From a favourite millennial past time, social media in 2016 will be working overtime in the mainstream business space.
Facebook and Twitter still enjoy a lead in the social media sphere but other networks such as Vine, Pinterest, Instagram, Periscope, and Snapchat are catching up and with them comes a new focus on visual-based social media that is poised to take the Internet by storm.
There are now more than two billion active users of social media and the business world has noticed. Nearly nine in 10 North American companies use social media for marketing purposes in 2015, according to eMarketer.
If companies doubled down on their use of social media last year, this year things will really heat up but businesses are poised to alter the way they use social media.
Here are some of the social media trends likely to surface in 2016 and over the next few years:
- Social buying– From DIY projects to fashion tips, recipes, and the latest hacks, Pinterest has been the go-to social network. However, with the introduction of buyable pins, user no longer just “discover and save” good ideas, the can now also purchase some of the stuff they see on Pinterest. YouTube has a different take on social buying with its YouTube Shopping Ads and in Canada VarageSale is redefining the way to buy and sell previously-loved items online. Selling goods and service on social media network will continue to grow through 2016 and the next couple of years but organizations need to be careful how they use this emerging market space. People often flock to social networks because they want to escape from the ad-saturated, spammed-out, vanilla-coloured landscape of the mainstream online world.
- Real-time marketing – Instead of adhering to a strict long-term marketing strategy, more and more companies will resort to developing and promoting content that is tied to or relevant to a current or ongoing This is called real-time marketing. Check out how marketers behind the Snickers bar jumped on the new that Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson had been sacked after a row with one of the show’s producers. It was the perfect moment for Snicker’s “you’re not you when you’re angry” tagline.
- Social advertising – While eMarketer estimates that advertisers around the world spent about $23.68 billion to reach out to consumers in social networks (a growth of 33.5 per cent from 2014 figures), this represents only 14 per cent of all digital ad spending. Industry watchers believe social advertising expenditure will take off in 2017. The figure eMarketer is predicting is $35.98 billion. Why the sudden gush of money? Simple, advertisers finally realized that consumers are tired of viewing paid Google ads and search results and have started downloading ad blockers.
- Social apps punch in for work – The death of email has been predicted for years. This year will likely not be the year email keels over, but apps like Slack are adding another nail in the coffin. The messaging app designed for office teams now has more than 1.25 million business users. Slack has many challengers from around the world. There’s ChatWork, which was established back in 2011 and commands 70 per cent of the market in Japan, there’s also HipChat and the newer Ryver.
- Analytics to light the way – While there may be some 4 billion users globally of social messaging apps, much of what happens in social sites are pretty much a mystery for companies. Businesses are still struggling to known what content is being shared and how they impact traffic and conversion. Some industry watchers believe 2016 will be the year when more powerful ad targeted analytics tools lift the lid of the “dark social” and help companies develop full-blown strategies around social messaging.
- Employees recruited to build social brand – Your company is probably doing this with you already, the practice of employees being asked to amplify the corporate brand over social media increasingly will become formalized, and 80 per cent of business will have social teams, according to the Altimeter Group. Fast Company reports that employee social advocacy programs have grown by 191 per cent since 2013 and will continue to take off in 2016.
I guess the question now is: will social media improve the way we work and make it more fun or will work suck out the fun from social media?
I’m worried that much of social media will end up being mangled by corporations to serve their purposes. Eventually, people will leave sites when they find there really is nothing there for them.
However, I’m also hopeful that many organizations will become smart enough to find that healthy balance of commerce and community.