The Social Lights 2018 Social Media Predictions


A lot happened in the past 12 months. Social media is responsible for far more than many would have ever imagined possible. From social commerce to augmented reality to political influence, social platforms were under the microscope in 2017.
As the calendar year winds down, headlines like “Social trends to watch in 2018” fill up Twitter feeds and inboxes, and for good reason. This is the perfect time to set imaginations loose on what could be in the world of social. After all, who a year ago would’ve predicted that advertisers would be using AR beer vendors to engage users on Snapchat?
We talked with the team, and predictions abounded. Check out this Slideshare deck for the The Social Lights’ 2018 predictions.

Before we jump into what could be, let’s first look back on the last 12 months.
Key themes from 2017.
Video: Video content continued its dominance in consumption metrics, and live video in particular thrived on social. Live videos were watched three times longer than traditional videos. All platforms made updates around the feature, and it’s clear that this train isn’t slowing down any time soon.
Practicing today to be perfect tomorrow: A number of emerging technologies stole the show in 2017. Pinterest’s Lens feature, Snapchat’s AR capabilities, and Facebook’s AI and chatbot applications all challenged marketers and brands to think outside of the box in leveraging platform innovations.
As advertisers and creators continue to gain access to these tools, it will be those who test early and often who will keep pace in the ever-evolving socialsphere.
Algorithms and Feed Curation: The social media feed has become an oversaturated content space in which it is impossible for users to keep up with what’s happening with all of their favorite follows. As a result, platforms are consistently updating algorithms to show users more of what they think users want to see.
The movement is as prevalent in paid content as it is in organic. The “you have to pay to play” sentiment has created an ever-growing supply of advertisements. Just as in organic, the more content created, the harder it is for people to consume said content, which means algorithms are brought in to determine relevance and competition, which drives up costs in CPM and CPE.
Now that we have some idea of where we’ve been. How about we turn our attention towards where we’re going?
Key Trends for 2018
Social CRM: As the adoption of social commerce practices grows, look for CRM-like touchpoint and retargeting strategies to build momentum. These strategies will help brands better track consumers’ interactions with posts, landing pages, advertisements, and more.
Live Content Series: In 2018, more brands will develop recurring, Live video content. These recurring episodes give fans a reason to return and stay for much longer than traditional video. For reference, live videos already average watch times triple that of regular videos. We’ve seen a lot of content series on YouTube (hey, recipe and beauty brands), but this will be the year brands adopt this practice on Facebook and Instagram.
Native Content Creation: Platforms know that “made for social” content outperforms a TV ad that is cut and pasted into a post. While marketers will start to recognize this, platforms will get ahead of the curve by introducing tools within the app to streamline this process. Additionally, these tools could help attract high-value users, as the better content UI’s will attract creators and influencers.
Visual Search + Targeting: Pinterest led the way in image recognition and visual search in 2017, with Snapchat opening the technology to advertisers to close out the year. While keyword-based search and targeting are today’s gold mines, the future is visual.
Virtual & Augmented Reality: Snapchat’s October announcement of AR advertising opportunities opened an untapped world of opportunity for marketers. Who will shine using the technology in 2018?
Hardware Push: Snap Inc. opened this conversation nearing its IPO, branding as a camera company. With that tagline, as well as Facebook’s successes in AI, could we see social media’s equivalent of Alexa, Google Home, and more in 2018?
Marketers looking to maintain an edge over the competition should keep these trends in mind for 2018. As quickly as technology evolves, social media is never far behind in applying the latest and greatest. Have trouble keeping up? No problem. We’re here to help. Add your name to our blog and email lists to get the most important social media updates delivered straight to your inbox.
Not interested? That’s cool, too. Good luck in 2018.

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Background on The Social Lights
The Social Lights® is a social-first agency headquartered in Minneapolis that partners with clients to grow their business through strategy development, creative production, media buying, and social media management. Current clients include General Mills, Ecolab, Cargill, Caribou Coffee, Kwik Trip, Polaris and Massage Envy. The Social Lights was founded in 2011 and is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise. Learn more at The Social Lights.

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