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2018 Social Media Trend Report – Vol. 1

in Mobile Marketing, Social Media with tags , , , , , Both comments and trackbacks are closed.

2018 is off to a tumultuous start for social media. Our 2017 Year-In-Review predicted that the focus on transparency and accountability from social platforms would be the focus in 2018, and Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal has locked this into the forefront of conversation.

As a result of the scandal, Facebook has spent the last few months rolling out new privacy policies, while other platforms have had the opportunity to rise and differentiate themselves in the eyes of marketers. Though Facebook still reported a profitable first quarter and the call for #deleteFacebook doesn’t currently appear to be deeply felt by users, it is evident that other social platforms have taken this time as an opportunity to lead the industry in new ways. In this blog post, we focus on the platforms that are breaking through, who is leading the pack, and how marketers can capitalize.

Breaking through with interactive experiences:

 
Snapchat and Instagram continue to battle in the AR & ephemeral content war. Though Snapchat has faced criticism from vocal celebrities and users, causing their stock prices to fluctuate, the platform is continuing to develop and is the only platform that has started to monetize their AR capabilities. Simultaneously, Instagram is catching up to Snapchat as they recently rolled out an AR studio for stories that will enable brands to create their own organic Face Filters and World Effects for their Instagram followers.. This seamless sharing experience rivals Snapchat’s AR Studio, which is reliant on Snapcodes if users want to share a brand or user’s organic AR filter

What platform is in the lead?

While the war between Instagram and Snapchat for ephemeral domination remains, Snapchat’s focus on blending AR capabilities with direct response could bring lapsed marketers to the platform.

How marketers can capitalize:

1. Integrate immersive experiences into strategy. Social users are coming to expect immersive experiences (like AR) from their favorite brands as social currency. On both Snapchat and Instagram, AR Filters are created to be interactive and shareable. The fun that comes with social AR products encourages users to spend more time with brands and thus create a more impactful experience that users want to share. Overall, this expectation to have AR experiences in social has resulted in platforms making these products more accessible to brands of all sizes with a bid-based buying model and has inspired new products like Instagram AR Studio and Snapchat’s “Snappables”(multi-player AR games that allow play through touch, motion and facial expressions).

2. Use the Snapchat’s new direct response capabilities to own the consumer journey end-to-end. In February, Snapchat announced ‘Snap Store,’ an in-app destination where users could buy Snapchat-themed merchandise. This rollout teased their biggest brand collaboration yet – the in app sale of – Nike’s Air Jordan III ‘Tinker’ shoes, selling out in 23 minutes. Snapchat’s ‘Shoppable AR’ product. encourages users to go beyond using an AR lens and install an app, watch a video or shop for products all within Snapchat. While DR capabilities are not yet available on Instagram, testing Snapchat’s offerings or getting your feet wet with Instagram AR studio will optimize results when they are.

Breaking through with Customization:

 
As most social platforms have adopted an algorithm-based user experience that serves content based on what the platform ‘thinks’ their users are going to like (based on engagement and connections), other social platforms like Pinterest and Reddit are honing in on customized user experiences based on their users’ actual interests or mindset. For example, users are going to Pinterest with shopping and product discovery in mind , they go to Instagram with the mindset to discover influencers or content creators in industries they care about, and to Reddit to read and discuss the latest in culture on their homepage.

What platform is in the lead?

Pinterest’s opportunity is as unique as their 175M global MAUs who consider Pinterest a search and planning platform. Using visual search, Pinterest’s ‘responsive visual search’ and ‘shop-the-look’ features makes it the only platform that allows consumers to shop the world around them. Similarly, Pinterest turns the discovery experience on its head with the ‘Lens Your Look’ feature, serving up style inspiration based on user provided photos of what’s in their closet. But Instagram’s recent launch of native on platform payments could signal a new frictionless shopping option on the horizon that makes it a platform to keep an eye on.

How marketers can capitalize:

1. Embrace increased ad inventory. After a successful limited launch, Pinterest expanded their Shoppable Ads to advertisers. Shoppable Ads are automatically created ads based on a brand’s product catalog. Previously, Pinterest’s promoted posts required a manual and creative lift, but this ad unit helps brands scale for the growing platform.

2. Cultivate a following. Pinterest recently introduced new organic features including a “Following Tab,”a dedicated feed for pinners to see content from people and brands they follow on the platform, and customized business profile images that allow brands to promote specific pins during key times. Followers previously had little value on Pinterest, but now there is more opportunity for brands to create content to encourage engagements. Additionally, Instagram’s continued focus on discoverability through their Explore tab and hashtag following signals opportunities for brands to organically reach more followers than on other algorithm focused platforms.

3. Follow consumers into passionate communities. Historically, advertisers have opted for platforms that have massive scale (i.e. Facebook), but platforms like Reddit can result in reaching a more qualified and engaged consumer. For example, TBS premiered Final Space eleven days before its television debut on the Reddit home page so it could spread across social before premiere day.

Breaking through with new ways to serve video:

 
2017 was all about cracking the code on the right video format for brands (long vs. short, in-feed vs. in-stream, etc.). In 2018, we are learning that the right format is an individual preference, so platforms are continuing to build out their video capabilities in a way that gives marketers the control to serve multiple forms of video based on their target audience. Despite video capabilities on all platforms, both Twitter and YouTube remain big players for two reasons: Twitter’s focus on expanding premium partnerships and YouTube’s dynamic creative capabilities that is made even more personalized and engaging by the vast amount of Google data (custom affinity audiences, consumer patterns, in-market audiences, life events, past google searches, etc.) that YouTube has access to.

What platform is in the lead?
Twitter’s variety of video opportunities allows brands to choose the right format for their audience without brand safety concerns. Not only can brands buy in on the 30 different premium content deals and integrate themselves into the relevant and entertaining conversations occurring the platform, they can also take advantage of live and on demand pre-roll to drive awareness around their brand.

How marketers can capitalize:

1. Test a variety of formats & creative. Video viewing isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. Social platforms have made it easier than ever to tailor video content to each individual user. Whether you are using Facebook or YouTube’s dynamic creative capabilities, which serves the perfect combination of creative and copy based on on the user’s interests and platform behavior, or using a series of formats on Twitter, using diverse tactics will help optimize your brand to resonate with more potential consumers.

2. Use video to connect the holistic consumer journey: While platforms like Facebook and Snapchat have made improvements to close the gap between the online and offline purchase journey, YouTube is mastering the bridge between social and the rest of the consumer’s online touchpoints. The consumer’s relationship with both YouTube and Google (search, maps, shopping, etc.) allows for streamlined and qualified discovery, intent, and action that drives business results.

While we’ve seen Facebook roll out new privacy policies and more recently defend their data-sharing partnerships, the full impact of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal may still be coming, now is the time for marketers to question any autopilot tendencies and revisit goals and spending. To aid in your marketing decisions, we offer our platform cheat sheet below to highlight audience and features of each platform.

Social Platform Cheat Sheet – June 4 2018

Contributors: Amy Donnelly, Social Marketing Supervisor, Alec Piliafas, Social Marketing Director, Bridget Lackie, Director, Paid Social Lead, and Kristie Van Praag, Media Supervisor