The Future of Social Media

It's almost the end of another year. For marketers, this is the time where they measure and evaluate the effectiveness of their social media campaigns to see if their efforts have made a significant impact on their revenue. They may also be finalizing their social media strategy for the year to see if they are properly allocating their resources, while some are probably already looking into their marketing plan for the upcoming year.

Our social media strategies are constantly evolving. We need to keep up with the trends and learn to ride with the changes. Just as technology and consumer behavior will evolve in unpredictable ways, we should be prepared for these new developments as these will change the way you connect with your audience. We must plan for these changes, so we do not get caught off guard when that time comes. While it’s hard to predict how the future of social media marketing will look like in the next 10 years, there are several trends that can be forecasted.

Here are three expert predictions on how of social media marketing will look like in the future:

Prediction #1: Consumption of visual content will change.

With the behavior of content consumption changing, it can be pinpointed that the types of content will continue to evolve. In fact, Facebook did a research on trends of media consumption and it was reported that people spend an average of 1.7 seconds when looking at a piece of content. They also mentioned that people look at videos 5 times longer than static content on both Facebook and Instagram. By now, as a social media marketer, you should know how important it is to incorporate visual content into your social media strategy.

VWO Graph
Source: VWO

If you have not shifted your focus on visual content yet, then you are long overdue for a new marketing strategy. Let's look at some statistics that demonstrate the impact visual content has on engagement, reach and revenue for brands.

  • Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than those without. (Source)
  • Visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than any other content. Facebook posts with images get 2 times more engagement and tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without one. (Source)
  • 5% of social media marketers said that original graphics, such as custom made infographics and illustrations, performed best. (Source)
  • eMarketer reported that Facebook posts from brands that included images earned 87% of all engagement on the platform. (Source)
  • When asked what type of visuals were most frequently produced, 35% of marketers stated that they used stock photos and 30% used original graphics. The remaining 45% percent said that they used videos, data visualizations, charts, and GIFs the most. (Source)
  • People are 85% more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video. (Source)

This is one marketing trend that is quite impossible to ignore. The power of visual content will only continue to grow in importance over the next few years. As a marketer, you must keep reconstructing your content marketing strategy to make it adaptable and suitable for the coming changes in digital visual consumption.

Prediction #2: The Rise of Dark Social

What exactly is dark social?

It refers to web traffic that can't be tracked through Web analytics programs. It's simply the traffic that comes from private social media channels such as emails and instant messaging. Private sharing is done when users copy and paste the link to the content and share it through mobile messaging apps like Telegram and WhatsApp.

How does it impact brands?

Dark Social dominates sharing activity online. It accounts for much of the traffic to any given website. According to a report by RadiumOne in 2016, 84% of the content shared in the virtual world came from dark social.

Click Z Stats
Source: ClickZ

It was also mentioned that 62% of clickbacks on Dark Social now come from mobile devices. The other 38% of clickbacks come from desktops. Consumers responds most to Dark Social when links are shared via their mobile devices.

What can you do about it?

Social media marketers needs to familiarize themselves with outbound sharing by minimizing and tracking dark social to a certain degree. You can develop a method for getting into the most important aspect of dark social enough for you to learn how to use it to your advantage. Here are some of the things you can do:

Using the Right Tools

Although you can't fully track dark social, using the right tools can help you narrow things down. Applications like Google Analytics or any social media analytics tool that allow you to correctly understand traffic origins and therefore study their behavior and conversions.

Shorten URLS

Make your links shorter to be able to track them better. With shortened URLS, you will enjoy a more in-depth overview of your engagement and share rates.

Introduce Sharing Buttons

You should also include highly visible sharing buttons on your social media channels to encourage people to share your content more.

These are just some of the proactive steps you can take to measure your dark social engagement without losing track of them.

Prediction #3: The Death of Organic Reach

Facebook has made it impossible to easily reach your followers organically. Research has shown that even a Facebook page with 500,000 likes could have an organic reach as low as 2%. This is not good for social media marketers especially those who are counting on the number of followers they have on the platform. Facebook reported that there’s simply too much content published on the network every single day, they need to be cautious and extremely picky about what they want to place on their users' feed. They want to ensure that the content appearing on their account is most relevant to them. See how Facebook is slowly transforming into a paid marketing platform? As time goes on, this will become even more evident.

We expect a lot of changes in the marketing world in the coming years. It’s helpful to know these emerging social media trends so you that you are aware how these might affect your social media strategy today and in the future.

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