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21 Game-Changing Social Media Trends in 2017

Ian Blair on March 24, 2017

Social media is expected to grow above and beyond expectations this year.

In 2016, social media saw massive growth accumulating 1.9 billion mobile users and 2.3 active users worldwide.

If for some reason, you weren’t able to capitalize on the emerging social networks and if your business doesn’t use social media marketing to its fullest, don’t panic.

Social media is not going anywhere soon. At least not in 2017.

So you should be using it to promote your app.

Social media is one of my favorite marketing strategies.

The game-changing social media trends discussed below will show you why.

 

1. Social Messaging

One of the most common trends that will prevail 2017 is private social messaging.

WhatsApp has 1.2 billion monthly active users while Messenger (Facebook) has a billion monthly active users.

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People prefer using private social media messages more than communicating and engaging on social media. This is the reason why the top four messaging apps have more active monthly users than the top four social networks.

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People now prefer using messaging apps more than social networks. Statistics show that a quarter of all the apps were uninstalled after a single use except messaging apps.

This shows the trend as to where your customers are heading and where you should head in the future.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a consultant, public speaker, author, or an expert who looks for keywords and does SEO job for clients, you need to consider these trends and how you can integrate them into your strategy.

Since your target audience is now shifting to private messaging, you’ve to interact with them at the same level. This is the reason why Facebook released Messenger Conversation from Facebook ads that allow advertisers to start a new conversation from an ad.

Brands like Hyatt are using Facebook Messenger to offer 24/7 customer services to their clients.

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Meghan Keaney Anderson, the HubSpot VP Marketing says:

“Maybe we shouldn’t be thinking about messaging in terms of apps at all, but rather as an evolving infrastructure.”

We will see more brands using private messages to interact with their customers. Just like brands have secret Facebook groups, in the next year, we might see groups on WhatsApp from brands.

Besides, we might also see brands offer advertising opportunities to businesses allowing them to run their ads within the messenger. Who knows?

 

2. Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is the next big thing in the tech industry. Though it is still new but it is expected to get more popular in 2017.

Brands like GoPro, Facebook, and vTime are investing big time in VR and there is a reason why they’re doing so. It will grow. These brands will make VR grow.

For instance, GoPro has released several VR clips on its YouTube channel.

Not to mention the vTime, the first VR powered social network. It allows the users to interact with their friends in virtual locations. vTime is changing the way people use social networks and how they interact and socialized on the internet.

There are several ways how VR will impact social media in 2017.

VR video clips will rule the social network in coming years. GoPro and TOMS are already doing it. We will see more brands doing it in 2017 and the same videos will make it to the social networks.

Internet users appreciate video content more than any other type of content so it is highly unlikely that VR won’t be making to social networks very soon.

If brands can come up with better VR headsets that look nice, we will see VR changing our lives. In any case, it will be a massive trend in 2017.

 

3. Social Ecommerce

All the leading social networks allow their users to purchase products within their apps. Think of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and recently Snapchat.

Social media is reported to the second most favorable network that users visit when looking for something to buy online.

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The survey also asked consumers if they will be interested in buying directly from social networking sites, and a good chunk of them responded that they will love to do so.

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In another research by Animoto, 4 times as many consumers will watch a product video and 84% reported that they have liked at least one company video in their newsfeed.

Yes, consumers are already into it so as social networks. Social commerce will be a big trend in 2017.

Twitter has already tested a buy button and Snapchat has started testing ecommerce features already. Over 31% of users purchased on WeChat in 2016 which is double than the previous year.

Social ecommerce will grow exponentially in 2017. Get your brand prepared to sell on social networks. Whether it be ads on social networks, product videos, or direct buying, social ecommerce will rule 2017.

 

4. Live Video

Live video is still new but we saw it taking Facebook by storm in 2016.

When Facebook announced Live Video in 2016, nobody knew that it will get so famous among people and businesses alike.

Facebook has announced that it will roll out a 360-degree video for live users. This will be available for all the pages and will be available in 2017.

On the other hand, YouTube has already launched the same feature.

Vimeo has recently launched 360-degree video. These videos will be viewable on a VR headset but Vimeo is offering some nice perks to the users who will upload 360-degree videos.

Instagram and Twitter have also launched live video streaming features in the last quarter of 2016.

This is a big opportunity for businesses. Live video allows you to interact with your audience and customers in real-time.

Statistics show that 43% businesses plan to invest in interactive videos in 2017. This is because videos are watched like crazy.

The image below shows how live streaming on Facebook reached a new milestone and broke all previous records on New Year’s Eve.

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Something bigger will happen in 2017 and across multiple social networks that will offer live video streaming this year.

There are several ways you can use different video types for your brand in 2017.

For instance, use live videos to interact with your customers. You can answer customer queries, you can run a product tutorial or anything. Live video once a week on your preferred social network will keep your followers engaged.

 

5. Ephemeral content

Ephemeral content refers to the type of content that stays alive for a very short period of time usually for a few moments or up to 24 hours.

Think of Snapchat. It uses disappearing content sharing trend and it is not hated by the users.

Recently, Instagram launched a similar disappearing video feature and a disappearing messages feature. The ephemeral content and messages will continue to grow in the next year.

Why?

Because this is what people like.

Snapchat has seen massive growth in last couple years. It is the fourth most popular app among 18-24-year-olds.

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Youngsters seem to love ephemeral content and they will continue to do so in 2017.

A study by Shutterfly showed that Americans take more than 10 billion photos every month. Interestingly, 50% of respondents haven’t looked at their old pictures in the last month. They’re just forgotten.

This is the reason why Snapchat content is super-engaging. This is the reason why Facebook tested the same idea for its messenger.

Snapchat has several case studies to show that content that disappears after 24 hours is more engaging because users make the best use of the available time during which they can interact with the content.

The same trend will grow in 2017.

We will see more of ephemeral content on social networks from brands. According to Search Engine Watch, ephemeral content is one of the growing content marketing trends in 2017.

Get yourself prepare to create short and disappearing content for your brand to boost engagement on social networks.

 

6. Chatbots

A chatbot is a computer program designed to interact with the humans on the internet. It is a chatting robot.

Facebook has launched its chatbot for the Messenger. These chatbots are used by businesses to interact with their customers and followers via messenger. Businesses can create their own chatbots for messenger and can personalize it for their business.

Since it is getting hard for businesses to maintain a decent response rate on social networks, therefore, a fairly large number of businesses are now switching to chatbots to respond to customer queries on Facebook.

Facebook Messenger is not the only social network that is using chatbots. Slack also uses chatbots to communicate with the customers.

In 2017, a fairly large number of businesses will switch to Chatbots because consumers preferred customer service medium is a social network and it’s not easy to tackle several hundred queries daily.

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To meet customer expectations in terms of response time, more businesses will start using chatbots in coming years.

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Consequently, social networks will start offering chatbots to their users.

 

7. Social Advertising

Social networks are smart just like search engines. They use algorithms to personalize the organic social content based on what their users will love.

This makes it harder for businesses to have their posts seen.

This is why brands spend massively on social advertising year after year. According to Content Marketing Institute, paid advertising on social ads increased year after year. In 2016, the social ad revenue crossed $1.53 billion throughout the globe.

Adobe forecasted that social media spend will cross $41 billion in 2017.

Statistics show that the total social media advertising increased year after year in the US and is expected to cross $11 billion in 2017.

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Paid content in social networks will continue to rule social networks in 2017 and will grow exponentially in coming years.

This is because businesses will spend heavily on social ads to make their content seen.

However, when you’re running ads on a social network, you need to ensure that the content is useful and valuable else your target audience will ignore your content.

 

8. Crackdown On Fake News

Millennials use the internet as their main source of news. They don’t prefer watching TV or reading the newspaper.

More than 90% of people use the internet to access news.

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Consequently, there has been a rise in fake news from websites that use fake news deliberately to drive traffic. Social networks are getting serious about such fake news and are fighting against all such fake news.

Facebook, for instance, has already taken steps to crack down against fake news. Germany, on the other hand, is about to impose a fine on social networks that won’t be used by anyone to release a fake news.

Similar rules might be imposed on social networks in other countries and this will force social sites to initiate a crackdown against fake news.

You’ll see strict rules from social networks in terms of what businesses can post and what they cannot post. This will definitely impact businesses as to what they post.

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9. Mobile Ad Growth

Spending on mobile ads will grow exponentially in 2017.

Twitter mobile ad revenue is expected to grow in 2017 and the mobile format is expected to increase more than desktop.

More than 80% of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from mobile ads.

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Adweek conducted a survey of millennials about their experience with ads for Snapchat and Instagram. The results were mixed but it was reported that people remember Instagram ads more than Snapchat ads.

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As the number of mobile users is increasing at an alarming rate, therefore, you’ll see an increase in social mobile ad spending in 2017.

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You should craft a clear social advertising strategy for your brand with a focus on mobile ads. The social mobile ad spending will increase in coming years, your competitors will spend on the same, and you should start spending on the same.

 

10. Artificial Intelligence

Snapchat facial filters are powered by artificial intelligence are found to be interactive and engaging.

Since it’s a much-liked feature, other social networks are already investing in the artificial intelligence.

Facebook is testing its facial lenses for mobile. Instagram Stories is another AI-powered feature that garnered over 100 million active users in two months.

Facial lenses is, however, one feature.

The investment in artificial intelligence is expected to triple in 2017. Facebook, Google, IBM, and other giants are investing heavily in AI.

LinkedIn acquired Bright which uses machine learning to offer better jobs to candidates.

Artificial intelligence will drive social media in 2017. We will see investment new features from other social networks that will help users.

According to VentureBeat, AI is essential for social media.

This means you’ll see more of it in 2017. Social networks will invest in AI to stay ahead of the competition and to make their customer’s life fun and easy.

This will open new doors for business in terms of interacting with the customers, social ads, and networking.

 

11. Rise Of Employee Advocacy

Employee advocacy is the promotion or marketing of the business by its employees. It is more than a simple promotion of the organization.

There are organizations that have a solid employee advocacy programs that help them boost engagement and brand awareness.

Altimeter reported that employee advocacy has grown by 191% since 2013. Some 45% businesses reported that it is their most important external objective.

Businesses will invest in employee advocacy more than ever in 2017. This is because customers prefer connecting and interacting with people instead of businesses.

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Employees are one of the most trusted spokesperson to communicate a topic.

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Statistics show that 31% of high-growth businesses have a formal employee advocacy program and one in every five employees is estimated to be an employee advocate.

The ROI is exceptional in terms of user engagement.

Topgolf used 300 employee advocates who were responsible for sharing updates. This increased likes by 220%, 60% increase in reads, and 31% increase in total shares.

With the growth of social networks and a whopping increase in the use of messaging apps, businesses will invest more in employee advocacy so that they can reach more people effectively.

 

12. Snapchat Users Will Switch To Instagram

This is an interesting trend.

It’s expected that Snapchat users will move to Instagram after the launch of Stories.

When Instagram launched Stories, it received 100 million daily active viewers. This represents two third of the Snapchat’s entire user base.

Instagram has a much bigger audience (600 million users) as compared to Snapchat’s audience (150 million).

Instagram offers a whole lot of other additional features as compared to Snapchat such as permanent portfolio and the ability to use insights from Facebook too for advertising.

Snapchat offers limited means to measure and analyze progress as compared to Instagram.

Experts predict that Instagram will kill Snapchat in 2017. We will soon see brands and influencers shifting from Snapchat to Instagram. This will drive individual users to Instagram too at a massive level.

This is a big prediction for 2017 and if it happens, it will be one of the biggest upsets.

Consequently, there will be a rise in the use of Instagram and Facebook in 2017. With Instagram’s growth, Facebook will grow and it will persuade more businesses and influencers to get involved in Facebook for deep insights.

Prepare your business for the transition if it happens the way it’s predicted.

 

13. Business Features

Social networks will prioritize business features and will follow the footprints on Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram, for instance, launched its business tools in 2016. This shows the trend as to where it will head in 2017.

Businesses use analytics to see what works for their social media campaigns. They cannot go without in-depth analytics. Social networks know it and they will get better with analytics in the future.

Statistics show that 92% of executives and businesses use analytics for marketing insights. Another survey reported that 36% of businesses use social media analytics.

In order to fulfill the needs of businesses, social sites will continue to offer better insights to marketers and businesses. This means the social networks that don’t offer a reliable and powerful analytics and business tool (such as Snapchat) might launch theirs in 2017.

Once they do, businesses will have access to more powerful insights. This will eventually help businesses grow.

 

14. Social Media Skills Gap

The social media skills gap is widening.

The research by Capgemini Consulting revealed that nine out of 10 businesses reported that their employees don’t have the necessary skills to use social media as a business tool.

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This skill gap will widen in 2017 because businesses aren’t ready to invest in training their employees any time soon.

This costs billions of dollars to businesses every year as said by Ryan Holmes:

“The real price of the skills gap often goes unnoticed: billions of dollars in lost opportunity.”

As a business, you should start training your employees for digital skills with a focus on social skills. This should be considered as an opportunity.

Though social media courses are being taught to undergraduates in some universities but it will need time to see its impact in the labor market. Businesses will experience the same skill gap in 2017.

 

15. Personalized Content

Personalized content will rule social networks in 2017.

After all, this is what consumers expect. According to a survey, 61% US consumers reported that getting relevant offers is more important keeping their online activity private. They love getting personalized offers.

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When the content isn’t relevant, people get frustrated. Some 70% of people reported that they get frustrated when the content they see is not relevant to them.

But marketers and businesses lack insights into what their target audience needs.

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This calls for two trends in the social media for 2017.

  1. Businesses will invest more in analytics. Social networking sites will offer analytic tools and business features so that businesses can better track their followers and offer them with personalized content.
  2. Businesses will spend more on retargeting. Facebook retargeting ads will be used by more businesses to offer relevant and personalized content to their target audience.

 

16. CEOs Will Start Using Social Networks

CEOs are not on social networks.

The Fortune 500 CEOs aren’t much active on social networks. According to the 2015 social CEO report:

  • Some 61% of CEOs has no social presence at all.
  • Only 60% of CEOs having Twitter accounts were actively using it.
  • Not a single Fortune 500 CEO is active on all the six major social platforms.

This was 2015, though.

Things started to get better in 2016.

Facebook’s Business Influencer program attracted CEOs to on social networks like Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

On the other hand, LinkedIn Pulse is used by several CEOs and has more than 500 influencers.

It’s expected that more CEOs will join social networks and will become active on at least the leading social networks. But it will take time.

When CEOs will join social networks, it will bring a lot of their followers on these networks since they’re the real influencers with massive following.

This will increase the number of people who use social networks significantly. More people will join social networks and this will drive ad revenue.

It all depends on the CEOs and how social networks attract them.

We might also see influencer targeting programs from other social networks to bring them on board.

 

17. Social Influencers

Social influencers will grow like anything in 2017.

There are three major reasons why 2017 will boost social influencers.

  1. The old school advertising techniques don’t work. Over 47% online consumers use ad blockers. They don’t like seeing those annoying ads.
  2. Influencer marketing is found to be a much better marketing approach. More than 84% marketers reported that they plan to use at least one influencer marketing campaign in next 12 months.
  3. The CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are expected to start using social networks in 2017. This will give a boost to social influencer marketing.

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Emarketer reported that 48% of marketers will increase their influencer marketing budget in 2017.

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This year will be a year of social influencer marketing. Brands will focus on hiring influencers on social networks.

 

18. Merger And Acquisition Of Social Sites

If there’s one thing that’s certain, it is that there will be more social networking sites merger in 2017 than ever.

Facebook acquired Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus Rift, Faciometrics, Infiniled, and several other businesses in last few years.

Twitter acquired Periscope.

In 2016, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for a whopping $26.2 billion.

This will continue in 2017 and it will be harder for new social startups to join the mainstream without getting acquired by a giant.

As a business, you’ve to keep a close eye on these mergers and acquisitions. Channelize your social media marketing budget and content based on what’s happening around.

Such mergers also create innovative ways that will help you as a brand. For instance, if Microsoft integrates LinkedIn profiles within Microsoft 365 apps, imagine how this will impact your business and marketing.

 

19. Organic Social Traffic Hard To Acquire

Social networks are getting smarter. They use algorithms to show most relevant content to their users.

This makes it hard for businesses to acquire organic social traffic.

For instance, Facebook changed its News Feed algorithm several times in 2016 and even in 2017.

The purpose of these updates is to prioritize the posts from friends over other sources. So if someone has liked your page, your post won’t be get as much organic views unless the user choose to see your posts first in the News Feed.

GetApp conducted a survey from 500 small and mid-sized businesses. The survey asked from the respondents that how effective Facebook is at driving organic traffic to your website. Most of them reported that it is not effective at driving organic traffic.

Only 9% said that it is effective while over 25% reported that it is not effective at all.

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Clearly, businesses will continue to struggle with organic traffic on Facebook and other social networks.

Consequently, businesses will have no option but to run ads. Social networking websites will be primarily used as paid marketing channels for businesses in 2017.

Competition and average bids will ultimately increase for social ads in next years.

 

20. Standardization

Social networking websites are moving towards a standardized platform.

What works for one site is copied by the other site. Users see similar features on all the social networking websites.

For instance:

  • Instagram introduced Stories make it look like Snapchat.
  • Facebook is also testing disappearing messages in the Messenger.
  • Vimeo has launched VR videos copying YouTube.
  • YouTube is testing a community feature that will allow its users to post and share text and images. This is a feature that makes it quite similar to Facebook.

What does this mean?

All the social networking websites will offer similar features to the users.

The trend will rise in 2017.

There will be similar features available with all the social networks in 2017 if things go as planned. This will make all the social networks similar and standardized.

 

21. Superior Customer Experience

In 2016, 23% of B2B marketers said that they plan to have a customer-centric organization culture. The same trend will follow in 2017.

Consumers still aren’t satisfied with what they get from businesses. A large chunk of consumers feels that only 1% of businesses are able to meet their expectations.

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Statistics show that 63% of millennials say that they use social networks to stay updated about their favorite brands and another 51% say that social opinions influence their purchase decisions.

Businesses will focus more on offering superior customer experience and services to their customers through social networks in 2017.

We will see well-managed pages and social accounts. Regular updates. Quick response time.

Besides, businesses will invest in social media experience too in 2017. The idea is to offer a better experience to the customers on social networks so as to boost engagement and conversions.

This spending will rise in the coming years.

 

Conclusion

Capitalize on these 21 social media trends for 2017.

Ask yourself if your business and its social media marketing strategy is going in the right direction.

If you’re developing a mobile app to keep up with the trends, make sure you understand the costs.

Is your business prepared for these trends?

Do you have the resources and workforce to deal with these trends? It’s never too late to plan.

Ian BlairIan@buildfire.com

BuildFire Co-Founder. I’m a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I’m here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.

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