When looking to use social media as a tool for marketing, either personally or for a business, it’s important to be aware of current trends and best practices, as well as emerging features that will become popular in the future. After conducting research on social media trends in 2017 and beyond, we found a number of insights that can benefit any brand, whether it is new to social media or has already has a developed presence.

One fact that seems to be certain is that video is king when it comes to content creation, being ranked higher than both text and photo content by consumers. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have both released “Live” video options in the past year, which has the opportunity to be used as a way to interact directly with viewers. Ideas such as creating video blogs educating viewers on an industry, or hosting Q&A sessions where viewers can send in questions live, both have the potential to benefit businesses that are hoping to increase engagement with their followers. In order to maximize effectiveness of a video post or live stream, make sure to draw viewers in with an interesting opening, and to consider the purpose of your video, whether it’s educational, promotional, or simply entertaining.

The use of employee advocacy is becoming increasingly popular as a way for businesses to promote themselves in a more organic way. Examples of this include creating a separate Instagram account where employees are able to post personal pictures while still using the company name, or creating a branded company hashtag that employees can regularly use when posting on their personal accounts. Some companies are even taking this a step farther by sending out regular pre-approved posts that employees can simply click on to share automatically. Regardless of whether the posts are spontaneous or pre-approved, it’s important that employees are voluntarily posting and that posts don’t seem forced or overly sponsored. If done correctly, employees can be a great resource for promoting a brand, increasing brand reach, and showing a different side of a company.

As social media platforms compete with one another, they begin to adopt each other’s features in a process of consolidation. Whereas “disappearing stories” and augmented reality used to be a feature exclusive to Snapchat, these options are now available on both Instagram and Facebook, and almost all platforms have now adopted some form of video creation. Additionally, Facebook is now considered a competitor of Google, as it’s often users’ go-to place to search for information, rather than a traditional search engine. Therefore, brands must be cautious of which features they use on each platform to avoid standardization and increased annoyance among users. Brands should consider, for example, whether their “stories” should be posted on Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook, depending on their audience on each platform and the goals of their posts. By avoiding posting the same type of content on multiple channels, brands can avoid over saturating their viewers and can optimize interest and engagement.

Video dominance, employee advocacy, and consolidation of platforms are three trends that don’t seem to be going anywhere soon, and therefore it’s important for brands to consider how to best implement these trends into their current social media strategy. By consider ideas such as hosting live Q&A sessions, creating branded employee hashtags, or avoiding standardization across platforms, brands will be able to stay on the cutting edge of social media marketing and ultimately increase engagement both internally and externally.

B/T Prep Authors
Authors (from left to right)

Meghan Keyes, Duquesne University, 2021
Claire Sauter, St. John Fisher College, 2018
Samantha Boyd, American University, 2019
Edan Michener, Syracuse University, 2019

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