Insights: Checking in on Our 2018 Social Media Trends to Watch


TL;DR: We’ve passed the halfway mark of 2018 and we’re checking in on our 2018 Social Media Marketing Trends to Watch.

We’re halfway through 2018 and the social trend predictions we set forth at the beginning of the year have progressed at rapid rates.  Brands need to adapt and stay on top of these evolving social trends and keep their social strategy fresh. Let’s check in on our top social trends to watch in 2018 and see how they’ll continue to evolve throughout the year.

1. Data Privacy

Though we’re seeing many of our predictions coming to fruition, user privacy has risen unexpectedly as the buzziest word of 2018 and warrants a mention. An investigation from The New York Times, The Observer of London and The Guardian revealed how data firm Cambridge Analytica harvested data from tens of millions of Facebook users starting back in 2014 that was later used during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Shortly after, the new rules for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation rolled out, which forced many international social platforms as well as websites to update their privacy policies. These two events will continue to shape user privacy moving forward, putting more control back into individuals’ hands and better understanding of how and when their data is being used.

2. Stories Content Format

We predicted that the Stories sharing-format would continue to rise in popularity and boy were we right. Stories are now the most popular way users share content online. Facebook has recognized that their apps are becoming increasingly more Stories-centric and are adapting by constantly introducing new features.

Because of this shift from regular news feed sharing, Facebook is investing a lot more money behind the tool. Last month they introduced new third-party integrations with GoPro, Spotify and SoundCloud on Instagram Stories to keep users engaged. Much to creators and influencers delight, users are now able to share posts from their feed (or other users) to their Story (something they were already doing with screenshots to combat the algorithm).

While a majority of these changes are happening within Instagram, Facebook is now testing Story ads within its own platform after announcing 150 million daily users utilize the feature worldwide. Adding yet another avenue of revenue for the company.

The launch of IGTV will certainly change the kind of content we see in Stories, as users will most likely adapt some their Story-format content for the new app in longer-form.

With a lot more space to use these tools and features creatively, brands are going to have to adapt and stand out to cut through the clutter.  

These are a few of our favorite brands pushing creative boundaries on social through Stories.

3. Live-Streaming

Live-streaming has continued its popularity in the first half of  2018 with most platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, YouTube) having live video function. TechCrunch first reported that Facebook launched a live game show platform rivaling HQ Trivia in June. This is part of the trend to make online experiences healthier and less passive by adding more interactive features, especially in live-video content.

While the live-streaming content format is still prevalent and highly engaging among the top platforms, brands have the opportunity to explore marketing on non-traditional live-streaming apps like Twitch and, which are huge in the Gen Z demographic., the lip-syncing live-streaming app, has 200 million subscribers. While Twitch, a live-stream gaming platform, has 15 million daily users. Marketers would be missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with this tech-savvy demographic on these platforms as Gen Z is poised to become the largest consumer group in three years.


Learn more about how to engage with Gen Z here.

4. Artificial Intelligence

As far as artificial intelligence goes, 2017 was the year for chatbots, 2018 is shaping up to be the year for monitoring online abuse with the goal to make platforms a safer space for users. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have employed AI to detect hate speech, bullying and terrorism-related content. New technology out of University of Southern California is using AI on Twitter to predict when real-world protests have the potential to become violent.

AI is also breaking down language barriers: Facebook announced at F8 that it will rollout translations within Messenger, starting English and Spanish inside of Marketplace in the U.S. before it will rollout to other areas of Messenger in other languages and countries.

AI continues to be a huge topic of conversation in 2018 with brands and platforms finding new ways to streamline processes with the technology.

4. Augmented Reality

As predicted, augmented reality continues to surge in social after AR studios from Facebook and Snap opened up to creators. It’s no secret that Snap has been struggling to find its footing with the rapid popularity rise in Instagram Stories. But the platform still has a stronghold on the Gen Z and is gamifying to keep them hooked. Evolving from its famous (and sometimes infamous) face filters, Snapchat is now rolling out an AR selfie game called Snappables. To keep interest, new games are released each week.

After a splashy introduction to VR at F8 2017, Facebook announced Oculus Go: An affordable headset at $199. Facebook also rolled out a suite of new VR experiences with Oculus View.

The rise of CGI influencers has begged the question if new marketing tactic could eventually be adapted as it’s own standalone platform where users could create their own avatar and impose them in the real world. We’re watching this trend closely for the remainder of 2018.

6. Employee Advocates

We’ve seen a rise in companies using employee advocates as a marketing tactic in 2018. Brands like Macy’s are turning hundreds their employees into micro-influencers making them part of their “Style Crew” with custom video content and sponsored posts. Rewards are offered to incentivize the Style Crew to generate online sales through promotion on their own accounts. Utilizing those who already know your brand inside and out as brand ambassadors allows for more authentic and cost effective presence on social. Who better to tell your brand story than those who live and breathe it everyday.

At Sparkloft, we keep our fingers on the pulse to better understand how these key trends and emerging content formats change the social landscape and what it means for brands. We’ll continue to keep our eye on how these trends will continue to evolve for the rest of 2018.

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