Social media trends follow movements in culture. They reveal key influencers of consumer behavior. And they provide a powerful platform for testing marketing innovations and brand ideas.
Today there are 2.46 billion people on social media. And as eMarketer reports, that number’s only getting bigger:
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That’s a lot of potential for your company. And other companies are thinking the same. So what should you do?
Connecting with customers is about knowing what they’re thinking and what they want. By staying on top of what’s relevant in culture and the marketplace, you can tailor your newsfeed to keep your audience engaged.
Are you looking for a way to make better connections with your customers? Ready to explore a social media as a new channel, but not sure where to start?
Here’s a look at the top five social media trends today.
1. Ephemeral content
Now you see it, now you don’t.
Ephemeral content flashes across the internet for a second, maybe 24 hours, and then it’s gone. But when done well, it leaves a buzzing trace across people’s memories. And that brings lasting benefits to your company.
These content blips are the basis of Instagram and Snapchat stories, where millions of users have become seduced by quick-fire content.
One advantage is posting without polishing. People can easily upload a raw photo or video without fussing about editing. It’s spontaneous, authentic, in-the-moment storytelling. And it gives marketers a savvy way to test concepts quickly.
The numbers speak for themselves. As of November 2017, Instagram Stories topped 300 million daily users, while Snapchat had 187 million people sending fleeting messages every day.
And when that many eyes are in one place, businesses take note. Last year, Instagram had more than a 1 million advertisers using Stories each month.
Ephemeral content is booming because it taps into “now culture.” Watch it now, share it now, experience it now.
2. Live streaming
Video lets you experience events in your own time. Live streaming lets you do this in real-time, so everyone can be there—even when they’re not.
With recent success stories like Periscope, Twitch, and Facebook Live climbing aboard YouTube’s gravy train, the video streaming market is on track to be worth $70 billion by 2021.
Teaching online classes, broadcasting an event, doing a live demonstration of a new product—all of these are ripe for live streaming. It’s a pure, immediate, and relatively effortless way to reach audiences and make them feel part of the experience.
It also feeds into our “now culture” syndrome. And since all major social media platforms now offer live streaming, expect to see this social media trend continue beyond 2019.
3. Chatbot conversations
Facebook Messenger recently announced that there are now more than 30,000 active chatbots gathering information, giving product guidance, and taking orders.
And you better get ready for more. Because Gartner estimates that by 2020, 85% of our engagement with businesses will be done without interacting with another human.
Why the chatbot frenzy?
Chatbots are efficient. They provide faster response times for customer success, easier reservation services, and seamless bill paying at scale. And all without completely sacrificing that human touch—Facebook reports that 56% of people would rather message than call customer service.
4. The rise of augmented reality
Picture this: a full 3D scan of your body, uploaded to Snapchat, and dancing to Madonna’s Vogue.
Augmented reality has quite literally changed the way people experience the world. It may have started with people searching street corners for Pokemon. But that was just the beginning.
By enhancing real world experiences, AR lets people connect with brands through a heightened level of immersion. And companies are taking note.
According to a Deloitte survey, nearly 90 percent of companies with revenues between $100 million and $1 billion are already using AR as part of their business.
The Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone x are both equipped with a chip that offers AR experiences. And platforms like Google Glass and SnapChat’s Lens Studio make is easier than ever to augment your reality.
Furniture and meatball retailer, IKEA, is one of them. Their new IKEA Place app lets you add a digital layer of furniture right on top of your real living room—so you can test styles, colors, and fabrics without opening a single box.
If only it could assemble the furniture for you too.
This is one trend that’s here to stay: learning how to keep up with the mind-blowing pace of social media change.
Instagram Shopping, Twitter’s character increase, Facebook’s algorithm updates, LinkedIn’s native video—that’s a tiny fraction of the social media changes launched in 2018.
Can you keep up with it all? Probably not. But having an agile approach and an open mind is a good place to start.
To stay relevant on social media, move with the change, learn fast, and never stop experimenting.
And beyond the trends, remember why you’re on social media in the first place: to build emotional connections with your customers and bring them closer to your brand.
Need some help getting started? Head over to our most recent guide on social media marketing.