If you are a digital marketer then focusing on your social media strategy should be a top priority for 2017. The second half of the year is even more critical for improving your social media presence, considering the holiday seasons are approaching and consumer spending and sentiment both takes a positive upswing. So here are few predictions that we believe might be worth remembering as you tweak your 2017 social media strategy.

1Live video content will become (even more) bigger

In 2016, 14% of marketers used live video at least once, according to Social Media Examiner, and 43% have planned to use interactive video this year according to new data from Wyzowl.  

Although, there are many streaming platforms present out there, however Facebook Live and Periscope continue to remain the most popular ones.

In 2016, Periscope noted that users have watched 110 years of live video daily on the platform. Similarly, live streaming on Facebook reached record-breaking numbers around the world.

Twitter and Instagram aren’t behind in the race as both the platforms have integrated live videos .

So, how can you leverage live videos in 2017? A good starting point is to first understand which social media is your audience spending the most time on. Once you've identified the platform, the next step is to identify touch-point opportunities where you can engage your audience. One of the most common touch-point is to live stream events. Live event streams help potential consumers connect with your brand without having to be physically present at a particular location. Other instances where live videos can come in handy are:-

Q&A sessions - These videos will drive engagement because the host can ask for comments, feedback and questions from the audiences.

Live videos series - Check out this weekly series from Allure, where the host reveals and reviews a new variant of their lipstick, and asks the audiences what they want to see in the next video. This kind of content is not only exciting, but also consumer-driven, which makes it highly engaging. According to Facebook, engagement rates on live videos are 10X higher as compared to normal videos.

2Social media commerce will become a dominant way of sales

Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook provides users with a way to buy products directly from their apps. Check an example on Instagram below:

According to a study from Aimia, 56% of consumers have told that they follow brands on social media platforms to browse products for sale and 31% have agreed that they are using social media specifically to look for new items to buy.

Brands should focus on these shopping habits and look to creatively embed sales call-to-actions in socially-driven content. People spend time on social networks to find interesting content that they can relate to and information they can possibly make use of, and simply sharing a photo of your product with a 'Buy Now' options ticks neither of those boxes. Instead, look for sharing information that your audience can use and embed your product pitch as a solution to their problems rather than simply forcing it down their throats.

Say if you cater to beauty industry, you could share informative content on beauty, skincare, and related topics. For example, 'tips on how to get rid of tanning' will definitely make for a crisp and interesting video, along with a natural plug-in of your product as the solution at the end of the video. 

If this seems difficult to you, there is another idea. This research proves that product demonstration videos get as many as 4X views compared to any other form of product information. Your audience is willing to view and share video of your product, so why not give them the ammo and let them fire at will!

3Ephemeral content will continue to get eyeballs

Marissa Emanuele (Social Media Marketing Manager of HubSpot) coined the term “FrankFeatures”, an instance when a social media platform launches its own version of some other platform’s best feature.

Need an example? Snapchat started disappearing or ephemeral content trend and Instagram launched a similar feature but with the ability to also share the ephemeral video. It is not like that you will abandon marketing video production and professional photography but disappearing content on Snapchat and Instagram is good way to showcase the “other side” of your brand.

The 'urgency factor' associated with ephemeral content creates a strong pull as users understand that the content is available for only limited amount of time. And hence, such content usually drives high engagement in a short period of time. And because it's usually crisp, ephemeral content also commands attention of the audience.

Content ideas for ephemeral stories can include:

  • Contests and giveaways
  • Interviews
  • Live events
  • How-to-videos
  • Recipes
  • Daily or weekly video series
  • Product reveals
  • Behind-the-scenes looks

4Brands will rely more on messaging apps

If the only thought that comes to your mind when we say 'messaging app' is Whatsapp, and Facebook Messenger (and maybe WeChat) as the alternatives to traditional text messaging then think again- messaging apps are used by more than 4 billion user’s people worldwide and there is marvelous opportunity for brands to take advantage of this presence.

Brands are using messaging apps to communicate with customers, which is completely revamping the way the customer service is done. These apps provide the customers an easier and faster way to get assistance rather been waiting for an email.

For example, Hyatt uses Facebook messenger for 24-hour customer service, where guests can ask questions, get recommendations and make reservations.

Source: Digiday

There is another research that will make you think twice about messaging apps, that a quarter of apps which are downloaded and uninstalled after just one use, except for messaging apps. So, in 2017 marketers should expect less social networking and more messaging to develop real time connection with audiences.

5Brands will make a switch from Snapchat to Instagram for stories

Instagram launched its stories features in 2016 and just after two months, Buzzfeed News reported that Instagram stories were getting 100 million daily active users and it represents two-thirds of Snapchat’s complete user base. This is the reason why brands will start switching from Snapchat to Instagram for sharing stories.

At 600 million users, Instagram offers a bigger audience than Snapchat which is only at 150 million. Plus Facebook owns Instagram, Instagram advertisers can target based on Instagram and Facebook insights. Instagram also allows a user to publish videos and photos in a permanent portfolio in addition to ephemeral stories, so sharing content is much easier with friends.

Despite the rapid growth in Snapchat, it offers fewer means of measurement and analysis for the social media marketers, so Instagram offers more ways to measure ROI in 2017. Instagram is also adopted by a large number of public figures and celebrities and the interface of Instagram is slicker.

These were the 5 social media marketing predictions that we think will come true in this half of 2017. Social media is changing constantly and one prediction we didn’t include was to prepare for anything. So, what are your social media marketing plans for 2017? Share them in the comments section.

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