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Where is Social Media Headed?

Where is Social Media Headed?

Written by enCOMPASS Agency

Social media marketing keeps you on your toes. It changes pretty regularly, with one network gaining in prominence while another falls out of fashion; just ask yourself how many companies use SnapChat today compared to a year ago, or Instagram compared to five years ago; while you’re at it, ask how many companies maintain a presence on MySpace, or for that matter Google+. And it’s not just that niche networks rise and fall. The big players, like Facebook and Twitter, are constantly rolling out new features or algorithmic updates. The past month alone has brought about Facebook’s new “reactions,” a major change to the user experience.

The bottom line: Social media is ever in flux, and what worked for your social media marketing yesterday is by no means guaranteed to work today. The only real constants are these: User engagement matters, and compelling, original content is the best way to achieve it.

With that said, as vexing as social media’s constant fluctuations may be, social engagement is far too important a thing to neglect or to jeopardize. As such, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends and changes. Though these are not always possible to foresee, there are a few significant trend lines that we see shaping the rest of 2016.

What to Expect from Social Media in 2016

First, expect ad spend to increase. In recent years, Facebook has integrated sponsored posts and paid promotions into its algorithms so seamlessly that it’s really imperative that businesses pay to play; without spending a few ad dollars on Facebook, it’s just very difficult to keep your posts front and center in the news feed. Twitter and other platforms are following this lead, meaning social media advertising is only going to become more essential.

Paradoxically, the value of word of mouth engagement will also increase. Paying for ads may be non-negotiable, but it doesn’t replace the value of organic engagement with your social media content. There are various ways in which companies can get people talking about their social content—encouraging their employees to be brand ambassadors; urging users to share content in exchange for rewards; or targeting their posts toward key social media influencers. Note that in all of this, quality content is paramount.

Social media and e-commerce will become increasingly connected. We’ve already seen this trend start to take shape, with Facebook, Pinterest, and other platforms introducing Buy buttons; in the year to come, social media is likely to emerge as an even more significant sales channel. That includes YouTube, as well!

Specialized and niche social platforms will gain in prominence. Periscope and Meerkat are just two examples of recent social platforms with fairly narrow focuses, but a great deal of popularity among business owners, thought leaders, and consumers. Expect to see more apps and social channels that fit this bill, offering streamlined and specific ways for companies to interact with customers.

These trends may represent just the tip of the iceberg, yet they go a long way toward showing just how sophisticated and all-encompassing social media has become. Business owners don’t necessarily need to latch on to all or even any of these trends, but it’s certainly worthwhile to make note of them and consider implementing new strategies. Start that conversation today by giving the enCOMPASS team a call.