Writer: Khadija Craine

Social media is ever changing and if you don’t stay on top of the trends; you will be left behind.

In 2018, social media users are expected to grow to 2.5 billion and it will continue to rise well into 2019. Facebook is arguably one of the fastest growing social networks with Instagram, WhatsApp, and Snapchat following behind.By the end of 2018, 60% of the US population will have at least one social account.

With the increasing use of social media, the demands and needs of users have increased as well. To accommodate everyone’s expectations, social media upgrades are very frequent and well thought out. Just two months into 2018 we’ve experienced upgrades with Snapchat, Facebook, & Instagram, just to name a few. Not to mention, brands and marketers are becoming more aware of who currently has the best buying power; Millennialand Generation Z.

As new technology trends take shape, DIGITALDASH PR wanted to share what we think are the 5 Social Media trends to follow thus far . . .


Instagram

Instagram definitely went into the New Year with their heads in the game as they roll out several new updates. Instagram users now have the ability to highlight theirstories, follow hashtags, and insert a link to their stories. Instagram stories is used by more than 250 million daily users, causing people to spend more than 30 minutes daily creating and viewing other users content. Ephemeral video content (content that lasts for a short period of time) is the big push across all social media platforms, especially Instagram and Snapchat.

Instagram users are now able tohighlight their stories on their Instagram pages.

What does this mean?

Instagram highlights are free standing stories (content), grouped together to showcase a desired focus. This now means that live content that was previously only available for 24 hours will now have an expiration date of the brands choosing. Users are also allowed to group their stories and add a description to their, particularly highlighted stories. Allowing brands to showcase their story campaigns longer, in a compiled snapshot, provides constant or rolling promo.

The “swipe up” feature is essential for brands to market particular products, collections, new arrivals, by directly placing a swipe up (discussed later) link to their product by the end of the story. There’s also the Instagram Stories Archive that allows users to save their stories to the cloud and not their phone, freeing up space for new content. Check out these 10 ways to utilize Instagram Stories Highlights!

Following hashtags was a major game changer for users and digital marketers using Instagram. Following hashtags opens up a world of endless possibilities. Sebastian Agosta described it best in just three reasons why following hashtags is so important. He says, “following hashtags allow users to keep up with the latest trends, follow competitors content, and stay up to date with things specific to a person’s niche.” Following hashtags allows a person to follow things that they care about and in their community- making their Instagram timeline more curated.

Lastly, the link in story feature is an essential necessity for business pages with more than 10,000 followers. The link in story feature allows brands to provide a direct link to their products so users won’t have to go search for something they saw in the story themselves. Making it easier for the customers to buy their products and return to their stories for more information. From a marketing standpoint, this allows business to provide exclusive access to new releases, information, and giveaways. This feature will be a nicely accompany theshopping tag feature they’ve been experimenting with.


Augmented Reality 

Augmented Reality is the idea of integrating our existing environment with new information. Essentially, it’s the use of being in two different places at one time. Though  it’s most popular in gaming systems, it’s slowly making its way over to the world of virtual socialization. Soon, social media platforms will become a powerhouse providing a360 view of the world. In 2017, Facebook introduced its 360 photo options for users. It was a big hit, but users found the quality of their pictures lacking. Currently, Facebook is attempting to simplify the 360 view photo for users, and possibly integrate the feature into Instagram.

Face filters is one of the most popular uses of AI lenses. Snapchat and Instagram partnerships with brands allowing them to create build custom face and geolocation filters has been the most popular form of AI. Not to mention, Apple’s iPhone X use of facial recognition. At the end of 2017, 38% of brands used AI. In 2018, its projected that number will rise to 62%.

In 2017, IKEA released their augmented reality shopping app, IKEA Place, which allows brands to place virtual objects into almost any real world space. The app, only available on iOS, allows users to overlay 3D models of IKEA items onto floors or other surfaces in their house in real time. This and similar apps creates the segway for users to use and grow familiar with AI and its benefits. Though most AI uses are still being developed, augmented reality will continue to drive social media content in 2018.

Late 2017, Snapchat releasedSpectacle glasses. The glasses record 10- second video clips with a 115-degree angle lens, which is supposed to mimic how the human eye sees through a circular field of view. Though the glasses priced at $130 with color options such as black, teal, and coraldidn’t do well last year. They have a chance to doreally well as the social media advances and people needs for new things increase.


Live Streaming/ Social TV

2018 will be the year of Social TV and Live Stream. Brands of all sizes are moving towards becoming more authentic and appealing to their consumers. What better way is there to connect than providing live content. People want to interact more with experiences and interaction with other users and brands. Mobile video and TV-style programming is taking the spotlight on social networks, from the advertisements, after show Q & A’s, to the exclusive premiers for stream subscribers. Broadcast style content is at the forefront for most brands as it opens a new way to engage with their social audience.

Live TV streaming is becoming extremely popular among households. It could be due to the fact that most services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. provide a better TV experience for people and their budgets. Streaming services are giving their customers just what they want on TV shows and movies. Mainly by partnering with major production companies such as FOX, NBC, or ABC to provide access to many of their classic and new TV shows.

In 2017,90% of the content that was shared across social media platforms were videos. Live streaming on social media platforms allows authentic sharing and creates a significant bond between the company and the consumer. Individuals gravitate to things that they are more familiar with. Live streaming like augmented reality allows users to be in more than one place at a time. For example, most brands and designers provided live streams of the NYFW, thus allowing people who could only imagine being there, feel like they’re in the front row. Live streaming allows people to visit, socialize, and see things from the comfort of their own home. Essentially, people are craving a more personal experience despite all the technology. About 81% of consumers would rather watch live videos than read a blog, while an equal 81% would rather watch a video than read social media content.  Live streaming is so popular, it is not expected for brands and celebrities to broadcast at events, personal life moments, or simple tasks to engage with their audience.


Scheduling Posts to Instagram

Long and behold, the feature every business has been waiting for has finally been released. Instagram recently released their auto-post feature through scheduling platforms later.com, hootsuite.com, and planoly.com.

Businesses are now able to plan and arrange the look of their Instagram feeds, and schedule content and draft captions days, week, even months ahead of time. As well as track analytics to understand their audience better. Before users would only receive push notification reminders “that it is now time to post on Instagram”. Now it is seamlessly done through the same process such as Facebook or Twitter when using a third-party tool. Businesses have been requesting this feature for quite some time and now it is finally here. Though the new feature has been long awaited for, it is still not possible to use it for videos, filters, geo or shopping tags, or the multi image feature. Be sure to use a verified partner when utilizing instagram new feature!


Social Media Ads

In 2018 we will see advertisements being taken to the next level. Businesses will find it harder to reach their audiences without paying a cent. Most social media platforms are aiming to make money from business that use it to advertise.

ParticularlyFacebook has begun an explore feed that will provide a newspaper layout of business wanting to advertise their products. Social Media Ads will also be integrated into profiles as more brands are reaching out to social media influencers to advertise for them. In 2017, it was reported that more than 70% of business use instagram.

This increase of businesses on social media was due to the release of business profiles. Business have the advantage to create distinguished contact information, create analytical data, and most importantly instagram ads. Currently, Instagram businesses make up the majority of Instagram advertisers and business profiles. In fact, 65% of the best performing posts on Instagram belong to business featuring their products, while 29% feature an influencer or brand ambassador.

While most brands are utilizing business profiles to their benefit to increase communication and brand relevance. Consumers will start to see more from brands use alternative ways to connect.  While photos are more commonly associated with Instagram, brands will start to produce more instagram ads in video form.


Every year there’s a big wave of trends in social media. There’s an update or trend that surfaces daily. 2 months into 2018 and there are already several new trends on the horizon in the social and digital space. Some social media trends are just that trends, but most of them are in use to elevate our use of social media. So take these tips and adjust accordingly to enhance your online presence and reach.

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