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Not many people will be sad to see the back of 2016.
So, why not take the opportunity to look onwards and upwards into the year ahead?
We’ve asked some industry experts for their predictions on social media trends in 2017. The people offering up their opinions are:
- Kirsty Price, senior community manager at PSONA Social.
- Alice Reeves, associate director of social and outreach at Jellyfish.
- Jordan Stone, deputy head of strategy at We Are Social.
- Joanna Halton, head of client strategy at MyClever.
- Will Francis, founder of Vandal London.
- Michelle Goodall, social media consultant and tutor of Econsultancy’s Social Media & Online PR Training.
Lots more live video
Gary Vaynerchuk called it over a year ago and it’s becoming clearer by the day that TV’s biggest competitor is live video on social media platforms.
2016 has been the year of development and experimentation, with the launch of Facebook Live and platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram releasing video capture and live streaming products in Q4.
However, 2017 is likely to be the year that live video shifts from early adopter to mass market use. There’s so much room for innovation in the live video space and I’m really excited to see how brands will use this medium creatively in 2017.
Live video is going to continue to grow as a way of interacting with your audience in real time.
I think people are bored of seeing traditional, highly polished, carefully constructed marketing all the time. Live video allows a more genuine connection with brands.
On social media, attention is the currency and in 2017 everyone has the opportunity to become an influencer. Savvy brands are starting to realise that they can generate an impressive return on investment working in partnership with people with around 1,000 followers, not just people with celebrity status.
Off the back of this, we’ll see more and more influencer matchmaking tools popping up and (hopefully) more sophisticated social media disclosure tools.
(For more on this topic see: Is micro-influencer marketing viable?)
AI and VR
There’s a lot of talk about artificial intelligence, but we haven’t really seen much true AI as of yet - just clever parlour tricks. The real story is automation, which will have a greater impact on marketing, with all elements of the agency process becoming ripe for potential automation.
IBM’s Watson used automation to create a movie trailer earlier this year - ultimately the work needed a human touch to bring all the elements together but the project had huge implications for the creative industries.
I’d expect augmented reality to continue to develop - Pokemon Go and Snapchat were such huge successes in 2016 that developers would be mad not to find use for them in 2017.
The biggest trend for next year has got to be virtual reality. We saw the explosion of Pokémon Go this year and I can’t wait to see what’s going to be the next AR/VR craze.
We’ve already got the first VR social network, vTime, and it’ll be interesting to see how this develops and what other contenders step into the market
I also think that VR will start to reach a tipping point with consumers through the likes of Samsung headsets, Google Cardboard and Playstation VR.
Live video and vertical video recording (not just horizontal video) are things that content creators and brand managers should begin to look at - if they aren’t already!
We'll see many more creative, transmedia campaigns incorporating AI and platforms like Facebook Messenger next year.
One of my personal favourite integrated campaigns of 2016 was Channel 4's 'Human 2' fake product recall campaign. This example showcases the move towards AI and Bot integration in creative social media campaigns.
Channel 4 ran print, TV and outdoor ads for Persona Synthetics, the fictional company recalling faulty synthetic humans or synths. All ads led to a website with a live chat function linked to Facebook Messenger, where the user has progressively creepy and realistic conversations with a malfunctioning synth.
It's ARG for the Facebook generation and a really brilliantly executed campaign to promote a second series to both existing and new viewers.
Chatbots will show no sign of slowing down and with the launch of WhatsApp for business planned in 2017, I’d expect to see an explosion in the Instant Messaging Marketing world - perhaps even the opening of chatbot agencies.
Automation of marketing triggers can be incredibly effective and efficient. With tools like Hubspot and Mailchimp making personalised lifecycle marketing (i.e. receiving communications based on your behaviour and your stage in the funnel) so cheap and easy, this will further extend into social in 2017.
Expect more chatbots and intelligent communications through email and social from the brands you engage with.
Social being taken seriously
In 2017 I expect spend for social platforms to increase. This week has seen reports that digital will overtake linear TV spend and WPP reporting that Facebook is likely to be its second biggest supplier in 2017.
It's all indicative of social being taken more seriously as a channel, with brand managers adopting large scale social inclusive campaigns and budgets that match.
Social media marketing is such a fast-paced and ever-evolving industry and it’s so important to practice daily self-education and experimentation.
That being said, I believe that we’re finally starting to see the ‘professionalisation’ of social media as a career with the release of certification programs from platforms and social media tools.
As social media comes of age, it would be great to see more training and development opportunities arise that focus on both the theory and practice of social media, and how it fits into the overall marketing strategy.
On that note, make sure to check out Econsultancy’s range of social media training courses.