There’s no denying that 2017 was an eventful year, partly due to the way everyone flocked to social media to share their thoughts on everything from Trump’s inauguration to the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. 2017 was also a huge year for the way brands interacted with audiences through social media. With plenty of changing algorithms on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to keep us all on our toes, and with the controversial introduction of Twitter’s 280-character tweets, it was certainly an exciting year for all things social.
You might be wondering, how on earth can social media activity in 2018 top last year? Never fear! We’ve prepared a list of the top trends that we think will dominate in 2018.
Engage, Engage, Engage
All of the social media trends that we are about to delve into have one thing in common: engagement. That’s right, 2018 will be all about increasing engagement rates between brands and audiences on social media. Late 2017 and early 2018 have already seen changing algorithms across social platforms, which work to only show users content they will want to engage with. So while you’re planning your social media strategy for the year ahead, keep the word ‘engagement’ at the forefront of your mind.
Video Content & Live Streaming
If anything is going to define 2018 in terms of social media, it’s video. Changes to the Facebook algorithm in late 2017 made it clear to brands that the platform would favour video content above all else, with audiences engaging much more with videos than with any other form of content. According to Smart Insights, 90% of content shared online in 2017 was video. However, if this trend is set to continue then brands will need to focus on making high quality videos that are very relevant to their audience, otherwise they’ll go elsewhere for their content. As an affiliate, you should definitely invest some time into creating good quality video content for your social channels if you want to see an increase in sales.
Here at MoreNiche, we’ve increased our use of short video animations to promote our brands on Facebook. These animations produce a much higher reach, both to organic and paid traffic, than a plain image. For example, below you can see a screenshot of a CrazyBulk video that was published in January 2018. This is a video of one of our athletes, Christopher Tripp, answering some bodybuilding related questions. We could have sent this in a blog format for our audience to read, but we found that by creating this high-quality video, our audience was much more engaged and, as you can see, the video received a lot of views.
And it’s not just normal video content that is going to see a huge boost in 2018. 2017 saw the growth of live video streaming via platforms such as Facebook Live and Instagram Live. This trend looks set to continue into 2018 as a way to catch your audience’s attention and interact with them on a more personal level. In January 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced that changes would be made to the Facebook algorithm to ensure that the time its users spent on the channel would be valuable, rather than them being bombarded with organic and paid posts from brands. According to Forbes, 82% of people would prefer to see a live video than a written social media post from a brand. So, it looks like we will be seeing a huge increase in brands using live videos across their social media channels as a way to develop a personal relationship and engage with their audiences.
Here at MoreNiche, we have already jumped on the live video bandwagon. Throughout 2017 we produced several live videos via Facebook Live to generate enthusiasm for the MoreNiche brands amongst affiliates. We broadcast them to the members of our Affiliate Lounge on Facebook, and at the end of each video we held a live Q&A session with our affiliates. This really helped to increase general awareness around the brands on offer to our affiliates, and it also helped get our affiliates more engaged with our Facebook group. For inspiration on creating great Facebook Live content, check out our previous Blackwolf and Marine Muscle videos.
Let’s not lie, we could all spend hours flicking through Snapchat and Instagram stories. Brands have definitely caught on to this trend, with more and more brands choosing to publish ephemeral content on these platforms. You might be asking yourself, why should I start doing this? Well, publishing short-lived content on socials creates a sense of urgency for your audience to watch it and interact with your brand. For example, a post on Facebook of an exclusive product-related piece of news can stay there for an infinite amount of time, and won’t generate a feeling of needing to read it straight away. On the other hand, an Instagram story that only lasts twenty four hours will make your audience want to soak it all up in the little time that it’s online, thus creating a need to engage immediately. Plus, Instagram stories promoting your product can easily link to your affiliate site, leading to much more social traffic and better sales for you.
Within this new trend comes the use of augmented reality. This really developed over 2017, with brands using Snapchat and Instagram to provide their users with the opportunity to get up, close and personal with their products or services using animated augmented reality. Whilst this is costly, it is hugely beneficial for brands using it because it creates a much more personal relationship between the brand and the customer. It also helps to build up the brand identity, something that is crucial for affiliate marketers. In just a few years, this could become a much more accessible and affordable marketing strategy for smaller, niche brands.
2017 saw a huge increase in the use of chatbots, particularly by millennials, with 60% of them having already used chatbots to communicate with brands over social media. Heading further into 2018, it looks like we’re going to see plenty of brands using customised chatbots to increase their presence and productivity on social media.
Using chatbots to communicate with your audience has several benefits. Firstly, this new technology allows brands to customise their chatbots with a certain tone of voice so that all communication remains on-brand and relevant to the customer. This is particularly beneficial for those of you promoting more than one MoreNiche brand, because each brand carries a different personality that needs to come across on social media. Secondly, chatbots are brilliant for increasing online organisation and productivity. If your social channels receive a lot of messages on a daily basis, using chatbots could free up a lot of time for you to improve your online content and communication. For example, customised chatbots can respond to customers requesting product information, take online orders and resolve specific customer problems that would normally take up a large chunk of your working day.
With more and more people turning to social media to communicate with brands, it looks like the use of chatbots is only going to grow and become more sophisticated as the technology develops. So, if you’re an affiliate promoting multiple MoreNiche brands, you should check it out! If you want to know where to get started with setting up chatbots, there are some great online tools to help you such as ManyChat, one that we highly recommend. Although most chatbot builders have free starter packs, you normally have to pay for more advanced packages. However, we think it’s worth paying to see an improvement in the communication and engagement with your audience on social channels.
2018 is going to see a big focus on influencer marketing. People want to be able to relate to the products they’re seeing on social media, and what better way to do that than by using real people to promote them? Here at MoreNiche you’ve probably seen that we have brand ambassadors for several of our brands, such as CrazyBulk and Blackwolf. If you want to find out more about them, check out this blog post.
The benefits of using influencer marketing for your brand are two-fold: you receive images from ambassadors that you can use to promote your product, rather than relying on stock images, and you build a more trusting relationship with your social followers. Your influencers also reap the benefits of this new style of marketing, by using their images on your brand’s socials, you’re helping to promote them, as well as providing them with free or discounted products. In regards to the MoreNiche brands, the products your ambassadors receive for promotion are likely to improve their quality of life, whether it’s their fitness, weight, or general health. So, using influencer marketing is doubly beneficial!
Of course, knowing where to start looking for social media influencers can be a big problem, as there are a lot of them out there! If you’re really lucky, they will find you and get in contact. However, for the majority of brands, the easiest way to get into influencer marketing is by using sites such as Influence.Co and Tribe. Essentially, these are large data bases of social influencers looking to promote products. Why not have a look around these websites and start looking for some dedicated influencers to promote your brand?
So, there you have it! It looks like 2018 will be a brilliant year for affiliates on social media, with plenty of opportunities to engage with your audiences. If 2017 was anything to go by, 2018 is likely to be an eventful year, with lots of changes on social media as technology develops. We definitely recommend looking into these trends to see how you can use them to improve your online content. Try to take full advantage of any free time you have to brush up on your social media skills, research new tools and start producing regular, high-quality video content for your audiences to engage with.