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DECEMBER 20, 2017 //     

5 Social Media Trends for 2018

Credit: Marketing LandBy: Allison+Partners' Digital Team

It seems like every day social media platforms get a new update – a small snapshot of the latest includes Twitter expanding its character count to 280, Pinterest adding new board “sections” and Instagram allowing Story content that’s older than 24 hours. It can be hard to keep up, and more importantly, to know which updates will affect your social strategies and business objectives. We’re here to help… we like this stuff! We stay up to date on what’s changing in the social sphere and help our clients navigate the landscape. So, as a digital team, we investigated the new year’s emerging trends and why that matters for our clients.

1. Instagram finishing touches

Instagram will continue to thrive and diversify, and it will find ways to give users more control over their experience. Everyone’s engagement took a hit this year when algorithms rolled out and many complained they no longer see the newest content. In 2018, it’s likely Instagram will give us a chance to tag our favorite people so we always see their content in our feeds. The notifications option didn’t satisfy the desire to see friends first, so it will keep working on it.

Next, it will perform the final Mortal Kombat style spin move on Snapchat and copy all its strongest features. It will upgrade the filters and features it has already copied from Snapchat, continuing to consistently steal Snap’s users. In 2018, it just has to put the last nail in the coffin (see Trend 4).

It will also roll out shopping to more stores and everyday retail shops. It’s such a great way to get brands involved and active. With this, it will focus on more sophisticated advertising on the phone platform and through Facebook.

2. Messaging platforms are SO in

As we wave goodbye to 2017, we welcome 2018 with more ways to say hello -- especially with the assistance of instant messaging platforms. We all remember the days of spending countless hours coming up with the perfect AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) username. And while we saw regrettably that trend fade away in the ‘00s, it’ll get a bigger and better revival in the new year.

Even though more than 2.5 billion people use messaging platforms worldwide, brands are still focused on connecting with consumers solely through social networks. In 2018, we expect -- even encourage -- brands to invest time, money and strategy to connect with followers through messaging platforms.

We are entering a digital age of artificial intelligence (AI), chatbox and voice assistant products. Raise your hand if you own a Google Home or Alexa. *raises hand*

According to Geomarketing.com, roughly 65 percent of voice assistant owners couldn’t imagine going back to the days before they had a smart speaker. This digital transformation is a sign for brands to get on the bandwagon and offer personalized experiences through messaging platforms. The main takeaway is to keep communication interesting and innovative. As a result, brands should use messaging platforms to go beyond traditional services.

Here’s a list of the top five messaging platforms we predict will continue to rise and make an impact in 2018:

  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • Kik
  • WeChat
  • Line and/or Viber
3. Snapchat sale

On Dec. 7, 2017, a Google News search of “Snapchat” revealed these top headlines:

  • “Nobody Knows if Snapchat Shows are Actually Successful” (Engadget)
  • “Is The Worst Finally Over for Snapchat?” (CNNMoney)
  • “Could Snap Finally Turn Things Around in 2018?” (TheStreet)

Six months ago, at a social media bootcamp event, one speaker said definitively, “Snapchat is dead.” It seems the jury is still out.

This year, Snap went public at $17 a share and has seen little growth since then causing some to wonder if the ad platform has value. (The Engadget headline above doesn’t seem to be a vote of confidence in that department.) After its IPO, Snap decided its niche would be mobile-first, short-form, original video programming. NBCUniversal was one of the first to sign up, but it apparently has only 4 million subscribers. With 178 million daily active users, that’s not a lot. And then, like Instagram launching Stories to compete, Facebook announced in August its own original video content hub called Watch. Finally, perhaps a last-ditch effort, in November, Snapchat underwent a large redesign. Is it too little too late? All in all, it’s losing money, losing users and struggling to convince advertisers to spend. The 2018 prediction: Snapchat will get bought. The likely buyer? Chinese tech giant Tencent, owner of WeChat, since it invested in Snap in 2017 and could use it as a U.S. entrance.

4. Trust and Transparency

Every year, information fatigue grows as material becomes even more accessible for both readers and content creators. 2017 was overwhelming to say the least (fake news, anyone?), but it brought manipulative media practices into the spotlight and got people thinking about how digital media is created and curated strategically.

From politics to products, audiences will start to use more scrutiny when absorbing information – particularly when it comes to sources. This will make finding and working with trusted influencers even more important for brands. Earlier this year, we spoke with Reesa Lake from influencer talent agency Digital Brand Architects about where influencer marketing is heading and she underscored the importance of authenticity in endorsement deals. And, as more influencers partner with brands in 2018, consumers will become savvier about authentic and transparent relationships.

5. LinkedIn unleashes data and grows video

It took little time for LinkedIn to start rolling out new features after Microsoft’s $26.2 billion acquisition of the platform, but change is coming. We’ve witnessed a new home-page feed, inclusion of chat messaging and the launch of video. So, what’s next in 2018? Look for LinkedIn to become a serious player with data and upsell those insights to recruiters and job seekers. Also, look for the 500 million-users platform to expand its video capabilities.

We can see LinkedIn providing recruiters with better insights on how candidates may fit within an organization – Think metrics such as the size of companies the candidate has worked for, keyword analysis in recommendations and ratios of connections of former employers. From a job seeker’s perspective, look for data focused on company turnover rates, promotions and career growth trajectory within an organization. With Facebook starting to become more involved with workplace services, these enhanced data offerings should answer the Mark Zuckerberg challenge for now.

When it comes to video, it's only natural for LinkedIn to grow this new feature and start integrating it into its advertising suite. With the inconsistencies that come from other online channels that have video ads available, LinkedIn has an opportunity to be more than a shiny new toy and give us something unique. Perhaps the video ads contribute to their data revolution in 2018.

Allison+Partners' digital team members include: Nycole Hampton, Christina Mlynski, Lucy Arnold, Jessica Fix and Patrick Hodgson

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