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Looking Ahead to 2017: The Future of Social Media Marketing

Matt Brady
#Digital Marketing, #Inbound Marketing, #Social Media
Published on December 29, 2016

Diagram's team shares our predictions for what will be important in the world of social media marketing in 2017. Please share your own predictions in the comments!

At Diagram, our team works hard to stay on top of current trends, allowing us to provide our clients with the tools they need to connect with their customers online. As we wrap up 2016, we wanted to take a look at the year ahead and share what we think is coming in the social media marketing landscape. Here are some thoughts about social media in 2017 from some of the key members of our marketing team:

Doug Miller:

What do you believe will be the biggest trends in social media in 2017?

I believe the biggest trend in social media for 2017 will be the “re-bundling” of (or rather the final death nail in the trend of “unbundling”) social media tools. Clearly, there were a few platforms that executed this very well (Facebook with Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp, for example) and some not so well (Twitter or LinkedIn, for example). Social media platforms (except for perhaps Facebook) will continue to circle the wagons and focus on core strengths (goodbye, Periscope) while attempting to retain more eyeballs with more video-centric content.

As social media tools continue to evolve into media broadcasters and advertising platforms, consumption will once again dominate, making the ecosystem more closely resemble television or “traditional” media, whether via Snapchat, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, or Twitter Live. In short, in 2017, social media is apt to take a direction that is decidedly less social and more media.

Brands operating in social spaces for the benefit of earned media traction will continue to find their organic efforts in dire need of help. That help will continue to come in the shape of paid promoted posts in each platform natively. More and more brands will recognize the value of partnering with external organizations to accomplish this, rather than trying to keep all coordination “in house”.

How will these trends be different from 2016?

In many ways, these trends are extensions of what we saw in 2016, in particular regarding video. Efforts by all of the platforms to keep eyeballs on their servers (Facebook with Instant Articles and Google with AMP) and build larger walls for their “walled gardens” resulted in less inter-operability between the platforms than ever in 2016, and that will continue in 2017. It is the re-bundling of platforms or the sun-setting of non-core tools that I predict will be even more pronounced in 2017.  

What strategies, tips, or best practices do you recommend brands follow to leverage social media trends in 2017?

The best strategies for organic success in social platforms remain the same in terms of listening, providing valuable content to your communities, understanding your communities, and helping to build, support, and grow them.

For organizations in 2017, making sure that you treat the social media tools as the advertising platforms they are will be key. Even your organic or earned social efforts need to be buttressed by strategically attaching them to your paid media spend. In fact, a tighter focus on the paid, earned, and owned mix and the budgetary and resource allocations for each will be key for continued optimized success in 2017. Your digital content strategy for 2017 needs to coordinate more than just your website, apps, social profiles, and ad spend, but to have specific goals for what role each will play in the process and means for tracking success.

Sarah Corley:

What do you believe will be the biggest trends in social media in 2017? 

Gary Vaynerchuck said it best at INBOUND 2016: “Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram are the new ABC, ESPN and NBC.” The brands and businesses that create the best shows/content (i.e. Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Seinfeld) on these social platforms will be the ones that succeed! The trends are showing that short videos with subtitles are performing best on Twitter and Facebook.

How will these trends be different from 2016?

I believe that 2016 was the year of the video. So 2017 is year of the micro video. As attention spans are shortening, your beautiful 1 minute 30 second video may not be viewed in its entirety. Shorten it up. Tighten up your writing. Create snippets for various social platforms. Add subtitles in case the sound is muted. Hang on, 2017 is right around the corner!

What strategies, tips, or best practices do you recommend brands follow to leverage social media trends in 2017?

It will be harder and harder to gain organic eyes on your social media content, since paid platform ads are the future. Continue to provide valuable and evergreen content, but realize that you might need to set aside money to give it a “paid boost.” Don’t worry--we can help you strategize!

Matt Brady:

What do you believe will be the biggest trends in social media in 2017? 

In addition to what Doug and Sarah discussed, I think influencer marketing will continue to be important over the next year. Whether that means getting somebody with a large, relevant following to talk about your brand or making use of user generated content like review and recommendations, being able to leverage the power of influencers will be key to finding success in your social media strategy.

How will these trends be different from 2016?

This is really an extension of what was already important in 2016, but as the amount of content fighting for people's attention will continue to grow exponentially, being able to connect with your customers on a personal level will become even more crucial.

What strategies, tips, or best practices do you recommend brands follow to leverage social media trends in 2017?

Maintaining a personal touch when connecting with customers will continue to be incredibly important. Nobody wants to be treated like a number or spoken to by a robot, so using social media to find out what people are saying about you, answer their questions, and address their concerns will be essential.

We're definitely excited about what 2017 has in store in the world of social media and digital marketing. Do you have any predictions or strategies of your own that you want to share? Please feel free to leave a comment below.