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Big 2017 Social Media Marketing Trends You Need to Know

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Big 2017 Social Media Marketing Trends You Need to Know

Do you think 2017 will be the year of video? Again? If so, you’re in good company.

In fact, if I were forced to TLDR this post, the big social media trends for 2017 could be boiled down to this:

  1. Video (live, recorded, and 360-degree)
  2. Influencer marketing
  3. Bots

But there is much more you can and should do in 2017 to be successful on the top social media platforms.

One of those things mentioned by a few of our experts may seem a bit obvious, but it could be the most crucial: you must understand your audience!

Tactics are great. Understanding all the big social networks where people hang out is also great. Data is also super important.

But really, if you want to drive more engagement and ROI from social media, you need to know – and be responsive to – your customers. Maybe this isn’t so much a trend as a proven principle of good old-fashioned marketing, but it’s especially in social media: make it personal! Put a little more humanity in your 2017 social media strategy.

Here’s what 26 of the top marketing experts say will be the biggest trends in social media in 2017 – and beyond.

We’ve gathered insights from these social media pros:


Heidi Besik, Group Product Marketing Manager, Adobe

Heidi BesikThe biggest trends in social media in 2017:

Video

In 2016, the biggest takeaway from the success of video is that platforms like Facebook are beginning to challenge traditional media for ad dollars. What we used to know as big television events are now consumed through snackable clips.

Next year, the continued importance and consumer appetite for video will drive further refinement. Social media platforms will introduce easier ways for users to access video, as well as better tools for creators.

At the same time, we will see brand advertisers begin talking about platforms like Twitter and Facebook as a new form of television. And as consumers get increasingly more comfortable (and familliar) with video, we will see a shift in organic content where brands beginning building out dedicated video teams and putting together an infrastructure that decreases turnaround times and gets content out faster.

Measurement

Social networks have matured into some of the most targeted ad channels around. As a result, it’s put a bigger spotlight on justifying ROI.

Advertisers need robust data in the same way they have for existing channels like desktop Web and broadcast TV. This will be top of mind in the new year, as we see social networks work to deliver on comparable metrics and certain advertisers advocating for more third-party auditing.

We will also see more measurement conversations within organic content. Despite continued calls for the “death of organic content”, it will continue to occupy a big role in a brand’s communication strategy.

What we will see are social teams tapping into some of the analytics disciplines in other channels like desktop web – becoming much more diligent in measuring what works and adjusting in real-time. The practice overall will become increasingly more data-driven to drive ROI, as they compete with paid and earned.

Internal Collaboration

We are moving toward the year of integration for social media, where it impacts all stages of the customer journey and has become a standard, integral part of the marketing mix. Social strategists will need to better integrate with existing digital programs across web, ecommerce and mobile. As the roles of content marketing and social marketing become more intertwined, we’ve seen this need accelerate through 2016 and think it will continue to be an area of focus for marketers moving through 2017.

Customers expect brands to deliver a consistent, personalized experience across touch points. Yet most social marketers are still using up to 7 different, disconnected tools to manage social activities.

Disconnected data, content, workflows and teams are leading to poor customer experiences. Tool consolidation that facilitates integrated content, workflows and data will be critical to leveraging the power of social to drive better more consistent omnichannel digital experiences.


Kendall Bird, Associate Social Media Manager, Collegis Education

Kendall BirdAs we move into 2017, there are major trends that we are already seeing transpire within the social media space including live and recorded video that create immersive social media experiences and organic reach continuing to decline. The two trends go hand-in-hand as video is prioritized within organic social and is seen as an authentic way to connect with followers. With that said, social marketers continue to need to keep their head on a swivel and stay creative in their strategy plans.

Within the broader social media community we are seeing platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram moving toward live, real-time video. These platforms have products that enable marketers to connect with their followers in a completely different light than they are used to experiencing.

Video presents the opportunity to create more candid experiences for your followers. Social media users will continue to demand to live vicariously through social media content put out by brands and influencers. The question is how will you make genuine real-time experiences that make your followers feel as though they are there?

Several brands are already doing this right including Birchbox, Sweetgreen and Inspiralized. Each one of these brands showcases their products in an authentic, creative and interesting manner.

  • Birchbox‘s Facebook Live experience is one of my favorites to watch because they unbox their product (Birchbox, for those who don’t know, is a curated, monthly subscription box for men and women) and show what the product is and how to use it.
  • Sweetgreen (an East Coast fast-casual restaurant) is the most creative when it comes to Snapchat. Recently, one of their Stories, was introducing a Sweetgreen customer sharing their favorite salad bowl. They snapped the story from the lens of the customer and through the chef’s perspective with Snapchat Spectacles.
  • Inspiralized is one of my favorite food bloggers (small bias!), but Ali really does a wonderful job maintaining her social media accounts and really focuses in on what her followers are interested in and what the channels are about. Inspiralized uses Instagram Stories to focus more on the personal side of her life and business, whereas Snapchat is focused more on tutorials and product.

As you envision your social media strategies for 2017, be thoughtful about each platform and your followers. Why are they watching Facebook Live, Snapchat, and Instagram Stories? Are you differentiating your accounts to fit what your followers are interested in? Why are they following you?

Consider conducting an competitor analysis of what they are doing on these platforms products, focusing on what is successful for them and how you can better those efforts for the brands you are managing. Always remember, you are building a community – would you want to be part of it?


Lisa Buyer, Speaker, Author & Consultant, The Buyer Group

Lisa BuyerIn 2017 social media marketers and brands will be expected to do more in less time; short of performing social media miracles. I see the start of a new condition called Social Media Stress Syndrome.

Everyone is chasing the ROI and trying to stay on top of the constant change and introduction of new platforms, tactics and tools. Live video, Snapchat (aka Crackchat), the increasing complexities of Facebook and the unknowns behind augmented and virtual reality will be keeping social media marketers awake at night.

Prioritization

Brands will need to fine tune focus on the platforms that are most important to their audience and figure out how to make the most of them. Do an audit of best performers and eliminate the time suckers.

Better content

In 2017 content is no longer king. Social media marketers will need to step up the game and only the brands investing in talented journalistic style writers will survive.

Distributed Content Management Systems (DCMS)

Creating, reaching and publishing is going beyond WordPress with platforms such as RebelMouse introducing the first DCMS.

Creativity

With platforms such as Canva, Adobe Spark and Buffer’s Pablo, visuals are spoonfed to social media marketers. Brands will be expected to take canned visuals to the next level in 2017. Standing out in the newsfeed’s visual competition will require more than just using stock visuals.

AR/VR/MR/PR

Augmented reality (AR) virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) are the latest public relations (PR) buzzwords turning heads. Social media marketers will be faced with figuring out how to make sense of this new technology. Follow sources such as Cathy Hackl, Robert Scoble and VR Scout.

Productivity & Reporting

This is where the Social Media Stress Syndrome will come into play. Social media marketers will need to reinvent the meaning of productivity and fine tune the social media management aspects by investing in social media management dashboards with excellent reporting features such as Buffer, Hootsuite, Agorapulse, or Sprout Social.

Balance

In 2017, avoiding Social Media Stress Syndrome and maintaining digital work/life balance should be a priority in order to keep your sanity. Staying ahead of the social media marketing industry gets tougher each year and more complex.

In order to avoid being “taken down” by social media, marketers will need to find ways to reset and restore in order to stay fresh and creative without getting burned out. Apps such as Buddhify, integrating yoga into your weekly routine, and going offline for a walk at lunch are great ways begin finding balance in 2017. I’m writing my next book, “Digital Detox Secrets”, to help digital marketers find space for balance, opportunity, and productivity happiness.


Mel Carson, Founder, CEO & Principal Strategist, Delightful Communications

Mel CarsonPutting people first will be one of the trends we’ll see in social media in 2017.

Elections on both sides of the pond have proved that no matter how much data you have to suggest one outcome is imminent; unless you sit down with your target audience and ask them for their thoughts and opinions on whatever product or service you are trying to sell you might be barking up the wrong alley.

Also, our personal branding consulting business has tripled in the last 12 months which shows professionals increasingly see the benefit in having their wisdom and experience be more discoverable, shareable, and memorable across social networks, which is why I’ll be watching the Microsoft/LinkedIn integration with a keen eye!


Ashley Carlisle, Brand Relationship Strategist, Fractl

Ashley CarlisleIn 2016 we saw a huge surge in influencer marketing, which will no doubt continue into 2017 – but inevitably it will evolve as all trends do. The new year will see an increased emphasis on authenticity and transparency among influencers as they become more commonly integrated into social strategies.

Typically when we think of influencer marketing, we think of a product placement posted on a major celebrity’s Instagram account to hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of followers, but it goes beyond that. It can also include hashtag campaigns to encourage a genuine conversation among followers or account takeovers to help build a following. The latter examples, along with other creative, more organic ideas, will likely grow in popularity in 2017 as they emphasize authenticity and encourage engagement.

While the spotlight this year was primarily on pop culture celebrities promoting products falling into the discretionary consumer goods category (think apparel, beauty, alcohol, etc.), other brands will start looking into incorporating influencers in their 2017 social strategy.

As more research is becoming available to prove influencer marketing’s ROI, B2B and other types of B2C companies will likely join. These brands especially better work with powerful middle- and micro-influencers as they often have more influence over a more intimate, targeted audience – which also translates to more engagement.

As far as the networks themselves, Snapchat and Instagram were the networks of choice. While Snapchat has grown exponentially, Instagram will likely continue to take the lead when it comes to engagement into 2017, given its more diverse user base. Some even argue while Vine is officially dead, influencers could save Twitter with the help of livestreaming and Twitter Moments.

Even with the algorithm changes and crackdown on compliance with the FTC guidelines, influencers on social media will continue to prove their value into 2017.


Geoffrey Colon, Communications Designer, Microsoft

Geoffrey ColonTwo things for social media marketers to watch:

1. CRM

CRM via social has existed forever but now it’s a form of marketing. The better you do it, the better the word of mouth about your company, product, service spreads to others.

Reputation economics is only getting more influential on how people choose what company to use. Many companies have ignored this and as a result will pay a steep price in 2017 with either more customer churn or loss of potential new customers altogether.

2. Bots

Because of the volume of conversations that may exist in these channels, conversation bots are key.

The best companies will program and experiment with these in 2017 as they will only become more influential and allow companies who may have small staffs to handle mass quantities of inquiries through channels like Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and Skype.


Brent Csutoras, Founder & CEO, Pixel Road Designs

Brent CsutorasIf you look at the success of Pinterest, Snapchat, and Instagram, it’s clear there is a real shift in social media storytelling. It has been something optional for most businesses up until now, but I think in 2017 companies need to really give some serious thought and strategy to how they can incorporate more visual storytelling in their social media marketing plans.

Where possible, I also think it is going to be important for companies to start thinking about how they can incorporate beacon or location-based marketing efforts into their strategy as well. Virtually every app I’ve seen or been pitched this last year has had some beacon or location-based feature, so companies are going to have to start looking into incorporating this as well.

Over the past two years we’ve been building toward a significant shift in how we tell our stories through social media. In 2017 it’s time to get with the times and start embracing this shift – like now!


Melissa Fach, Social Community Manager, Pubcon

Melissa FachCustomer service via social is huge already, but I believe it will grow in 2017. People prefer to do as much as possible via their phones, and we also know people go straight to their phones to complain about things on social media networks while they are on the go.

So, all businesses need to come up with more defined plans on how they are going to handle customer service issues via social media for 2017. Not handling complaints the right way, quickly, can result in terrible PR for any company. For example:

comcastcares unhappy customers

Some things to cover:

  • Availability hours & response times: Facebook is already giving badges for good response times and both Facebook and Twitter allow you to set availability hours & auto-respond to messages. I recommend all businesses learn about the customer service options available on both Twitter and Facebook.
  • Staff: Choosing staff is critical. Who has the temperament/self-control to handle potential and current customers the right way? Say the wrong thing and you will end up on the news.
  • Create protocols for all situations: Support, Q&A, Requests, Billing, Complaints, User Error, Crisis Management and Trolls.
  • Education: Make upper level management understand how critical social media customer service is and why resources and money are needed.

Another thing that will grow via social in 2017, video – every major social media network has focused on enhancing video options. Businesses of all sizes need to find creative ways to utilize video and to reach their targeted audiences.

Boring video just will not do. I am sure that we are going to be overrun with video, as we have been with content, soon enough. To stand out and be remembered businesses will need to go the extra mile.


Nikki Fica, Founder & CEO, Social Media Facelift

Nikki FicaSmart brands and businesses should focus on the power of influencer marketing in 2017 for great social media success. They should understand what makes an influencer in their niche and take micro influencers into consideration.

Brands and businesses should also explore more live video options. With the rollout of Instagram’s live videos at the end of 2016 and Twitter’s livestreaming without Periscope, platforms are looking for you to share your authenticity on their platform. Show your “why” and make people fall in love with not only your product, but the brand and who is behind the brand itself.

As an avid “Shark Tank” viewer, the backstory of the entrepreneur is often reflected during the episode; where they came from, what their passions are, etc. Things that others can relate to. If a brand on social media plays a similar role and can relate to the consumer (the use of livestreaming can help tremendously), it may influence stronger.

Consumers may be more likely to purchase over a bland brand with a similar product who only talks about the product itself. Humanize your brand in 2017!


Kat Haselkorn, Director of Content, Go Fish Digital

Kat HaselkornMeasure everything. In social, it can sometimes be tricky to keep track of what works and what doesn’t across multiple platforms, but when you can show changes over time, that’s when you have something that plays into a more holistic marketing strategy.

One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard from business owners about Snapchat is the lack of metrics the platform offers its users. Their feeling is, If I’m investing all this time and energy into creating content, putting together stories, and building a following, I need to be able to prove its worth. That’s a totally fair criticism of the app.

Luckily, there have been whispers that Snapchat is unveiling more detailed reporting over the coming months and other platforms (and social media management tools like Sprout Social) seem to be headed down that path as well.

The more time you spend tracking and evaluating posts, the better your social presence will be. I can’t stress it enough: Don’t just throw something out there and see what sticks. Measure everything and use the data to adjust your social media strategy accordingly.


Kelsey Jones, Executive Editor, Search Engine Journal

Kelsey JonesHere are three social media trends you need to know in 2017:

Live Video

With the introduction of live video for Instagram, and the continuation of Facebook’s preference for live video in the newsfeed, businesses should continue to develop live video strategies and consider how it can tie into their existing marketing efforts. What events, learning opportunities, or internal team happenings are going on in the new year that could be translated into live video?

360-Degree Photos & Videos

Mark my words: this is going to blow up, due to Facebook’s acceptance of it and VR headsets. Soon you are going to be seeing brands and people posting tons of 360-degree media. Take advantage of it now by buying yourself a $100-200 camera that shoots these types of images (this is the one I have*) and beat your competitors to the punch.

Take Advantage of Your Data

I’m always amazed at the data we have at our fingertips when it comes to Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, as well as Twitter analytics. Instead of glancing over it each month to see how many new likes your pages or profiles got, really buckle down and look at what types and topics of posts do best. Dedicate yourself to taking more action based on data, and your social media presence will only continue to grow.

*Disclosure: This is an SEJ affiliate link


Jordan Kasteler, Marketing Consultant & Entrepreneur

Jordan Kasteler2017 is sure to bring about many new social media trends. There may even be new, hot social networks that spring up and give currently dominate social networks a run for their money.

However, before getting involved with any new trend or site be sure that it’s a right fit for your audience. If not, you may be wasting your time drawing people toward you that aren’t interested in your product or service.

As for big trends to focus on, here are four:

Ephemeral Social Media

In other words, Instagram and Snapchat Stories are content that disappears within a limited amount of time. As this is the new rage, it keeps people coming back to these social networks to view daily content before it disappears. Use ephermal social media wisely but posting timely content, gifts for your audience, contests, show behind the scenes, etc.

Live Video

This is another trend social networks are allowing users to take advantage of. Instagram now has a live video option. This is another opportunity to take your users behind the scenes and provide real-time content.

Paid Social

More social networks are moving toward a pay-to-play landscape. As organic reach declines, it’s more important to pay for visibility. Social networks will continue to grow their abilities for businesses to narrowly target their users by demographic, psychographic, and technographics.

Mobile

With social traffic referring from mobile over desktop, it’s important that your content is speedy and provides a good user-experience on a smartphone with 4G bandwidth.


Katy Katz, Senior Consultant, SmartBug Media

Katy KatzSocial media platforms are continually searching for ways to artificially reproduce the sentiments of real human interaction within a platform that is inherently non-human. This is why images are more popular than text, videos are more effective than stills, and live video is starting to gain traction.

This race to replicate human contact is only going to continue in 2017 and beyond; especially as 360 technology and virtual reality start to penetrate the market more deeply.

Brands should be thinking about ways to increase consumer access to that human factor – through strategic campaigns as well as organic interactions. That will be the best way for companies to improve their social performance in 2017.


Jabez LeBret, CMO, GNGF

Jabez LeBretWe are about to see a move towards live video for brands. This will take two main forms including brand events and non-brand sponsored content.

For non-brand sponsored events the customer will become the promoter and producer. This user-generated content will be scary for many brands.

Years ago I wrote an article on Forbes comparing brand marketing to an API. Regardless of if brands are interested in letting the customer market the brand, they do not have a choice.

This means companies should be more proactive in engaging users to submit content. Instead of fighting the trend, get ahead of issues by facilitating the messaging and delivery. This will require companies to become proficient at creating live video content.

It would be wise to test various methods of encouraging your customers to create content on behalf of your brand. We are entering a new era of social media marketing and it is both scary yet exciting at the same time!


Debbie Miller, President, Social Hospitality

Debbie MillerSocial video will continue to be a key trend in 2017. Between Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Facebook Video, the options are becoming more vast and are constantly evolving.

It will be critical for brands to formulate how to best optimize their video strategy for maximum impact. It’s easy to get bogged down in scheduling written copy and photos, but video is a field that should be given more time and consideration moving forward.

With the rise in video comes the lure of real-time content. Both Instagram and Facebook are leveraging their live streaming components and businesses are able to connect with their audiences in unprecedented ways as a result. Businesses should consider the best routes for optimizing live video content, whether it be interviews, behind-the-scenes tours, exclusive announcements, etc.

One important thing to remember is that the social media world is constantly evolving, and the pace seems to be constantly becoming more rapid. It’s important to stay on top of current trends and changes so that you’re not left behind. It’ll be beneficial for companies to adopt more training and development of their teams to ensure comfortability in the space across your organization.


Merry Morud, Senior Creative Strategist, aimClear

Merry MorudNo longer will social marketers be considered the scrappy rebel force, existing on the fringe of marketing and pointing to false idol metrics. Social media marketers must integrate into the greater multi-touch nurture marketing ecosystem – digital and otherwise – to not only survive but become an undeniable force in 2017.

And BTW, it’s social’s job to integrate, not everyone else’s, for the greater marketing good.

Social marketers will be responsible for making money in a multi-touch environment. One or two-touch conversions in any channel are a finite asset after that brands need to (still) nurture with content.

Social will become a more powerful ROI-positive machine as marketers tap even more consumers further down the funnel with lookalike modeling and clean up retargeting rebounds from other performance marketers by layering on psychographic filters and promoting content that solves problems, demystifies, answers questions, explains benefits, empowers users and removes barriers to purchase.

Filtered performance retargeting has the potential to radically redefine how higher level marketers view social. So social marketers seeking to stay relevant should take heed.

If you didn’t notice, 2016 has been a wake-up call for, well, just about everyone as it peeled back the veil on just how insidious social, “news,” and search truly are. Social drives news. News drives search. And perception is reality. Social propagation is that which can create or cause cultural shifts and the goal of branding is a cultural shift.


Rebecca Murtagh, Founder & Chief Strategist, Karner Blue Marketing

Rebecca MurtaghIn 2017, the race for social media fans, followers, likes, etc. will be overshadowed by a paradigm shift toward relationship cultivation. And, in case you haven’t noticed, this shift has already begun in a big way.

Relationships are the future of social media. Here are five reasons why:

1. Aggregation is So 2016

In 2017 In-tune marketers will shift the focus of social media from vanity metrics (followers, fans, likes, etc.) to relationships. The longer the relationship, the greater the return on investment, and lower cost of acquisition. The follower, fan or connection that has never been touched by the brand has zero value.

As attractive as it may be to report growth of the audience, sustainability of the brand will be determined by revenue. Winning hearts and minds is more important than ever to brands seeking to cultivate leads, customers, and champions. And, it will take a lot more than personalized website pages and emails.

2. Social Media Offers So Much More Than Mass Media

To make social media manageable, marketers have largely reduced social media into a new form of mass media. Broadcasting messaging without leveraging the social aspect of the channel leaves most of the unique potential of social platforms untapped.

Audience aggregation merely reflects the first introduction, a handshake if you will. Today’s consumer wants to do business with brands they trust. Trust has been redefined from just offering a quality product or service, to meeting the expectations of audiences in a transparent, ethical manner.

This is especially true with millennials, who will be between the ages of 20-37 years old in 2017. The good news is that millennials are willing to reward brands they trust.

Millennials are seven times more likely to give personal information to a trusted brand. In fact, 46 percent of surveyed millennials said they would share personal data if in exchange they received a more consistent, relevant, personalized experience, complemented by free perks, discounts and better customer service, across all platforms.

3. It’s a New Era

Millennials have, and will continue to, yield tremendous influence over consumer and B2B purchases. No longer youngsters, millennials will not only make purchase decisions differently than previous generations, as a “digital-first” generation, they will influence the decisions of Gen Y and Baby Boomers for years to come.

Millennials expect reciprocity; a two-way, mutual relationship with companies and their brands, and they consider a brand’s social, environmental or philanthropic efforts when making purchase decisions.

4. Social is Part of the Omnichannel Experience

More than 85 percent of millennials and 75 percent of baby boomers are ready for omnichannel interactions. Brands may not fully understand how broad this expectation is.

Omnichannel is often referred to as seamless integration between on and offline customer experiences. We have seen studies and surveys over the years reveal how consumers use multiple devices, across multiple channels, and across media channels for news, social interaction, job searches, shopping, and solutions for work, business and life.

The social experience is as important as the in-store, face-to-face, or website interaction with the brand. In addition to seek a “a hassle free, omnichannel, client experience personalized to their needs”, according to an IBM report.

Engagement requires much more effort than merely broadcasting to the masses. This is a tough pill for many brands to swallow.

Many have not kept up with the expectations of their audiences. And, in doing so, these brands have essentially begun the spiral into self-imposed obsolescence and extinction.

5. Tribes, Community & Crowds

There is untapped potential inherent to social media that can help brands connect with member of the audience, while connecting audiences to one another.

People don’t want to just do business with a business. They want to be connected with the people behind the business, and they want know how the business interacts with customers like them.

This is why review websites, social sharing of content, crowdfunding, etc. have been so effective. The power of tribes, community, and crowds have only begun to realize their potential.

The next generation of social media will promote greater access and transparency between brands and their fans, creating the sense of belonging and community the next generation craves.

Brands that embrace this new normal and invest in building relationships will be the winners in 2017.


Maddy Osman, SEO Copywriter & Founder, The Blogsmith

Maddy OsmanHere are two big social media marketing trends for 2017:

1. Instagram

Instagram will become a major player of the top social networks, thanks in part to tactics that effectively take a direct attack on Snapchat (like Instagram’s own “Stories”). Once their new Shopping feature is released to all brands, more clickable links will mean more conversions for retailers.

Facebook owns Instagram, so that means the Instagram ad platform will continue to evolve in the right direction. In my opinion, Instagram’s ad platform has yet to peak (in terms of saturation), and there are still plenty of opportunities for brands to stand out and accomplish specific goals.

2. Video

Video will continue to be important in 2017, but brands will need to keep innovating in the way it’s presented. You still don’t necessarily need high production tactics to be effective, but you should experiment with new technologies, like 360 Video.

Make sure to keep in mind the role sound plays, or doesn’t play in many cases. Many people watch video without sound, so make sure captions are enabled, and that you include the video’s title in the first frames of the video.


Erik Qualman, Bestselling Author & Motivational Speaker

Erik QualmanVideo killed the social media photo. While it seems obvious, the obvious isn’t always easy to execute.

2017 is the year that social goes truly video. Brands will need to invest in both beautifully produced video as well as more organic video adaptations.

There will be a window of time where quality video will be able to help separate your business/brand. However, that window will shrink as advances in technology make artistic video common place.


Michelle Stinson Ross, VP of Marketing & Client Relations, K’nechtology

Michelle Stinson RossTwo trends and one time-tested principle. First for the trends.

Live Video

As each year goes by more options on more devices lead to a lot of noise. What can brands big and small do to cut through that noise?

Video has always been key, especially for reaching an audience on mobile devices. Live video broadcasting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are indicators that authentic interactive moments are here to stay.

Live video gives small brands an option to level the playing field without having to spend big production budgets. Live interactions also give brands a chance to test video content with instant and real feedback from their established communities.

But with live video broadcasting comes the necessity to have a quality brand spokesperson. That spokesperson must be able to talk both fluidly and fluently about the brand and it’s products/services. That spokesperson also needs to be someone who is relevant and relatable to a brand’s potential customers.

Yeah, you’re CEO may not be the best choice here. Save them to be interviewed by the spokesperson as a subject matter expert instead.

Influencer Marketing

Another way to cut through the noise in social media is to partner with influential users. It’s important to put just as much commitment to time an energy cultivating influencers (movers and shakers) as it is your customer base.

Getting the attention of someone that’s never heard of your brand before gets more and more difficult every year. Securing influential advocates to share is critical to that top of funnel awareness.

But don’t count on your free samples to be enough to entice influencers to shout your praises. You are going to have to market the value of a business partnership to them just like you are marketing your product/service to your customers.

A Time-Tested Principle

Make marketing a priority and not an afterthought. One of the issues we see consistently with new clients is the dawning realization that they need marketing.

Too many startups focus every resource on developing their ideas without considering how they are going to attract investors and customers. Struggling businesses tend to cut marketing budgets first.

The businesses large and small that move marketing up the priority list from luxury to necessity will always come out ahead of those that don’t. Just because there are a lot of self-serve DIY marketing options available doesn’t mean that brand’s can skimp on marketing budgets. If anything, it requires more time and attention to resources, personnel and media spend.

Commit to marketing and know when to hire, either in-house or a consultant/agency.


Jes Stiles, CMO Emerging Markets, Ringier AG

Jes StilesBuilding your own chatbot to distribute your content (ideally for Facebook Messenger). Why?

Traditional social media is fraught by algorithms and ads. More and more, we see not only millennials, but now also the other generations, moving away from broadcasting focused social media posting and towards narrowcasting in smaller message groups or 1-1.

A messenger bot can allow you to have personalized 1-1 conversations at scale, opening up a whole new audience who does not wish to connect with brand over email or download an app. Moreover, when built in a user-friendly manner, chatbots can actually provide a better experience than a human for common use cases with faster response times (no matter what time or day of the week) and greater personalization of content.

For examples of good bots in action, check out TechCrunch or eBay Messenger bots.


Bas van den Beld, Digital Marketing Consultant, Speaker & Trainer

Bas van den BeldWith the “fake news” discussion in 2016, the overflowing amount of posts on social media and the changing algorithms, things are about to change in 2017.

What is bound to happen is a trend in which brands and businesses have to “prove” they are legit. That they know what they are talking about and that they (will) do a good job.

This means more focus on helping clients and consumers. Customer service through social media will be more important than ever. If there is any trend businesses should focus on, it’s getting their business ready for that.


Ashley Ward, Director of Marketing, Madhouse Matters

Ashley WardVideo. Video has already taken over social media in 2016 and has helped social media pages increase their engagement, conversions, and exposure for brands. In 2017, I predict an even larger increase in video posts from brands and businesses.

I’m not just talking about Facebook and Instagram, either. Facebook Live is helping brands create more organic videos and less production-heavy, which has been enjoyable for users.

But, Snapchat and Instagram Stories are great resources to show customers an “insider’s view”, give product demonstrations, and tours through video. You can then reuse this video content on other social media channels like Twitter and LinkedIn.

Unlike images, which one single image shouldn’t be used multiple times due to image fatigue, one video can be clipped into multiple 5-, 30-, and 60-second clips and then shared on different social media outlets to provide followers with unique content.

If you haven’t already started thinking about adding more video content in 2017, start now.


Tessa Wegert, Freelance Journalist & Branded Content Developer

Tessa WegertThe single biggest social media trend coming our way has got to be live streaming video. We’ve seen the live video market grow with Meerkat and Periscope, but now that Facebook is putting all its weight behind Facebook Live

Consumers are becoming more accustomed to seeing – and seeking – live video content. Brands can continue to push the boundaries and provide exciting live experiences for their customers and fans.

With live video, companies can take consumers behind the scenes in real-time, and consumers dig that kind of authenticity. I think we’re going to see some pushback against all of those staged, polished, and over-filtered Instagram posts brands have been investing in as consumers become disenchanted with social media marketing that feels as forced as the TV commercials and print ads of yesterday.

Live video is the cure for synthetic content, and brands that embrace the opportunity to take consumers inside their factories and test kitchens, to their photo shoots and runway shows, and backstage at the concerts and events they’ve been sponsoring for years will be rewarded with increased loyalty and affinity.


Dennis Yu, Chief Technology Officer, BlitzMetrics

Dennis YuInstead of trying to crank out endless content to distribute on a growing number of channels– a challenge for the modern day Sisyphus– get your customers to do the work for you. Here’s how to specifically do this, even if you have a tiny team and tiny budget.

1. Can I quote you on that? 😉

Say this to anyone who has something nice to say about you – especially if on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or other sites. But often, these comments are coming through in direct mail, in store, at conferences, or when your customers are getting serviced. When you ask this question, they almost always say YES.

2. Place that quote in a spreadsheet.

Have columns for who said it, the category of customer, the type of comment (value, great quality, great service – however you bucket pain points), source, headshot of the person, and permission flag.

3. Make a Facebook organic post.

Do multiple images in a carousel and boost to lookalike audiences or custom audiences, depending on what stage in the funnel. The key is to have 10-15 of these posts. Test carousel versus not. You may find that video performs best, in carousel or not, as video view objective or for website clicks. Test it.

To go further in how to boost Facebook posts, see Digital Marketer’s most popular podcast episode of all time here.


Ashley Zeckman, Director of Agency Marketing, TopRank Marketing

Ashley ZeckmanMany brands today (even some of the best ones) are still struggling with one key element that leads to social media marketing success: understanding the people that they want to interact with.

In 2017, I think that smart brands will shift their focus from pushing messages out, to personalizing communications for a more meaningful interaction. That means it will be less about the on-page interactions and more about personal exchanges with prospects, customers, and influencers.

The rise of influencer marketing will make this shift even more imperative for brands that want to get on the radar of busy experts. There are a variety of tools that exist today, and many that I’m sure will be developed in the coming years that provide helpful insights into the habits and minds of your social media audience.

It’s our job as marketers to use that data to create a more inclusive, one-to-one experience in an environment that everyone is engaged with; social media platforms.


OK – the experts have spoken. Your turn! What do you think will be the biggest social media trends in 2017?

Pinterest Image - Expert Predictions on 2017 Social Media Trends

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Danny Goodwin

Danny Goodwin

Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal

Danny Goodwin is Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal. In addition to overseeing SEJ's editorial strategy and managing contributions from ... [Read full bio]

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