Smoking Gun PR’s Social Media predictions for 2017

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This month our Manchester PR agency blog is all about brand improvement. And by that we mean sharing our expertise, knowledge, and soothsaying abilities with you, our lovely, beautiful, precious readers.
So far we have cast an eye into the future and made some educated guesses as to what the coming year has in store on the consumer front– from individualism to minor influencers- and given you the lowdown on the six of the most effective types of Facebook post. Continuing in the same vein, and taking the mantel from the last piece, we’re sticking on social media, and what 2017 has in store in the fast moving world of online networking and community building.
Needless to say, it’s going to be another big one. Here’s the scoop.
[Tweet “@SmokingGunPR reveals what we can expect from #socialmedia this year”]
Video will still rule (obvs), and live video is top of the pile 
Everyone who knows anything has been banging on for ages about the value of great motion picture content for social media marketing, but amazingly in 2016 apparently only 14% of UK marketers actually bothered experimenting with this format. Or, in other words, if you did, you beat 86% of your rivals.
Nice work.
According to figures published by Social Media Examiner, 43% are looking to use interactive video this year- so that means annotated clips with clickable links built in. Definitely something worth considering.
Periscope has also been continuing to grow in popularity. The mini-movie platform now claims a staggering 110 years of views per day, which is enough to make your mind start to melt. And, in other news, New Year’s Eve 2016-17 saw record numbers of Facebook Live streams, no doubt thanks in part to the fact the music industry is now near-obsessed with ‘going live’. U.S. Eastern, Central, Mexico and Western/Central Europe were the biggest advocates. Put simply then, if you’re filming, film it live.
360-degrees 
It’s also vital not to simply focus on one type of live feed this year. Hubspot points to the number of companies and brands that are splitting live coverage over multiple platforms- for example live tweeting in conjunction with live video on Facebook, ensuring you capture the biggest audience.
The point being people have networks of choice, secondary faves, and others they barely go near- time isn’t exactly in abundance these days. Add to this the fact that when you’re using three platforms, for example, and exploiting what makes each unique, you can offer some truly compelling content. So why not live tweet the debate with Instagram photos of the biggest names in attendance, and live streamed interviews from back stage?
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Messenger will become a business tool (and advertising platform-proper)
Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SnapChat and other messenger services will become standard practice for customer service amongst the most innovative and forward-thinking brands. Hyatt already offers 24 hour support via Facebook Messenger, which is just one example whereby these stand alone apps are being brought under the core social umbrella.
Messenger platforms are also set to exponentially grow in popularity amongst advertisers, too. Rolled out late in 2016, Facebook Messenger bots can not be turned into ad bots by brands using developer packs, although there are some limitations in doing this- currently, only one link and one image can be used in the outbound message, and there is no way of running direct ads across Facebook and Instagram simultaneously, which is an option when opting for a traditional ad on either network. Still, it’s a sign of things to come, or rather things that are already here and bound to get bigger.
[Tweet “@SmokingGunPR on #socialmedia trends for 2017- including messenger ads “]
Social media ecommerce will finally get here
This has been coming for a while, and yet is still proving hard to crack. Facebook’s Marketplace launched last year, but wound up being a veritable disaster as people posted everything from toddlers to high grade cannabis strains on the platform Mark Zuckerberg hopes can eventually rival eBay. Nevertheless, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and more are all taking their market trading potential very seriously, with some already doing it very well. Any new concept and trend takes time to become the norm, and we’re expecting this year to be the tipping point on this front.
Social budgets must increase 
This is another point that has been emerging for years, but shows no sign of changing. Remember the days when all you needed to successfully market you and yours on socials was a profile? Well, forget about those- times have changed almost beyond recognition. Organic reach has never been lower, and as the big guns look to increase profitability we’re not expecting anyone to buck that trend. The point being, if you’re going to do social media marketing, expect to pay properly for the luxury.
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Expiring content 
Brandwatch’s own ‘Social Media Trends 2017’ was actually published in 2016, but has some truly future-first ideas. One of which is the rise of expiring content. Just as messages on Snapchat disappear once they have been read, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp have also been experimenting with this concept by hosting impermanent content for brands. It sounds crazy, it kind of is, but crazy often sells.
AR and VR
Augmented and Virtual Reality blah blah blah, heard it before, you might say. And you will have done, but that doesn’t mean we’re not right for including these two similar but very different technologies in our breakdown here. Pokemon Go, albeit a short-lived fad that saw adults humiliate themselves and Berlin’s Holocaust Museum beg to be removed from the locations list, realised a prospect filled with possibilities- apps that merge the real and virtual worlds, through the power of mobile. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this can be done with relative ease on major social platforms, too, so watch this space.
[Tweet “#AR, #VR and Chatbots are amongst the tech trends for #socialmedia this year @SmokingGunPR”]
Chatbots 
Artificial Intelligence has been around for ages, in fact we were blogging about how everyday synthetic minds had become almost 12 months ago, and even then it wasn’t the newest tech on the block. That said, we’re only just seeing the emergence of truly effective AI personal assistants like Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant; and this is still only the beginning.
Brands understand that automated support should go well beyond standardised responses and pre-determined scripts, and those at the cutting edge know that this is truly possible in the current era. The point being, this year you’ll get very used to speaking rather than typing to machines on Twitter, Facebook and Google Allo. Better yet, there’s no need to panic about Judgement Day either- these robots are genuinely here to help.
 

Looking for more advice on PR, social media, and marketing? Why not get in contact or submit a brief to inject a little ingeniousness into your brand.

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[Tweet “In-depth insights into 2017’s biggest #socialmedia trends thanks to #Manchester experts @SmokingGunPR”]