5 key social media trends that will dominate 2018

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The year 2017 saw a long list of innovative social advertising formats, the victory of mobile video, and the rise of AI messaging bots. While organizations are interested in these innovations, they’re also under pressure to justify the ROI of existing social media investments, notes ‘Social Media Trends 2018’, Hootsuite’s annual report on the latest global trends in social media.

As we look forward to 2018, it’s clear that the dominance of social networking will continue to increase. Across all global markets, consumers are spending more time on social networks every year.

While connecting with friends remains the top motivation for using social networks, digital consumers are also engaging in new activities like tuning in for live broadcasts, researching products, interacting with Messenger bots, and watching an ever- increasing number of mobile videos, the report adds.

The report, based on a survey of 308 social marketing practitioners; qualitative interviews with 38 industry specialists, identifies 5 key trends:

The evolution of social ROI

While organizations have traditionally used social media to increase top-of-funnel engagement, many are exploring and discovering the value of social in other phases of the customer journey, notes the report.

In addition to brand awareness, social media is also helping organizations achieve business objectives such as lowering customer service costs, tracking changes in brand perception, mitigating risk, attracting top talent, and even feeding social insights into supply chain analyses, it adds.

Mobile fuels the growth of social TV

Mobile usage, shorter attention spans, and the thrill of novelty have accelerated the consumption of video content.

The old buzz phrase used to be that “brands need to be publishers.” But in 2018, social networks will encourage brands to become broadcasters as mobile video and social-TV style programming take the spotlight, the Hootsuite report adds.

Trust declines, while peer influence rises

Micro-influencers, real customer communities, and “people like you” take center stage as consumer trust continues to decline, the report notes.

“As trust declines, marketing leaders are also wary of overhyped results from inflated follower metrics and inauthentic influencers. In 2018, there will be a renewed focus on building authentic engagement and genuine influence,” the report maintains, adding, “While influencer marketing has challenges, it is clear that peer-to- peer influence will continue to grow.”

Humans, meet AI

The machines have risen. But brands need to make sure artificial intelligence strategies stay focused on being human, helpful, and relevant at scale, notes the report.

From how people discover new brands to how they order products, we’re quickly moving into a world where experiences make our social interactions with brands more relevant to our individual preferences.

Whether your organization decides to invest in AI or not, this will be a trend to watch and one that will quickly change how brands and consumers communicate on social channels.

The promise (and reality) of social data

The Hootsuite report says social data can help marketers gain new influence and recognition in the enterprise. But to realize its promise, there’s still work ahead.

Social data’s potential remains. But organizations have realized that collecting data is the easy part. Integrating social data with other analytics systems — or extracting usable insights from mountains of social mentions — requires a lot of work and more resources than they originally thought.

In 2018, social teams have a lot to gain by using social data to break down social marketing silos, helping them gain their rightful place as one of the best sources of customer insight that has value across the organization, the report adds.