2018 social media trends for your business and top tips for using them boost your reach.
We all know that social media is a must for businesses – helping you connect with customers and potential consumers on a local and global stage. But the world of social media is constantly changing. What you were doing six months ago can quickly be obsolete or no longer relevant to your audience.
Relevancy and trust in your brand are vital for a strong and healthy company reputation online. Which is why we’re looking at social media trends for 2018 and top tips for using them for your business – to boost appeal, reach, relevance and sales.
Social media changes in 2017
While Instagram reigned supreme, and Twitter stuttered, consumers demanded more information, authenticity and transparency from brands.
One of the most prominent changes of 2017 was when Twitter increased posts from 140 to 280 characters. Twitter rolled out the feature to a select group of users, stating that the 140-character limit impacted people differently depending on their language. This shift enables brands to post in more detail, helping them to better reach out to their followers. And while that’s a positive many experts are predicting that in 2018 Twitter will descend into a terminal decline. Why? Stagnant user growth and lack of focus.
Another significant development, albeit late to the party, was the launch of Facebook stories. One of Snapchat’s main features, and around since 2013 (a long time in the world of social media) stories continue to rise in popularity in the social media landscape. However, it was only last year that Facebook capitalised on it, realising the true potential of stories and launching to its 2.07 billion users.
2018 social media trends – what’s in store and how can I use it for my business?
24-hour stories – a must for building brands and widening reach
Instagram Stories should be part of your 2018 social strategy. They will increase in popularity during 2018. Right now, 200 million users use the story feature each month – proving just why businesses should be considering it as part of their wider marketing campaign. Experts predict that by the end of 2018, half of Instagram’s total users will be publishing stories.
Entertainment giant E! News makes Instagram stories look easy, providing the day’s top entertainment headlines as individual stories, their fanbase can quickly access the content they want to see. They engage with it, posting comments and joining the conversation. E! News has 9.3 million followers on Instagram.
Mobile app Travel company Hopper used ads in Instagram Stories to reach millennials in North America, aiming to get travellers to download its app and book flights. It reached 7.5 million users and achieved an 80 per cent higher booking rate for new users. App installs went up 67 per cent.
Top tips: Adding a website link to individual stories means your audience can directly visit pages on your website without leaving the Instagram app. It’s a great way to show the faces behind a brand and repurpose content. If you’re just starting out in business it will help you to build a following, understand your audience and target a broader pool of prospective customers too.
Live streaming – connect on a personal level
When was the last time you saw a live streaming video on one of your social media streams? It’s most likely that the answer is recently. Live streaming is enabling businesses of all sizes to connect with their audiences on a personal level. Airbnb proves how effective live videos are. It teamed up with Disney to stream content from the premiere of The Jungle Book. Fans watched exclusive live interviews with the cast and crew as they walked the red carpet. The video has 112,000 views to date.
Top tips: It’s relatively cheap to do. Any business – large or small – with a good Internet connection and high definition camera can broadcast live on social media. And many sites including YouTube and Facebook allow you to broadcast live free of charge.
Try before you buy – virtual reality and augmented reality
VR uses 360-degree video to move you into a digital world. AR adds digital information you’re your line of sight.
While VR is increasingly popular, AR is catching on more. It became a major talking point after Apple announced features in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X models would use it. More brands are interested in incorporating the technology, while others are already doing it. Companies are using AR ads to bring their products to social media users so they can try before they buy, resulting in more informed buying decisions and sales.
Beauty brand Estée Lauder is doing it by inviting people to try different shades of lipstick from wherever they are through LipArtist, a Facebook Messenger bot. You can see what it looks like before you buy. It’s a smart marketing move and great social engagement.
Top tips: Look at the products and services you offer and think about how you can ‘virtually’ bring them to your customers. Can you create an app or bot that allows them to try before they buy from anywhere in the world?
Get ready for an influencer take over
As we move deeper into the digital age, influencer marketing will take over from traditional marketing strategies. Brands are discovering that using social media-based influencers can target a whole new audience, one they may not have been able to target using traditional strategies. Smoothie brand Naked Juice used lifestyle bloggers with hundreds of thousands of followers to promote their products. The bloggers strategically placed a Naked Juice smoothie with their other daily essentials, showing their fanbase why they should make Naked Juices a part of their day.
Small businesses and start ups can really benefit from social media influencers, particularly if you want to see quick growth online. Social media influencers can help shape your business, drive traffic to your websites and add credibility. In the early days – as well as further down the line – credibility has a huge impact on your online reputation.
Top tips: Do some research and understand how it works and what you want to achieve. Identify the influencers you want – those who are aligned with your business. Pick influencers who can speak to the people you want to target and recommend/endorse you. We also recommend going for micro influencers rather than those world-famous ones. They interact with their followers regularly and cost less. Build a good connection with your chosen influencers and maintain it. Oh, and something that’s important to remember, is checking the influencer credentials (associating with someone with good credentials and legitimate followers) so your reputation isn’t at risk.
Generation Z is where the buying power is – you need to target them
Generation Zers (people born in or after 1995) hold a huge amount of buying power. Just starting their careers, they are more valuable to businesses than the millennial generation. Brands will take this into account during 2018, using platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram to market to them. It was reported that 88% of Gen Zers use Instagram and Snapchat daily, often six times during the day. They also use different social media platforms for different activities.
One study finds that social media has a big impact on younger shoppers, with more than 80% of Gen Z influenced by social media in their shopping and 74% of millennials. For Generation X its 58% and Baby Boomers 41%.
Top tips: Get to know the Gen Z audience, what they want, need, what social media they use and interact with and how they like to consume information. Tailor your content to this audience and ask their opinions on topics of interest related to your industry. With Gen Z think mobile first, get to know Gen Z influencers and create Instagram Stories and master the art of Snapchat to appeal to people.
More on what’s in store for businesses embracing new social media trends in 2018
To really get the best out of social media to enhance your online reputation, credibility and grow your business, you should explore all of the above.
It’s also worth noting that organic reach is declining. This is the total number of people you reach through unpaid social media distribution, with brands are discovering that they must start use new and innovative strategies.
Selectively choose the social media platforms that your business uses and posts on, based on audience knowledge. That’s the first step to ensuring you retain your organic reach. Much also has to be said for using other strategies such as paid ads and influencer/advocacy strategies. These techniques will ensure that your brand’s message is heard by a wide audience.
Our obsession with researching anything and everything online continues. Those moments when you want to know the answer to a question, decide where to shop for dinner, what car to buy or where to make plans for the weekend, all involve a search online. We default to the Internet search engines, the biggest ‘library’ we have at our finger tips for the answers.
Your business needs to give consumers what they want or need. Social media content done well provides them with reasons to choose you over your competition. The better quality and engagement the higher it ranks as its perceived as relevant and useful.
2018 social media trends – protecting your business on social media in 2018
You also need to protect your brand, products and services on social media. We often hear from companies that know the value of social media, but are worried about negative comments, trolls and the so called ‘dark side’ of it. Some are worried about employees saying the wrong things on social media too.
Protecting your brand has never been as crucial as it is in 2018. Last year it was hard to know what was fact and fiction. In fact, the Collins Dictionary word of the year for 2017 was ‘fake news’. It increased in use by a staggering 365 per cent! Together with fraud, copyright and infringement, these are just some of the phrases that can impact your business’ reputation. Why should business leaders and/or owners care about how their brand is perceived online? As a business, you risk losing 22% of your business if potential customers find one negative comment or article on the first page of your search results.
So you need a crisis plan to help you avoid one, and for the eventuality that if something goes wrong you can deal with it.
Social media can positively and negatively influence a brand’s reputation. Recently Virgin Trains showed us that posts are not always perceived the way we want them to be. A customer tweeted the rail company to complain about a nickname an employee used for her. In response to the complaint an employee of Virgin Trains asked if the customer would prefer one of two other nicknames instead. This caused a backlash, with social media users suggesting that the comments made were sexist. You can protect your company reputation from employee risk.
In the ever-changing age of social media, it’s important that your brand stays on top of all the dos and don’ts of social media. Plus, have plans in place for if it doesn’t work out how you’d imagined.
Igniyte works with small, national and international companies around the world to build positive and lasting online reputations. We use best practice approaches, including social media tactics and trends, to help businesses reach their full potential.
Founder and Managing Partner at Igniyte – The Reputation Experts
Simon is an Internet entrepreneur and expert in online reputation management. An authority in digital marketing, he’s a key industry spokesperson and regularly writes for marketing, business and national press and broadcast media. He is quoted by the BBC, Forbes, and many more. Simon also writes for his popular reputations blog www.reputations.org.uk