It's never too early to prepare.
Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and other holidays may ensure your brand's success in 2016, but why not plan ahead for 2017?
To sustain your success not just now but in the future, you need to understand upcoming trends in order to act quickly once they happen.
To get you ready, here are five predictions for social media marketing in 2017.
1. Live Streaming Becomes Ubiquitous
2016 will forever be known for being the year in which live-streaming entered the social media stratosphere.
Today, brands can use Facebook, Periscope, YouTube, and a variety of other networks to bring real-time content to their followers, but we're far from the end of this development. In 2017, live streaming will become one of the, if not the single most important type of social media content.
All the indicators are already there. You can now live-stream video with a single click on some of the world's biggest social media networks. Real-time interaction and metrics enable you to gauge the success of your efforts. Live videos also receive a boost on timelines, giving marketers the opportunity to go more social than ever. The increasingly low barriers to start, along with its considerable benefits, mean the time is ripe for live-streaming.
2. Social E-Commerce Normalizes
E-commerce continues to grow, as audiences across demographics are becoming more comfortable with buying products and services online. This year, we saw the first truly successful attempts to incorporate the process into social media marketing strategies.
In 2017, these efforts will intensify.
Facebook recently introduced Marketplace, an integrated platform designed to challenge Craigslist as a peer-to-peer selling service. It also revamped its Offers ad units and page posts tool, enabling marketers to more easily promote their online products on the network. That, in addition to the coming shopping tags on Instagram, points toward continued growth and normalization of e-commerce next year.
3. Native Lead Generation Intensifies
As inbound marketing and lead generation efforts continue to grow, networks like Facebook and Twitter face a significant challenge: how do you enable marketers to accomplish their goal without pointing users away from the social network on which the sign-up pages are promoted?
Last year, Facebook followed Twitter in offering native lead ads that essentially replaced the need to link to external websites for lead generation. Despite early indications of success, these types of ads are not yet widely used, we predict that in 2017, as we see continued conversion rate statistics, that usage will increase.
We also won't be surprised if other networks, such as Facebook-owned Instagram, will begin to offer their own native lead generation possibilities.
4. Brands Embrace Customer Service
Studies have long suggested the importance of social media as a customer service tool. Feedback, both positive and negative, can make a significant impact on your brand's online reputation. Meanwhile, 42% of your customers expect a response to any message directed your way within 30 minutes.
In our estimation, 2017 will be the year smaller brands begin to catch up to these trends. Facebook now offers badges based on your average response time, letting your followers know exactly how reliable you are in responding to customer and audience needs. Keeping your audience happy is paramount, and only a customer service approach to social media marketing can accomplish that feat.
As we've previously written, the concept of the customer experience is driving business everywhere. In 2017 this will become even more important than it is now.
5. Chatbots Take Over 1:1 Conversations
Automated communications are here to stay. Facebook's Messenger app now enables brands to build their own chatbot response services, helping to automate and direct communications with customers that don't require major human influence. This month, the network even announced that payments will be supported in the feature.
So far, the majority of chatbots on the network seem to be experiments with the potential and range of the feature, but that's bound to change. As savvy marketers and developers begin to catch up with the possibilities, it wouldn't be a surprise to see chatbots begin to automate communication in 1:1 conversations. If that happens, 2017 will be the year we begin to see tangible effects on your social media marketing strategy.
The only constant about social media marketing is rapid change. Examine networks like Facebook and Twitter only a few years ago, and you wouldn't even recognize the features now available to marketers, so it's no surprise 2017 will see a number of major developments that allow for creative adjustments and require new marketing strategies.
This post was originally published on The Fried Side blog.