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3 Social Media Trends to Watch for As We Move Into 2018

Within the realm of our ever-evolving industry that is digital marketing, social media trends may shift more than any other aspect of the business. For example, the once-popular Snapchat continues to lose users to Instagram Stories; Twitter has rebounded slightly from its 2016 downtrend though the one-time prominent news outlet may never regain its prevalence. Not to mention spending on social media advertising grew 130 percent in 2017 with no signs of slowing down next year.

Seismic shifts have become the norm in digital marketing. So much so that we essentially downplay them to light smatterings of rain rather than a caustic hurricane of information we’re frantically trying to grab. And it’s not that trends change so much from year to year; the shift is constant. But as the end of Q4 lingers, we’re all looking back in order to try and figure out what’s ahead. On the social media front, here are a few things to look for in 2018.

Instagram Stories

According to Instagram, Stories are used by more than 200 million people per month who keep up with friends and the brands they follow. That’s 50 million more users per month than Snapchat. And all this despite Instagram Stories being just over a year old. Brands wanting to stay connected to their followers and engage new ones must become dynamic on this platform.

Rise Above the Video Plateau

About 67 percent of US-based marketers run paid video ads on Facebook. Eighty-three percent of that group are most confident that their products have a better chance of selling on Facebook than any other social platform. According to Business Insider, digital video ad spend reached about $4 billion in 2017, double what it was the year before. Brands and their marketing agencies have realized the power of video.

As social media platforms become saturated with videos of every length and topic, average content is going to get lost. If you had a client spend $100K on video and video advertising in 2017, it may be wise to encourage them to double that amount for 2018. With more video and less opportunity to reach audiences organically, paid video ads are going to become just as important as the brands and products they promote. Well played, Zuckerberg.

The Importance of Influencer Marketing

Brands acquire loyalists because they build themselves as trustworthy resources for information, education and entertainment through the content they create and the products they sell. And influencer marketing is one of the most effective, authentic and affordable ways to create branded user-generated content that resonates with audiences. It’s kind of like reading a Yelp review for a new restaurant written by Emeril Lagasse - a brand influencer on social media is likely going to be someone you know or have heard of, and if not, there is a really good chance they’re connected to a trusted source you follow.

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Watch company, Daniel Wellington, bypassed all traditional marketing strategies to focus solely on influencer marketing. They pay celebrities and micro-influencers alike to post photos of themselves wearing their watches. By promoting the product’s lifestyle image in this way, the Daniel Wellington Instagram account has amassed 3.8 million followers in just a few short years.

Ninety-one percent of Millennials and Generation X (anyone 18-51) say they trust online reviews, despite not knowing the person writing the review. Now imagine that it's a well-known personality saying that a product or service is worth your dollars. Influencer marketing may be one of the last best ways to reach audiences in a way that looks and feels organic. In essence, you’re building consumer trust, meeting marketing goals affordably and effectively, and targeting the right audience without having to do much research.

The creation of content and its distribution is as important as ever for the digital marketer. That self-same sentence has likely been said, written and thought about millions of times, but it has never rang more true than now. Think back to two years ago when the shift to video began. Yeti Coolers reportedly spent $10M in 2016 on just video, way before anyone else was giving the medium any real thought. Through video, the Yeti brand is now associated with everything outdoors including BBQ - it’s become so much more than just a cooler manufacturer; it’s a way of life.

Now that the average social-media-using American is exposed to 5,000 ads per day, the real questions becomes: How will you stand out?

Josh Wolfe