The most important social media trends to know right now!

Do you ever feel that social media is a constantly evolving beast? New developments, more changes than you can keep up with, not to mention the launch of new platforms, means you are left very confused and wondering what is most important. 

We recently caught you up by taking you through the latest social media trends in our Power Half-Hour. Missed it? It’s available on catch up right here. But seeing as you are here right now there’s also a quick overview for you below...

A little help from your audience

User generated content, or UGC as it is known, is getting more and more popular. Brands want to establish connections with their audience and customer-centric content is absolutely one way to do this. Doing so not only builds brand relationships but also encourages a constant stream of content from your followers.

Modern consumers (Generation Y & Z particularly) are happy for brands to invite them to post against themes or topics and encouraging this user generated content is brilliant for engagement and conversation starters. And don’t forget, with so much competition in the social arena, customer created content is a way to cut through on ANY platform.  

Show me a story

Step forward Instagram Stories! And yes, it is still a trend (it has been for two years now); we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t bang this drum.

Stories aren’t slowing down anytime soon and their dominance speaks for themselves. And Interactive Stories is just a brilliant way to engage with your audience, making your content more valuable and “must see”. And coupled with ongoing improved analytics from Instagram too, brands whose audiences are engaging with Instagram frequently need to be on Stories frequently.

Don’t be tempted to ignore this if you are a business to business brand without some consideration. Your audience is very likely hanging out here too; you just need to ensure what you post engages them in the right way. And it is an excellent platform for authenticating your brand’s presence and a feel for your personality making your audience see you as a long-term partner as they engage with your content. Behind the scenes, office culture and reviews/testimonials work well for business brands here.

Hanging with the gang

We are all aware that marketers are increasingly focused on building meaningful connections with their audience - vs everyone and anybody! Personalised marketing is on the increase and the one size fits all approach is redundant.

So, what does this mean on social media? The importance of marketing to groups with a shared interest and passion that opens up individual conversations, vs speaking to wide ranging demographics, is appealing. Plus people are now actively seeking out ways to use private channels vs the public social networks.

LinkedIn Groups was set up just for this sharing of information and knowledge specific to a topic and after quite some time in the wilderness, LinkedIn have rolled out new Group features in the hope they can achieve what other platforms are able to offer in this regard. Will it work remains to be seen but there is no doubt that the zoning in on key topics and groups is the way forward. 

You can now limit replies on Twitter to a chosen list which helps weed out abuse and spam. Beta test feedback was positive so it would be interesting to see what and how brands can use this to their advantage. And Slack, though a non-traditional social media platform, is hosting lots of conversations in specific Groups currently!

Instagram Threads are also another way to facilitate this and brands can jump on this via adding them as VIP customers or key clients or customers to keep them up to date, release new news early and nurture them as brand advocates.

And the big one - Facebook Groups! This continues to be a valuable way to market to communities who are united across one purpose. And as organic reach is flat for most brands on Facebook, Groups is the way to get the conversations and engagement increased on a longer-term basis (social listening anyone!). Facebook’s investment in Groups is significant and sponsored content is also being tested so do have a think if Groups is for you.

Do please note though that Groups do require a specific strategy, as well as dedicated resources, to see success.

Sell, sell, sell

Brands are still investing in social media ads for good reason (organic reach and performance is no longer enough); this is running in parallel with consumers who are becoming increasingly comfortable with the concept of shopping on social media.

Ad formats are becoming increasingly intelligent and creative that direct business from social to consumer is now possible via dynamic and direct social ads. The COVID pandemic has increased this shift towith Facebook doubling down on e-commerce with many predicting that social and e-commerce will become one and the same.

Personalised Facebook ads, Instagram shopping and even LinkedIn has joined in to help B2B products get their products in front of relevant customers too.

Video killed the static image

Videos are the most shared content on social media; brands really can’t delay or sleep on this anymore else they will/are getting left behind! The barrier to entry is lower than ever; laptop and smartphone tech, along with a myriad of apps, means anyone can get going. Authentic content is received well, it doesn’t all have to be polished with high production values providing the content and messaging is spot on for the audience.

And don’t forget! YouTube is second only to Facebook in terms of active users with more and more brands and marketers flocking to this platform. And don’t forget there is also IGTV and TikTok, so video is not going anywhere.

The new kid on the block

For those of you who aren’t aware (are there any of you?!?!?) TikTok is THE destination for short-form mobile videos. It’s convenient to use and easy to edit and upload/share content. And it exploded onto the scene very recently driven by the popularity with young people then lockdown. And you may also be aware of its potential ban in the US in September (we await to see how this plays out).

A key question weI receive often is should my brand be on TikTok? Is this a trend we should take notice of?  The QUICK answer is, is your core audience on TikTok and engaging with the platform regularly? If they are, then definitely consider testing some content on this platform BUT ensure your content is “platform friendly” and fits in with what works, else you will be immediately an outcast! 

In conclusion

Whatever business or brand you are working on, B2B or B2C, it’s important to follow the trends and consider how these should be included in your social content strategy and content creation. After all, this is how your audience is consuming content so it is remiss to ignore it! This particularly applies to the B2B brands out there. Experiment with platforms and content, shake things up and challenge the norm! It does take time and effort but the rewards are there due to the sheer volume of people on social media.

It’s crucial to understand how you’re spending your valuable time on social media and whether or not your efforts are paying off.  For example, can you clearly point to the ROI of your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram presence? This is where it’s important to understand the real meaning behind your social media metrics: don’t just chase vanity metrics on the biggest platforms for their own sake. Think about where your brand can shine best, whether that’s through long form articles on LinkedIn, conversation starters on Twitter or visual-first content on photo-heavy platforms. Don’t use social media platforms to push communication, focus on creating meaningful experiences for your audience in an authentic and transparent way that inspires them to take action or develop brand loyalty. 

And don’t forget, you can watch our Power Half-Hour on this very subject on demand right here:

PHH Social Media