It’s 2017, and the times, they are a changin’. But hey, if you know anything about social, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In the ever-evolving world of social media, changes to algorithms, platforms and user behavior come at you non-stop with little to no warning (kind of like this). In order to be successful, you must be as proactive as possible and adapt gracefully without falling in the proverbial pool of mud.
To help you prepare, we gathered the Santy social experts and asked them to share their predictions for the year so that you can go into it ready to thrive in the face of constant change.
Ah yes, Facebook. Old Reliable. Everyone uses it, and just about every marketer has a serious love / hate relationship with the godfather (or mother) of social channels. At this point, it is very important that you come to terms with the fact that for brands, Facebook is above all a paid media channel. Why? It’s simple. People are almost guaranteed to not see your content. But, that being said, it’s still paramount that once they do see your content, it is both relevant, useful, entertaining and worth their time. True success is understanding the balance needed for both smart promotion and valuable content. Additionally, we believe that:
- Promoted Post cost-per-engagements will increase
- “Offline Events” conversion tracking (i.e. tracking transactions that occur in physical retail store and other offline channels like phone calls) will become an increasingly important metric of success.
- “Dark Social” (a term coined by Alexis Madrigal in his Atlantic article to describe traffic that originated from the share of a URL, like a text or FB message, but is marked as “Direct” traffic in analytics tool) is going to become a more closely-monitored metric. People will care about these conversions even more in 2017 and beyond.
- Engagement rates will rise above acquisition metrics in level of importance. That is, the value of a Facebook fan isn’t what it used to be. Engagement rates will prevail as the most important metric of quality, relevant content.
Ask any social media professional, and we would guess that 9 out of 10 times they would tell you that their favorite channel to work with is Instagram. This channel just seems to get it! Besides a clean, visually appealing user experience, they are taking over where other brands have fallen short (lookout, Snapchat).
- More Promoted Posts will be placed on Instagram due to the lower cost per engagement and less competition with other advertisers
- More direct link to e-commerce! Instagram will open up shoppable posts after a test period with only twenty retailers and users will be able to click through directly to purchase products featured in posts
Twitter is a polarizing channel. While some outlets predict the inevitable demise of the channel in the midst of leadership troubles, lack of value for advertisers and near-epidemic trolling, some experts still assure you that the platform is a crucial player. To us, in general, Twitter’s real value comes in one-to-one conversations with consumers and trend following. Long term, we predict that:
- Twitter will either be purchased or drown in the deep unless ad units and analytics become more robust for brands
- What’s more, Twitter will continue to fail at competing with Facebook’s cost per result and CPM
- Eventually, Twitter will finally allow you to edit a post (please, for the love of all social gods, PLEASE)
It’s almost hard to define Pinterest as a “social network.” Instead, we think of it as a discovery platform. Why? Instead of interacting with each other, Pinners are actively seeking out ideas from brands on Pinterest, so it’s easy to influence users. What’s more, Pinners are shoppers - 55 percent of people on Pinterest look and shop for products. Additionally, when a business uses Promoted Pins, they see five times more in-store sales compared to the industry average.
- We predict that brands will actively pursue a presence on Pinterest as an extension of their eCommerce and brick & mortar efforts
- More brands will shift their view of Pinterest from a social channel to a second-tier retail business driver
Recent changes at YouTube have caused turmoil amongst content creators. The creator community on YouTube is amazing, but there are still a lot of growing pains and kinks to be worked out if the video platform wants to keep it’s reigning number one spot. Our thoughts are that:
- Big YouTube content creators will start jumping ship because of the recent algorithm change. Engagements (likes and comments) are now considered more important than video views, which is heavily impacting all creators.
- Twitch recently opened up a new IRL (“in real life”) category so streamers can now do vlogs and streams showcasing their life, just like on YouTube but with a “live” twist. Additionally, they will be releasing mobile broadcasting next year which will be great for streamers who want to broadcast at conventions or at other events.
We don’t see this channel disappearing anytime soon, especially with the introduction of Snap Inc. However, we do think that they will need to up their game in order to compete with Facebook advertising and Instagram Stories. We think that customization is going to be key for Snapchat in 2017 and we can’t wait to see what they do next.
- Snapchat will most likely develop new ad units or a find a way to partner with smaller advertisers to maintain their ad revenue and keep brands happy
- They will have to keep up with Instagram Stories, otherwise they will be irrelevant in no time flat
- They will introduce new social technology for users - they’re a tech company, right? We’re expecting bigger and better technology from them in 2017. Don’t let us down Snap, Inc!
The Ones to Watch:
For us, 2017 is going to be the year of thinking outside of the box. In this scenario, the “box” is the utilization of the major social networking platforms through traditional means. We predict a rise in the use of live video across all social platforms as well as the introduction to marketers utilizing Twitch as a way to reach audiences. A more bold prediction from our team would say that Reddit is going to be tapped into – but the need for 100% transparency on the part of brands on this channel will make it a challenge for many marketers.
- More brands will continue to adopt social messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger
In a time where content and community mean everything to inciting brand loyalty, it’s more important now than ever to stay on top of the changing trends with old and new social channels. We know as social marketers that platforms and trends can change with the wind, and predicting what will happen next can help your strategy remain nimble to keep up with these changes.
Photo via LoboStudioHamburg