Where is social media headed in 2018?

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.

According to ‘Social Media Trends 2018’, Hootsuite’s annual report on the latest global trends in social media, here are the predictions where social networks are headed in 2018.

Facebook will search for ways to monetize

With 2 billion users and 70 million businesses on Facebook, the social media giant will search for ways to monetize beyond the News Feed.

Mobile video is Facebook’s biggest bet in 2018. But they’ll also boost brand discovery via the new Explore tab; use AI to encourage more people join the 100 million people using Groups; and accelerate organic and paid Messenger interactions.

Customers will see direct benefits from AI this year, with simplified ad targeting and improved predictive analytics that will surface insights from reports, Hootsuite report notes.

YouTube will expand mass- market reach

Google’s revenue jumped up 23 percent in 2017, with much of their growth fueled by strong performance of mobile video advertising on YouTube.

With 1.6 billion users, YouTube will expand their mass- market reach with original social TV programing from YouTube Red, live broadcasting, and YouTube TV. Mobile remains key, but YouTube also saw a 70 percent YOY increase in living room viewing, Hootsuite report notes.

It’s clear that YouTube’s next phase of growth won’t be from viral amateur content. Instead, expect more investment in YouTube as a social TV platform with unmatched advertising precision.

Snapchat to become a niche social network

As social networks race to shift ad revenue away from traditional broadcast media, Snapchat will look to become the go-to-platform to reach younger demographics.

But as Instagram becomes the mainstream choice for brands, we’ll likely see Snapchat become more of a niche social network. Snapchat’s focus in 2018 will be finding a pro table path to growth, so expect to see a steady release of self-serve advertising tools and innovative ad formats, Hootsuite report notes.

New opportunity developing for LinkedIn

Now reaching 530+ million professionals, LinkedIn has expanded their social features, which now include video creation tools, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger lookalike features for peer-to-peer communication, and Snapchat-style geofilters for events and conferences.

With expanded social features, expect to see more finance and luxury brands using LinkedIn to reach affluent consumers. LinkedIn has always had influencers, but a new opportunity is developing formal B2B influencer strategies on the platform—especially to harness new content amplification capabilities.

Instagram’s focus will remain on organic engagement

Instagram’s user growth sped up in 2017, adding 200+ million new users. With the explosive popularity of Instagram stories (up to 250 million daily users) and enhanced live video features, Instagram’s focus will remain on organic engagement.

Instagram offers strong organic engagement, especially with the rise in peer-to-peer sharing, live video, and dark social (such as private messages and disappearing content).

In 2018, we’ll see mobile video engagement continue to rise and extended advertiser options, including ads in Stories, predicts Hootsuite.

Twitter will double down on video strategy

In 2018, Twitter will double down on their video strategy, expanding into more premium content partnerships, innovative live video segments, and applying machine learning to help personalize video discovery.

A core focus will be increasing premium livestreaming content (in 2017, Twitter streamed 830 premium events, such as weekly live NFL sports games). This opens up new advertising options, including in-stream sponsorships and in-stream video ads.

Twitter will continue with premium partnerships with brands. Opportunities for brands include improved video discovery features on the Explore tab, new direct response ad formats, and in-stream video ads that can reach a broad audience, predicts Hootsuite.

Pinterest will build up on visual search engines

Pinterest began as a social network. But going forward, the network will help build the future of visual search engines.

As Pinterest’s founder and CEO Ben Silbermann puts it, “a lot of the future of search is going to be about pictures instead of keywords.” Pinterest recently acquired Kosei, a company that specializes in personalized recommendation modeling.

This will help fuel product discovery tools, using object recognition to boost pins and create more relevant product recommendations. Users can expect an experience tailored to their individual browsing habits and preferences, predicts Hootsuite.

Businesses of all sizes can also now run search ads, targeting the more than 2 billion searches on Pinterest every month. Pinterest offers significant opportunities for both organic and paid brand discovery in 2018.

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