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Charlie Johnson
Monday, February 13, 2017
7 min read

What we learnt during the Hootsuite webinar about social media trends in 2017

As you can probably tell from our previous blog post about social media trends, we love a good briefing about what’s to come in the marketing world. Use of social media is growing every day and showing no signs of slowing down, so ensuring that your company is working towards an ironclad social strategy should be high up on any startup’s to-do list. 2017 is going to be an exciting year for social networks, with business account features likely to become more streamlined and video integration leading the way for engagement. Hootsuite, a platform that knows a thing or two about social media, held a webinar on the 18th of January 2017 discussing the trends they are anticipating for 2017 and how to get ahead of the game if you want to incorporate the latest in social media into your own brand strategy.
 
To begin with the key speakers, Erin Jacobson and Cameron Uganec, went over the main social media channels and how they are likely to evolve. Twitter was described as a place to experience and report on current moments as they happen, with a real-time focus rather than purely informing about past events. Facebook, with its new marketplace features, has become a key channel for reaching and converting customers. Instagram can’t compete for driving purchases, but is a go-to area for raising brand awareness and conveying a brand message. Snapchat is still maturing as a marketing channel, but its usage is milestones ahead of other platforms in terms of how content-heavy it is. LinkedIn is moving away from simply being a place to showcase our online CV and is turning into something closer to the likes of Medium, with content at the forefront of what can be expected in 2017 and the aim of being the single place for professionals to go to.
 
There will be challenges to face in 2017 for brands relying on social media. Organic reach has been steadily declining, meaning that any investments into paid advertising are done so with a greater expectation on the return. Whilst using Facebook and other networks are cheaper than TV or other traditional paid advertising platforms, there is a higher pressure on the results factor. A shift is happening in the way that results are measured – people are starting to realise that vanity measures, such as follower count, are not as effective as looking at engagement to work out how well you are reaching your audience. 2017 is likely to see businesses streamlining the process for conversion measurements, and working with tangible objectives to achieve their goals.
 

Social has become a place to search for information about brands and this use is accelerating. Millennials are particularly trusting of digital media and most people have an average of 8 social accounts. Heading online to find out more about a brand equates to social networking these days, however the information they seek is not always a direct message from the business. People trust people (namely, family and friends), more than they trust companies. Having trusted voices advocating your brand is what will ultimately attract and retain consumers.
 
Websites in the traditional sense are declining, pushing businesses to retain consumers within social networks. As channels, such as Facebook, continue to introduce features like their marketplace there will be less need to move people to a corporate website to make a conversion. Some examples of companies moving towards a more centralised use of social media are Vox, who have begun publishing content directly to social, and Buzzfeed whose wildly popular and shareable content is also being published more and more often directly to social. Vice have also distributed videos directly to YouTube, removing their website as a middleman.
 
There has been a considerable increase from 2015 of internet users turning to social networks for brand research, so if you have been feeling frustrated with the slow growth of your networks then rest assured that proper planning and investment will have a return – it is on the up!
 
To improve your chances of social discovery you will need to get to know your audiences in relation to your product – for example, if you are targeting millennials, then use Snapchat and Instagram as your main channels. As mentioned previously you will also need to work on boosting your credibility via customer testimonials and employee advocacy.
 
The next point that the speakers went on to discuss was the concept of social commerce as new ways to drive revenue from social begins to take off. New tactics are appearing that will take some trial and error to work out – for example, Pinterest has upped their game considerably as a place to discover and purchase products, therefore if you have a product with strong visuals you should certainly be on Pinterest. You are now able to accept payments through Facebook messenger, which is indicative of their aim to be a one-stop-shop for everything. Instagram now gives the user the opportunity to tap to view more about a product in an image and will take you directly to the retail website. Experiment with the differing ways of using social for commerce and decide whether it is right for your brand in the long term. If you do end up doing some social commerce, then ensure it is a collaboration between the ecommerce and marketing teams and encourage them to run it together. One top tip mentioned was to make social commerce a fun and interactive experience for your user – use novelty to your advantage and word of mouth will quickly up your sales.

 
The next point was about dark social. If you’ve never heard of dark social, then 2017 might be the time to start thinking about it. Dark social is essentially any activity that happens outside of traditional social use, for example sharing links directly via a messaging app. At least 82% of activity shared on mobile is done so via dark social, which should give you some idea of the extent to which you should be keeping an eye on it. Snapchat is a huge contributor, as content that expires is almost impossible to measure. Tracking dark social is still a bit of a trial and error process, but there are a few ways you can stay on top of it – for one, make use of utm codes where you can, and work with SEO teams to understand attribution paths.
 
Video is the next huge thing in social advertising and it is likely to be a key strategic focus for marketers everywhere. 65% of video content is pushed by marketers through social platforms such as Facebook or Instagram instead of the conventional video platforms like YouTube and Vevo. Live video ads are becoming more prevalent, with Facebook looking to roll out live video stream advertising in the near future. Twitter is working on conversational ads that will be able to include video and Instagram will be adding the ability to include video in carousel ads.
 
The final point that was brought up by the Hootsuite speakers Erin and Cameron was the idea that organisations will need to become more connected workforces in the coming months. Workplace advocacy should not be underestimated, as peer-to-peer recommendation means more now than ever. To build your brand, you must first build your company and ultimately investments in people will eventually speak loudest of all. 

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