Our top social media trends for 2018

Blog | 12 Jan, 2018

If 2017 was an exciting year social media marketers, the next 12 months are destined to bring even more change. With more ad and content formats, our industry will continue to mature, leaving behind fans of vanity metrics and organic reach for a more mature and ROI-focused approach, centered around generating meaningful business outcomes through social. Here's what our social and paid social teams predict for the coming year.


Social video to dominate


Social networks- Facebook in particular- will continue their aggressive aim at taking more media budget from TV advertising. Inspired by the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, Facebook Watch promises to be a big player in 2018. Ben Sheppard, Senior Social Media Manager, believes “it's their first step into buying existing huge TV spectacles to increase ad revenue, data collection, and potentially, to include a subscription model.

Facebook Watch is destined to feature 6, 15 and 30-second mid-roll ads “which brands will adopt in a compliant fashion,” according to Head of Social Greg Allum.  

Although they'll be battling Amazon and potentially other big tech names like Apple & Google, Facebook will bid for the rights to stream major sporting events, including the English Premier League, whose contract is due to end in early 2019. “It’s going to be an interesting bidding match as I’m sure Facebook will love being able to forecast the number of weekly users glued to screens for over 90 mins at a time,” claims Franklin Baeza, Senior Paid Social Specialist.

Annual video content and video actions growth
on selected social networks from 2015 to 2016 (Statista.com)


The changing role of the 'influencer'


2018 will be the rise of the B2B influencer,” says Paid Social Director Jessica McGlory. “With major crossover between what it means to appeal to business people and sharing personal life.” Take Gary Vee for and his recent major deal with shoemaker K Swiss, for example. While partnerships like this one are unusual (for now), it’s going to be far more common in 2018 as the splashes of B2B influencers popping up over the years have become a mainstay- particularly with LinkedIn adding more capabilities after the Microsoft acquisition.

Transparency will also be the name of the game in 2018. In the UK and US, regulators have been clamping down on the way influential users make their money, asking that all paid sponsorships must be clearly tagged. In the wake of this, Facebook/Instagram launched their ‘Paid Partnership’ tag on their platforms in order to differentiate genuine endorsements from brand-sponsored content.

Despite all of this, recent reports show that 93% of paid endorsements remain undisclosed by both brands and influencers. “It will be interesting to see whether these new transparency measures impact influencers’ credibility and the influencer marketing industry as a whole” next year, observes Social Media Specialist Alex Bourgeois.

Credit: K-Swiss.com


Deeper audience analysis is coming 


Marketers are collectively starting to understand the value of the customers more. Hannah Dempsey, Director of Social Media, believes that “brands will be looking into the lifetime value of their customers and devoting more time to those who spend more and more, often alongside brand awareness activity. They will be using insight tools to understand their high-value audience as a segment rather than their audience as a whole.

She adds, “Image insights are also going to be a game-changer for leisure, entertainment, retail, and food brands. They'll be able to understand the impact their brand has on visual platforms such as Instagram. It will add a new level of insight to brand monitoring, as well as support for crisis response and PR teams.

Credit: Brandwatch.com


Facebook to expand Messenger product


Most brands will, or should be looking to, integrate Facebook Messenger onto their website,” according to Ben Sheppard. “This will increase customer service efficiencies (if built correctly), lower (or remove) customer service management time, and give brands a better understanding of their customers.” If Facebook manages to have a solid foothold in Messenger, the much-coveted opportunities to tap into dark social will be within touching distance as well.

Facebook has aggregated an immense amount of e-commerce data, so much so that even Amazon dynamically advertise on the platform. This year, “they'll attempt to acquire Shopify as they already have some advanced integrations with the platform including Messenger bots that suggest items to buy, sell, and track orders”, Franklin Baeza believes. “As we all become used to Contactless and Apple Pay, Messenger will establish itself as a major payment player by the end of 2018.

Greg Allum also predicts more Messenger ad products in 2018: “People will complain about the intrusive nature of the advertising [at first], and then it will become accepted.

Credit: Facebook.com


Is Pinterest the dark horse?


Despite being relatively quiet, Pinterest is hard at work to monetize its platform. In 2017, it introduced click-tracking, search ads, pin codes, and about 50 other updates. “They are not going to slow down” anytime soon, says Jessica McGlory.

While Facebook is easier to sell to clients, to buy on, and to understand, 2018 will be the year advertisers flock to Pinterest because opportunities on the high-converting site are massive: 97% of searches on the platform are unbranded. “For the advertisers that have been winning on the platform, 2018 will be their time to shine,” predicts McGlory.


More brands to experiment with Augmented Reality


Over the last 12-18 months, the integration of AR on social has really taken off. “The use of the phone camera has grown remarkably,” says Ben Sheppard and in 2018, it is likely that brands will overlay key messages with the camera, turning it into an AR search and info tool. It will become “a part of mainstream consumer consciousness,” says Michael Williams, Social Media Specialist.  


The one overarching trend for 2018


In 2018 we can expect to see deeper connections between brands and social media users and, perhaps most importantly, an end to vanity metrics. Greg Allum predicts:

Brands will demand more meaningful metrics and we will see a move away from the softer vanity metrics of followers and engagement rate as primary KPIs and look at meaningful business outcomes. Did this activity drive sales, improved brand metrics and cost efficiencies from a channel perspective?

Do you agree with our predictions? Or do you have a prediction of your own we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.


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