In our last post we took a look at what 2018 might have in store for us in the shape of digital marketing trends.

On the marketer’s list of campaign must-haves were chatbots, personalisation, and video and live streaming. We also discussed how GDPR is set to influence marketing strategies in a big way, and how social media was gearing up for even greater kudos in the New Year.

Social media has of course played a pivotal role in our digital marketing campaigns for some time. However, in the forthcoming year it is, according to those in the know, set to soar in importance. As we quoted in our last post, Instagram users are on the rise with in the region of 800,000 now using the picture and video sharing platform. LinkedIn looks like it will become a more central focus for B2B marketers too.

With the social media horizon promising us much, we thought we’d take a closer look at precisely what the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram – and the rest – have in store for us in 2018.

Social media is set to soar in importance for marketers in 2018.

Organic Reach –vs- Paid Advertising

There is talk that organic reach in social media could well be a dying phenomenon and that marketers are going to need to commit to a paid advertising budget if they are serious about getting in front of their target audiences and staying ahead of the competition.

Such a trend has been on the cards for a while and appears to have come to the fore towards the latter part of this year. Facebook seems to be spearheading this trend with considerable proportions of social media marketers seeking to increase ad spends on the platform.

According to Hanapin’s 2017 State of Paid Social report, Facebook and Instagram are the most popular platforms where marketers will look to boost their advertising spends.

Influencers to Further Boost Brand Reputation

2017 saw the rise in popularity of the use of social media influencers. Brands have enjoyed exceptional results in working with such people recently, however for 2018 it looks as though they are going to have to change tack somewhat, because authenticity is set to take over from celebrity and popularity. So instead of getting big names on side, it’s time for marketers to work alongside real people who genuinely want to endorse a product.

If you think about it, where’s the substance and indeed benefit in paying someone with a huge following to pretend they love your brand when in fact they don’t, when you could work with people who are actual loyal users of what you sell?

It’s time for marketers to work alongside real people who genuinely want to endorse a product.

Storytelling to Become of Key Importance

A lot of brands are still in the early stages of adopting storytelling as a marketing initiative, but watch this space because it is set to become incredibly important and grow to huge proportions in 2018.

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are platform leaders in ‘stories’ features. More than 200 million people use Instagram Stories according to Statista. Iconosquare says that Instagram Stories are reducing engagement on traditional Instagram posts, which would indicate that a move to storytelling or even adoption of this initiative alongside traditional posting really must be seriously considered.

Stories allow marketers to quickly and easily create content that is delivered directly to audiences. We’ll look at brand storytelling in its own right in a future post, because as is apparent, it is extremely important.

More than 200 million people use Instagram Stories.

Video to Mount a Takeover

It’s official: Facebook videos receive 135 per cent more organic views than images. It has also been predicted that 80 per cent of all internet content will be video based by 2020.

As we said in our 2018 digital marketing trends post, more than 50 per cent of marketers globally believe that video content delivers the greatest return on investment. We also discussed how live streaming is set for an upsurge with Facebook research revealing that viewers spend three times longer watching live streams than pre-recorded video.

If you are still basing the majority of your social posts on images, it’s time to think seriously about making a move to video, at least in part, for 2018.

More than 50 per cent of marketers globally believe that video content delivers the greatest return on investment.

Chatbots to Fill More Customer Service Roles

With social media being used increasingly as a customer service tool, it was only a matter of time before a degree of intelligent automation was introduced in order to deal with the massive influx of round-the-clock demands for attention and answers.

A number of brands have adopted artificial intelligence powered chatbots to help resolve straightforward, repetitive queries across their social platforms. As we discussed in our 2018 trends post, chatbots are fast becoming indispensable marketing and customer service tools and, as technology further evolves, they are set to become more mainstream.

Facebook already has more than 12,000 monthly bots in use across its Messenger platform according to research published by Filmora which also reveals that 30 per cent of our chat conversation will be with chatbots by next year, and that 80 per cent of chatbots can be used efficiently to provide services 24/7.

Facebook has more than 12,000 monthly chatbots in use across its Messenger platform.

Where is Your Social Media Strategy Heading in 2018?

Social media certainly hasn’t stopped progressing since its introduction not that long ago and it’s crucial to stay on top of the latest trends so you don’t get left behind and lose your competitive edge. At the end of the day though, what works for one business may not work for the next, so it is essential that your social media strategy is fully tailored to your target audiences and your business and marketing objectives.

If you could use a little help in bringing your social media strategy bang up to date in a fully tailored way, why not talk to Figment?