Social media is perhaps the most important trend to affect marketing and public relations in the last 25 years. In just a few years social networks like Facebook, Twitter and even Linkedin have generated opportunities for communicating and are now elevating these marketing trends to the top of the PR toolbox. However, while social media offers big marketing and PR advantages, it can also pose significant threats.
The worlds of social media, PR and online marketing are red-hot and perpetually evolving. One of the most important issues is social media requires PR professionals to react and respond quickly to negative information. In effect, social media has turned marketing and PR into a 24-hour a day job, especially for global businesses. It is essential for marketers to stay current on the latest trends and news to stay competitive.
1. The Younger Crowd is Fleeing Facebook
It began in late 2013, when Facebook’s CFO David Ebersman reported a “slight decrease” in use by teens. A 2014 study by digital consultant iStrategy Labs demonstrated 25 percent of teens had abandoned Facebook. Furthermore, even those teens who still have a Facebook page, more and more are using other social-media networks. Also, a Piper Jaffray survey published in the Wall Street Journal disclosed some worrying numbers for the social-media giant.
In 2012, 42 percent of teenagers used Facebook for their preferred social-media network; however, by 2015 the teens using Facebook had plummeted to 15 percent. While the majority of teenagers will keep their page, they no longer use Facebook as their go-to social media network. This trend should continue in 2016, with Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all receiving higher ratings as the preferred social-media networks for teens.
2. A Singular Customer View
Brands will begin tying the different information they hold about their customers together, no longer looking at email subscriptions and ads as separate entities. Learning who their customers are, across different media platforms, will become critical for successful PR and marketing, as consumers communicate through their personally-preferred channel, and not the brand’s social media site.
Brands that are better able to track prospects across various channels will be in a better position to leverage their knowledge, and therefore make it more likely to win the consumer’s business. The ability to track prospective and current customers across different communication platforms will become increasingly crucial, as consumers begin to seamlessly communicate with a brand by the venue they choose. Consumers will quickly begin to regard this as the norm, and brands will need to compete if they expect to keep pace with their competition.
3. Social Media is a Marketplace
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google and Youtube have all introduced a “Buy Now” button in hopes of turning browsers into buyers. The attraction here is obvious; in addition to the surplus revenue created from social e-commerce, brand engagement is also likely to increase along with generating more user data. This will open up new sales channels for brands and make the buying experience from a brand’s social-media page much simpler. While the increase in mobile-site access has not yet been reflected in an increase in mobile e-commerce, this should begin to change as consumers increasingly embrace the Buy Now buttons.
4. New Social-Space Players
Looking at the frequency by which new platforms and services are springing up from nowhere shows that it is likely new players will be joining Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in 2016 and grab their own market share in the competitive social-media space. Marketers must remain vigilant to these new players as they pop up.
5. Short Video Popularity
While videos sites like YouTube and Vimeo remain extremely popular online, one of the hottest new trend is to feature very short videos. Currently, the two largest competitors in the new field are Instagram and Vine. Even though Instagram originally became famous for being an image site, short videos have gained traction and continue to push forward with increasing popularity. Vine, which specialize in the video format, is Instagram’s biggest competitor, but other new sites, like Viddy and SocialCam, are vying for a piece of the action. As short-form videos are becoming more popular, sites are adding easy-to-learn options for time-lapsed videos. This ad medium is suited to virtually all industries, including fashion, jewelry, real estate, health, weight-loss and others.
Short-form videos are easy to produce and integrate easily with virtually any social-media marketing strategy. These short-form videos are generally three- to 15-seconds long and seem to be the next evolution of a marketing tool used to catch the ever-shortening attention span of the online consumer. In addition to the numerous short amateur videos being uploaded to these sites each day, many large companies are using this platform for promotional purposes. Highly-visible brands, like Dunkin Donuts, have used Vine to make short-format videos seeking to target a younger audience. Smaller businesses should also consider using the medium to their advantage.
6. Increased Online Security
From the U.S. Government to Ashley Madison, 2015 saw a slew of major security breaches on sites where cyber security was believed to be top-notch. Rightly so, these security breaches leave consumers more than a little leery of engaging with new sites and platforms. Marketing, PR and social media must all assure consumers that their data is safe, and back up that guarantee to customers.
7. Holiday Trends
As the Internet becomes more and more social-media oriented, holiday shopping will become increasingly appealing to consumers. Marketers must realize that the majority of their audience is spending increasingly more time on social media, so they must focus their marketing efforts in the same direction. This can includes paid ads on social-media sites like Facebook, as well as through their own Twitter, Instagram, YouTube accounts and the like.
Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Faxage, a leading company that provide internet fax services for individuals and businesses.