5 Small Business Social Media Trends for 2017

Social media came onto the scene fast and it hasn’t slowed down – it’s changing all the time and businesses have to keep up. So, what’s up with social media in 2017?


1. Live Video Will Replace Pre-recorded Videos

We’ve talked before about the importance of visual content – a picture is worth a thousand words and that’s exactly what you need to get through your users’ short attention spans. Photos and graphics were the original fan favorites, but video has gotten increasingly important. Most commonly, that means filming a clip and then posting it. But in 2017, we expect to see an increasing focus on live video content.


In fact, according to Wyzowl 43% of businesses plan to use live and interactive video in 2017. While there are thousands of video options out there, Facebook Live and Periscope are the most popular live streaming platforms. Periscope’s 2106 annual recap reported that users watched more than 110 years (!) of live video using that app. To keep pace with their competition, both Instagram and Twitter debuted their unique versions of live streaming video in 2016.


What does this mean for business? It means you have a great opportunity to “livestream” your events or bring people behind the scenes on real-time tours of your facilities. You can show celebrations, product launches, readings, and more. You can even do a live Q&A session, where users can Tweet or comment questions and you can answer them live. Sharing brand events in real time can generate buzz, build brand recognition, and garner new customers.


2. Keep An Eye Out for VR

Not only will social media video expand into live coverage, but it will expand into 3 dimensions with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The technology is increasingly widespread and easy to access, so this is a great time to get in on the ground floor. You may offer VR tours of your facilities or VR representations of your products so potential customers can see them from all sides.


It’s still early days for AR and VR, so there’s no need to get too involved yet, but it’s worthwhile to start thinking about how you may incorporate that kind of content into your social media strategy.


3. Ecommerce and Social Media Will Merge

Experts predict that in 2017, the lines between social media and Ecommerce will blur as they use one another to launch, promote, and sell products.


Major retailers Lancome and Target have rolled out “shoppable advertising.” Likewise, social media platform Snapchat has explored adding Ecommerce to their site with an increasing number of “interactive ads.” The idea of social media ads are that the customer can swipe the ad to get to the mobile site, where they can then buy the advertised product. In some cases, a click on the ad will take you right to the checkout page.


What does that mean for you? First, note that this strategy may require more of a budget. You’ll need to link your site to your ads (which may take the help of a web developer, depending on the social media platform) and you’ll need to create and pay for those ads. However, they can have serious benefits – they make it really easy for your customers to make a purchase and they keep your brand at the front of users’ minds as they scroll through their feeds.


4. Audiences Will Get Younger

What is “Gen Z”? Modern teenagers, aka Gen Z, are the very first generation to grow up in “an entirely post digital era.” Throughout their lives, the Gen Z population has always had the Internet, Smartphones, Google, and Apple’s Siri to help them explore their digital and social worlds. Experts predict that the Gen Z population will influence and shape social media in 2017, and beyond. Not only are these teens future social media influencers, but they are also future paying customers, brand loyalists, and brand ambassadors.


According to Forbes, Gen Z behavior on social media is “shifting to a mentality of sharing only specific stories to specific people on specific social channels. This is evident when we look at the platforms that teens are most likely to use. Rather than the “over-sharing” platform of Facebook, they use Snapchat and Instagram because they are considered more selective.”


In other words, Gen Z may be tougher to connect with than the hyper-public Millennial set used to be. They’re picky, they don’t like seeing ads, and their attention spans are likely to be the shortest yet. You need really high-quality content that’s relevant to them – if possible, consider recruiting a genuine member of Gen Z to help you hit the right tone.


The rise of Gen Z is also a great reason to consider your AR and VR opportunities – they’re the early adopters of that technology and that can be a great tool to draw them in.


5. Niche Social Media Platforms Will Make Their Mark

We are all familiar with the social media behemoths; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. These huge social media platforms are in no danger of disappearing, but experts predict that they will have to share the stage in 2017. As social media continues to grow in popularity and user numbers, niche social platforms will break onto the scene.


These smaller networks cater to specific interests. For example, Fishbrain attracts fishing and boating aficionados while Tastebud is all about finding and sharing new music. Small businesses may find opportunities to develop valuable social media relationships on these smaller niche platforms which appeal to their unique customers.


Connection Is Key

It can seem a little overwhelming to try to keep up with all this change, but it’s a really important part of your business – especially if your target customers are younger. But you don’t have to completely revamp your strategy all at once. A focus on the basics will get you far: high-quality content, regular posting, updated profiles, and interaction with your followers and other brands. Adopt new types of content, new platforms, and new strategies as they make sense for your brand. Now get out there and connect!


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