5 top social media trends to watch in 2017

From the rise of messaging apps such as Snapchat and Facebook Messenger to paying for online posts, here’s what PR and marketing pros should embrace this year.

Social media is always changing.

In addition to Facebook’s continued algorithm changes, live video, Snapchat’s continued growth and the rise of virtual reality, here are just a few things to look for in 2017:

1. Twitter’s demise. It’s almost time for Twitter to say bye-bye.

Stock is down 29 percent year to date. Top executives, including CTO Adam Messenger, are leaving. User numbers are not growing. Pew Research Center reports 24 percent of online adults use Twitter, up just 1 percent from one year earlier.

When you combine these factors with the fact that Facebook ads perform substantially better than Twitter ads in terms of ROI, you can see why Twitter might not be around much longer.

At its best, Twitter is a real-time conversation platform. When tied to trending events, it’s an engaging platform. However, it simply doesn’t work well for what a lot of brands generate: planned content.

2. The rise of messaging apps. Facebook Messenger enables brands to advertise within it. More than 50 percent of new Snapchat users are over age 25. Nearly one-third (29 percent) of smartphone owners use general-purpose messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Kik.

Customers increasingly will engage with companies one on one—not publicly on their Facebook wall, but within messaging platforms. More companies will use bots to respond to customers.

More apps, such as Venmo, will enable friends to exchange money through messaging. The content on your Facebook page will be as important as the responses you’re providing in functions such as Messenger.

3. Measuring offline sales. Thanks to advancements in Facebook’s software, you can now link in-store sales to your Facebook ads. Through partnerships with point-of-sale systems such as Square and Marketo, Facebook can provide analytics of how views of Facebook content and ads lead to purchases and store visits. Basically, Facebook gets right into cash registers to pull real-time, in-person results. This ties nicely into the SoLoMo trend (social, local, mobile).

4. The proliferation of paid social media. For every $1 you spend creating content, you should spend $2 promoting it. Target customers and new business leads, people who have visited specific pages on your website and even a lookalike audience of your established email database.

The precise targeting makes it easy to reach the right people with the right message at the right time. Why not use it more?

According to Advertising Age, social media spending grew by 55 percent in 2016 to $10.9 billion, up from the previous year’s $7 billion. That could hit $15 billion in 2017.

5. One channel might be enough. The scramble to be on every platform is over.

This will be the year that more organizations incorporate social media into their overall business plans and marketing plans, raising the question, “Which social media platforms will help us generate significant ROI?”

They will be selective in the channels they use to deliver content and advertising, maximizing impact on particular channels instead of spreading themselves thin across a half-dozen platforms.

Also, get rid of your Google+ page. It doesn’t help with search engine optimization as much as you think it does.

Readers, what do you see making waves in 2017?

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