It’s the start of another year, which means you’re probably back in the office after vacation, hard at work on your New Year’s resolution. And if you’re a marketer, you may also be fine-tuning your strategic plan for success in 2017.
We have a variety of resources for getting your marketing plan organized for the upcoming year — between the 2017 marketing strategy kit, the social media content calendar, and the blog editorial calendar, we’ve got your content marketing strategy covered.
But before you finalize your social media strategy for the year, it’s important to look at what’s ahead to ensure that you’re allocating your time and efforts appropriately. In this blog post, we’ll dive into what happened in 2016, what we think social media managers should expect in 2017, and how to plan for these changes.
7 Predictions for Social Media in 2017
1) Live video content will become even bigger.
Live video content is on the rise — in fact, 14% of marketers experimented with it in 2016, according to Social Media Examiner, and 43% plan to use interactive video this year, according to new survey data from Wyzowl.
While there are a ton of streaming sites and platforms out there, both Periscope and Facebook Live are among the most popular — and they have the numbers to prove it.
In its 2016 annual recap, Periscope noted that users watched 110 years of live video every day using the app. And just this New Year’s Eve, live streaming on Facebook reached record-breaking numbers around the globe:
So where should you be planning to focus your live streaming efforts in 2017?
Good question. First and foremost, you’ll want to consider where your audience already spends time on social media — and try to connect with them on those networks.
As for what to broadcast, there are a lot of brands out there that are nailing this strategy across several use cases. For example, many brands are using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to live stream events. This approach aims to keep your followers engaged with your brand by bringing an event they otherwise might not be able to attend directly to their screens.
At INBOUND 2016, HubSpot shared Facebook Live interviews with speakers so our followers who couldn’t join us in Boston still had the opportunity to learn from the experts:
Brands can also use live video for customer service by hosting Q&A sessions and product demonstrations. These videos drive engagement because hosts can ask for comments, questions, and feedback from the audience.
Brands can also stream multiple live videos in a series, providing more opportunities for engagement, which Facebook said happens at a rate 10X higher with live videos. Here’s an example of a weekly series from Allure, where hosts demonstrate and review a new type of lipstick and ask the audience for questions and what they want to see in the next installment:
This year, keep an eye out for new features rolling out to the different live streaming platforms to amp up your video strategy. For example, Facebook Live is launching 360-degree capabilities, which would be a neat way to record a crowded event, a beautiful landscape, or a behind-the-scenes tour.
(Read more about successful strategies for Facebook Live in this blog post.)
2) Brands will lean on messaging apps more than ever.
If you’re only thinking about messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat as alternatives to traditional text messaging, think again — messaging apps are used by 4 billion users worldwide, and there’s tremendous opportunity for brands to leverage this presence.
More specifically, many brands are using messaging apps to communicate one-on-one with customers, which is completely changing the way customer service gets done. These apps provide a faster and easier way for customers to get the assistance they need, rather than being placed on hold or waiting for a returned email. Deploying messaging for customer service is more scalable and cost-effective for businesses, and by providing a better experience for the customer, brands can solve their problems quickly and retain them more easily.
For example, Hyatt uses Facebook Messenger for 24-hour customer service, where guests can make reservations, ask questions, and get recommendations for their trips:
HubSpot Vice President of Marketing, Meghan Keaney Anderson, predicts that messaging apps will eventually become a part of every online interaction. “Maybe we shouldn’t be thinking about messaging in terms of apps at all,” Anderson notes, “but rather as an evolving infrastructure.”
So far, Anderson’s theory is well-supported by the stats: A quarter of all apps that are downloaded are abandoned after just one use — except for messaging apps. In 2017 and beyond, marketers should anticipate less social networking and more messaging for instant, real-time connection with audiences.
3) Social media ecommerce will become a powerful avenue for sales.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest offer ways for users to purchase products from directly within their apps, and Snapchat started testing and rolling out ecommerce features in the spring of 2016. Check it out below on Instagram:
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.
Brands should leverage these shopping habits when thinking about their social media strategy for 2017. People come to social media to interact with interesting content, so instead of sharing a photo of a product on Instagram with a “Buy Now” call-to-action, share gift ideas and product trends (24% and 16% of survey respondents relied on social media for these, respectively) and encourage online shopping without directly asking for it.
Another idea? Product demonstration videos on social media. According to research from Animoto, 4X as many customers prefer to watch a video about a new product, so share them on social media to encourage online shoppers. Here’s an unconventional “Will It Blend?” product demonstration from Blendtec to get the wheels turning:
4) Virtual reality will find its way into more and more marketing experiences.
Virtual reality is still new to the marketing scene, and in 2017, we predict the market will get even more popular. What’s unique about virtual reality is that it encourages engagement by offering an immersive, memorable experience unlike any other medium — and brands are quickly recognizing that value.
For example, TOMS uses virtual reality to shed light on the mission and impact customers are having. Its mission, “One for One,” refers to its pledge to match with each pair of shoes purchased a new pair for a child in need around the world. While visiting children who received new shoes during a trip to Peru, TOMS shot the following 360-degree virtual reality video to create a firsthand account of the impact this initiative is making:
What’s so great about this video is how transportative it is. Most customers might not be planning a trip to Peru, but all of them can see the direct impact of their purchase. The experience is improved when they use a VR headset or viewer, but the video is still viewable on mobile or desktop devices, so the brand can effectively share its story.
This year, video streaming will represent almost 75% of all internet traffic, and since audiences want more video content, brands should continue experimenting with different formats — including virtual reality — to see which audiences respond best to.
5) Ephemeral content will continue to find its place and purpose.
HubSpot Social Media Marketing Manager Marissa Emanuele artfully coined the term “Frankenfeatures,” which are born when a social media platform launches its own version of another platform’s successful feature.
One example? Snapchat started the ephemeral, or disappearing, visual content sharing trend, and Instagram recently launched a similar disappearing video feature — but with the ability to share live ephemeral video, too.
Another distinction between the two features? Instagram can save a group of users to send repeated disappearing messages to, versus on Snapchat, where users have to individually select who to send snaps to every single time.
We’re not suggesting that you abandon professional photography and marketing video production, but ephemeral content on Snapchat and Instagram is a great way to showcase the “other side” of your brand’s personality with authentic, unscripted, unpolished content. Content ideas for ephemeral stories include:
- How-to videos
- Behind-the-scenes looks
- Contests and giveaways
- “Takeovers,” or when a different user chooses what content to share
- Live events
- Daily or weekly video series
- Announcements or product reveals
“The most important part of ephemeral content is to be human. This is a unique opportunity to show an unpolished, lighthearted side to your brand, so don’t be afraid to share content that’s humorous or otherwise ‘flawed’ in some way,” urges Emanuele.
(For more ideas on how to brainstorm ephemeral content ideas for Snapchat or Instagram, here’s a roundup of some of the best brands on Snapchat right now.)
6) Many brands will make the shift from Snapchat to Instagram for Stories.
Instagram introduced its Stories feature in August 2016. After just two months, BuzzFeed News reported that Instagram Stories were experiencing 100 million daily active viewers — this represents two thirds of Snapchat’s total user base, period. For this and other reasons, Emanuele predicts that brands will start transitioning from Snapchat to Instagram for sharing Stories (photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours).
At 600 million users, Instagram offers a vastly bigger audience than Snapchat at 150 million users. And because Facebook owns Instagram, Instagram advertisers can target based on Facebook and Instagram insights, which means there is a bigger target audience on Instagram than Twitter.
Not to mention, Instagram lets users publish photos and videos in a permanent portfolio in addition to ephemeral Stories, so users can more easily share content with their friends.
BrandFire CEO Adam Padilla agrees with Emanuele’s prediction, also noting the adoption of Instagram by a larger number of celebrities and public figures, and a slicker Instagram interface.
7) Mobile advertising will grow more competitive.
In 2017, marketers should expect greater investment in mobile advertising. Here’s a rundown of what that will look like on some of the largest social networks:
Facebook is the behemoth when it comes to social media ad revenues, bringing in more than $7 billion last year — 80% of which came from mobile ads. Facebook’s News Feed algorithmic changes now prioritize content from friends and family first, so the 75% of brands on Facebook that pay to promote ads will have to get creative and design visual, engaging ads to get noticed first.
Twitter’s ad revenue is increasing, especially in the mobile format, and in 2017, they’ll likely continue experimenting with visual content, such as sponsored hashtag icons and stickers, to provide a variety of ad options to users.
As we’ve discussed previously in this article, Snapchat and Instagram will be competing for a lot of attention this year, and advertising revenue will be no exception. Where do they stand in terms of developments? Well, Snapchat recently launched a new advertising API that makes it easier to buy ad space, in addition to a greater variety of video ads and sponsored filters. Instagram, on the other hand, is doubling down on ecommerce with the introduction of Shoppable Instagram, a feature that lets users buy products directly by clicking on a CTA in the app.
According to an Adweek survey among millennial Snapchat and Instagram users about their experiences with ads, the results are roughly split — with a few noteworthy distinctions. While a greater percentage thought Instagram ads were more memorable than those on Snapchat, more millennials loved Snapchat ads than Instagram ads:
In short: Marketers should experiment with ads on different platforms to see which perform better among their audience and take advantage of the cool new features each rolls out.
What’s Next for Social Media Managers?
Social media is constantly changing, and one prediction we didn’t include above is to prepare for anything. And if you’re not sure where to get started with your social media plan, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.
What are you including in your 2017 social media plan? Share with us in the comments below.