Social media allows brands to tell stories and connect with customers on a deeper and more intimate level. In addition, brands can use social media to regularly engage users and drive them to their content hubs, or toward higher-value actions, like visiting a product page, downloading a gated asset, or purchasing an item.
Still, it can be a challenge for content marketers to align their content strategies with social media trends, as they’re constantly evolving. As marketers race to use the latest features, they often turn to promotional strategies, rather than storytelling.
However, most people do not follow brands on social to be bombarded with promotions. Rather, they follow them because they believe in their corporate or social missions, are interested in the brand’s culture and want to be informed and inspired, or wish to communicate with them.
When leveraging new social features, content marketers must not lose sight of the ultimate goal of content marketing: to tell exceptional stories that drive people toward positive business results.
Here are three major social media trends to watch out for in 2018 and what content marketers can do to stay ahead of the game.
Instagram Stories Will Continue to Grow
Since launching in August 2016, Instagram Stories have quickly grown in popularity. More than 250 million users view Instagram Stories every day. And brands post Instagram Stories more than twice as often they post Snapchat Stories, due, in part, to how Instagram has seamlessly integrated shoppable content into its platform.
As more companies begin to use Instagram Stories, content marketers can set their brands apart by sharing unique stories that will interest their social media followers – and direct them to content hubs.
General Electric has nailed this strategy. GE is a massive company with complex products, but it uses Instagram Stories to make its business accessible to a wide audience. GE posts visually stunning Instagram Stories that provide fascinating statistics or exclusive access to its facilities. GE’s first Story featured a descent into the Mayasa Volcano in Nicaragua. More recently, it published a “125 Years of Innovation with GE” Story that directed followers to swipe up and visit its content hub, GE Reports – a prime example of using storytelling to power both social and content marketing.
Takeaway: While many brands use Instagram Stories for giveaways and sales, marketers may also use the feature for storytelling. Provide behind-the-scenes access, detail company culture, provide expert advice, or do Q&As with thought leaders and employees. The possibilities are endless.
Augmented Reality (AR) Will Become More Widespread
According to IDC’s “Worldwide Semiannual Augmented and Virtual Reality Spending Guide,” global spending on AR and VR is expected to at least double every year through 2021. Much of this growth is due to social media, as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram race to add AR features to their platforms. In December, Facebook opened its AR platform to developers worldwide, allowing them to build unique AR experiences for the Facebook camera.
While many brands have already used AR to add fun filters on Snapchat and Instagram, Estée Lauder has taken this strategy a step further with Lip Artist. Lip Artist is a Facebook Messenger bot that interacts with users and provides personalized lipstick suggestions. Users may take a lipstick preference quiz, send a photo of a shirt to find a matching shade, or ask Lip Artist to surprise them with a new lipstick color. Lip Artist then uses AR to place the lipstick on the user’s selfie.
Lip Artist is an effective AR strategy because it solves a consumer problem: It allows customers to test lipstick shades without ever going into a store. In addition to being useful, Lip Artist is fun to use! The personable messenger bot is an effective communication method that provides personalized service to Estée Lauder customers. It is the next best thing to having people speak to an in-store customer service representative.
Takeaway: While Snapchat filters can provide temporary entertainment, marketers should find ways to use AR to provide real customer value. Marketers can start by evaluating their customers’ needs, desires, and interests, and then find creative – and enjoyable – ways to solve complex challenges.
MicroInfluencers Will Be More Important Than Ever
On YouTube, microinfluencers yield more clout than macroinfluencers: 70 percent of millennials relate more to YouTube stars than traditional celebrities, and 60 percent of YouTube subscribers would follow their favorite YouTuber’s product recommendations over recommendations from TV stars. YouTube stars are influential because they are relatable, they interact with followers, and they give viewers personal, inside looks at their lives through tactics like vlogging.
Many companies recognize this trend and are investing more in microinfluencer campaigns.
Glossier, a beauty brand that owes much of its popularity to a highly effective social media strategy, often uses relatively average women as influencers. In the blog series “The Top Shelf,” Glossier interviews women about their beauty routines, struggles, and favorite products. While these women are successful in their respective fields – they’re magazine editors, actresses, entrepreneurs, designers – they’re not well-known celebrities. However, they are credible and relatable, which gives Glossier authenticity – a key part of the brand’s content strategy. Here is an example of a Facebook post by Glossier, featuring Beverly Nguyen, a New York-based stylist.
Takeaway: Marketers do not have to recruit the world’s most popular celebrities and spend millions of dollars to run a successful influencer campaign. By investing in microinfluencers, marketers can make their brands more accessible and relatable. Find influencers who truly embody your brand and produce valuable content with them, such as advice stories and videos.
Social media trends will continue to come and go. Yet, content marketers must always remember to align their strategies so that social media bolsters their content marketing. Find a balance between what your brand represents and what will interest your audience. And remember – everyone has a good story!
Angela Shakeri is NewsCred’s Social Media Intern.