Social Media Marketing Predictions 2018
In their continual quest to serve their user base, I believe Pinterest will focus on creating better ad targeting based on those searches and fill the user’s smart feed with top pins that are relevant to the search term.
While it’s often viewed as a video hosting site, it’s so much more! Imagine being discovered by your ideal customers every single day, at the exact moment they’re searching for a solution to their problem. You show up to solve it, creating a warm lead immediately – and a long-term know, like, and trust bond.
Over the last few months, LinkedIn has been making some serious moves. They’ve added video for all personal accounts, they’re testing geofilters for videos, they’ve made a ton of extreme updates to their messaging platform, and at this point they have over 500 million monthly users.
Additionally, as opposed to most platforms, LinkedIn is a business platform, which means that the value of the users is higher for those companies looking to connect and engage with users who are over 35 and working for larger businesses.
What’s truly exciting going into 2018 is that LinkedIn plans to roll out video ads. Currently, there’s no way for a business page to post videos, but this update would make it possible to run high-quality ads on LinkedIn.
Today, Facebook advertising is hands-down the best bang for your buck, but with these changes and others on the way, it’s possible that LinkedIn’s ad platform and the platform as a whole may be one of the best performing for many companies in the coming year.
This could include preferential Facebook news feed exposure for original native video, generous revenue-sharing deals, and the eventual rollout of a dedicated video app. We also might see Facebook negotiate traditional television deals or even start its own cable television network.
The costs of Facebook and Instagram advertising are going to rise considerably over the next 12 months, and this will be an ongoing trend. Investing in social media ads now to generate awareness about your business and build your audiences (particularly via email subscribers), will give you a competitive advantage for years to come.
This competitive advantage will be similar to that some businesses received by building their social audiences early on when organic reach was high and algorithms worked in favour of audience development for businesses.
You can think of a like on a post, page, or profile as a mini-review. Everything is a positive or negative review; a check-in, a comment, someone sharing their experience with your company, a new employee updating their profile to show they work at your company, partners tagging you in a post, customers mentioning you in their live video, and so forth.
You now have the power to collect these “reviews” and make sure they’re seen by potential customers. Boost a positive review, share and boost a favourable media mention, and let older posts continue to get exposure. Manage these assets like they’re your bank account. Then when prospective customers first come in contact with your brand, you control exactly what they see.
You know Facebook automatically shows prospects which of their friends are fans of yours, have left a review or checked in, and so forth. If your competitors have abundant “reviews” in the form of positive feedback, especially video, how will you fare when customers are shopping in the news feed?
Heading into 2017, I thought without a doubt that we would see Snapchat mix in live video functionality. Well, it didn’t happen. Instead, we saw Instagram continuously innovate while Snapchat remained stagnant.
Now, for a bold prediction: By the end of 2018, we’ll see Snapchat acquired by a major Media Company Such As Disney or NBC Universal as these media conglomerates battle to reach the prized attention of Millennials and Gen Z’ers.
There’s a massive and highly engaged audience there (330 million) that has been largely ignored by brands. Meanwhile, advertising costs are going up on Facebook and AdWords, making Twitter an attractive alternative.
This isn’t just a gut feeling; the stats back it up. First of all, Instagram is growing fast among businesses; 70.7% of businesses were using Instagram in 2017 (nearly double the number of businesses that used Instagram in 2016), and 80% of Instagram accounts follow at least one business.
Advertising is another biggie for Instagram and brands. In 2015, a study by eMarketer said that Instagram’s mobile ad sales could reach $2.81 billion in 2017. But it seems Instagram blew past that, as they’re expected to come in at $4 billion in global advertising.
While Facebook is dealing with ad saturation issues, Instagram is flexing its muscles as the choice platform for users, businesses, and advertisers. Sure, Instagram isn’t going to replace Facebook anytime soon. But it’s positioning itself as a platform ripe for businesses to garner more of that ever-elusive brand engagement.
CEOs will no longer be able to avoid social media. They’ll become the company’s biggest marketer by engaging with customers and allies more regularly and showing more behind the scenes and the human side, which will increase sales and brand advocates.
Additionally, I still believe Twitter will remain the best way to build relationships with customers and allies, especially in the B2B space. People on Twitter want everything fast, so clicks to sale are easily attained by proper engagement and being human once the correct link (Buy Now) is there.
I don’t need 300 words to describe how social media will change in 2018. The answer is live video, produced video, Snapchat video, Instagram video, and YouTube video. If you don’t have video in your content mix for almost every social media channel, you’re going to lose out on those “thumb-stopping” moments as people scroll through their feeds.
Because the cost to gain the attention of targeted prospects and acquire new customers will continue to climb, companies need to be more efficient with how they use social media and content marketing to drive the customer journey.
Each piece of content or social media post will need to play a deliberate role in guiding prospects along the customer awareness spectrum. This means using retargeting and other similar techniques to ensure a prospect sees the most relevant and resonant messaging in the right order based on previous actions they’ve taken (e.g., visiting a page, requesting a download, clicking, playing a video, viewing a broadcast, viewing an ad, etc.).
Marketing and sales based on using social media and content marketing solely to generate email leads and then relying on automated email sequences to drive the sales process will be at a disadvantage in the coming year. Marketing and sales that create a customer journey that starts much earlier, even before acquiring an email address or other information from a lead, will be much more successful.
In 2018, I see Instagram building more momentum with product updates, user growth, and business tools. They’ve already begun releasing more tools for marketers to allow things like “swipe up” calls to action and giving users the ability to follow hashtags.
The algorithm for hashtags isn’t great at the moment, but as more people start following them and interacting with hashtagged posts, they’ll feed Instagram data about how users interact with hashtags and the algorithm will improve.
While businesses may have been able to get away with only sharing their products in the past, I think consumers are getting better at spotting and blocking promotions, paid ads, and sales pitches. It simply isn’t enough to only share your work anymore!
One of the biggest things I’ve seen this year is a shift toward more authenticity and vulnerability online and through that, more depth of the connections we’re making with our clients, customers, and followers.
On one hand – it’s getting increasingly noisy online, making it difficult for those active in social selling and social media marketing to stand out. It’s no surprise there’s an even greater push for customer success, customer happiness, and a better customer experience.
And this is where AI comes in. Because of the overload of Big Data and amount of noise on multiple channels, successful marketers are going to need some way to sort through the chaos to get their message out to the right audience. The perception is that AI will dehumanize sales and marketing efforts; however, if used to augment these activities, it could allow professionals to spend more time creating real relationships with the right people.
As Max Altschuler, CEO of Sales Hacker, says, “AI makes good reps great, great reps exceptional, and crappy reps even worse. It’s a magnifying glass. But it’s still going to be very hard to fix bad reps, or use AI to replace reps altogether. That’s the reality that will set in for 2018.”
When you look at some of the AI technologies out there (even LinkedIn is playing in this field), one thing becomes clear. You can’t be afraid of technology. It might be #CreepyCool, but it’s here to stay, and it can help you become a better marketing professional if you know how to use it.
There’s so little competition on LinkedIn, so much traffic, and such a weak algorithm that people who use the “hero story” formula will get loads of traffic. It’s a perfect storm of a social network that’s transitioning from a job search site to a true professional community.
A few days ago, one of my hero story posts generated almost 800,000 views and 4,000 interactions. Instead of receiving the usual 20 connection requests, I received 200 that day. Plus, this post drove dozens of quality leads.
We’ve repeatedly demonstrated using this type of post works. My business partner, Logan Young, who has fewer than 1,500 connections, tried it with similar results. Because the algorithm isn’t smart yet, expect wild variations; posts will get anywhere from a couple of hundred to 200,000 impressions.
Present a personal struggle and end with a positive lesson, but be careful not to complain. Because the algorithm counts post expansions (clicking More) as engagement, it’s a good idea to open your story with curiosity or drama to attract the attention of readers.
InstaStories gives you, the creator, such a unique opportunity to create an intimate connection with your followers – one where they truly feel like they know you. This type of transparency and behind-the-scenes access will continue to be a powerful way to grow your following and the know, like, trust factor.
Instagram has also made some pretty awesome upgrades to the business side of things. They’re now offering business profiles and tools for business owners, and the ads side of things continues to improve with promoted posts. You can even set up posts where people can click straight through to your online store.
With each platform counting their video views differently (Snapchat at 1 second, Twitter at 2 seconds, Facebook/Instagram at 3 seconds, and YouTube at 30 seconds), it’s not about the number of views anymore. We only get the same 86,400 seconds in a day.
Let’s admit it, Facebook organic reach is decreasing at a rapid pace to the point of nonexistence. For those who’ve been solely dependent on an organic strategy, those days are done. They’ll now be replaced by a paid model.
And consider this: ads are quantifiable. That means that whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter, you can track the metrics of each ad or promoted post. No more guessing or struggling to put together a month-end report.
When you pair a paid acquisition model with historical data, personalized content, and a deep understanding of customer behaviour, everybody wins. And more than that, I guarantee that it’ll be the defining difference between those who limp along and those who drive real revenue results in 2018.
LinkedIn is currently enjoying a mind-set shift with professionals. Whereas it used to be the old, boring, stodgy network with no personality, now many professionals are realizing it’s an ideal place to create real relationships that turn into real business.
I predict that professionals’ usage of LinkedIn will skyrocket, resulting in more conversation and interaction, putting LinkedIn into the mainstream where users will make spending time there a priority.
Increased attention on the platform will result in more conversation, which means more competition for the eyeballs of your connections/followers. Currently, LinkedIn employs an algorithm that rebroadcasts all social actions (like, comment, and share) to the user’s networks, which makes it much easier to achieve virility with your LinkedIn posts than with posts on other networks.
On the advertising platform, that increased usage will result in additional ad inventory, which has a dampening effect on costs. Of course, the more attention on LinkedIn, the more advertisers will enter, driving up competition, so costs likely won’t go down, but I predict they will increase only slightly, compared to Facebook ad costs which will continue to grow double-digit percentages quarter over quarter.
Additionally, the rising cost of Facebook Ads will start to drive some advertisers away. As soon as B2B clicks on Facebook start to cost over the $3 mark, advertisers will start to move over in droves to test LinkedIn Ads for the better B2B targeting, scale, and the higher-quality leads
The future of video, live streaming, and social media is exciting. Brands are going to get more personal and collaborative by bringing fans, customers, and employees into more of the stories they tell and co-create.
Breaking the fourth wall (a performance term) between customers and companies isn’t an option for video storytelling and content anymore; it’s a must. When we break walls, we create powerful shared “we” experiences.
We’re going to see this happening more with other social media channels, too. Far more interactive story creation with audiences is critical to breaking the fourth wall that traditional marketing has erected. It’s the year of collaboration (a key principle of improv) that puts employees and customers at the centre of the most amazing stories.
For the record, I’m definitely not telling you to shut down your Facebook Page. Just don’t expect the Page to drive organic growth. Businesses do still need a Facebook Page in order to advertise on Facebook.
Facebook is making a major play for YouTube and Netflix as the source for video content. Video is getting more organic reach and Facebook Watch is becoming more visible. So if you are going to use Facebook for business in 2018, focus on Video, Groups, and Ads.
After a year that popularized the phrase “fake news,” 2018’s audiences will be ready to connect with something real. So while storytelling will remain an important tool, we’ll see the focus of those stories shift toward universal themes like humanity and diversity. At the same time, we’ll also see new demands placed on social platforms and content creators, designed to surface more credible content.
Photos are key. Photography is seen as more authentic than illustration, and the more candid the better. Use lifestyle photography whenever possible, and reserve illustrations for product explanations.
Prioritize video. Likewise, video conveys a sense of authenticity and immediacy that text just can’t match, and it’s popularity is increasing. Need proof? Just look at Instagram’s new emphasis on video, or the new iOS 11 App Store guidelines that consider video content “expected,” no longer a “nice to have.”
Commit to a format. Storytelling content will become either long-form (e.g., podcasts) or short-form (e.g., Snapchat), with no middle ground. Time is precious, so either give your audiences the whole story, or limit yourself to a quick bite and let them get on with their day.
Make it sound good. According to eMarketer, 11% of Americans own a smart speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home, while Comscore reports that they’ve hit the “critical adoption threshold.” With over one in ten of your audience members turning to Alexa, Google, and Siri for information, audio-optimized content will be essential in 2018. But not only will marketers need to optimize content for voice search, it’ll be especially important to stay authentic and human. For the first time, we’ll be able to actually talk to people at the exact moment they need us. It’s a great opportunity for content creators, but also a medium that must be addressed carefully. We expect that 2018 will be the year we figure that out.
I embarrassed myself in 2017 by suggesting that LinkedIn was a great place to update your resume but held little value for connecting with influencers, particularly those within the media. I now believe that one can’t over-invest in their LinkedIn presence in 2018, particularly if you’re a company principal, sales rep, or marketing pro.
While I believe that concentrating on growing audiences and engagement on social media platforms is key to boosting sales and conversion rates and gaining greater opportunities for collaboration, it’s also excellent for attracting amazing opportunities to be seen as the go-to authority for your industry.
Now more than ever, consumers want to watch videos. Not taking advantage of this opportunity is actually hurting businesses and they don’t even realize it. Over 500 million people are watching video on Facebook every single day.
When these people watch videos, they begin to trust the business more (unless the videos completely don’t resonate with their audience). And as a result, the more someone trusts the business, the more likely they are to purchase something from them.
So, if your competitor begins putting out a bunch of video content (which more and more businesses are already starting to do), then they are going to win the customer over the businesses that aren’t using videos.
Even simple selfie videos filmed on cell phones are propelling businesses higher than video-less businesses. People need to stop being afraid to be on camera, take imperfect action, and just put out as much video content as possible.
As we move into 2018, the number-one trend on social media will be relationship marketing. People will begin to focus on building more meaningful connections, especially with current audiences, that will grow repeat and referral business. One way to do this is on Facebook.
Brands will need to invest in creating a separate Facebook group that’s tailor-made for their niche. These pages will be managed by their business page, which will give them the ability to build relationships with their core audience. This lets them use Facebook for two purposes. Business pages will serve as an introduction to the brand, while groups will encourage a deeper, more meaningful connection.
For example, we manage a holistic doctor’s office that focuses on wellness, but their Facebook group is directed at runners within their specific city. This allows them to gather their target audience of like-minded individuals so they can show their expertise and then build meaningful connections based on serving their audience.
Using Facebook groups will require a community manager to ensure they’re managed properly. Constantly providing quality content mixed with oversight of group members and conversations will be key components.
Brands that continue to use social channels as a push-messaging strategy to deliver boring content that solely aligns with their strategic goals, rather than engaging their consumers in co-content creative development will continue to diminish in relevance.
Brands that embrace the trends of crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, accelerator programs, and the sharing economy, developing both content and ideas for products and services in conjunction with their consumers/influencers, will ultimately prevail.
For 2018, I predict that video goes mainstream and furthers one-to-one communication, especially in B2B. I know we’ve been saying that video is the social trend for the last 3 years or so. And believe it or not, some brands still aren’t leveraging video content to their fullest potential. I’m not suggesting that having video content in your brand handle’s feed is a new trend.
What I am suggesting is that video messages will take social selling to the next level by enabling any employee at a company to communicate professionally through video. Just look at recording platforms like OneMob or Loom, which allow brands to make a more human connection in 2018.
B2B customers and prospects would much rather receive a recorded video from their partner, supplier, or vendor than a traditional email. Think of the power when your sales rep follows up with a prospect via LinkedIn and references specific discussion points from the sales meeting. The rep is instantly able to customize everything about the message, making them a standout among the rest of the follow-up emails prospects typically receive.
Alternatively, video messages can be public, like using them for customer onboarding or partner training. While that typically requires videos to be generic, they can scale quickly and make the process repeatable. Not to mention that it’s more engaging than handing someone a 10-page PDF to read.
In 2018, it’s all about cutting through the noise, increasing engagement, and deepening personal relationships. That means finding new and exciting ways to drive engagement through video. Using a personalized video message allows brands to do just that!
We will also see more interest in VR and social VR (i.e. Facebook Spaces) and how it can be used by brands to connect with audiences in virtual environments, as we move from storytelling to storyliving.
While expanding its focus on video, which proved to be its most shared and viral content according to BuzzSumo, Facebook will remain blind to its lack of competitive search functionality that its peers have, namely Google’s YouTube (the second largest search engine after Google) as well as voice search on Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home.
From an advertising perspective, Amazon (which can be considered a social media network via its customer reviews) will become a greater threat to Facebook and Google. Through Prime, which eliminates shipping charges in the US, Amazon has increased its dominance for first-stop shopping entryway.
In 2018, LinkedIn will do everything Facebook did in 2017. LinkedIn really, really wants to keep up with its cooler, younger brother. Adding video helped, but it’s not enough. As Facebook smashes records for engagement and ad revenue, look for other “me too” features in LinkedIn.
Do these ideas make sense for LinkedIn? Not really. But they have to try something to get more engagement. So the business social network will become a bit more business casual. It’ll be like the company holiday party year round.
In all seriousness, I won’t be surprised to see one change to LinkedIn in 2018. Currently, this is the only social network that lets you export all of your connections and their contact info. This is extraordinary and not something that we should count on forever. Consider exporting yours before this feature is quietly removed.
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