5 social media trends businesses should watch out for in 2018

Published · 4 min read

Hard to believe it’s already October and 2018 is just around the corner!

Along with making decisions about end-of-year staff parties and prepping for tax season, you may also be thinking about how to increase your business’s presence in 2018.

The world of technology and social media is changing so fast—it’s entirely possible that the strategies that worked for you in 2017 may not be as successful next year. Or maybe it’s time to try something new alongside the tried-and-true strategies that have worked for you in the past.

Either way, here are my predictions about what’s going to be hot in the social media marketing world of 2018 and how these trends can help you grow your business.

AR & VR

Remember Pokemon Go? This augmented reality app had millions of folks running around their neighborhoods (and everyone else’s’), hunting for cute virtual creatures. The key to this game was that it was an overlay on your actual location. Many social networks will try to build upon this success in the coming years, by creating augmented and virtual reality components. Snapchat, for example, just released a new filter for its app that allows you to overlay a 3-D, Bitmoji version of yourself at any actual location. Facebook is working on an application that will debut next year that will enable you to virtually hang out with your friends via VR called Spaces.

Takeaway: can you build virtual reality or augmented reality into your business? It could be something as simple as taking a 360-degree photo of the inside of your business and uploading it to Facebook. Check out LensCrafters My Look tool: it allows you to upload a photo of yourself and virtually try on glasses before you buy.

Chatbots

There’s no dispute as to who the leader of the social media world is. With 2 Billion active monthly users, Facebook rules. Would it surprise you to know, however, that chat applications are taking up a close second? Both WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger clock around 1.2 Million users per month. Much of that traffic, to be fair, is personal messaging, but these platforms are also great for business. You can set up chatbots to answer things like frequently asked questions, or to make basic inquiries. Sage, for example, has developed a chatbot named Pegg. You communicate with her through FB messenger, and she can do lots of simple tasks, like adding items to your expense reports or looking up client invoices. Or check out Pizza Hut’s version, that allows you to order pizza through FB Messenger.

Takeaway: Is there some way you could train a chatbot to automatically answer some of the questions you currently are answering via social media?

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories were a major disruptor in the social media world last year. Snapchat owned the market on Ephemeral or Disposable media. The idea of this kind of social media is that it disappears after a short amount of time, its maximum lifespan being 24 hours. When Instagram Stories launched a year ago, they quickly and effectively stole a large chunk of Snapchat’s userbase (myself included).

While I realized that disposable media seems like a bad idea (analytics are scarce and your content disappears after 24 hours), this platform is incredibly popular right now. Millions of people tune in every morning and evening, and on their daily transit commute to watch the Instagram stories of their friends. The platform is more authentic and in the moment, something that is highly valued in today’s perfectly polished world. And with 700 Million active monthly users on the platform (as opposed to Snapchats 200+ Million), it’s the place to be.

Takeaway: If you haven’t already, start playing with Instagram Stories. Follow brands and businesses on the platform and see how they are using it. Be sure to use the built-in features, like stickers, drawings and filters.

Live Video

It’s been around for a few years, but it seems like not only is it not going anywhere, but it’s getting more and more popular. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter (Periscope) all have their own built-in live-streaming apps. They are a great way to be in the moment, tell your story, share tips, or do an AMA. And because of Facebook’s algorithm, they perform well, creating higher reach and engagement than your average post. This is also true for video in general, but live-streaming takes interactivity to the next level.

Facebook will debut a new live-streaming app next year that is going to allow you to virtually “hang out” with your friends via live video.

Takeaway: Pick your strongest social media presence and try doing a live stream on that platform. Make it interesting, engaging, and most importantly, valuable.

Scaling back

10 or so years ago, it was possible to do it all in social media: blog, e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter. But in today’s world, your audience is more fractured, and continuing to create content on all those platforms (plus the new ones!) is becoming an overwhelming task.

Focus your efforts where they will the maximum impact.

Takeaway: Look at each of your social media platforms. Which ones are performing the best? Which platforms align the best with your target demographic? Those are the ones you should be focusing on for your business.

This time of the year is an excellent opportunity to look at what’s working in your current marketing plan and perhaps makes some plans to try something new for the next. Who knows, maybe by this time next year, something you haven’t even tried yet could be your biggest success!

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