Boost Your Social Media Engagement in 2018

It goes without saying that social media is wildly popular across the globe and that it's continually being used by more people, and in more situations. But, social media itself isn't static— as people's online behavior changes, and as new trends are established and followed, social media changes. Every social networking company continually looks for what direction their users are moving toward, and they react accordingly with new features and content specific to those new trends, so they may engage (and monetize) most effectively.

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As online marketers (Even if your business has a single social media profile, you're an online marketer!), it's up to us to be perceptive of the latest online trends and do our best to connect effectively with our audiences WHILE staying true to our brand. I'm not saying that every business owner and employee need to keep up with the latest social trend reports in their spare time, or even that they need to increase their marketing budget at all in order to be successful in the upcoming year. All we need is be aware of the latest changes, and with them in mind, plan how best to build and maintain our relationships with our online audiences.

Today, we have three topics detailing the latest social media trends that will continue into 2018— the latest in social culture, the rise of social trust, and the importance of social video. (The majority of the data for this post can be sourced to Hootsuite's 2018 Social Media Trends Toolkit.)


The Latest in Social Culture

instagram feedSaying that everyone is on social media nowadays isn't an exaggeration— GlobalWebIndex's recent study claims that 98% of internet users visit or use social networks each month, and ComScore's recent whitepaper states that mobile users spend one in every three minutes social networking while they're online. If you're looking to expand your brand's recognition, then there's a good chance that your potential prospects and advocates are on social media.

The way social media is being used has been gradually changing, as well— people aren't using social networks specifically to keep in touch with each other anymore. Instead, more and more users are regularly participating in passive social networking, or using social media to observe rather than to connect, like accessing the news or filling their spare time with online videos or other shared content. Almost half of all internet users are using social networking sites for online product research and reviews and for following their favorite brands (GWI Social Report). For most 16-24 year-olds, social media has already replaced search engines for their brand discovery and research.

With more people using social media, social networks have been serving more ads accordingly. But, in response, ad blockers are being used by more users as well, showing that consumers are actively resisting broadcast-style marketing tactics (comScore). As Hootsuite explains in their 2018 Social Media Trends Toolkit, "Brands risk alienating customers if they only serve social ads without building genuine audience engagement and customer relationships on social channels."


The Rise of Social Trust

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The level of consumer trust in mainstream institutions isn't what it used to be, to say the least. People are trusting corporations, media, and government entities less than ever (Edelman's Trust Barometer), and the level of public distrust is, in turn, having a huge effect on social media. Now, instead of people turning to large institutions for trustworthy information, they're turning more readily towards each other.

Peer-to-peer influence is predicted to be the most effective method of online engagement in 2018, incorporating online peer reviews, customer communities, employee communication, and micro-influencers (people defined as having 1,000-10,000 followers online).

As Hootsuite suggests, set long-term goals for building your company's advocacy with both employees and customers. Use social ads to gain attention for your brand, but support your company's relationships and product research through engagement in your social profiles.


The Importance of Social Video

The main social media trend for the past year, online video, isn't over yet— in fact, the opposite is true. Online video is growing, especially on mobile, and every social media platform is catering to the movement by introducing new video features. Facebook, for example, introduced their new Watch Tab earlier this year, where you can discover, save, subscribe to, and share an endless amount of short videos, all from one section of your Facebook dashboard. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other social networks have also been adding new video sharing and live streaming features as well as offering video ad solutions to businesses over the past year. Some video mini-series have done so well on social media that they've been picked up and produced by network cable channels.

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So, how does this video frenzy effect you, as an online marketer? People are watching more videos because of current behavioral trends— users have been engaging in a lot more passive social networking lately, and short online videos have been a major contributor and effect of that. If creating an online video makes sense for your brand, then it could be a great way to advertise your business as well as educate people about it, about you, and about the way you do things. You could hire a professional to make your video for you, or you could do it yourself, and your video doesn't need to be long or action-packed. Simple, short videos that describe your business's story, culture, processes, or customer appreciation can say a lot about you and help start building viewers' recognition and trust in your brand.

For more video ideas and examples for small businesses, check out this blog post from Vidyard, 10 Ways Small Business Should Be Using Video (With Examples!)