Next up in our look back at the year that was 2017, we’re talking social media.

With insight from those in the know, here’s a run-down of some of the biggest social trends and talking points.

For more on social, be sure to check out these additional resources:

Instagram’s dominance

Will Francis, co-founder and creative director, Vandal:

Instagram Stories’ domination of the ephemeral content trend has been evident - we've seen disposable content move outside of the confines of Snapchat and into the mainstream, and of course a widely accessible paid advertising platform (Instagram/Facebook).

Live video has now been integrated into pretty much every social platform but Facebook and Instagram seem to be winning, with superior products and strong adoption metrics.

Joanna Halton, founder, Jo & Co:

This year, we've seen the continued 'Snapchatification' of Instagram and Facebook. With their aggressive adoption of Snapchat's more iconic features paying off - this August saw Instagram Stories daily use surpass Snapchat. Overall, from a consumer perspective, it has further normalised vertical video, scribbles and emojis on clips, filters, lenses and the like.

The knock-on effect is that users' expectation of branded social content has also changed. In a world of chock-full of entertaining and interesting videos, brands will need to keep up the quality and target well to win their audiences' attention. The sad truth is that this may include producing more ephemeral content, which has less longevity than 'traditional' social formats.

As the channels and their features become more disparate and the content becomes richer, planning needs to prioritise focus platforms and create efficiencies where possible. This will help to ensure that content produced is in the most appropriate formats for the audience and channel, whilst still within budgets. 

Articulation of brand values

Will Francis:

I love how Heineken took an (edited and measured) risk with its Heineken’s Worlds Apart campaign, providing a platform to, and challenging bigots in a surprisingly beautiful way. It’s becoming increasingly important for consumers to understand what a brand stands for, or against. 

Campaigns like these are raising the bar in that respect. A trend we’re all going to have to get a handle on in 2018 and beyond is this need from consumers to know a brand's key issues and where they stand on them.

Demand for Facebook ad transparency

Depesh Mandalia, founder and CEO, S M Commerce:

..perhaps the most worrying ['campaign'] was the meddling from Russia, allegedly, in the US elections through Facebook marketing. 

If anything this has caused the social media giant to take extra measures to provide more transparency to users which has come in the form of a rollout of ads that will be shown on a brand's page so users know what ads they're running. As a brand marketer and Facebook ads expert this doesn't bode well as I can’t imagine customers are going to be all over this as much as marketers themselves will be.

Tipping point for video

Tom Pepper, head of marketing solutions UK, LinkedIn:

Whilst video content on social media is nothing new, this year has seen something of a tipping point. As well as Facebook enhancing its video advertising offer, with the launch of its new Watch feature, both Twitter and, latterly the team here at LinkedIn, have launched native video capabilities.

Across B2B as well as B2C, marketers are using all of the tools in their arsenal to develop content that appeals to the changing needs of their audiences - and video is proving to be one of the most popular. 

Depesh Mandalia:

Video has led the way as far as social media trends go in 2017. Literally every social media platform has taken advantage of the need to find new ways of sharing content. Facebook Live usage has exploded, LinkedIn launched their own video functionality and Instagram Stories has really started to chip away at Snapchat for those that were torn between the two apps.

Video consumption (including live streaming) is one of the largest uses of the internet across the planet. Our hunger for an immersive content experience in our social feeds is immense and still growing.

The continued growth of sponsored content

Tom Pepper:

Despite murmurings at the start of the year that social media ad spend could slow down as a result of the turbulent economic conditions, several industry bodies have - reassuringly - reported that it’s continued to grow significantly. When we look at sponsored content on social media as a whole, there’s been a definite drive for more storytelling, with brands really grabbing the opportunity to share content that’s new, exciting and engaging, without interrupting the user experience. 

Audience expansion & changing expectations

Tom Pepper:

It’s not just millennials who are using and interacting with social media more than ever before. Whilst senior audiences have always been big users of LinkedIn, this trend has accelerated in 2017, and now the nine million C-suite LinkedIn members are some of the most engaged people on the platform.

Further reading:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 15 December, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

For the last 12 months there's been increasing criticism of Social Media, around claims that it amplifies fakenews, is a bad force for society, and generally makes people unhappy.
https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/04/12/facebook_makes_you_sad/

This hasn't really mattered to marketers - except for limited concerns about "brand safety" on youtube (ie marketing alongside inappropriate, upsetting or just controversial content), but it's breaking through this month following interviews from former Facebook executives (links below). I was startled to hear a long extract from Chamath Palihapitiya at Stanford on Radio4.

Facebook Is 'Ripping Apart' Society, Former Executive Warns
http://fortune.com/2017/12/12/chamath-palihapitiya-facebook-society/
Sean Parker Wonders What Facebook Is 'Doing to Our Children's Brains'
http://fortune.com/2017/11/09/sean-parker-facebook-childrens-brains/

I think we're starting to see a division between people who use social media a lot, and those who have been turned off by the negatives and view it as annoying. So it's no longer a guaranteed way to reach your audience - even if that audience is young.
https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/oct/05/growing-social-media-backlash-among-young-people-survey-shows

4 months ago

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