As we approach the end of the decade one thing has been a constant throughout – how fast social media trends and behaviours come and go – and 2018 will be no exception.

Here’s just a few of the social media trends we believe will be influencing behaviour and content marketing strategies during the next 12 months.

1 – Augmented Reality

It’s not just for gamers. This has been one of the social media trends making the headlines in 2017 and there’s nothing to indicate that will change for the next year.

The Apple iPhone X - social media trends

The Apple iPhone X

Apple’s announcement that the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X would have chips included which can provide users with extraordinary augmented reality experiences shouldn’t have been a surprise for anyone who has followed the fortunes of the late Steve Jobs’ visionary company.

In social media applications, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that either Snapchat or Instagram could include more filters which allow the user to take pictures featuring augmented reality of their surroundings.

This leads into:

2 – Authentic Content

The rise of Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram Stories took the social media world by storm as influencers took to their smartphones to record tiny snippets of their daily life, driving 2017’s social media trends for authentic content. These insights provide a real human element to brands and will continue to be a major social media trend for 2018.

Identifying people within your company who have the right personality to represent your brand using these social media platforms will be a key component of social content strategies for many businesses. Brands that share unfiltered photos and videos, which haven’t undergone heavy editing, can expect to receive more likes, shares, and clicks on their content.

One way is through:

3 – Influencer Marketing

It’s not just the Kardashians. One of 2017’s biggest social media trends saw brands turning to influencers more and more, picking up vloggers on YouTube, Instagram “celebrities” and other social media personalities to promote their products.

More than 90 percent of marketers who employ an influencer marketing strategy believe it is successful. Companies like North Face and Rolex use social media based influencer marketing strategies to connect with new audiences and improve engagement with existing audiences.

This is the Gen-Z target market, the generation of kids born from 1998 onwards who are now entering adulthood and, according to Goldman Sachs, is the first incapable of remembering a world without the internet. The oldest members of Gen Z already wield a buying power of $44 billion, and it’s steadily growing.

Appeal to them with:

4 – Good Storytelling

Clichéd as it is, content is – and will remain – king and so more brands are thinking outside of the mainstream and recruiting from less traditional areas to find people to create their content.

Online competition for potential consumers is becoming more fierce and so people with  backgrounds in storytelling or traditional journalism are moving into content marketing. Journalists can not only help brands create a personality and build trust in their stories, but they can also help brands solidify their authority with well-researched content.

Encourage people to:

5 – Take Part

Brand participation and live interaction will only grow stronger. The use of streaming through platforms like Twitch, Periscope and Facebook’s “Live” option was increasingly popular in 2017 for businesses. Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined according to Cloud-based video solutions experts Brightcove, who revealed that statistic back in 2016.

GORUCK, a backpack manufacturer and the organiser of extreme endurance events, is one example of a medium-sized brand that has grown its reach by live streaming compelling content on Facebook.

GORUCK live streams events - social media trends

GORUCK live streams events featuring people using the gear and taking part in endurance challenges

Stick to content that educates, engages and entertains. Make sure you introduce yourself and where you are and have some notes handy which contain the messages you want to get across. With 27% of Gen Z saying an online recommendation from someone within their social media circles can highly influence a buying decision, live streaming and consumer participation is an area which can’t be overlooked.

Don’t ignore the more mundane tasks. Here’s a couple more tips on social media trends to finish off with:

6 – Engage Through Automation

Chatbots, interactive messaging and automated customer service options will help ease the burden for brands, allowing them to concentrate more on creating good social content than the routine tasks.

According to Ubisend, 57 percent of consumers have shown interest in chatbots because of their instantaneous nature. Facebook announced their Customer Chat plugin, which lets businesses integrate the Messenger platform with their own site so that customers can continue chatting with a business any time they’re online. It’s currently in beta testing.

Chatbots enable brands to build a social experience that directly addresses their followers’ needs, which will, in turn, help build brand trust and loyalty.

7 – Use Technology to Your Advantage

As social media becomes more complex, it’s worth keeping in mind that according to the Integrated Media Research Centre: “59% of marketers struggle to collect and centralise data to measure marketing performance” – which means agencies need to be on the ball with technological developments in analytics.

According to the survey, marketers are looking for attribution systems that are easy to implement and use and provide actionable intelligence.

We’re predicting that 2018 will be a year in which companies realise there’s better ways of finding out how their social media KPIs are working and what metrics are the key ones to be considering. Google’s recent changes to its SEO and SERPs listings is ample proof that marketing teams and social media agencies can’t rest on their laurels.

Managing the data of short-tail and long-tail keywords can also be challenging at scale. Use a tool like Linkio to keep your various keywords organised.

In Conclusion

As always, innovation and experimentation will surprise users of social media throughout 2018. Social media is a medium which is continually evolving and can’t be pigeonholed. There are so many different tools now available that it can be used to help achieve most business related goals.

As Samuel Scott, Global Keynote Marketing Speaker and The Drum Columnist, says: “Advertisers can do advertising over social media. Direct marketers can do direct marketing over social media. Public relations executives can do PR over social media. Salespeople can do sales over social media. Customer support representatives can do customer service over social media.”

Be prepared to give your content a personal, authentic touch, automate the mundane tasks as much as possible, and look to engage with your audience through snippets of life inside the brand.