Looking Into the Future of Social Media Advertising
The web is a living, constantly evolving organism, and what works today might not work tomorrow. This is especially true for social media, which is subject to changing technologies, changing algorithms from websites themselves and the whims of the public. These changing conditions make it both essential and beneficial that businesses constantly monitor the state of social media marketing, with an eye to forecasting those trends that likely appear soon on the horizon.
Video will continue to rise
While much of social media advertising still relies on text and photos for its messaging, we will continue to see social media marketing companies pivot to video to grab the attention of users.
The appeal of video is simple – as users continue to shift their focus to mobile devices, their attention spans grow shorter and shorter. A video lasting even just 20 to 30 seconds can be a better way to engage these users than text or photos. Brief video content of this nature is already producing positive results, and businesses can expect that trend to continue.
Constantly changing platforms
For many, “Facebook” and “Twitter” are synonymous with “social media.” And for good reason. Facebook practically invented the concept of social media marketing, and that platform remains the most popular among advertisers.
However, the use of private networks such as WhatsApp and Messenger has grown more quickly than the use of public networks such as Facebook and Twitter. While this potentially makes Facebook even more powerful (as they own both WhatsApp and Messenger), it can lead to big opportunities for companies that are able to establish a presence on these platforms and make their advertising and marketing efforts feel native to the user experience there. It will benefit companies to consider reaching the large audience that has taken their social media use to private, rather than public forums.
Augmented reality will be huge
Virtual reality advertising hasn’t really caught on yet, but that should change in a big way as augmented reality technology becomes more sophisticated and more thoroughly integrated into the mobile experience. This computer-generated reality could potentially allow users to try out your product or service before they buy, helping them more easily and effectively appreciate the benefits of converting — that is, making a purchase.
Once augmented reality achieves mainstream acceptance, it could be a pivotal time for social media marketing. While currently less than 10 percent of marketers use augmented reality, expect that figure to increase dramatically in the coming years.
Personal brands are king
At the end of the day, the goal of marketing is to connect with customers and get them to believe in what you have to offer them. With today’s consumers, that doesn’t just mean getting them to believe in your products. It also means convincing them to believe in your company, business, or personality as well.
This is where social media really shines, especially with the consumers of tomorrow. Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat can extend the reach of your message, allowing it to make an early impression with young users who maintain a near-constant presence on these social networks. Twitter and Facebook promote deeper engagement with consumers, offering brand interactions that underscore the human element of your business and providing them with opportunities to have their voice heard.
The consumers of today and tomorrow are becoming more socially conscious. They also want to know that the companies they support are driven by real personalities. Consequently, the future of social media marketing will not simply be about selling products or services, but also about connecting your brand with a distinctive lifestyle. In short, consumers don’t necessarily form strong attachments to companies in the abstract. Instead, they trust individuals and connect with the stories they have to tell.
Chatbots make the user experience more interactive
You are starting to see it more and more – your visit a website, and a pop-up appears offering personal assistance. Of course, the “person” asking if you’d like help or provide feedback is a chatbot designed to interact with you, but it still allows the consumer instant feedback and the ability to interact.
This trend is especially on the rise in social media through Facebook Messenger, as it allows for an immediate meeting of the consumer’s needs without them having initiate a transaction. With chatbots, you can instantly send consumers information about upcoming sales, direct them to relevant content, ask them to participate in surveys and set up customer service flows to help them go to the right place if their needs are more intricate.
This last function is extremely important. Consumers are losing patience with the requirement to send an email to a generic (and faceless) address., The reputation of phone-based customer service has also fallen, making that option less appealing as well. Chatbots give customers a more interactive experience from the get-go, and consistently show higher interaction and click-through rates for the companies that use them.
Create more original content
The internet is simply flooded with content – and most of it is bad! The key to engaging your users is to create quality, original content that will capture their attention and engage them. Not only will your audience be spending more time with quality content than ads, but they will also be more likely to comment on it, share it interact and continue following your brand so they can interact with future content.
Smart speakers and voice search
Products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home didn’t even exist 10 years ago, but they’ve quickly become fixtures in the modern home. The rise of these smart speakers and the associated voice search technology will have reverberating impacts across the marketing industry. In fact, with the use of a smart speaker, social media marketing is flipped upside down, because users never even see the screen.
Social media marketers would be wise to consider compelling audio advertising, as traditional methods of text or video don’t translate to the smart speaker/digital assistant experience. Think of this messaging in terms of 20-second productions, drawing listening users in rather than having them tune you out.
The future of social media marketing is sure to involve many changes, based both on new technology as well as the ever-changing preferences of consumers. Getting out in front of some of these trends can help marketers be proactive about meeting consumers where they are, and leveraging new opportunities before their competitors have even entered the space. However, even if your brand has never dedicated part of its marketing budget to the platforms and channels discussed here, it’s not too late to get started. As these trends show, there are still plenty of trails to be blazed on social media.
Jason Cole is the SEO Director of Belo + Company. He has more than 7 years of experience working in Search Engine Optimization and has extensive knowledge in more industries than you can put into a bio!