Social Media in 2018: Top 5 Trend Predictions

The new year has started with a big social media bang. With a massive announcement from Facebook and Instagram stories ramping up daily, it’s clear 2018 will be anything but boring for marketers.

So, what does this all mean for you, and what does 2018 have in store for your business when it comes to social media? To get the most of your marketing efforts, it’s crucial to take advantage of the rising trends and features—if and when it makes sense for your audience.

Buffer’s The Science of Social Media 2018 podcast recently revealed five of the top trends that social media marketers should utilize this year—read on to learn what they are and our take on how you should apply them to your business.  

5. Rise of Gen Z Buying Power

Gen Zers (those born after 1998), hold increased buying power as they are now entering college, and soon, the workforce. According to Goldman Sachs “What If I Told You,” Gen Z is now considered more valuable than Millenials (whatever). This group is the first generation to have had the internet from birth—and they’ve been using it as pros practically ever since.

“Students – mostly GenZ – are spending about 11 hours per day in front of up to five different screens so it should be of no surprise that they are not married to just one platform,” said Michael Cherenson, SCG’s executive vice president for public relations. If you’re trying to reach these guys, he recommends for marketers to remain “agnostic when it comes to platform.”

TAKEAWAY:  Connect with Gen Z where they are - messaging apps, Instagram stories, Snapchat, Tumblr—and sometimes Twitter— are all places this group likes to hang.  

DID YOU KNOW? Gen Z uses closed messaging apps more than any other generation.

Messaging apps such as House Party and GroupMe require you to be friends with those you’re interacting with (no strangers allowed). Utilize message apps for customer service instead of brand awareness, which leads us to our next social media trend for 2018: Chatbots.

4. Brand Participation in Messaging and Chatbot Platforms

If you haven’t heard of them yet, a chatbot is a program that automates tasks such as sales, reviews, by chatting to a user in a conversational setting on a variety of platforms. Chatbots are valuable in situations that require immediate responses - such as DM’s. They can be programmed to respond to customer inquiries via if-then statements.

For example, Sephora’s Facebook page is a perfect example of utilizing chatbots to engage with your customers.

Facebook Chatbot Sephora.JPG

TAKEAWAY: To get started using chatbots, check out these chatbot templates. With 2.5 billion people use messaging platforms globally, more people are using messaging apps than social media—woah.

3. Continued Investment in Influencer Marketing

In case you still aren’t sure whether or not to include Influencer Marketing in your business this year, these stats from the podcast absolutely blew us away!

  • 40% of people have purchased an item after seen online

  • Influencer marketing delivers 11 x’s higher ROI than traditional marketing

  • Over 90% of marketers that use Influencer Marketing find it successful

Another impressive stat that we found is that 70% of Millennials prefer product endorsement by non-celebrity influencers, according to Collective Bias. Influencer marketing is a way to connect with an audience, like Millenials, that are blind and deaf to traditional marketing strategies. In essence, Influencers are in the “trenches” where marketers could not previously reach.

Focus on engagement rather than follower count. According to Later’s State of Instagram Marketing 2018, “81% of businesses report that post engagement is the best measure of Instagram marketing success.” An influencer with a high engagement rate reflects content that resonates with their followers.

TAKEAWAY: When starting to use Influencer Marketing in your strategy, do your research. Before beginning a relationship with an influencer, make sure their audience aligns with your target audience. Consider testing their services before beginning a long-term contract - your relationship should be symbiotic.

2. Ephemeral Content on Instagram Stories

As of November 2017, over 300 million people are using Instagram Stories which is close to twice as many people that are using Snapchat (!!!!). With Stories' current rate of growth, nearly half of all Instagram users will be using it in 2018. “Ephemeral content,” or in-the-moment content, still plays a major role in Stories, however, a big update at the end of 2017 with Instagram Stories Highlights is yet again creating more opportunities for how to strategize content.

Instagram gives algorithmic preference for accounts that utilize Instagram Stories and keeps yours in front of your followers. Although Instagram Stories is deemed as a copycat from Snapchat Stories, there are major differences that allow stories to be more business-friendly. Similar to your Instagram posts, you have the ability to use hashtags and location tags on your stories.

Stories are a fantastic way to diversify your content. Instagram offers great features within their platform to get creative with your Stories. You can play around with stickers, text, writing, hashtags and so much more! Another great feature of Stories is that you can repurpose high performing content to your grid.

TAKEAWAY: Stories offers the opportunity for your business to create a humanized marketing approach via Instagram. Show your followers a behind the scene look at your company—give them sneak peeks or promote an upcoming event! Because Stories are ephemeral, it is a great chance to have fun with your content. If your business is not already using Stories, you should be.

1. Video is Queen

No big surprise here—almost every platform has continued to up the value, importance and opportunities for video on their platforms. The growth of video can be seen in marketing budgets and platforms. Beginning with Snapchat stories, Facebook and Instagram soon followed suit with stories and live video.

Video gives you the opportunity to share a more authentic experience with your audience. Behind the scene footage is a great way to connect with your followers and show them a more human side of your business.

Some statistics we found exciting on video:

Your business needs a video marketing strategy and with the rise of video marketing, creating beautiful videos is now easier than ever. Applications such as PocketVideo and InShot allow you to create beautiful content seamlessly to post to your website and social pages.

TAKEAWAY: Create video content and upload it NATIVELY to the platforms themselves. Instagram has a :60 limit, stories have a :15 limit, while Facebook can handle much longer videos. Instagram Stories is a great place to start! You can share high performing content to your gallery or to your highlights where it can live on your page indefinitely. Also, try going live on Facebook for a big boost AFTER the fact. Videos that were once live continue to gain views over time.

What trends are you most excited for in 2018? We can’t wait to see what the year has in store!