The only consistent rule with social media is that it’s always going to change. Even tried-and-true brands like Facebook continue to evolve. Here are some exciting new social media trends and tools that can help your business stay socially relevant.
- Live Video Streams
Facebook Live, the live-stream, real-time video feature, offers an excellent way to take your engagement up a notch. Use it for live events like performances or speaker presentations; host a townhall and instantly respond to questions online; or give viewers a behind-the-scenes tour. Facebook Live is also great for demos, workshops, and man-on-the-street interviews. You can go live for up to 90-minutes. Get tips for going Live here.
- Direct Customer Engagement with Messaging Apps
WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Viber have increased their popularity globally as convenient and free voice and messaging apps. Now, too, businesses are engaging with customers directly on messaging apps. Forbes reports that “Over-the-top (OTT) messaging and SMS messaging are millennials’ preferred form of communication. Sixty-two percent of millennials are more loyal to brands that engage them via those channels and an estimated two billion users will be messaging through OTT apps by 2018.” Messaging customers moves your business from passive information sharing to active one-to-one engagement.
- Social Media E-Commerce
While it’s not ubiquitous yet, some brands have taken advantage of technology that allows e-commerce through social media platforms. Reaching customers where they are (rather than pushing them to your website) makes shopping more convenient. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest offer e-commerce capabilities on their platforms so customers can “Buy Now” while they’re thinking about it. More platforms will surely follow suit.
- Instagram Stories
These 10-second stories last for 24 hours before disappearing, which makes them perfect for fun, light-hearted content and customer contests. With 300 million users, Instagram is a gold mine for brands. The Stories feature offers a way to enhance brand storytelling. Learn how it works here.
- Investing in Ads and Sponsored Posts
It’s finally time to admit that the free ride is over. Businesses continue to see a shrinking net when it comes to audience reach. Investing in ads and sponsored posts will greatly increase visibility and engagement because it will prevent your content from slipping into a deep black hole. With the ability to target users’ age, interests and geography, paid content makes good business sense.
- Collaborations with Other Brands
Doing better together is the key for 2017. Brands can double their social reach by collaborating with companies that have similar targeted demographics to produce online content and contests. For example, what if a guitar company and a mobile video camera manufacturer hosted a shareable video contest for bands? Both companies would gain exposure and their customers would see the overlap as a new dimension in their products.
- Chatbots for Customer Service
Customers want 24/7 service. If your business can’t supply day and night help, chatbots just might be the answer. In 2017, more businesses will be experimenting with how to make chatbots work for answering product questions and helping customers complete transactions. You can design your own chatbot (get tips here) or get a customized solution. When programmed properly, they can open up new avenues for engagement both on social media and on other online platforms.