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5 trends that will change social media in 2018

By: Lengow

Social media and online retail

In today’s connected world, online retail and social media are almost inseparable. It is widely known that having a good social media strategy can result in a higher conversion rate, but to benefit from this brands have to stay up to date with all the new social commerce trends.

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There is a whole range of options available to online retail brands who want to improve their presence on social media and therefore increase visibility and brand awareness. So what will we be seeing more of in the future?

1. Video equals higher chances of making a sale

Yes video has been around a long time, but its importance is only increasing. In fact, Cisco predicts that 80% of consumer internet traffic will be video by 2019. Video is considered rich content, i.e. content that requires engagement (pressing the play button, for example). Consumers make an active choice to watch a video, it requires commitment. This means that once they’ve started watching, you have higher chances of making a sale.

Included in video is live streaming. This is already a big hit in China, with Taobao and JD.com launching their own live streaming platforms where viewers can discover an item, put it in their basket, and buy it all on the same platform. China has hundreds of popular live streaming sites so it can be hard to choose which platform to use. Luckily in Europe, there are far fewer, with Facebook, Instagram and Youtube being the most popular.

The benefits of live streaming is that viewers are able to see brands’ products in use in real life and therefore, can easily picture how they themselves could use the product.

2. Disappearing content means exclusivity

Disappearing content refers to content that disappears after a set amount of time (usually 24 hours). This is normally in the form of a story on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. The time sensitive nature of this content is actually a advantage for brands in two ways.

Firstly, it creates a sense of exclusivity, not everyone will know about these exclusive deals, prompting those who do to act. And secondly, it creates a sense of urgency. When content disappears so quickly it prompts the consumer to act quickly to take advantage of whatever a brand is offering before it’s gone.

Another benefit for online retail brands is that these stories are almost all viewed on mobile, so when calls to action are included they send high quality traffic to their mobile apps or mobile optimised websites. Brands have been able to add links to their Instagram stories for some time and can now do the same on Snapchat stories with their new ‘context cards’. In both cases, to access the link the user just needs to swipe up on the story to be sent to the web page or app.

Additionally in Snapchat, users using sponsored lenses and geotags can also swipe up on them to find out more. With over 200 million monthly Instagram stories users and 150 million monthly Snapchat users, this is a great opportunity for brands to increase their awareness as well as their authenticity, building a brand image and personality in each of their posts.

3. Influencer marketing i.e. normal people

There’s no doubt that we are living in the age of the influencer, i.e. normal people who have racked up thousands if not millions of followers on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, etc. Popular among Millennials and Gen Z, partnering with these influencers can increase brand awareness in these desirable demographics.

Influencer marketing can be highly effective when you consider that 70% of teenage YouTube subscribers trust influencer opinions over traditional celebrities. Moreover, aligning themselves with a certain influencer can help brands’ images. Instead of having to align themselves with each individual consumer, they need only find an influencer who has the same values as them with an audience already in place who trusts them. Furthermore, as their audiences feel like they ‘know’ influencers, they are much more likely to engage with their content.

This engagement can also be used by brands to further increase their reach and as a way to benefit from word of mouth marketing, something that 92% of consumers say they trust more than any other type of advertising. As a bonus, influencer marketing also improves brands’ SEO as they generate higher quality traffic.

Originally, transparency was seen to be a problem with consumers not completely aware if something was branded content or not. However, with new features in place, such as Instagram’s ‘in paid partnership’ banner, this is no longer a big issue.

4. AR is just the beginning

AR (augmented reality) has exploded this year with the release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. We can therefore expect to see more and more AR integrated content especially on mobile. Snapchat was the first to harness the power of AR with their lenses, and have now progressed even further with collaborations with artists like Jeff Koons, to superimpose art into famous landscapes (Central Park, Buckingham Palace, etc).

Brands can also get in on the action by setting up their own lenses. So far, we have seen examples from Warner Bros. and Bud light, but with advertisers being able to target these ads to all kinds of demographics, and over 3 billion snaps being viewed a day, this is just the beginning.

Furthermore, more and more brands are incorporating the technology in their own apps. So far we have seen the likes of Ikea and Amazon offer this service to help consumers better visualise products in their own environments, and platforms like Meitu which let users virtually try on makeup before buying. Meitu has seen this strategy result in real sales. As an example, when they added a new lipstick to the platform, 13% of users who tried it on clicked on the purchase link in the app.

5. AI gives personality to your brand

Another budding acronym is AI (artificial intelligence). Chatbots have been increasing in popularity for some time now, with Messenger claiming to have over 100,000 monthly active bots on the platform. Brands are using these bots not only to help with customer service issues but also to give personality to all aspects of their brand. This has been a hit with  Millennials with 60% admitting to having used a bot already.

Furthermore, brands can adapt how they want their bot to act to their brand personality. Domino’s, for example, allows customers to order a pizza just by sending a pizza emoji to their chatbot, and H&M’s chatbot can build a whole outfit for a customer. Furthermore, AI can be used in other ways on social media, sending potential customers personalised messages, targeting your ideal demographic, for example.

This technology is only becoming more and more mature and therefore, will be able to solve increasingly complicated problems. 

In the continuously evolving landscape that is social media implementing the newest trends can set your online retail brand apart and encourage more interaction and loyalty from consumers.

 

By: Lengow

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