5 Social Media Trends to be Aware of in 2016

As the midpoint of another decade passes, digital marketing heroes have yet another wave of social media trends to be aware of.

Should your team of marketing pros execute on everything on this list? Probably not.

Should you keep an eye on whether your closest competitors are stealing the wind from your cape online? You bet you should! If what you are doing isn’t working, your content is probably missing the mark, and you’ll need to pivot to a new strategy.

Here are five social media trends your company should have in your utility belt as soon as possible.

1.  High Quality Content

The age of creating as much content as possible, stuffing it with keywords and hoping it converts is long over. The ability to write a good story is separating the professionals from the wanna-bes. Your target audience has grown wary of click-bait posts. If there’s no payoff after the jump from your Facebook or Twitter link, your click through rates will plummet.

Make the financial or time commitment to either create authority content internally, or hire a freelancer with the gravitas to author it for you. Taking a gamble on alienating your target market and hiring a content mill to churn out blogs or ebooks for you will do more harm than good to your reputation.

Quality, long-form articles and meaningful whitepapers trumps “Content for content’s sake”.

2.  Realistic Levels of Social Media Automation

There have been a number of social media automation gaffes over the past several years. I’ve even made some myself, and learned from them. Some social media automation mistakes you don’t want to make include:

  • Automated replies which make it obvious you are “asleep at the wheel” of your online dashboard
  • Scheduled posts which can quickly change to a PR nightmare after a tragedy in local or global news
  • Batches of posts, then long periods of silence. Which make it obvious you aren’t tuned in to your audience
  • Only outward, promotional messages with no engagement. Like any great communication, a balance of listening and speaking are important
  • Posts on Twitter which exceed the allowed character length, so it’s obvious you’re either a Twitter noob or posting from off the site

Customers and prospects will understand if you schedule posts to share your most compelling, educational content. They won’t be as forgiving though if you don’t respond to their calls for help on channels like Facebook or Twitter. Social media may be digital, but a healthy measure of humanity is expected.

3. Visual Social Media

Images on Instagram, SnapChat and Pinterest have a powerful impact on B2C sales and marketing campaigns. The value of seeing a piece of clothing, home furnishings or other consumer products shouldn’t be ignored. Seeing a product in context to real life can be great for converting browsers to buyers.

Though internet memes and animated GIFs may not be everyone’s cup of tea, an amusing image with a familiar character. Clearly, it’s not easy being meme.

Aside from the image-first social channels mentioned above, photographs or professional graphics are emerging as an effective way to differentiate your message from the streams of text and hashtags. Just be cautious and don’t use photos without the proper license, attribution and/or permission to do so. Nothing is funny about a copyright lawsuit.

4. Video Content Marketing

YouTube is the 800 pound gorilla of the video content marketing world, however there have been a bunch of upstart contenders which have emerged to challenge.

  • Vine - 6 second videos for quick messages
  • Periscope - a forum for scheduled interactions with fans, followers and customers. Owned by Twitter, and provides a longer streaming experience than Vine
  • Meerkat - see Periscope, but with more flexibility to schedule posts, have a sharing URL, and once your conversation is completed, the file disappears.
  • Blab - Allows for a four way conversation, as opposed to a “one to many” experience with texts

The great things about Blab, Periscope and Meerkat is that they allow entrepreneurs and marketers to grab your webcam, or your smartphone, and host your own public broadcast. Human nature makes us jump at the chance to watch a video, instead of going the extra mile to read a long form piece of content.

It’s hard to tell who will emerge as the overall champ of the streaming video content tools. It might even be Google Hangouts which emerges as the most viable threat to YouTube’s video dominance.

5. Authenticated Blog Comments

There are many internet pundits who are calling for the end of blog and article post comments. They say that trolls and flame wars are ruining the spirit of community and respectful discussion which blog comments are supposed to stimulate. Of course there are also the dreaded spammers who ruin just about everything they touch with their scammy comments about dating sites and such.

Instead of doing away with blog comments entirely, many media hubs and blog driven sites are implementing applications like:

Internet trolls are a lot like Rumplestiltskin in the old fairy tale. When you figure out their name, they tend to disappear.

These are some of the social media trends your squad of digital marketing superheroes should be adding to your bag of tricks. Capture attention, engage your clients, and convert passive tire kickers into sharers of your content. You work hard to create imaginative, authoritative posts which drive traffic to your website.

Don’t be a passive bystander on social media in 2016 - get a running start, spin some compelling stories, and save your customers from the clutches of your competitors once and for all!

Have you noticed a social media trend for 2016 which we should have added to this article? Tell us about it in the comments, or let us know what content marketing goals you are looking to meet for the coming year!

About The Author: 

Mark Burdon is a technology professional based in Barrie, Ontario. He has worked in sales and marketing for companies including IBM, Open Text and most recently The Portal Connector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM ​.Mark has provided B2B content marketing services to companies including Intuit, HireVue, and gShift . He is a freelance writer with Cloudworker Solutions. Follow him on Twitter: @mark_burdon

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