2017 has been a year of change, with the landscape dramatically shifting for marketers to provide new challenges and opportunities.
Predicting these trends and changes is never easy and it is our job as marketers to remain as up to date with audience shifts and new behaviours. In the closing months of 2016, many predicted that Snapchat would be 2017's hero platform, with Snapchat Specs revolutionising augmented reality (AR) and building it's dominance among Generation Z users.
Looking back, the year panned out very differently... Instagram launched its Stories feature in August of 2016, but it's in the past year that it's really driven huge growth and opportunities for brands – and this November announced 300m daily active users, nearly double that of Snapchat, where user growth has slowed.
The above illustrates both the difficulty and danger in predicting trends in an ever-changing landscape. However, there are a number of things we at Think Jam will be keeping a close eye on for our clients as we move into the New Year, these include:
Connecting via Facebook
Sure, Facebook has always been about connecting friends, family and brands around the world. As Mark Zuckerberg’s latest mission statement attests, the goal is to “bring the world closer together”. I believe 2018 will see new and innovative ways for users to connect on Facebook.
Earlier this month Facebook launched Live Gaming, allowing users to broadcast their Facebook Messenger games. And soon they will launch live chat with friends while gaming.
Facebook AR is in its infancy, but could soon allow users to change the world around them and meet with friends in virtual environments.
Messenger Bots are already allowing brands to connect with users in highly functional ways, adding real value for both brand and user.
The above examples are sure to develop in 2018 and could provide brands with exciting new ways to engage users. The value of friends virtually meeting in a branded space or mutually enjoying a branded game could be huge. The key for brands will be authenticity, respecting the space you’re in and the quality of content you’re providing.
Instagram will go from strength to strength
This year, we’ve seen incredible growth on Instagram, I’ve noted the success of Stories, but the platform itself now has 800 million monthly active users and is set to hit 1bn in early 2018.
For brands, Instagram provides a unique opportunity to build a community of really engaged and interested fans, not only do users tend to follow more selectively (based on quality and passions), the platforms less-aggressive algorithm often allows content to travel further organically. This year, we’ve seen incredibly high engagement rates on Instagram content when compared to other platforms, which will hopefully see more brands building bespoke and quality content strategies for the platform.
Twitter will find its groove
It’s been some time since Twitter’s 2016 move from Social Network to News App – a change in identity that some brands have taken a while to catch up to. The power of Twitter is now far more about creating meaningful campaigns around culturally relevant moments, less so about an always on content plan.
2018 will see users using the platform more and more for news and news alone; Moments already provides this – it's a great way to stay up-to-date with the most talked about stories in news, sport and entertainment. Playing to this strength Twitter could grow its user base and allows brands to be part of relevant conversations for their audience.
Snapchat snaps back
Snapchat still holds a large and engaged audience, an audience that is typically difficult to reach. Newly announced platform changes suggest Snapchat are listening to this audience and tailoring the platform to keep and grow them.
There’s still a place for Snapchat’s incredibly passionate and creative fanbase, and I wouldn’t be too quick to count out the platform that invented the now everyday Stories function…
With all of the above changes, I’m excited to see brands rise to the challenge of a more tailored social approach in 2018, better considering both platform and audience. No longer will the same content deliver across all channels, campaigns must be crafted for each platform and point of view considered for each.
Teague Emery is director of social media at entertainment marketing agency Think Jam.