It doesn’t take much to reminisce about a simpler time. A time when your only choice was what music you were going to choose to play on your MySpace profile or if your AIM username would be your favorite song lyrics or your pet’s name.
Today, we wrestle with a plethora of social media platforms and struggle to settle on one that’s better than the other. 2017 will offer more options than ever before, rendering this year to be the most complex in choices yet. The new year will also give you a chance to get yourself (or your business) out there in the simplest way possible.
According to Smart Insights, Facebook still takes the cake in the amount of active users and continues to grow exponentially while Twitter can’t break its downward trend. And in a staggering infographic, we learn that out of the 7.395 billion people living on the planet, 2.307 billion of them are social media users. Let’s put it this way, if you or your business aren’t on social media, you are most definitely missing out.
With user-friendly options as far as the eye can see, it’s easy to get lost in the sauce. Don’t worry; we’ve cut through the noise to give you a list of the 4 hottest social media trends 2017 will have to offer.
1. Live Video
Get ready to improvise! Did we make you panic? Unlike classes in high school where you were put on the spot, live video on social media is neither embarrassing nor stress-inducing. We are part of a society that consumes information rapidly. Between snaps that disappear in seconds and hashtags that are currently trending on Twitter, we want to be in the know constantly. So it’s no wonder that live video is having a moment - there isn’t anything more current than it! The future of marketing lies in social media platforms that offer live video. Just this week, Twitter introduced live video to remain a contender to Instagram and Facebook who both reign supreme in this department.
HubSpot offers up several creative ways to seamlessly integrate live video into your business’ social media platforms. A snapshot of those great ideas is to interview experts, show off skills or tricks of the trade and give a behind the scenes look. We live in a world where we value adaptable companies and using live video for Q&As with potential (and current) customers can add value to their experience with you and your business.
And it can’t get much simpler than live video on Facebook or Instagram. You probably already have either (or both) downloaded, which means easy access. Just push record and go.
2. Virtual Reality
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen the countless commercials of people with their cell phones strapped to their faces via an unwieldy device. Last year, Google developed a cardboard version that the New York Times delivered in their Sunday paper. It allowed even the most average of Joes with a smartphone to experience the new sensation that is virtual reality.
If you were asked to identify the largest problems that marketers try to solve every day, one of those would be user engagement. Enter virtual reality. When users place the unwieldy device on their face, they become totally immersed in what is in front of them. For marketers, this is great news. Users can remain completely engaged in content that they are presented with, allowing them to fully focus on what is in front (or around) them. Check out this list of some great examples of virtual reality done right by some notable companies - Patron, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, to name a few).
In the era of the Kimoji and Bitmoji, it’s no wonder there’s a popularity surge of all things emoji. Emoji was even named the Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionary in 2015. Emojipedia cites more than 1,800 emoji available for download on any number of platforms. While emoji can seem insignificant to anyone over the age of 50, it’s a trend to watch in the new year. Millennials and younger generations use more emoji than words to communicate whether it's via text, email or social media platforms.
The number of top 500 brands who use emoji in their Facebook posts grew 46% and 32% in Twitter posts from 2014 to 2015. In fact, Domino's began it’s Domino’s AnyWare program that allows pizza lovers to order the most iconic food of the year via emoji on almost any smart device.
Some brands are using ingenuity to create their own emoji and stickers for their customers. These personalized, unique and downloadable tidbits are a sneaky way for customers to share their experience with businesses to friends and family. The emoji is only getting bigger - from billboards to fundraising efforts to tweets entirely comprised of emoji - if you’re not using them, you’re missing out.
Robots. We’re not talking the C-3PO kind (wishful thinking). We’re talking Socialbots. According to Techopedia, a Socialbot is, “...a type of bot that controls a social media account. Like all bots, a socialbot is automated software.” It’s an algorithm in a social media network, but to everyday folks, socialbots look like just another user. Bots are one of the most sophisticated elements of tech to date.
Socialbots are so authentic, 30% of social media users have been deceived by one. Bots can respond to questions, like statuses and even accrue followers. You may have received a friend request from a bot and didn’t even know it since 20% of users accept friend requests from bots.
Chatbots on social media networks are bots that are made to hold conversations with users. As if fast food could get any faster, just this year Taco Bell released a TacoBot via the Slack app where users can order a taco on the fly. While tacos are (in our opinion) the best way to interact with a chatbot, most chatbots are used to provide customer service to users - think a souped-up version of a “Chat With a Rep Now” on a shopping site you frequent. Bots have been around for a while and are only getting smarter.
As the new year begins, be on the lookout for these up-and-coming trends in social media and give them a try in your own business. Research has proven that these can work wonders if used correctly and in context. The future’s looking bright, friends - #sunglasses not required.