If we had only two or three big social networks out there, the jobs of marketers and social media managers would be a good deal easier. But as it is, the digital landscape has been dispersing, especially over the last 12-24 months. The challenges brands thus face involve a bigger, yet scattered audience; more diverse, yet fragmented social platforms; and an ever more competitive environment with impressive marketing efforts, such as Airbnb’s innovative Hollywood & Vines campaign and the highly successful #ShareACoke campaign (revamped from 2013 and taken to a whole other level of individualisation late 2014
A recent study states that one quarter of the world’s population uses social media. This means that 1,730,000,000 people are posting, pinning, tweeting, vining and instagraming. Every 60 seconds 4.7 million posts are uploaded to Tumblr; 277,000 snaps are shared on Snapchat; and more than five million videos are viewed on YouTube.
More than ever, brands have to be on their toes staying up-to-date with the latest developments and strategically investing resources into the trends that are likely to stick aorund. These are the seven social media trends I see dominating 2015/2016.
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The first successful steps to push forward more sophisticated Scommerce were seen in 2014, for example with the introduction of Twitter Product Cards and innovative campaigns on Pinterest, such as Nordstrom’s exemplary multi-channel campaign, creating a consistent customer experience across email, social and offline. Most recently and particularly exciting for ecommerce brands are developments for network-driven sales, a crucial category of Scommerce. We saw increased efforts to simplify the social network-driven buying process for online shoppers with both Twitter and Facebook pioneering the testing of “Buy” CTA buttons. Allowing users to purchase on networking sites is a no-brainer, considering for example Twitter’s liability to their shareholders and the massive growth of social media and ecommerce. A close-knit co-operation of both industries yields huge potential for marketers. The perks? Another streamlined sales channel. The danger? Social media is about customer engagement and building genuine relationships. Major pitfalls awaiting!
Integrated social advertising
The social advertising trend from 2014, which saw Snapchat’s first ad, video ads on Instagram, auto-play video ads on Facebook and a greater variety of Twitter cards, will continue in 2015. In addition to new and enhanced social advertising channels, I also expect to see exciting new ways of firmly integrating social advertising with brands’ data bases and omnichannel strategies for sophisticated and contextual targeting. If you build your social advertising on rich and accurate behavioural data stemming from website, email, apps etc., and if you closely interlink it with your other channels, you open the door to the Cockaigne of social advertising with endless opportunities, from reactivation campaigns by serving ads to inactive or bouncing email contacts, to automating social retargeting and retention campaigns based on previous actions of your target audience. And bear in mind, the better integrated with your other marketing resources, the more relevant and tailored your social advertising will be and the less users will feel commercialized – a major weakness Scommerce currently holds.
The revolution of mobile
More effectively than any other channel mobile lets brands create (and take advantage of existing) compelling micro moments at different stages of the purchase journey, be it through SMS, push notifications or in-app product recommendations. With technological progress in terms of geofencing and geotargeting retailers should put mobile and owned mobile apps at the core of their marketing activities reaching their customers with timely and highly contextual messages on a one-to-one basis. Considering a worldwide mobile penetration of 93%, major social networks are constantly improving their mobile presence. Social websites and apps being among the most used features on mobile, 2015 will inevitably see optimised web and social media sites becoming the norm and geo-targeted, contextualised real-time content an indispensable component in every digital marketing strategy.
Instavid, Vine, Snapchat, Hyperlapse – social video is up and coming holding two major benefits for brands. First, audio-visual storytelling is emotionally compelling so share your story and display your products with beautifully crafted messages. Secondly, vloggers and micro-vloggers are a great way of getting your message in front of your audience. But don’t collaborate with influencers only, common users produce a lot of content on new platforms such as Vine and Instagram – tap into this productivity and make user generated content part of your marketing strategy.
Oreo, king of real-time marketing since their Super Bowl 2013 Dunk in the Dark tweet, have recently been dethroned by KitKat with their brilliant #Bendgate tweet. But agile marketing is not only about going viral – it’s about relevant content at just the right time and spot-on reactions to external influences with real-time marketing happening on much smaller dimensions. 2015 will encourage the monitoring of trends both on a large, general and a small, audience-targeted scale, every minute of every day.
Though progress in terms of big data, wearable tech and the Internet of Things pushes the boundaries of people’s perception of privacy, recent developments highlight the demand for anonymity, with platforms such as Whisper, Ello and Facebook’s independent Rooms erupting the landscape. If and how brands can tap into this trend remains to be seen since users are not likely, and indeed opposed to interacting with brands in this space.
Private messaging has been around for a while, but brands are overdue to fully seize its potential for customer interaction. The beauty of messaging apps lies in the rich diversity of content formats and media companies, for instance, are starting to use the likes of Snapchat and WhatsApp for live media coverage. A great example from the B2C sphere is Durex’s activity on WeChat allowing users to ask intimate questions about an otherwise taboo topic in China. Private messaging is key in most people’s lives and in 2015 more brands will shift their focus to this channel making it part of their social media marketing, starting with sharing icons and slowly moving to sophisticated campaigning.
Which trends do you see dominating 2015? Leave us a comment or tweet us @Emarsys.
Update: Here are the Social Media Trends for 2016.