Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

When Bob Dylan wrote that iconic song (The Times They Are A-Changin’) back in 1963, he couldn’t have imagined that it would apply so perfectly, 55 years later, to a social landscape of a different kind. Social media has revolutionized our culture, and it continues to evolve at a pace so rapid that many of us have a hard time keeping up with it.

As marketers, it’s our job to keep up with social media trends. If we don’t, just like Dylan says, we’re doomed to sink like stones – losing the attention of important audiences and inevitably, losing out on revenue too.

There are about 2.5 billion social media users out there today. In the ocean that is modern social media, what trends will keep your marketing afloat? We’ve narrowed the list down to a Top 3:

  1. Live Video Content

According to Facebook, live streaming video receives 6X the engagement as non-live video. That’s a statistic that can’t be ignored, and the nuances of it are changing. Facebook recently announced a test run for what they call Watch Party – a feature that allows admins to choose any public Facebook video and show it to a group along with a dedicated comment real. The idea is to create a shared and active viewing experience, one that is more intimate and creates an immediate sense of community among selected viewers. Facebook’s VP of Product, Fidji Simo, says, With everyone watching, commenting and reacting to the same moments together, it creates a shared viewing experience for video that helps build the kind of community and engagement we’ve seen with Live.”

Other social platforms offer live video features too. All kinds of businesses and brands are using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to live stream content, engaging users by including them at events they otherwise would not be able to see.

  1. Messaging Apps as a Means of Customer Communication

Most people think of apps like Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat as nothing more than an alternative to SMS or iMessage, but the marketing implications for these popular modes of quick communication are massive. An astounding 4 billion people use some form of alternate text messaging, and smart companies are utilizing this direct line of communication with individual customers in way that is transforming the face of customer service. The Hyatt chain of hotels, for example, is using Messenger as a means for guests to make reservations, ask questions, and get information for their trips. Texting apps are a faster and easier method for customers to get information or assistance they need from your businesses, and they’re a benefit to you in terms of cost efficiency and scalability. It’s a win-win idea, and it’s gaining steam.

  1. Virtual Experiences

If you want customers to engage with your brand, you need to reach them on a human level – and virtual experiences do just that. The rise in popularity of videos and features like Instagram Stories make it possible to connect with customers one-on-one in a deeply personal and memorable way. Virtual experiences put your followers (i.e. customers) within the story you’re telling, and the impact can be profound.  Take this terrific Virtual Giving Trip video created by TOMS Shoes for example:

https://youtu.be/jz5vQs9iXCs

The effect is better when you have a virtual reality headset or viewer, but you get the idea. Customers get to see (and feel) the impact of their TOMS purchase in a meaningful way. The feel-good factor of this virtual experiences cements users to the TOMS brand in a way that only human emotion can.

According to the Consumer Technology Association’s 2018 Tech Trends to Watch, virtual experiences are expected to generate up to 18% more revenue and 25% more units sold this year for companies that utilize them, so if you’re already dedicating some of your marketing budget to video, you should consider devoting a portion of it to virtual experience.

Yes indeed, the times for social media marketing are definitely a-changin’, and these three examples barely scratch the surface of it. Want to know the other social media trends your business should be aware of in 2018? Hit us up for a meeting. We’d be happy to share.