4 social media trends to watch for in 2018

To stay ahead of the game in the coming year, marketers should focus on chatbots, video and a mobile-first strategy.

The end of the year is quickly approaching.

The holiday season is right around the corner and 2018 is just a few months away. Social media gives your brand an incredible opportunity to attract attention and boost business, provided you do it right. You either take full advantage of the opportunity or your competitors will.

It’s a constantly changing landscape, and it’s time to start laying out your social media marketing strategy for the approaching year. To be successful, you should know about the latest trends. Staying ahead of the curve will put you in a much better position to capitalize as we head into 2018. Here are four crucial social media trends to home in on:

1. Chatbots have arrived. You must master them.

If you aren’t familiar with chatbots, you need to learn how this technology can greatly benefit your social media marketing. Customer service has transitioned to phone calls and emails to social media. Consumers demand instant replies to their questions and concerns, and they now turn to social media when they want something.

The sooner you can reply, the better. Chatbots allow you to interact instantly, which is why Facebook Messenger bots are becoming so popular. Setting one up is fairly simple, and you can do it for free.

“Social media is the hub for customer interaction, and it’s becoming necessary for every business to acknowledge this, even service-based businesses. The most attractive aspect of utilizing a chatbot is the ability to provide instant engagement that feels personal. Chatbots are there for your customers around the clock,” says James Memije, founder of AccuServ Heating & Air Conditioning.

2. Social media should be entirely mobile-focused.

Snapchat and Instagram are mobile-focused social media platforms, and while Instagram is accessible via desktops, very few users, if any, use it on anything other than their mobile devices. Facebook makes 84 percent of its advertising revenue from mobile — making it clear as day that the majority of social media users are on their phones.

“The content you post on social media needs to feature calls-to-action that have the mobile user in mind. They already have their phone in hand, so take advantage of the opportunity and create content that triggers an action,” advises Catherine Jacobs, COO of McQuarrie Hunter LLP.

Facebook was originally created for desktop use, but it has evolved to become extremely user-friendly on mobile devices. The trend of mobile use dominating social media is only going to increase, so prepare yourself now.

3. Don’t eliminate platforms because of feature similarities.

It’s no secret that Facebook and Instagram copied Snapchat—they all now have very similar features, but that doesn’t necessarily make them the same. From the outside looking in, they might seem similar enough to possibly eliminate one from the mix, but each platform has different reach abilities and different audiences.

“Snapchat is still the more popular option among the younger demographic, while Instagram is the millennials’ social network of choice. Facebook is the option the older demographic is comfortable with, and it now has a ‘Stories’ feature as well. So, while these three all have the same feature, they are favored by different audiences,” explains Yosef Adelman, CEO of Falcon Marketing.

This is going to continue, and while the features might become more similar across different social platforms, you can’t eliminate a social media channel based on features alone—doing so can possibly eliminate your ability to reach certain demographics and audiences.

4. Video must be part of your content strategy.

Everyone knows that video content is hot right now, and Facebook ads that feature video are attracting more engagement, which then amplifies organic exposure. When done right, there isn’t a bigger bang for your social media marketing dollar.

“Snapchat is heavily video-content based, as is Instagram’s Stories feature, proving how video is the dominating content format on social media right now. Businesses that quickly learn how to tell their story through video content will experience much better social media success than those that ignore it,” says Brian Gwinn, CEO of Greenview Investment Partners.

I can already see brands and entrepreneurs start to get more involved with Snapchat, myself included. They are becoming more influencer-friendly, which will contribute to introducing it to a much larger group of users outside of the younger demographic.

A version of this post first appeared on Entrepreneur. Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

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