The goal of any business should be to get its brand in front of its target audience. These days, you can’t deny where the majority of people are spending their time. In fact, it might even seem like there’s really only one world that matters – the social media world. It has become a pivotal platform for virtually any brand trying to connect with any target audience to increase brand loyalty and engagement.

As you look to 2018, strengthening your social strategy should be top of mind. Here are some trends that could have the most impact.

1. Mobile
Desktop and laptop computers are no longer the top device used for accessing the Internet. Smartphones and tablets have taken over. Developing a mobile-first strategy can help any organization become more responsive, more innovative and more competitive.

2. Video
By now, we all know that video content is popular. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter have all invested in video because they know it generates the most engagement (likes, comments, shares and retweets) and helps build followers.

New formats, such as live streaming, are expected to increase in popularity. But, regardless of what format you use, creating and uploading video content is going to be a hot habit to adopt in 2018.

3. Messaging Platforms
Messaging platforms and social chat bots seem to be on everyone’s radar for 2018. These enable brands to offer personalized shopping experiences via messaging platforms like Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik and Viber. Chat bots are really just a software application that can not only instantly interact with people, but can also create a personal relationship with that customer. They almost feel like a friend that’s there for them 24/7, which is what most audiences are looking for these days – instant connection and widespread access.

According to recent studies, 2.5 billion people worldwide use messaging apps and by 2018, 20% of business content could be machine generated. Therefore, if you haven’t yet, 2018 will definitely be the year to test chat bots for your business.

4. Focus on Gen Z
Some believe that Generation Z is becoming even more valuable than millennials. The oldest Gen Zers are 22 years old. Translation – they are about to enter the workforce and will have more money to spend. Brands are realizing this and adapting their marketing strategies to target this up and coming generation.

Which platforms are loved most by Gen Z? Snapchat and Instagram. Therefore, we can expect to see greater investment in these social media platforms.

5. Social Listening
Taking a look at what your competitors are publishing or sharing on social media is important. Take it one step further in 2018 and monitor what their customers are mentioning and use it to improve your content strategy.

Recent research showed that in one month, 14,000 online searches started with ‘Can anyone recommend’ and about 30,000 searches started with ‘Where can I buy’. Don’t let these questions go unanswered! Social listening garners intelligence into what information your competitor’s audience is looking for, which you can use to your advantage.

6. Ephemeral Content
Snapchat and Instagram’s Stories feature have led to the popularity of ephemeral content, giving brands the chance to create video content and images to be shared immediately with their followers. The content lasts for 24 hours and then it disappears forever.

This approach is believed to provide the best engagement rates. It’s content in real-time and because it is only available for a short period of time, it prompts fast action.

7. Influencer Marketing
Brands are finding that social media users tend to ignore traditional advertising strategies. People don’t like to be sold to, and they most certainly do not have time for content that is not relevant to them. Instead, people engage with content that is personalized and/or recommended to them by people they trust… aka influencers. This year, more companies began to use social media-based influencer marketing strategies to connect with new audiences and improve engagement… and found great success.

71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a reference from social media. While there is no denying the importance of influencer marketing, because it has become so popular, it’s no longer enough to use just any influencer. In 2018, working with a real social influencer or industry expert and having that influencer really build relationships with consumers will become a requirement.

8. Augmented Reality
Devices are becoming increasingly capable of providing users with augmented reality experiences, which makes it likely that social media platforms will find ways to incorporate this new technology. Some platforms already allow users to project themselves, or images, into the real world through the app’s camera. Soon enough, brands will be able to project their products into the homes of social media users through special filters allowing customers to see what a product will look like in their own home before buying.

Social media is constantly presenting new opportunities for marketers to connect with people, publish better content, build their brands and increase engagement and following. Sometimes it can seem like social media is changing so quickly that it’s impossible to keep up. That’s why you need the right people on your team, to help you stay ahead of the competition and take advantage of new opportunities.

Whatever you’re planning for in 2018, Barcelona Creative Group can help you achieve your marketing goals. So, ask us…What can you create for my business?

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