It's that time of year where everyone is making "bold" and "shocking" predictions about changes and expectations for social media marketing in 2016. I'm not here to do that.
First of all, I hate making "predictions". Yes, I participate in some of these round up posts out there listing a group of experts' predictions. But, in general, I'm not one to "predict" the future.
Instead, I like to look at what is trending, what is currently affecting the industry, and then make calculated determinations about a possible trajectory forward. Ok, simply put, I'm safely guessing. 😉
I don't think any of us can really predict what 2016 will hold. Some freakishly awesome new platform could pop up. Or one of the major players could experience a drastic drop in popularity. Or everything could maintain the status quo. We really just don't know.
But.... with that being said, here are the main things I see continuing or changing in the coming year.
Be Prepared to Invest
You will have to invest more time and more money into social media marketing in 2016.
There's no way around it.
Whether it's finally paying for ads, or adding more to your ad budget, or hiring someone to help you manage your social media, or investing in more training for yourself - you WILL be investing more in 2016.
We've reached the day and age where you can't ignore social media for your business. So, whether you're starting out, catching up, or plan to significantly grow your current strategy, it's going to take time and money this year.
Start thinking about this and start budgeting for it. You'll thank me later.
Transparency and authenticity have always been major aspects of social media. It's allowed businesses, celebrities, politicians, non-profits, and everyone else to connect with their audience and grow in unprecedented ways.
This will only continue to be even more true in 2016.
Are there unexpected delays? Are you working on new products or services? How are you helping your community this year? These are all things your audience wants to know.
Your customers want to see you. See your face. See your company. Understand the values behind your company. Watch you own up to mistakes. Share your learned lessons. Offer help. Talk to you.
That's why they're here! That's what you need to give them. Open up and be more transparent!
In addition to being more transparent, you can expect to handle more customer service issues via social media.
I've heard a recent story about how after a whole flight was cancelled and the entire plane-load of passengers waited in line at the ticketing booth, while one savvy flyer tweeted the airline and had himself rebooked immediately - without hassle!
Get ready. Whatever your potential customer service issues are, they are going to be coming via social media. It could be Facebook messages, it could be tweets, it could be @ mentions in a rant or complaint. Or - hopefully - a positive comment! But either way, you will hear about it on social media and you will be expected to respond.
I can personally vouch that when I reach out to a company or @ mention them and they don't respond, it is noticed and makes me think twice about that company.
Better Visual Content
Let's face it "visual marketing" has been the biggest prediction in social media every year. Do it. Do more of it. Try different types of visual content. Yada yada yada!
But, it's true. And it's not going anywhere.
So, this year, you will need to create BETTER visual content. Gone are the days of slapping together a quick graphic or posting a photo taken in poor lighting. Nope. You need to seriously up your game this year.
It's an intensely saturated market and "just another" photo ain't gonna cut it. You won't cut through the noise and you won't appeal to your audience.
Start planning strategically when it comes to your visual content this year. Literally put time on your calendar to shoot photos and videos or design graphics. I'm that serious!
Ugh, I know. The same thing we keep hearing - it's all about videos.
But, you know what? It is all about videos.
Videos are dominating. You literally can't look at Facebook anymore without scrolling past more videos than text and photo updates. If you want to get seen, you need videos.
And, videos take the whole transparency and customer service thing to a whole new level. So if you get clever with your video marketing, you can tackle multiple "trends" for 2016 in one! 😉
And, yes, even I - who really doesn't like videos (watching or making them) - am planning to add videos to my 2016 strategy...
The idea of live streaming blew up in 2015 and it's only going to get bigger and broader in 2016.
It takes video, transparency, customer service, and authenticity to a seriously whole new level! So get on board. Or be left behind.
If you can't do your own live streaming, consider being interviewed by someone who has a well-developed audience or platform. Whatever it takes, get out there, try it, and use it to your advantage to connect with and grow your audience.
A couple popular tools came into play in 2015 in regards to live streaming. I honestly don't know if they'll survive past 2016, being overtaken by a new one or one an existing one. Or they may explode that much further, putting current major players (like Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram) in jeopardy. I just don't know. But I do know that live streaming will impact your life and your business in ways you never knew possible.
More Controls, Oversight, and Rules
I think we can all agree that the "rules" of social media have significantly lagged behind the growth of social media. Government agencies can't update laws and legislation fast enough. Platform rules are challenged and deemed insufficient almost as quickly as they're drafted.
Conferences and paid events now have to deal with live streaming - for free - to the mass population, jeopardizing their ticket sales and protected content.
Contests and giveaways run the risk of being considered illegal gambling.
Sharing someone's pretty picture can get you sued.
It's an extremely complicated world with little precedent to learn from and such rapid growth that precedent is antiquated anyways.
So, I highly expect there to be more lawyers, laws, rules, legislation, litigation, and business resources dedicated to the proper management and oversight of social media marketing. Just because you did it in the past, or because everyone else is doing it... this won't cut it anymore. You're going to have to get smart to the rules and start abiding by them. BUT this is going to make it more fair for all involved and I'm looking forward to some better control and guidance.
So, there you have it.
My list of what you can expect to see in social media marketing in 2016.
What do you think? Did I miss something that you think will be significant this year? Or do you disagree with something I foresee? I'd love to hear your comments below!