A couple of years ago, social networking sites were largely a teenager’s play-field. More than a decade later, social platforms have become an integral part of how we work, play, connect, do business and live life day by day.
In 2016, social media as a marketing tool will continue to grow in robust ways while utilizing the wide array of emerging technologies to provide brands with more opportunities for connecting with their customers.
Here are some of the big changes to anticipate:
While social messaging is not a new phenomenon, 2016 is likely to be the year that will see more and more users gravitating towards messaging services including Twitter’s direct messages, Facebook Messenger , WeChat, Whatsapp and others.
Greater preference for social messaging means that users are now more interested in private communication, whether one-on-one, or within exclusive groups.
What does this mean for marketers? Marketers must find ways to create private social spaces where they can communicate with their customers and where customers can ask questions and receive direct, clear and helpful information.
The social media world got a taste of live video streaming in 2015. In 2016, live streaming might just be the next big thing that ever happened to social media.
From Meerkat, Beme, Periscope to Facebook Live, there is a rapidly growing demand for live, video-based content. While live streaming tools are still few, increased interest among consumers and brands alike will see more streaming tools developed.
Live streaming offers marketers a great opportunity to showcase live footage, for example of the workplace, a manufacturing process or a DIY procedure. This not only puts your face in front of your audience; but also offers a chance to connect with fans and followers in an authentic way.
Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift hints toward an upcoming explosion of virtual reality. Virtual reality offers users more than just video; it provides an immersive experience that enables users to view video content from all angles on mobile and web devices.
Early adopters of virtual reality technology include the Disney Channel and the Vice but 2016 will see more brands experiment with 360 degree broadcasting coupled with live streaming capabilities.
Virtual Reality is not the only trend that is set to explode; social video too will dominate 2016 and beyond.
With the new Facebook Video feature, users can view videos that play automatically as they scroll through the newsfeed. The native nature of Facebook videos as opposed to YouTube is increasingly driving greater engagement.
In 2016, smart marketers will dedicate more time and resources to the creation of videos and direct distribution to social networks, instead of posting videos to YouTube only.
Once upon a time, all you had to do to market your business was post a status update on Facebook directing users to your website and traffic would flow almost effortlessly. For Twitter, you just had to churn out a 140-character message, include a link and traffic would, again, flow to your website free and without a hassle.
Today, it is increasingly difficult to get all your fans to even see your post, let alone click on it. In 2016 and beyond, marketers should be prepared to shell out more money on social advertising to ensure that their content reaches the greatest possible target audience.
More options for audience targeting will be available, ensuring that social ads generate a premium return on investment.
The proliferation of big data facilitated by powerful digital tracking and analytics tools will continue to enable marketers to deliver highly personalized content throughout the customers’ purchase journey.
In 2016, employee advocacy and influencers will play a bigger role in enabling brands to deliver dynamic, authentic content that meets customers’ needs.
In many ways, marketers will no longer take on the sole responsibility of creating and delivering content—they will bring other creators into the loop to deliver social content that really resonates with consumers.
Finally, opportunities for social selling and shopping will fundamentally change the way marketers view revenue generation across social media platforms.
For a long time now, the mantra among social media marketers has been ‘connect and engage, don’t sell.’ This is set to change in 2016, as major social platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest fully roll out their ‘buy now’ buttons. Such functionalities will allow users to buy products and services directly on the social platform which is another tool in addition to being referred to a third-party site.
The incorporation of buy buttons hints toward the increase in powerful tracking capabilities for social selling to enable marketers to analyse and track the transactions taking place.
2016 is certainly the year of massive technological changes that will facilitate greater connection among online users and between online consumers and brands. Social media marketers should be prepared to ride the wave of change and to adapt to the new landscape of social.