Another year is upon us and looking back at 2017, it was Instagram’s year. A host of innovations saw the app continue to grow. For some, much of this product development was merely copying Snapchat. Irrespective of the motive, Instagram’s moves definitely stunted Snapchat’s growth and added to its post-IPO woes. So what does 2018 have in store for social media? Here’s our list of the key 2018 social media trends that brand owners need to be aware of.
AR is coming
AR (alongside VR) has long been hyped as the next big thing. 2018 could be the year that augmented reality becomes a hit with consumers. Snapchat has played a big part here: the ability to add animated digital stuff to selfies has been a big part of the app’s appeal to young consumers. This year Snapchat have added “World Lenses” to its portfolio. It’s dancing hotdog lens has been generated over 2 billion times. The key point is that content like this is showing consumers how to thread digital and real-world content together.
We expect more of this content in 2018 and not just from Snapchat. Facebook is adding AR functionality to its camera and Messenger. In December it launched “World Effects” as well as its AR Studio. The latter is designed to help brands harness the potential. It’s likely that this style of content could drive much higher engagement rates though creativity is going to be key.
Ephemeral Content Rocks
It’s not just AR though. Snapchat as well as Instagram Stories have given us ephemeral content. Stuff that our mates (and in 2018 brands we love) share with us and once consumed, it’s gone. This is another big opportunity for brands. Fleeting content lets brands be more playful and creative. The risk is that standard content on timelines no longer cuts it. Expect to see this type of content on Facebook in 2018 too.
Dark Social: Rise of the Apps
Dark social might be a daft buzzword but there’s no doubting the importance of Messenger, WhatsApp and iMessage. Huge volumes of content and website clicks come from these apps. It’s no surprise that they’re adding more and more functionality. Late last year Messenger Pay arrived in the UK.Apple’s iMessage is set to add the ability to send payments in 2018.
Third party developers can add bots to Messenger and with Alexa Skills now open to developers there’s huge opportunities for brands to reach and engage with consumers via these channels. The key here is in making sure these tools add real value to consumers. The next step is advertising: Facebook already lets advertisers target via Messenger. It won’t be long before bots/tools can be promoted too.
A Farewell to Twitter?
2018 may be the year that brands lose patience with Twitter. It’s still expensive for advertisers, especially SMEs with lower response rates than its rivals. More importantly, it hasn’t found the answer to driving more people to tweet. Doubling it’s character limit seems like a desperate grasp. For brands, Twitter is a busted flush. Twitter may well survive as a news/entertainment channel but we expect to see brands move out of the channel in 2018/19, especially those who’ve struggled to build engaged audiences.
2018: A big year for social
2018 is going to be an exciting year with plenty of new functionality for brands. It could also be one of the biggest years for social driven by the growth in AR and ephemeral content. For many brands, this means re-writing their social media playbooks to create compelling new brand content & experiences. Whether all of this catches on in 2018 will depend on creativity. Stuff that works will engage and be shared. Cracking this is 2018’s big challenge.