The time that people spend using social networks and apps—whether it’s on a laptop, tablet or smartphone—is increasing at an incredible rate.
Buyers increasingly are self-directed and opting to participate in the creation of brand content and communities. For good or not, the democratization of prevailing wisdom is in the hands of the crowd and no longer solely within the silos of corporate marketing departments.
So, what’s in store for social media marketers?
One could argue that what makes social media relevant is people, but what makes social media work for business is content.
The future of social media for marketers lies in their ability to harness the way content is discovered and consumed and how content inspires action.
Customer centricity and data are the keys to informing content that creates great customer experiences. There are also emerging trends for social media that I think are worth watching in 2016:
1. Re-calibrate your “filter bubble.” Using the behaviors of a closed network as the primary source for filtering social content feeds (as Facebook does) runs contrary to the idea of open discovery of new information online.
That “filter bubble” creates challenges for brand content visibility in social media feeds, so it will be important for online marketers to work with influential voices to co-create and promote content on social media networks.
These influential people help online networks prioritize stories in the newsfeed. Marketers can benefit by engaging them and teaming up with them on content creation.
2. Go long with content on social media sites. LinkedIn publishing opened the door to others, such as Facebook, which recently brought back its Notes long-form content functionality. At the same time, the spirit of using Flickr for blogging is now emerging on Instagram.
I’m no fan of homesteading on rented land, but having a presence on social media networks with long-form content keeps readers where they want to be instead of sending them to another website.
3. Right here, right now, real-time video: Periscope, Blab and Facebook have simplified the real-time video publishing and viewing experience. People want to be involved, to create and to be a part of something interactive. That presents an opportunity for brands to originate and co-create video content with their communities.
Though I couldn’t have known years ago what social networks would look like today, it’s even more amazing to imagine what they will become in the future. Though social media might change, it will continue to be people and content that make social media networks work for expanding a brand community.
A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn.