2017 has been an intense year for social media. The Adpocalypse cut into creators’ adshare, Instagram made a play for Snapchat’s users, and influencer marketing blew up as an advertising tool. Creators who were prepared to meet these changes were able to minimize their losses from downturns and reap the benefits of new opportunities.
What about next year, though? Will you be in a position to take advantage of 2018’s social media trends? Here’s what experts predict will be trending next year.
Over the last year or so there’s been a rise in businesses using Artificial Intelligence-powered chatbots for website customer service. Now the technology is moving to social media platforms, where they’re being used to field routine questions from fans.
Right now there are more than 12,000 Facebook bots active every month. It’s estimated that by 2019, 30% of online customer conversations will be assisted by automation or AI. Companies that engage socially are seeing huge returns in the form of lower labor costs and higher customer satisfaction.
That level of personalization appeals to celebrities and creators, who rely on strong fan relationships. Celebrities like Kehlani, Jwoww, and Christina Milian have already started using chatbots to answer their Facebook messages. Look for more to launch chatbots in 2018.
What was once a gimmick is now a social media mainstay. Live streams are taking off, and their popularity will only grow in 2018. 80% of fans would rather watch a live stream from their favorite influencer than read a text post or check out a photo.
Live streaming has surpassed even carefully produced videos as the most popular kind of content on social media. Fans find live entertainment more relatable than scripted content for the same reasons they love reality TV: it’s perceived as relatable and sincere. When creators risk looking less than perfect on a live stream, they build trust with their fans. Trust leads to engagement, which explains why live videos are watched three times longer than recorded ones.
Celebrities and creators alike are experimenting with paid live streams as an alternate revenue source. Between that and the technology platforms, live streaming is set to become a $70 billion market by 2020.
Ephemeral content consists of images or video that disappears after a set period of time, never to be seen again (unless the poster allows replays in their settings). Snapchat is the most well-known platform for ephemeral content, though Instagram stories are a similar concept.
People respond to ephemeral content’s temporary nature. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) inspires fast action, with fans intrigued by the short-term nature of the content. It also shares the fun, spontaneity, and authenticity of live streaming.
Interestingly, ephemeral content is being driven by influencer marketing. Creators have loyal, well-defined audiences, which is attractive to brands whose products might appeal to those demographics. Brands will be looking for more creators and influencers to spread their message in 2018.
Augmented reality made huge advances in popularity over the last couple of years. Apple offers an AR experience in iPhone X iPhone 8. Star Wars ran a massive AR collectible character campaign earlier this year. Now it looks like AR is making a play for social media, too.
Rumor has it that Snapchat and Instagram will offer AR filters next year. The AR filters would allow fans to “hang out” with celebrities, creating fan videos and virtual selfies. This could be a big opportunity for creators. Whether the filters are premium content or just a fan treat, they’ll give creators an extra tool to build engagement.
Stricter Platform Oversight
Social media has long been a virtual Wild West, but 2018 may change that. After several high-profile embarrassments, platforms are looking for better oversight to ensure compliance with their terms and conditions.
The motivation for the new restrictions comes from disruptions in platforms’ main income stream: advertising. Companies want assurances that their ads won’t appear beside content that could make their company look bad. Earlier this year a block of major companies went so far as to boycott YouTube until the platform promised stricter monitoring.
The event- called the “Adpocalypse” by creators who lost huge chunks of their ad share income- made YouTube more reactionary. They’re much quicker to demonetize videos now. Creators lose ad share until the matter is resolved, having to spend the lucrative early hours following the video’s release negotiating with the platform.
What’s going to get blocked?
- Misrepresentation and Fraud: After the US election, both Facebook and Twitter found fraudulent accounts and bots that some experts argue influenced the election. The negative publicity hit hard. Platforms are sharpening their screening algorithms to prevent a repeat event. This is generally a positive development, though creators with multiple accounts may experience minor hassles with page names.
- Unpaid advertising: Influencer marketing is maturing into a standard practice. With more advertisers working directly with creators instead of buying ads, social media platforms are getting stricter about creator compliance with advertising rules. For many platforms that means no overlays, limited logo placement, and labelling videos as “paid content”. Influencers need to get creative about featuring sponsored products in an appealing light while sticking to the rules.
- Inappropriate content: Social media platforms have a hard time finding a balance between free speech and inappropriate content. The trouble isn’t nudity or other adult content; instead, politics and civil rights are the real problem areas. Major brands like Coke and Nike have had their ads run on anti-semitic YouTube videos(one of the examples commonly cited as a cause of the Adpocalypse). Look for more restrictions in 2018 while the platforms experiment with solutions.
Zero or Near-Zero Organic Growth
The need to become profitable is driving platforms to limit organic reach. As they refine newsfeed algorithms, unsponsored content falls lower and lower on the priority list. Promoted posts and shares will soon be the only ways to reach new viewers’ feeds. Facebook has already cut organic growth with their Explore Feed, which pushes all un-Liked pages off the newsfeed entirely. To keep growing, creators need to actively push fan engagement and alternate sources of discovery.
The Social Media Trend Found Outside Social Media
One of the biggest social media trends for 2018 isn’t actually found on social media: custom creator apps. Creators are leveraging their massive online followings to build platforms where they have complete control over content and data. On their own platform, they don’t have to worry about demonetized content or heavy oversight. It’s also easier to feature upcoming trends like chatbots and exclusive live streams on a custom platform. Creators like Felipe Neto and the Kardashians already have popular custom apps.
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