Social Media Trends to Watch for in 2016

As social media continues to evolve at an exponential rate and play an increasingly important role in how brands communicate with consumers, it’s vital to consider upcoming trends and how to incorporate them into your overarching campaign strategies. Here are five social media trends to look forward to in 2016:

1. The Importance of Customer Service

In 2012, it was predicted that within the matter of a few years, organizations that refused to communicate with customers on social media would face the same level of customer rage and dissatisfaction as those who ignored emails and phone calls. Four years later, and this predication couldn’t be more accurate; social media has forever changed the customer service landscape.

In fact, according to a 2014 report, companies that provide quality customer service via social channels receive fewer complaints and retain customers longer, and more than 70 percent of those whose who encounter a positive experience on social are likely to recommend that brand to others.

The idea is really quite simple: brands need to move their customer service to channels their consumers are using, and with more than 2 billion people (and growing 25 percent each year) accessing social media channels daily, it’s easy to see where those consumers are. In 2016, expect to see brands dedicate more effort than ever to social media customer service.

Some brands such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Nike are ahead of the curve.

 
 

KLM Airlines boasts an average response rate of one hour and helps customers book/change flights, check-in, choose seats, order a meal and more, all via social.

 
 

The Nike Support Twitter account is solely dedicated to providing 24/7 customer service in 7 languages.

2. The Continuous Decline of Organic Reach

Since its launch in 2007, Facebook’s Pages have offered brands a free online tool with which to connect with customers; however, over the course of the past year, organic (i.e., unpaid) reach has diminished significantly.

These algorithm updates apply across the platform and are attributed to Facebook’s monetization strategy. Moreover, it doesn’t matter if you are a major brand with millions of followers and millions more in ad budget or a small business that has depended for years on Facebook to connect with your customers. Moving forward, Facebook will be a pay-to-play game.

In other words, the “build it, and they will come” strategy is long gone. In 2016, expect brands to dedicate more focus (and budget) toward strategic social media ad buys and campaigns.

3. The Increase of High-Production Content

It’s no secret to digital marketers that content is king, but what is changing are the types of content being shared. From high-production videos and GIFs to cinematography and parallax photography, expect brands to embrace visual storytelling in 2016 by creating innovative, interactive, high-quality content. Here are a few brands setting the bar:

4. The Sophistication of Influencer Marketing

More than ever, consumers are turning to fellow consumers and favorite online personalities to inform purchasing decisions. Consequently, more brands are seeking out these influencers to share their brand story.

In a May 2015 study by Schlesinger Associates for Augure, 84 percent of marketing and communication professionals worldwide said they planned to launch at least one program involving influencers in the next 12 months. Likewise, a study by Tomoson shows that nearly 60 percent of marketers are planning to increase their influencer marketing budget over the next 12 months.

As the demand grows for influencers, the demand from influencers also increases, which means we’re going to see more brands leveraging the power of influencers, with a more sophisticated management process in place, and a higher price tag for results.

5. The Rise of Dark Social

Also known as online sharing, dark social gives consumers the ability to share text, images and links selectively with intimate social networks. Think Snapchat and Google Chat.

According to a recent study, 59 percent of all online sharing is via dark social, and 91 percent of Americans regularly share information via dark social channels. Throughout 2015, the percentage of content shared through dark social continued to rise at an exponential rate, and that trend isn’t expected to diminish. Moving forward, brands will need to focus on harnessing dark social to complement existing strategies.