7 Social Media Trends for 2017

 

What’s next for the biggest social media platforms? Only time will tell, but here are my 7 social media trends for 2017 to watch out for. In addition, I include a number of notable considerations for your social planning efforts.

Social Messaging and the Growth of Dark Social

General sharing of content isn’t being “shared” as much as it used to be. Consumers are tending to use WhatsApp, Snapchat and other messaging applications to share content. This has meant that almost 70% of online shares are taking place within “dark social” mobile messaging. Dark social is difficult to measure because the tools don’t yet exist.

With the growth in messaging apps, it is becoming increasingly popular for people to turn to private social messaging, rather than engaging with social media. So much so, in February 2016 WhatsApp announced it hit the 1 billion user mark. Combined, the four most popular messaging apps, Facebook Messenger, WhatApp, QQ Chat and WeChat, have a wider conversation pool than the top four main social networks.

Brands can attempt to reduce the amount of traffic that comes from dark social by adding share buttons to their sites. The key problem is to track where the traffic is coming from, and this problem is likely to continue in 2017.

Live Video Streaming

In 2016, Meerkat, Periscope and Facebook Live brought streaming to the masses. In 2017, YouTube is readying the launch of YouTube Live. Video has seen the major growth in Facebook this past year, and consistently shows higher engagement that other forms of posts. As social networks fight to keep people online, a big focus on video makes sense.

It is worth keeping an open mind on how to use live video effectively. For example, through the release of live video of a marketing event, or even paid influencer product promotion. With the priority that Facebook is giving to video, coupled with the reduced reach of organic reach. You need to be experimenting with live video in 2017.

Using Video to Gain Share of Voice

On the topic of live video, 2017 is going to be the year when established big brands are going to start feeling the pressure from their smaller and more agile competitors. Particularly, in the execution of their video content strategies.

If it isn’t already obvious, Facebook is rapidly becoming full of video content. The simple reason is that people watch the content, particularly if they know the person, or are interested in the brand. For most brands, just 10% of their budget is allocated towards creating content, with 90% used for boosting content through advertising.

To gain the majority share of voice in 2017, brands will need to focus on using 90% of their budget on creating unique and useful content, that resonates with their audience.  10% boosting it or turning it into an ad. To get the best results from video, brands are going to need to understand their audience and what resonates with them.  Start to experiment and develop content for Snapchat and Instagram stories, it will pay off later in 2017, as your audience develops.

Paid Social Advertising

In 2017, if you want your content to be visible by consumers, you will have to resort to paid social advertising. Despite increased competition from brands, it is forecasted that by 2017, marketers will spend up to US$35.98 billion on social advertising. As such, expect the price of ad inventory to increase as brands step up their advertising efforts.

Facebook continues to update its algorithm, which caused less traffic to be sent to content sites. Rather, the platform now prioritizes posts shared by friends and families, rather than those from publishers and brands. The challenge for companies will be to produce much more interesting ads that will result in conversions. Companies need to focus on communicating their brand message to customers, while also being able to stand out from the crowd.

My advice is that unless you are a trained PPC expert, get help from a fully trained practitioner that can deliver ads that drive traffic to your site. With social, the wonderful days of free content distribution are over. The algorithm changes brought about by the social networks mean that organic reach is greatly reduced, in Facebook’s case from 15% to as low as 2%.

Brands have two choices, spend more on advertising, or have a true understanding of the content your audience wants to see and provide it to them. Even then, you would need to think about how you can maximize sharing, and engage influencers to increase reach. In the end, a successful strategy will most likely have to include both understanding and segmenting your audience and boosting the right content to those segments.

Plan for Mobile 

Very much a given for 2017, but worth repeating. Mobile traffic has overtaken desktop on the web this year. Google is also now working on a new, mobile-first web index. These changes mean that it is more important than ever to make the mobile experience as great as possible. Increasingly, this means putting mobile first, rather than simply optimizing for mobile devices. If you are not already optimizing for mobile devices, then you have failed before you have even begun.

Co-collaboration with Super Fans, Influencers and Brands

In 2017, collaborating with others should become an important part of your overall content strategy. Collaboration is the fastest way to grow your fan base and attract new audiences.  Focus on finding ways to co-create content together. Also, consider publishing some of your content on LinkedIn and Medium. Both have established audiences and networks and will give your content a fresh pair of new eyes.

Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots

Artificial intelligence is now reaching a level where it is becoming useful to many people’s daily lives. The rise of digital assistants, such as Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and the new Google Assistant have kicked off a trend of getting people to talk to their devices, rather than use their fingers. This is one area to watch closely in 2017.

Chatbots are also going to have profound effects on how customers interact with brands on social. Chatbots will deliver human-like conversational interactive experiences and provide capable customer support. Linking a purposeful chatbot to website content, will mean consumers will be able to ask and pull information more quickly and deeply than visiting a product landing page.  Chatbots make sense for brands, allowing common questions to be answered and simple bookings to be made. This can free up customer support agents to answer more in-depth queries.

 

Notable mentions to consider in 2017

Copywriting

The true value of excellent copywriting will finally reveal itself. Whether it be scripting video content, writing blog content, or even Facebook copy with a call-to-action. Great copywriting has the power to drive clicks. Excellent copy drives an emotion, whether it be to sign up to a newsletter, buy a product or even to remain memorable.

In 2016, I’ve seen many brands skim the value of great copywriting. They think that “words” are enough. (These are also the same brands that think just getting a post up on a social media platform is a win. It’s not.)

Great copywriters are hard to come by, but they are worth the investment. Why? Because they are the ones who take your story and tell it in such a way that your audience wants more of it. This is particularly true in social.  In 2017, have your posts written by an in-house copywriter (if you can). Or develop your own skills at copywriting.

GIFs and Emojis

GIFs and emojis bring personality to how consumers express themselves. Apple’s recent iOS 10 functionally supports these new means of expression, and Facebook has embraced animated GIFs. Many brands would be smart to follow to this trend, both by using GIFs and emojis in their own content. But a word of caution, don’t overdo it!

Social User Experience

Social media consumers now have a richer control of their own social user experience. As such, social platforms are providing users with better controls over how their feeds view content. Consumers increasingly have more power than ever to block content or see it less often. To meet these changes, brands should perform usability testing to make sure the social experience they provide is truly in line with customer behavior and their preferences. 2017, will be the year of the finely tuned news feed. Noisy brands will disappear from the social feed altogether.  Test, test, and test again the impact that your posts are having on the consumer’s social feed.

Lenses and Filters

Lenses and filters took off in 2016, with Snapchat selfie lenses bringing augmented reality (AR) to global attention. In 2017, Facebook will also invest heavily in AR to compete with Snapchat and others to deliver new experiences on mobile devices.

In Facebook’s  Q2 2016 earnings call, Zuckerberg notes:

“The biggest thing that I think we can take away from this as we invest in augmented reality in addition to virtual reality is that the phone is probably going to be the mainstream consumer platform [where] a lot of these AR features first become mainstream, rather than a glasses form factor that people will wear on their face.

And one of the big themes that we’re talking about here is becoming video first. And as people look for richer and richer ways to express themselves, just like people in the past have shared a lot of text and photos on Facebook, we think in the future more of that is going to be video, and more of these augmented reality tools I think are going to be an important part of delivering that experience and making that fun to use and expressive as it can be.”

With planning for mobile in everything that you do, it is also worth your time experimenting with filters and creating new experiences. As the tools develop further this year, I see these becoming more and more important as part of our everyday lives.

So, these are the trends I see developing further in 2017.  From your experience, what would you add?

Social Media 2016 in Review

2016 has been a period of consolidation for many of the biggest social media platforms. In this blog post, I review the year and highlight a number of key product launches from a marketing perspective. 2016 was the year that video exploded across the major platforms, with Facebook emerging as the winner. However, let’s explore this and other emerging trends from the year.

Facebook

In 2016, Facebook shifted to become a video-centric social platform. With the launch of Facebook Live and vertical video ads , both relatively new products, they are already seeing fantastic brand popularity. Facebook forecasts that its own News Feed will mostly focus on video within the next five years. As such, brands must focus their efforts on delivering compelling videos which drive engagement. This will be easier said than done! Brands will need to experiment with a variety of video styles, which best reflect their own individual narratives.

Here are a four of the main highlights from Facebook in 2016:

  • Facebook LiveAllows anyone with a smartphone to broadcast to anyone, anytime and anywhere in real-time.
  • Instant ArticlesThese are fast and interactive articles on Facebook and load up to 10 times faster than regular articles on smartphones.
  • ReactionsFacebook Reactions enable expression with five additional emojis, in addition to “like.”
  • MarketplaceIn a move to promote social selling, this feature enables you to buy and sell items to the Facebook community.

 

Facebook growth

2016 has been another record-setting year for Facebook. In their latest earnings report, Facebook earned $7.01 billion in revenue during Q3 2016 and now has 1.79 billion monthly users (up 16% from Q3 2015).

The importance of search

In 2016’s Q2 earnings report, Facebook revealed that it now sees 2 billion searches per day, up from 1.5 billion a year ago. Google remains the leader in search with 3.5 billion searches per day. But it is clear that Facebook sees search as a key discoverability tool for brands.

Since April 2016, Facebook has been automatically adding alt tags to images that you upload, and are populated with keywords representing the content of your images. Most regular Facebook users have no idea to the amount of information that is now routinely being extracted from photographs. Below is an image from my own feed, that shows the keywords Facebook is able to extract from the image.

 

Search has the potential of increasing your reach on Facebook and driving attention to your key shared posts. It is worth keeping a close eye on Facebook search in 2017.

 

Twitter

In 2016, Twitter refocused its product strategy. It is no longer a social network, instead it is a news product. In a recent message to Twitter’s employees, CEO Jack Dorsey made it clear:

“Twitter is what’s happening, and what everyone is talking about (literally!). News and talk. We’re the people’s news network.”

People choose us for news because we’re the fastest. Fastest to get news, and fastest to share news with the whole world. Now let’s strive to be the first. The first place people check to see what’s happening…and the first place to break what’s happening. In the moment LIVE, or a fast recap of what we know so far…what matters.

This makes sense for Twitter, particularly as Twitter is where many people go to learn about breaking news. In 2016, both Twitter and Facebook had to deal with the prospect of people creating and sharing fake news.  This problem will continue into 2017, and new tools will need to be created to deal with the problem. Particularly new tools to help with fact checking.

Key product launches from Twitter in 2016:

  • Customer support tools: Easier ways for businesses to provide support to their customers on Twitter.
  • MomentsTwitter Moments enable users to stitch together multiple tweets into slideshow-like stories.

Twitter focused on providing customer support features in 2016 at the request of many brands who deliver support on the platform.  On the marketing side, there were no new tools for marketers.

 

Instagram

2016 was an incredible year for Instagram. The Facebook-owned company has gone from strength-to-strength with a number of key product launches and achieving growth with more than 500 million monthly users.

Key product launches from Instagram in 2016:

  • Stories:  Instagram Stories enables its users to post photos and videos that disappear after twenty-four hours, much like Snapchat Stories.
  • Business toolsInstagram is getting serious about businesses and has worked with hundreds of brands to enhance the Instagram experience. The focus has been on three key areas —customer acquisition, data insights and post exposure. 

Instagram trends to watch in 2017 

Live video

Facebook has been extremely bullish on live video, and has shared that its users watch live videos more often and for longer periods of time than non-live videos. So it’s no surprise to see Instagram is testing live video too (though there’s been no confirmed launch date for this feature yet).

The evolution of Instagram Stories

Instagram launched a Snapchat style stories to “fill the gaps” between the posts in our Instagram feed, as Kevin Systrom explained to The Verge:

If Instagram is built around highlights, we’re filling in the space in between — and becoming more about visual expression in general. We’re capturing all the world’s moments, not just the best ones.

The stories product, will continue to evolve and give brands a way to drive traffic from Instagram. Those with verified accounts can now share links through Instagram stories. 

 

YouTube

The top 100 advertisers on YouTube have increased their spend on YouTube video ads by 50 percent. This goes to show the faith in video ads that marketers now have. YouTube has also seen an increase in brands partnering with creators on branded content opportunities such as product placements, promotions and sponsorships, this trend will continue.

There you have it, 2016 was the year social continued to evolve particularly on mobile platforms and a year of consolidation of products and features.

 

Key Facebook Statistics – January 2017 Edition

Facebook statistics
Facebook statistics

For marketers, these latest Facebook statistics can help develop strategies to ensure you are targeting the audience you want to reach in the most effective way. Here are the key Facebook stats for January 2017 via Zephoria

    1. Worldwide, there are over 1.79 billion monthly active Facebook users (Facebook MAUs) which is a 16 percent increase year over year. (Source: Facebook as of 11/02/16).
    2. 4.5 billion likes generated daily as of May 2013 which is a 67 percent increase from August 2012(Source: Facebook)
    3. 1.18 billion people log onto Facebook daily active users (Facebook DAU) for September 2016, which represents a 17% increase year over year (Source: Facebook as 11/02/16)
    4. There are 1.66 billion mobile active users (Mobile Facebook MAU) for September 2016 (Source: Facebook as of 11/02/16) an increase of 20 percent year-over-year.  There are 1.03 billion Mobile Daily Active Users (Facebook DAU) for June 2016 which is an increase of 22% year-over-year.
    5. On average, the Like and Share Buttons are viewed across almost 10 million websites daily. (Source: Facebook as of 10/2/2014)
    6. In Europe, over 307 million people are on Facebook. (Source: Search Engine Journal)
    7. Age 25 to 34, at 29.7% of users, is the most common age demographic. (Source:Emarketer)
    8. Five new profiles are created every second. (Source: ALLFacebook)
    9. Facebook users are 76% female (out of 100% of all females) and 66% male (out of 100% of all males).This is stat is one that you really have to think about because it’s comparing the percentage of all females against the percentage of all males who are on Facebook. To dig a little deeper take a look at this study which does a much better job at explaining the nuances – Source: Brandwatch
    10. Highest traffic occurs mid-week between 1 to 3 pm. (Source: Bit.ly blog) On another note, a Facebook post at 7pm will result in more clicks on average than posting at 8pm (Source:  Forbes).
    11. On Thursdays and Fridays, engagement is 18% higher. (Source: Bit.ly blog)
    12. There are 83 million fake profiles. (Source: CNN)
    13. Photo uploads total 300 million per day. (Source: Gizmodo)
    14. Average time spent per Facebook visit is 20 minutes. (Source: Infodocket)
    15. Every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded. (Source: The Social Skinny)
    16. 4.75 billion pieces of content shared daily as of May 2013 which is a 94 percent increase from August 2012. (Source: Facebook)
    17. 50% of 18-24 year-olds go on Facebook when they wake up. (Source: The Social Skinny)
    18. One in five page views in the United States occurs on Facebook. (Source: Infodocket 2012)
    19. 42% of marketers report that Facebook is critical or important to their business. (Source: State of Inbound Marketing 2012 The Takeaway:
    20. 16 Million local business pages have been created as of May 2013 which is a 100 percent increase from 8 million in June 2012. (Source: Facebook).

    Thought to take with you:  At 1.79 billion, Facebook has more monthly active users than WhatsApp (500 million), Twitter (284 million) and Instagram (200 million)—combined. (Source: CNBC)

    More Facebook stats can be found from their 2016 third quarter results here

In 2016 ad blocking will become the normal

Are you running an ad blocker? If not, chances are you will be using one in 2016. According to a PageFair/Adobe report about 16 percent of users in the U.S. block ads. Globally, there are nearly 200 million people stopping ads, 181 million of whom are on desktop computers.

Almost $22 billion in global ad revenues were blocked in 2015, that accounts for approximately 14 percent of all global ad budgets in the U.S. In 2016, the U.S. figure is projected to double.

Savvy adults are becoming more protective of their privacy, and are becoming increasingly annoyed with ads obscuring web content. Ads are also slowing down web page load times and no one likes that. But don’t take my work for it, take a look at Google Trends chart below and see how search terms for adblock tools are rising.

But who is using adblock software anyway?

  • Men are 48% more likely than women to use adblock plug-ins when browsing  Tweet This!
  • Mostly millennials and 18-29 year olds, 41% of whom claim to use adblock software

In 2015, Apple announced support for content and ad blocking in iOS 9. As such, iOS ad blockers raced up the App Store charts. Two of the most popular iOS blockers in Apple’s ecosytem have been Crystal and Purify Blocker. Both block ads and user tracking, while Purify Blocker also blocks images, fonts and scripts.

On desktops, it’s Google Chrome, not Apple’s Safari, that has been driving most of the adblock growth. Ad block use on Google’s browser increased 51% from Q2 2014 to Q2 2015, reaching 126 million average monthly active users.  Consider the irony, since online advertising accounts for 90% of Google’s revenue today.

Quick Facts:

  • Ad blocking estimated to cost publishers nearly $22 billion during 2015  –  Tweet This!
  • There are now 198 million active adblock users around the world –  Tweet This!
  • Ad blocking grew by 41% globally in the last 12 months –  Tweet This!
  • US ad blocking grew by 48% to reach 45 million active users in 12 months up to June 2015 – Tweet This!
  • UK ad blocking grew by 82% to reach 12 million active users in 12 months up to June 2015 – Tweet This!

Expect ad blocking to grow in web browsers on both desktops, tablets and smartphones.

Podcasting Fresh Thoughts

I was honoured to be the first guest on Fresh Thoughts, the new podcast from the team over at Thoughts Labs. During the recording, we discussed research conducted by HubSpot and Moz over the best time to post content for online engagement.

Thanks to John Maver, Cappy Popp and Zachary Chastain for a great discussion, you can listen to the podcast below:

Podcast Timeline:
00:00 – Introductions
01:23 – HubSpot’s analysis of their content posting schedule on getting views and leads
05:58 – The effects of “Read-it-later” for content
07:28 – Hubspot’s analysis of which type of content performs best for getting views and leads
09:03 – Moz’s analysis of their content posting schedule on getting views and leads
11:24 – How does content length affect the views and leads
14:53 – What devices do we use to consume content
17:55 – How does mobile browsing affect CTAs
20:53 – The future of community building – back to the blog?
27:27 – RSS feeds and other content discovery

How To Create A New Admin Account in Mac OS X

1. BOOT INTO SINGLE-USER MODE

Turn on the computer. Upon hearing the startup chime, hold the key combination CMD+S. This boots the computer into single-user mode, which in turn gives you access via the root user. It is important to note, however, that this can be blocked by a firmware password. If that’s the case, head on over to this guide on getting into single-user mode while locked.

2. MOUNT THE HARD DRIVE

Once single-user mode boots (it should look like a black screen with white text), we need to mount the hard drive. At the prompt type in:
/sbin/mount -uw /

3. REMOVE THE “SETUP HAS BEEN COMPLETED” FILE

Now that the drive is mounted, we can edit the file system. We’re going to delete a file that tells your computer that you have completed the initial setup. Type in:
rm /var/db/.applesetupdone
This command deletes the file “.applesetupdone” in the /var/db/ directory, which the computer checks for on startup to ensure that the computer has already been set up.

4. REBOOT

Pretty self explanatory. We need the system to reboot so it can check for the file and then notice it’s missing. Type in:
reboot

5. WATCH THE VIDEO

Your computer will shut down and reboot. A setup window should pop up asking what language you want your computer to be in, just as if you turned on your computer for the first time after purchase. After you select a language, a welcome video will play. If you brought headphones along, feel free to plug them in during the “Select A Language” screen. Otherwise, enjoy a little music.

6. CONTINUE SETUP

Go through the rest of the setup process.

Be sure to select “DO NOT TRANSFER MY DATA”.

Don’t worry, all of your old files will still be on the computer.

At one point during setup you will have to configure your internet connection, this is when you need your wireless password. It’s fine if you don’t have the password, you can enter it later if you need to.

7. SET UP THE ADMINISTRATOR ACCOUNT

Near the end of the setup you will be asked to create an administrator account for your computer.

Be sure to make the name of the admin account different from the existing one.

You can name the account anything that you want, except for the name of the old administrator account. If the new account is given the same name as the old one it will overwrite the old account, causing all the old account’s files to be deleted.

8. FINISH SETUP AND LOG IN

Wrap up the setup and the computer should automatically log you into your new administrator account.

How To Change Country In The Google Play Store

 

If you want to change the country for your Google Play app store, here are the steps you need to follow:

  1. Sign into your Google Wallet account to manage your payment methods (https://wallet.google.com/manage/paymentMethods).
  2. Delete all of your payment methods from Google Wallet, and only add a card to one with a billing address located inside your desired country.
  3. Open the Play Store and navigate to any item available for download.
  4. Click to begin a download until you reach the “Accept and buy” screen (no need to complete the purchase).
  5. Close the Play Store and clear data for the Google Play Store application (Settings > Apps > Google Play Store > Clear Data) or clear your browser cache.
  6. Re-open the Play Store. You should now see the Play Store that matches your default payment instrument’s billing country.

If that doesn’t work for you, then you may also need to do the following:

  1. Go to wallet.google.com, Settings, and change your Home Address.
  2. Go to the Address book tab and remove your old address.
  3. Accept the new Terms and Conditions for your country.
  4. Go to the device settings and clear the data for the Google Play Store application (Settings > Apps > Google Play Store > Clear Data).

You can also contact the Google Play support team through the following link. Just click the Contact Us button in the upper right corner of the page.

https://support.google.com/googleplay/?hl=en