The Early Bird gets the worm! Or in this case, the 2018 social media trends according to Corri Smith, owner of Black Wednesday.
Corri set the scene with the current landscape of social media by detailing her thoughts on algorithms and “the black market”. Algorithms are currently playing a huge roll in how your content is shared across all social media platforms. Unfortunately, there is no “one right answer” to deal with algorithms. You have to test, test and test some more to see how the algorithms interact with your audience and your content. And once you figure it out, they will probably change since algorithms change with every app update. Corri’s best advice was to figure out what works and keep doing that until it stops working. Algorithms work by telling the platform to put your content in front of those who are engaging. The best way to increase engagement is to ask for it in your posts. Ask your followers to tag their friends, ask them to share your content, ask them to support your social media efforts. Our take on this advice, you will never know the answer until you ask!
For someone who only wears black and named her company Black Wednesday, Corri did not have good things to say about the black market of social media. And we 100% agree with her on this point! The black market of social media refers to the companies who will sell you followers. Yes, you can buy followers on social media platforms. Do not do it! Corri’s stance on this rings true to social media professionals worldwide. Having a large number of followers is useless if those followers aren’t engaging with your content. Buying followers does not translate into increased revenues for your company or brand. Those followers will not spend money with your company just because you gave them money to follow you. Instead of buying followers, Corri advises to focus on building an authentic and engaged audience who are buying your product or service. If you do have budget to spend on social media, spend it on boosting posts to your existing audience so they will see them more often and are able to engage with them.
Moving onto trends, Corri spoke on 5 topics she thinks will be the social media trends for 2018 starting with Instagram Stories. Instagram is stepping up their story game by introducing new fonts, gifs, polls and geotags for stories. Stories create impressions and views by your audience that posts aren’t currently seeing due to algorithm changes-those darn algorithms. Stories are a way to provide additional content and receive organic impressions and views. Bottom line-incorporate Instagram Stories into your strategy.
Next trend according to Corri, increased brand participation. Your followers are people. They are following you because they want to be your friend. Act like their friend and engage with them. Companies and brands are realizing more and more that the reason to be on social media is to be social with your followers. Your followers are an audience of people who can help you improve your business. Ask them questions, ask them for advice, like their posts and make them feel like a human runs your social media presence. Bottom line-treat your followers like you treat your friends. And just like in real life, if you want to make new friends, you ask your friends to introduce you to their other friends. This is where influencers come into play in social media. Influencers have large groups of friends and allow brands or companies to tap into that group through sponsored posts and branded material. These influencers have created an environment of trust and influence with their audiences and so their audience is going to like your company or brand because their friend likes your company or brand. The use of influencers has been growing in social media and will continue to grow in 2018. If you are thinking about incorporating influencers into your strategy, Corri advises to do your research. Pay attention to the number of followers in comparison to level of engagement. Does the influencer have 100,000 followers but only 7 or 8 likes on each post? If so, then their audience isn’t authentic. Look for influencers with authentic audiences that can help build your revenue stream. If you are going to pay someone to represent your brand, you have to make sure his or her audience is going to buy what you are selling. Bottom line-many say they are influencers, only work with the ones who can actually positively influence your business.
Trend four is a new generation of spenders, Gen Z. The millennials are getting older and Gen Z is positioned to become a bigger buying force. The tough thing about Gen Z, their attention span is a whopping 4 seconds. They have grown up in a world of quick, quick, quick and process information at rapid speeds. You do not have much time to grab the attention of Gen Z. If they are your target audience, start figuring out how to turn them into customers now. If they are your current audience, start figuring out how to keep them because their spending power is growing and by the time they are graduating from college and entering the work force, they will be ready to buy. Bottom line-Gen Z is coming, are you ready?
No good social media trends talk would be complete without mentioning video. Video is here to stay and the time you have to capture attention is decreasing. If you aren’t comfortable being on video, it’s time to push yourself out of the comfort zone. You have 4 seconds to grab attention on social media. Video is a great way to do that. Take longer videos and cut them down into 4-5 second snippets. Post snippets in order to build anticipation. All platforms are encouraging video and making it easier and easier to do with every update. If you have budget, Corri advises to hire a video company to do the legwork for you. You can get great longevity out of professionally done video cut into 4-5 second segments. Bottom line-get in the video game to build reach and engagement.
The last topic Corri touched on was must haves for 2018. These must haves were broken down into three categories-Strategy, Execution and Tools. We completely agree on all three recommendations and include some details on each below. We look forward to seeing what each of you does with this information throughout 2018. If you have any questions on this information, please don’t hesitate to reach out, we will help you find an answer. And if you want to see SMCLT events planned around any of these trends or must haves, please let us know!
Strategy-you have to have a plan; national holidays you can participate in; what makes sense to your brand; plan your content around your plan; posting when you remember isn’t going to cut it anymore; understanding your actual audience and target audience; you cannot only rely on social media; your marketing plan cannot be only social media-email, content design, website
Strong Execution-have a plan and someone is can/is going to do it; invest in someone to execute
Tools-schedule your posts ahead of time-Hootsuite, Sprout; graphic design-Canva, Photoshop, hire a graphic designer; FB ads manager-Pages app on your phone; Slack-for communication/inner office/team manager; photo editing-Enlight, Video Leap, VSCO; Meme Plus-create branded memes
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