The biggest social media changes in the past 12 months

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

2018 social media trends / Rami Al-zayat

Social media has had a clear increase in activity of businesses using the platforms to market their products and services. With users predicted to grow by over a million each year over the next five years, it’s no wonder that more and more businesses are now turning to social media to target their audience. Reaching these vast numbers has instantly paved the way for some significant changes on our favourite platforms.

Instagram

It followed in Snapchat’s footsteps with facial filters and stories, but Instagram has released more ‘original’ features for its story facility.

In October, polls were added, acting as a handy tool for fast, efficient feedback. Capitalising on this, the number of US businesses that are using Instagram to promote their product has risen to 70.7%, almost doubling that of 48.8% from the previous year! And all with good reason – at least 30% of Instagram users have purchased a product they first discovered on Instagram.

Instagram Shopping went live in March 2017, creating a new e-commerce experience. These posts ordinarily include a shoppable link, enabling the customer a smoother journey without leaving the app; 65% of the top performing Instagram posts feature products.

As we can see, Instagram has matured to a platform that marketers showcase their products through ads and influencers. These developments show that it is absolutely crucial to optimise a website, particularly for e-commerce brands, to be accessible for this changing customer demand.

Snapchat

Facing some serious direct competition with Instagram this year, Snapchat has had its work cut out to keep its users active.

Its latest delve into augmented reality (AR) filters has spurred on developments. In October, Snapchat collaborated with artist Jeff Koons and launched an augmented reality art exhibition, allowing Snapchat users to view artwork which had been geo-tagged to specific locations through a lens.

In the same month was the launch of ‘Context Cards’. Powered through TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Michelin and Goop, this allows users to see more information.

The user can instantly find out the restaurant name, reserve a table and even an Uber to get there.

This latest update shows the user’s demand to absorb knowledge in a proactive way. For businesses, this means ensuring that content is optimised for use of local information, such as GMB – user behaviour has changed, so your business must adapt to meet this insatiable hunger for information.

Facebook

Unlike the other channels we have looked at, Facebook offers users the option to save videos that are broadcasted live after they have ended. This opens the opportunity for content to work long term rather than only for the maximum broadcast time. Videos streamed live on Facebook also allow subtitles, yet to be seen on Instagram and Snapchat. 85% of Facebook users watch videos without sound, so this is hugely beneficial.

This urgency created by notification of a live video happening now allows a chance for businesses to capitalise on their followers, providing an opportunity for a ‘big reveal’, creating hype on social in the run up to a huge campaign.

Twitter

Overshadowing Twitter’s new look in June was the highly speculated increase of characters. Introduced as a positive change to ease the burden of the previous character limit, some argue that Twitter has has lost its unique selling point.

Marketers and businesses should be careful with this new freedom. Although this allows businesses to discuss topics freely on Twitter, the concise nature of the tweet is something that users obviously appreciate – they must be mindful when planning their message.

What can we expect from 2018?

Voice search

Content must be optimised for voice search as artificial intelligence continues to rise, as we’re anticipating 50% of all searches to be made by voice in 2020.

Augmented Reality (AR)

The rise of AR will permit immersive shopping experiences for users. Ikea already updated their app, allowing potential customers to view how products look in their own home. This combination of video and shoppable media, exemplifies the demand for immersive user experiences.

Ashleigh Cain is business development consultant at digital marketing agency Zazzle Media.

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