporate social media into their overall business plans and marketing plans, which will lead them to ask the question, “which social media platforms will actually help us generate ROI?” They will be selective in the channels they are delivering content and advertising from, maximizing impact on those channels instead of having average to poor content spread across six different social media platforms. Please…please, get rid of your Google+ page. It doesn’t help with search engine optimization as much as you think it does.

One thing we can all agree on? Social media will continue to grow in 2017. It isn’t going anywhere—it’s just maturing a bit.

Jon Alhart is Vice President of Social and Digital Media and a recovering Buffalo Bills fan. He has the best laugh in the agency, capable of making everyone who hears it think they missed out on the funniest joke of the year.