In 2016, we saw Facebook trending fake news, the beginning of the ongoing Snapchat versus Instagram battle and Twitter struggling to find its place in the world of social media. We also saw chatbots, live video and immersive ad experiences make their presence known. Needless to say, the evolving world of social media will continue to both surprise and challenge marketers, no matter how much we try to prepare for those daily algorithm changes and drastic platform updates. Even so, just because the digital world changes constantly, knowing what we do about social media in 2016 can help us predict trends in social media for the year ahead.

Get the lowdown on 5 trends we see coming to the social media channels near you in 2017:

1. Instant Sales = Instant Profit

Convenience and profit go hand-in-hand, especially when it comes to social media. Ads are making it all too easy for brands to retarget customers and tempt them with products that the customer is guaranteed to like, so why not take it one step further and give them the chance to buy it– right there on the spot? It makes all too much sense. The easier it is for transactions to take place, the higher the profit. That’s simple enough. On the same note, knowing your target audience inside and out can help ensure that ads are put in the hands of the right people; the people that have a need for or are already interested in what your brand has to offer.

2. Customer Service is here to stay

The instantaneousness of social media has trained users to expect answers to their questions sooner rather than later, and no brand is exempt from that thought process. It is because of this that chatbots started to take hold in 2016; and now that they have taken root in social media, they are poised to grow into a necessity for brands that require around-the-clock customer service. Chatbots have the ability to take the reins and answer frequently asked questions instantly and efficiently. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “Time is money,” then you can see how important it is for a brand to be quick on its feet in the customer service department.

3. Pay to Play

Social media platforms are filled with more users than ever before, and platform algorithms are constantly doing their best to fill our newsfeeds with the important (and sometimes not-so-important) people in our lives. We see the next event our siblings are “interested in” in a city far away, a Facebook Live video from a friend’s gathering where everyone is pretending to be a mannequin, and pictures from a former high school classmate’s wedding we weren’t able to attend. In other words, for brands to reach their target audiences, they are going to have to pay the price to cut through the clutter and be seen. Whether this is accomplished through Facebook Advertising, SEO or influencer marketing, the end goal to be seen and see returns remains the same.

4. Marketing to Millennials

As social media progresses, so do millennials who are just starting to reach the ages where they are forging their own career paths and thus finding themselves spending their own earned money. In 2017, marketing to millennials entails more than just being active on the channels they are on, but relating to them on a deeper level and earning their trust. This means getting on their level and talking about the things they are talking about, using the same lingo they’re using like #squadgoals and “it’s lit,” and being active on your social media channels, especially those that millennials frequent: Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Likewise, influencer marketing carries the right type of influence that marketers need and millennials reference. 2017 could be a whole different ball game for marketing to millennials so play ball!

5. Movement is great, but interactive and immersive is better

What once started with employing regular video and gifs to catch users’ eyes as they scroll through their feed has advanced to include the promotion of interactive and immersive experiences in visual content. We’re talking about live video where you can interact with viewers, panoramic and 360-photos and videos that you can pan through as if you were the one behind the camera, and Canvas ads that take you on a storybook journey to a destination. These types of interactive and immersive visuals are becoming “the thing” to do in order to stand out. If you don’t take a panoramic photo when you visit the Grand Canyon and then post it to your Page so others can see it, did you really go to the Grand Canyon? We think not.

As with every other year in social media, the platform updates and rollouts will continue to come and will seemingly almost always happen right when we’ve fully mastered the previous changes. Perhaps Facebook will completely revamp its entire appearance like Instagram did in 2016, or maybe Twitter will rebound to the top of the social media world (though not likely). We may not be able to see the next big thing, but staying on top of what’s new and anticipating where it’s going gives digital marketers an edge. It provides us with the insight we need to put brands on the forefront of the latest and greatest trends while simultaneously delivering quality content into the right hands. May the social media odds be ever in your favor this year!

To learn more about how Lou Hammond Group can help you stay on top of social media trends in 2017, contact us here.