Social media platforms enable people from around the world looking to connect and build personal and professional relationships. Earlier this year studies found that there are currently over 2 billion active social media users.
If you consider the sheer number of people interacting on social networks, it seems like a no-brainer that both B2C and B2B brands should be spending time engaging with their audience, where they’re spending time. But finding a way to not only reach, but connect with audiences on social networks has become increasingly difficult.
Just a couple years ago, brands were able to build audiences on platforms like Facebook and get in front of the vast majority of their followers without investing in social advertising. These days, the average brand on Facebook will only reach 1-2% of their audience without boosting posts. Need proof? The amount spent on social advertising has increased by 234% in the past seven years. Ouch!
To help ease the pain, we went straight to the source and tapped into the brilliant minds of marketers from brands like LinkedIn, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, BMC and our own team at TopRank Marketing to gain insights into their social media marketing predictions for 2017.
Experts Share Their Top Predictions for 2017
CEO/Founder, Social Media Examiner
2017 Prediction: Content Creators Become Endangered Species
Algorithms, bots, artificial intelligence and people working for very big companies will destroy the business models of people who produce content by disrupting the free flow of information.
Before the Internet, the power brokers of information were a few media companies that controlled the newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television. The Internet busted through those barriers and allowed anyone to produce anything for any audience. Information flowed and content mediums like blogs and podcasts flourished.
The Internet was the great system of disintermediation, eliminating the middleman and allowing a free flow of information.
But, in the very near future, this information flow will be filtered and measured and censored in the name of “reducing clutter” and revealing “only what’s important.”
Facebook will decide what you see. Google will serve up only that content that complies with its rules and are housed on its servers. Email solutions like Gmail and Yahoo will tighten their own algorithms so even reaching the inbox is at risk.
The information distribution highway will have toll stations that must be paid for by the those who create content.
If you want your content seen, you’ll need to house it inside the companies that control the toll stations. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and more will incentivize content creators to not link to off-site content. These large businesses will become the equivalent of the 1990s America Online–a type of “Hotel California,” where you can enter but never leave.
Traffic to websites will decline and blogs will shut down. Gone will be the days of information flow and true information freedom. The future will only be more controlled, more filtered and less open.
But, born from this filtered, computer curated world, will come something new. Some young person in a spare bedroom will invent the next big idea that frees information once again. The pendulum will start swinging back and content creators will experience a new creative renaissance.
Are you ready for the change?
Senior Manager – Social Media, BMC
The biggest challenge marketers will face in 2017 is the same that they seemingly face year over year which is keeping up with the innovation around emerging marketing channels and technologies, such as Snapchat, Facebook Live, and AR/VR, while still maintaining an active presence on the traditional platforms used by the masses (i.e. print, social, digital, etc.). Undoubtedly, live video content will continue to take over newsfeeds with Facebook flexing its muscle as the go-to platform for marketers meanwhile Snapchat, and its looming IPO, will result in Snapchat attracting more brands as advertisers to their platform.
Content Marketing Lead, TopRank Marketing
The social media landscape is in a constant state of change, but the one thing that will probably never change is the reason people use social in the first place: to feel and be connected.
As a result, I think that one of the greatest opportunities in the coming year and beyond will be for brands to focus on user experience by creating a unique, entertaining and engaging destination for their audiences.
Think about it. Social media platforms are constantly tweaking their formats and algorithms to provide users with the best possible content and experience, making it more difficult for brands and marketers to get organic visibility. Plus, nearly every brand is on social media, competing for the top spots. But what if your pages were able to offer such an awesome, relevant experience that would entice people to navigate on their own to see what the latest discussion, video or tip was?
All that said, I think to create a destination, one important focus will need to be onsocial media community management, not just traditional social media marketing. From native video and long-form content to actively encouraging and participating in discussions, you need to ask yourself why anyone would visit your pages in the first place. Do you have a niche expertise or offering? Do you provide great entertainment? What is it that could set you apart? How can your social content connect? Then combine all that with data and insights to begin building a strategy to get people there, participating and coming back.
Senior Content Marketing Manager, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
Empathy in a World Divided
From Brexit to the American election, 2016 has been an eye-opening year and a divisive one for many around the globe. A chasm has come to the surface in a way that really no one can deny. It’s a divided world. As a result, my prediction (and personal hope) for 2017 is that social media and content marketers are going to strive to become even more empathetic in their content topics. I hope we’re also going to be committed to creating content that is humanizing with the innate ability to understand and share the feelings of others.
Content & Social Media Manager, Social Media Today
The biggest shift in social media marketing is (and will be) focus. @adhutchinson Click To Tweet
For years, traditional marketing has aimed for broadcast, to reach as many people as possible, as often as possible. And that makes sense – brand association is a powerful device, and higher exposure leads to better cognitive connection in the consumer. But at the same time, the new age of social media, fuelled by the masses of online data, has opened the door to whole new approaches, methods of connection that no one is fully across yet, given it’s so new.
Because of this, I’d expect to see increased focus on both niche communities and better online and offline data connection in 2017.
On the first, personalization is growing, more and more brands are learning how to be more effective with content that’s targeted to individual users based on who they are, what they do and what they’re interested in, among many other traits. In times past, this was impossible, but such data is now freely available, and the more brands are using this more focused approach, the more the expectation for others to follow suit increases in step. Because of this, you can expect to see more brands segmenting and focusing their content and marketing efforts in order to appeal to more specific audiences and use-cases.
On the second, social ROI has long been the thing that critics fall back on, that you can’t connect a ‘Like’ to a cash money result. But you can, and more and more systems and processes are being developed for just that. Facebook, for example, has been evolving its Conversion Lift metrics which correlate online ads and offline sales, incorporating data from the businesses POS system. With the evolution of beacons, geofencing and other tracking technologies, it’s going to become easier for more businesses to directly link their on and offline efforts, enabling them to outline definitive ROI trails.
Create A Content Destination & Engage Your Audience
Phew! If we take a look at just the last few months, there have been tremendous advances made in social technology, and the way that users interact with social networks. Imagine what all of 2017 will hold!
Creating an impact on social comes down to a few very simple ideas which include finding ways to uncover how your social audience interacts (and do that) and developing a destination that they will want to come back to again and again (like blogs have traditionally done) so that you don’t have to rely only on advertising to drive eyeballs to your content.
Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.