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2017 Social Media Trend Report: Volume 3

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Over the past 10+ years, social media platforms have changed drastically and successful marketers have responded by being adaptive and questioning. Following the days of organic content and community being key (Social 1.0), we shifted into 2.0 when platforms built out robust paid offerings creating a pay-to-play environment. We have entered a new landscape 360i calls Social 3.0 or People First (at scale). This is a marriage of the best learnings of Social 1.0 and 2.0 and focuses on amplifying content and experiences around a key audience’s interests and consumption habits. While social easily enables reaching targeted groups at scale, competition for consumers’ attention is stronger than ever. Marketers need to evolve beyond picking the right platform and ad unit, to creating relevant content that helps advertising standout and feel like a welcome experience to audiences.

As we’ve seen earlier this year, social platforms have continued to introduce features under three main trends:

1. Re-imagining Social Video
2. Shuffling the Consumer Journey
3. Emphasizing Communal Social Experiences

As we approach the end of 2017, we are observing a maturation of these trends. For the third volume of our Social Media Trend Report, we’ve identified the opportunities and challenges facing marketers as they aim to connect with consumers in a relevant and relatable way.
 

Re-Imagining Social Video:

As consumers continue to prefer and gravitate towards video, they are also defining different viewing behaviors. Users are coming to social to consume short-form video on-the-go as well as more lengthy news and entertainment content. In the past year, platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have created more advertising space based on this consumer viewing behavior with In Stream Ads. In Stream Video Ads, short ads that precede or interrupt long-form video content, perpetuate short-form viewing as this is the medium in which they live, but also encourages the growth of long-form content (live streams, episodic content, etc.) as this is where the inventory is available.

  • Marketing Opportunities: In Stream Video Ads have been available across platforms since earlier this year, but now there is more inventory (i.e. Facebook Watch) and are available to all advertisers. For brands already creating short-form videos for social, this is another opportunity to place a specific message in front of a relevant audience in a forced view experience. According to Facebook, on both Facebook and their Audience Network, more than 70% of In Stream video ads (up to 15 seconds in length) are watched to completion—most with sound on.
  • Marketing Challenges: In addition to brand safety (which is being addressed across platforms — Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube/Google) and accurate measurement, the key challenge for marketers is maintaining viewer attention. Facebook’s Watch videos are being viewed an average of 23 seconds. While up from the 16.7 second average of Facebook newsfeed video it is still behind video powerhouses like YouTube. For advertisers creating ad experiences within video content, they must consider how the ads are interrupting an engaging viewing experience and how to retain engagement with relevancy. It is recommended that advertisers use tools like Facebook’s pre-campaign reporting (lists of publishers that ads may be inserted into) or Twitter’s list of pre-approved Amplify partners to create content that has the chance to be contextually relevant and enhance the viewing experience while driving brand objectives.
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    Shuffling the Social Consumer Journey:

    Social platforms continue to find ways to shorten the path to purchase with the most recent updates recognizing that the journey is impacted by the consumer’s need for instant gratification. This revelation has re-prioritized the importance of creating relevant ad experiences that deliver on what the consumer wants, when they want it. For example, Pinterest’s Visual Search continues to facilitate discovery as it allows users to search for products in both the online and offline world with a few clicks or taps. Snapchat recently introduced Context Cards, a feature like Google Maps that automatically adds information to location tagged Stories like ratings, the ability to make a reservation with OpenTable or get a ride to the location with Lyft. These updates can influence purchasing decisions while promoting extra time spent on the platforms.

  • Marketing Opportunities: While brand opportunities for Snapchat Context Cards and Pinterest Visual Search are currently limited, Facebook recently released opportunities to reach consumers who’ve visited stores and made offline purchases. Brands can create custom audiences based on consumers who’ve previously purchased offline or those who have visited their store and create Lookalike Audiences based on the data to create a more effective advertising group for products. According to Accenture’s 2016 consumer study, nearly two-thirds of people are more likely to shop with a retailer that remembers their previous interactions and purchases across all mediums. These new tools enable brands to more strategically re-engage shoppers with more relevant campaigns, and find new potential customers to expand their campaign reach and drive incremental foot traffic.
  • Marketing Challenges: While these advances pose new opportunities for ROI, social marketers face the challenge that social is only a part of the more complex consumer journey. With multiple touchpoints at each phase of the consumer journey, multi-touch attribution and marketing mix modeling (MMM) becomes more important for marketers to monitor. This will help marketers craft more relevant and actionable insights to decide which tactics are most effective.
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    Emphasizing Communal Social Experiences:

    It’s been a rough few months for Facebook as they’ve managed controversies like Russia’s fake news advertising across Facebook Inc. properties during the US presidential elections. While users can certainly become skeptical of a platform’s motives overall, it does not necessarily prohibit their use; they continue to use the social platforms as a connective tool with their family, friends, and world around them. Platforms have worked to improve their image, but also introduce features that support consumer desire to connect. As Facebook recently updated its mission to re-emphasize community they are leading this trend with updates like Page Groups, groups that are owned and operated by a Page, and Show Pages, video-specific Pages that live within the Watch platform. Instagram is also tapping into this community-based trend with their recent rollout of ‘Live With A Friend.’ This feature allows multiple people to stream live at once from different locations.

  • Marketing Opportunities: The more marketers test new ad units, creative and technology, the more they will learn about their audience and how they can impact business results. It’s also important to consider communities may live beyond a brand’s owned social channels (forums, micro-blogger communities, emerging platforms like musical.ly, etc.). However, before starting a branded community or targeted campaign, marketers should evaluate how their brand is being discussed in organic communities and optimize towards the most relevant interests or conversations.
  • Marketing Challenges: While relevant content is crucial, not all brands are suited for intimate communal social experiences as they require aggressive fan bases and plentiful resources. There are, however, ways to replicate the insight behind why participatory experiences work, such as livestreaming across platforms or activating influencers using Facebook and Instagram’s branded content tools in a way that creates community.
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    As platforms continue to bring new ways of creating and promoting video, opportunities for conversion, and communal experiences, it remains important that marketers continue to learn more about how consumers react to their messaging. Utilizing Facebook’s Dynamic Creative tools or Vogon on YouTube are turnkey ways to test and learn about a community’s preferences. Brands can no longer stand behind who they say they are – consumer’s opinions of the brand shape their reality and how they see the brand becomes truth. The below cheat sheet is here to help marketers decide which platform to activate on (who is on it), how they should relate to their consumers (how people use it), and what type of content they should create based on business objectives and purchase funnel.
     


    360i’s Valentina Bettiol, Amy Donnelly, Phillip Huynh and Bridget Lackie also contributed to this post.