For many business owners, these days, it feels as though social media is a rapidly moving target. And for good reason: Social media is turning out to be one of the fastest-changing industries around. Which means that, if your business is going to be competitive in the months to come, you’ve got to be relevant on social.
According to a recent article published by Forbes, there are five things trending in social media this year that you need to know about in order to do just that. Read on to learn more:
1. Social messaging. As Forbes notes, if you want to reach users on social — in particular, millennials — your best bet as a business is to incorporate Over-the-Top (OTT) and SMS (Short Message Service) messaging. Why? A full 62 percent of millennials demonstrate a preference for brands who engage with them using these channels. “Millennials,” Forbes says, “want the personal touch, transparency and collaboration that the one-on-one communication allows.” Need more reasons? How about two billion of them? That’s the number of estimated users who will be messaging through OTT apps by 2018.
2. Curbing fake news. Among many things, the 2016 presidential election gave rise to fake news, which spread like wildfire throughout social media. In order to curb this in the future, Facebook has already taken steps to ban fake news platforms from advertising on their site. Meanwhile, over in Europe, Germany is proposing to place fines on social media sites that spread fake news. Whether or not this legislation passes, going forward, those who rely on social media as their primary source of news (chief among them millennials) will, no doubt, be more careful in vetting news stories and alerting their followers when something’s legit or not.
3. Authentic content. In 2017, one of the hottest trends on social will be live, user-generated video (think Facebook Live, which launched a few months ago, and Instagram’s live app, which is in testing). A driver of social media engagement like no other, live video posting is credited with a lot of Facebook’s recent growth and is even making itself into major media stories on a global scale.
4. Augmented reality. Sharing experiences — not just information. That’s the promise of augmented reality (AR), “old” tech that recently started to gain in popularity thanks to social media. According to Forbes, Snapchat’s selfie lenses are what brought AR to the fore in social media. With Facebook’s recent acquisition of Masquerade, a live filter and selfie app used to live stream video, the writing’s on the wall: Businesses need to jump on the AR bandwagon, or risk being left out of the social conversation.
5. Chatbots. These days, more and more businesses are using chatbots — a type of artificial intelligence that is “smart enough” to have a conversation with someone — to respond quickly to customer comments and questions online, something that has gone a long way towards improving customer service and enhancing the online shopping experience. What’s more, chatbots have the ability to guide people in the consumption of content and complete a transaction. In 2017, watch for the continued rise of chatbots on social media as more and more brands seek ways to engage further with their customers so that they spend more time on their platform.
A savvy, social 2017
If you’re looking to gain (or maintain) a competitive edge on social in 2017, take a page from some savvy business owners and consider using one or all of these five trending technologies to your advantage. In doing so, you may just see your customer engagement — and sales — skyrocket as a result.