With Christmas fast approaching, we need to start planning our 2018 social media marketing strategies, and part of that is understanding what's coming next, what we should be on the lookout for, and which platforms are likely to implement significant shifts.
To help with this, this week, we're publishing our social media marketing predictions for each of the major social platforms - we've already covered Facebook and Twitter, and today, we're outlining our thoughts on Instagram and Snapchat.
So what's the world's fastest-growing social platform got in store for the next 12 months? Here are our thoughts.
Instagram in 2017
The rising star in social, Instagram has seen massive growth in 2017, and is well on track to becoming Facebook’s fourth billion user platform.
2018 will see a renewed focus on the platform’s business options as it looks to capitalize on that growth and increased audience interest.
It seems like a no-brainer that we’re going to see the broader arrival of Instagram’s ‘Shopping Tags’ in 2018.
The option, which enables businesses to put discrete price and information tags on items within their images, has been in testing since last November, and was recently expanded via a new partnership with Shopify.
Given the significant brand interest in the option, and the likely limited disruption in feeds (you need to click on the image to activate the tags), it seems fairly safe to assume that we’ll see a wider roll-out of Instagram Shopping Tags in the next 12 months, particularly as the platform works to limit potential competition from Pinterest.
On Facebook, that system is already providing utility, with the ability to search via image content. But on Instagram, where the focus is all on image and video posts, it could be significantly more valuable.
Instagram has been improving and upgrading its Explore option, with a particular focus on video discovery. In 2018, I’d expect to see them evolve their search even further to incorporate image-based discovery.
For brands, this could be significantly beneficial, as you’ll not only be able to search by hashtag, but also by image content. That could help uncover more influencers and brand advocates, or users who'd likely be interested in your products which you may not have been able to identify via text search alone.
Instagram Stories has already largely eclipsed the platform it was copied from (Snapchat), and in 2018, you can expect there to be even more focus on developing Stories tools, and adding new ways to keep users engaged – and away from rival offerings.
They’ve already added live-streaming, video masks and searchable location tags. Instagram will continue to build on these functions, but they may also look to add in Snapchat-style World Lenses and other real-world interactivity tools in alignment with Facebook’s wider AR push.
The popularity of Instagram Stories over Facebook’s other Snapchat-duplicating options makes it a key opportunity for The Social Network to try out its new AR tools, and with more resources being invested into their AR efforts, this is where we’re likely to see the most significant innovation and evolution on this front.
And as those tools develop, so too will the various ad options – they added Canvas ads to Stories recently. Expect more along this line in the coming year.
I expect that Facebook will also look to add their 360 photo and video options to Instagram at some stage in 2018.
Facebook’s been working to improve their 360 photo process, most notably making easier to take and post 360 images on the platform.
But really, where 360 photos seem to fit even better than on Facebook itself is on Instagram, with the platform’s visual focus perfectly suited to the option.
The introduction of 360 content could lead to a significant shift on Instagram, particularly if the creation process is simplified, making it easy for anyone to post more immersive, interactive photos.
Yeah, they may also look to steal the Snap Map feature for Instagram. It seems like a fairly simple option for Instagram to adapt – they did once have a similar tool which showed where your photos were taken, but the focus on Stories content, in particular, could be a key opportunity for Instagram to add it back in – particularly is Snap Maps proves significantly popular.
Instagram looks set to go from strength to strength in 2018, with growth and adoption both on upward trajectories. With more options coming for Stories, adding more ways for Instagram to keep users engaged, it seems likely that it will become the next billion user platform before 2018 is out.
Tune in tomorrow for our predictions on Pinterest and LinkedIn.