2017 was quite the year for social media. It was used as a tool for hope for some, war for some, but for most of us, it just gave us a good laugh. However, on a more serious note, what will 2018 bring for social media? How will user behaviours change? What are the implications of GDPR? Will influencer marketing continue to worsen or gain credibility?
Facebook – Prediction: More entertainment and content to be owned by Facebook to help it become more than social media.
Facebook is widely recognised as one of the most effective digital marketing tools. However, that could be about to change. Changes to how content is shown on the newsfeed will make it harder for digital marketers to use Facebook as a digital marketing tool. Whilst this wouldn’t affect the day-to-day users of Facebook, it’s a big hit for advertisers as less ad content and fewer news articles are going to be shown as soon as the changes kick in. It should cause a shift from driving traffic via paid spend, to creating audiences by posting unique and informative content that has potential to be organically shared, as well as partnering with influencers in order to increase your audience through placement of content.
In terms of the actual interface of the ad platform, in September the decision was made to merge Power Editor and Ads Manager. It allowed users to choose which workflow tool they preferred. The merging of the tools made sense – it would help those using Facebook Ads further understand the ad creation options on offer. But what’s the point if the ads are even less likely to reach the audience?
However, the challenge for Facebook is keeping the audience engaged enough that they don’t make the jump to emerging platforms such as Snapchat. I think the way this is done is through entertainment, essentially making Facebook a one stop shop for everything from scrolling past people who you haven’t spoken to since school but for some reason still have as a friend, to gaming, to various forms of TV such as the Premier League. However, users will want all that good stuff separate to the classic news feed so I’m going to say that Facebook could explore with a ‘Discover’ tab of sorts… Similar to Twitter’s moments tab, it would give users the option to explore the latest news and entertainment. There is already a ‘trending’ section on the right hand side which acts as a news source so maybe that will be evolved. We’ll see.
Instagram – Prediction: Influencer marketing stagnation/return of chronological feed.
In 2017, Instagram started to include ‘stories’ for the first time and it seems to have been a success. In 2018 I expect influencer marketing to stagnate further as there still appears to be no proper framework as to how it should be done, as well as return on investment. This coupled with the disaster of Kendall Jenner/Pepsi means Influencers will find it hard to inspire confidence in brands. Away from influencing, my only prediction for Instagram is that they bring back the chronological newsfeed. At the moment, posts appear in your feed based on relevancy – which is fine but social media is about the here and now – not the been and gone.
Twitter – Prediction: More hardcore moderation due to political climate.
If you have a look at any 2018 social media trends blog, they’ll say that Twitter is dead or dying.
I disagree – I think it has a lot of life left and I think that it will remain an important tool for those who want to pursue passionate debate. Whilst it’s allure to the average Joe may have wilted, it remains the perfect place for anyone with a passionate interest in anything from sport, music or film as it’s the platform for celebrities. You can follow anyone on Twitter, but you can’t be anyone’s friend on Facebook. Of course, Twitter is for anyone, but its accessibility to follow and interact with celebrities separates it from any other social network. Last year, I said that moments would become bigger. Which it didn’t, really. However, Twitter has doubled the character limit for tweets which is the biggest change the platform has ever seen. I think this change has impacted Twitter in a good way and as long as there is controversy on Twitter, people will still use it and interact with other users (even if they’re talking about how much they hate Twitter). Twitter has started off 2018 with a commitment to more moderation and I think this will shape how it’s used in 2018.
Snapchat – Prediction: Backlash as it sells out.
Snapchat has long been the envy of other social channels. A simple idea that goes from strength to strength – best of all it couldn’t be copied. However, I think 2018 will be the year Snapchat starts to falter. Whilst I don’t think the platform will turn to dust in 2018, I think we’ll start to see signs of backlash against it as more paid advertising is introduced. Could we see a premium service introduced for those who want to avoid ads like Spotify? Snapchat is considering the introduction of more ads that you have to watch but as the flood of adverts come in, the user will get restless and it won’t be long before the cries of ‘I want the old version back!’ will be heard on the social media platform lifecycle.
LinkedIn – Prediction: Video ads to blossom.
Whilst video ads have been on other forms of social media, I think native video ads coming to LinkedIn in 2018 will change the game. This will certainly catch the eye of a variety of industries and brands, as to some, marketing by industry/job title would be far more effective than demographics/interests. I think 2018 will be a very positive year for LinkedIn with more brands using it as a core part of their marketing mix.
Whilst these are all the biggest social media platforms right now, who knows what 2018 could bring; maybe we’ll see a surge from nowhere. Pinterest is definitely one to watch as it attempts to strengthen its e-commerce links. Confidence in YouTube is at an all time low after the Logan Paul situation; and with native video on all platforms going from strength to strength, I think this could start to see the decline of YouTube as content creators start to move to Facebook.
How do these changes affect you? It’s simple; at least one if not all of these changes will affect anyone or any business and how you communicate. Whilst social media is a more powerful tool than ever before, there’s more competition, too. Social media isn’t just something you can do and leave to one side; it’s the first point of contact for many who’ll view you or your business.
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AUTHOR: JAMES MURPHY
James is a recent Business Marketing University Graduate and a Digital Marketing Executive at AB. He’s been immersed within our agency’s Digital Marketing team to work with existing clients and support the development of AB’s profile through social and content marketing.