If 2015 was the year marketers realized they could no longer ignore social media, then 2016 will be year they wonder if they should ever go anywhere else. With a score of changes to platforms affecting how users interact, it is apparent that the “Hotel California” effect is changing the social media game. What exactly does that mean? As described by Ad Age, “increasingly, social networks are becoming Hotel Californias — closed systems where you can check out, but you can never leave.”
Last year, we took note of this emerging social media trend; seeing platforms make every attempt keep users on-site and in-app. This is becoming especially apparent with recent additions to messaging and in-app eCommerce. In short, social media channels are recognizing the importance of holding onto traffic for as long as possible.
In tandem with the changes in social behavior, this year’s mobile-first, desktop-second mentality will make apps a digital norm for consumers. Last year saw significant increases in app usage and big changes in the way apps are treated in search results. The outcome of this shift in behavior? 2016 is primed for mobile apps and social platforms to become primary vehicles for brand content and user engagement.
Emerging social media trends
1.Social News is growing.
Snapchat’s Discover feed and geofilters serve relevant news and events to users at the micro-moment level. For marketers with big budgets looking to tap into the favored millennial messaging app, Snapchat is the new TV.
Facebook’s Instant Articles allows publisher stories to be viewed within the Facebook app (queue the publishing turf wars). For publishers, access to user data and the ability to sell ad space within articles creates incentive to keep readers in the newsfeed.
2. App Messaging is evolving.
Facebook’s Messenger for Business, released in March 2015, enables page managers to communicate with fans instantly.This form of instant customer-to-business communication indicates a consumer trend pushing for more immediate, text-based communication. Brands like Hyatt, KLM, and Uber have already taken note.
Rumors of extended voice and video chat capabilities within Snapchat indicate further maturity of app communication. Should Snapchat rollout the extended chat features, marketers could take advantage of a brand new face-to-face customer service model.
3. New forms of In-App Lead GENERATION are coming.
Facebook’s in-app mobile lead ads have effectively created a native sign-up flow that enables users to convert in two clicks, without ever having to leave Facebook. It also decreases the length of the path to conversion – a big plus for marketers. Facebook recently announced new features for lead ads, indicating a focus on the ad type.
4. Further integration between Social and SEO.
Facebook is quietly rolling out a local business and home service directory to possibly compete against Yelp or Home Advisor. Currently only available on the desktop version of the site, Facebook Services further indicates the company’s push to be the internet hub. While not fully operational, Services could present new SEO opportunities and additional digital ad inventory for marketers to take advantage of.
looking ahead at social media
To stay ahead in 2016, it will be essential to start looking at social networks as semi-closed ecosystems where customers can shop and buy products, find and review businesses, and seek help from customer service representatives. Successful social strategies should not only be in-app first and built around your target audience, but be nimble enough to account for shifts in user behavior.