Let's get the credibility stuff out of the way: I know social media. I know it because I don't just preach about it, and share posts like, "Be engaging! Tell your story!" There is an art to using social media the right way, and I've done so for big brands and small brands, personal brands and e-commerce brands. I've built multiple six-figure income streams through social media. I've helped people become famous in their respective markets on social media. And I've written over 200 full-length pieces of content online explaining best practices, strategies, growth hacks, and more.
With 2016 coming to a conclusion, I am going to make a few predictions about the current state of social media and what to expect in 2017.
Over the past few years, we have watched one of the wildest transitions in media happen. People forget that just five years ago, we didn't give much clout to how many "followers" you had on a social-media platform. In fact, to many people, the thought that over 100,000 people were "following" someone online was weird. It prompted head scratching and confusion, rather than instant respect and validation (as it does now). It has only been recently that your follower count and status on various social platforms is seen as an accurate representation of your "value."
Within this storm of change, we've watched brands pay obscene amounts of money to have e-famous teenagers subtly mention their products in Facebook posts and tweets, Vine (R.I.P.) videos and Instagram photos. And the most astounding part? As effective and groundbreaking as digital has become for big brands, a lot of them still put the majority of their budgets into old school avenues like television and print.
It is utterly mind-blowing to me that big brands that are in such obvious positions to succeed are still allocating their budgets the same way they were over 10 years ago. No one's primary budget should be spent on TV or print. Because here's a story: Family finished Thanksgiving dinner. We all went into the living room to watch something on TV together. Do you know what my mom was doing while your commercial was running? Checking Facebook. On her phone.
Let's get into the predictions:
1. Big brands are going to feel the heat to start using video better.
There is a big difference between "allocating money for Facebook video ads" and actually doing video content the right way.
Do you know where most brands fail with content budget allocation? Of their content budget, they use 10 percent of it toward creating the content and 90 percent of it boosting the sub-par content they made. Brands, you need to flip that equation. Spend 90 percent of your dollars creating something incredibly amazing, and 10 percent boosting it or turning it into an ad. Something that is already great will market itself.
This is going to be the year when big, established brands are really going to start feeling the heat. And it's going to come from all the little competitors who decided to take big risks with their video content.
2. Your FB feed is about to be ruined by banner-branded videos.
If you haven't noticed, Facebook is all video content now. And worse, it's video content with banners that say, "Omg savage AF but ending so lit lolol."
...Which you watch. In full.
This is going to continue. If you want to make bite-sized candy content, adopt this style. It's trendy. It works. It's the current "clickbait for video." So you might as well hop on board.
3. Brands will spend more on social-media advertising, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will be any more effective.
Here's an interesting stat: In a recent survey, only 3 percent of CMOs reported social media contributing "very highly" to performance -- and yet social-media ad spends are set to double from 10 percent of today's marketing budgets to 20 percent by 2021.
So, if budgets for social-media advertising are going up, shouldn't performance be going up as well?
The truth is, the vast majority of "social-media agencies" out there have absolutely no idea what they're doing. They mistake having the human capacity for clicking on Facebook, clicking "post," and responding, "Yay! We love you too, Karen!" in the comments as effective social-media marketing.
There are brands with massive budgets that fail at social media, and there are small brands with barely any budget that crush it on social media.
Social is a tool. It's not enough to just "do" it. It's about mastering it. (And yes, if you want help,shoot me a message. At the bare minimum, I can refer you to some people who actually know what they're doing.)
4. Instagram and Snapchat will begin to separate into different spaces.
This past year, we watched these two power platforms go head-to-head with new features.
In 2017, I predict we will see them each forge a space of their own.
Snapchat recently rebranded itself asSnap Inc. In addition, the company also clarified that it is "a camera company," and not just a singular app.
This is a nod toward what I believe will be their long-term play. Combine that with their recent release of Spectacles, and it will be interesting to see what Instagram chooses to do in return.
As of right now, I struggle to see the benefit of being on both platforms. The similarities make it hard to justify -- especially considering how closed of a network Snapchat is. Hopefully Snapchat can continue finding new ways to reinvent itself so that it doesn't feel like an "indie" version of Instagram.
(Although I'll give Snapchat a win here for doing things Twitter should have done years ago.)
5. Twitter is going to find its pivot.
I really don't think there are many years left in Twitter, based on its current state.
I predict that, in 2017, one of two things happens. Either Twitter finally gets a hold on what its "unique value" is to users, and goes all-in to capitalize on that realization, or...
...they get bought out.
There were rumors of a purchase by Google this past year, but those have since been quieted. Still, it raises an interesting exit strategy for Twitter, considering its current situation.
The one thing I keep going back and forth on is the fact that Twitter is embedded in mainstream media, right beside Facebook. I don't believe it will collapse, by any means, but it is certainly in need of a pivot.
6. LinkedIn will become a power-player by end of 2017.
The massivepurchase by Microsoft this past year for $26.2 billion (with a B) certainly raised some eyebrows -- mine included.
But within certain industries, especially B2B, there are few platforms as effective as LinkedIn. If you were marketing spine products to hospitals, for example, you probably wouldn't see much of a return on Twitter or Instagram.
The issue I have always had with LinkedIn is that its user interface (UI) and user experience design (UX) are horrific. It is, bar none, the worst social platform out there to navigate.
I don't think this is going to happen first or second or even third quarter of 2017, but near the end of this next year I believe we will start to see Microsoft's true intentions with the platform unfold -- for better or worse.
For all the companies out there in outdated industries with audiences that don't frequent the "popular" platforms, I hope so. LinkedIn can be a powerful tool.
7. Collaborations will become a core part of every content strategy.
If you are looking to grow your social-media fan base, and you aren't actively collaborating with people, you are making a huge, huge mistake.
Collaboration is the fastest way to grow. Period.
Seriously, go find five to 10 influencers in your market who are also in your city, and make it a point to meet up once a week to co-create content together.
You will all grow faster. You will all create better and better content. You will all benefit.
Why people don't do this is very confusing to me. This is the same logic I have with suggesting that people start a blog last, not first. Why post content somewhere no one knows about? There are tons of platforms with millions of users where you can post content and get immediate feedback. Start there.
The same goes for collaboration. You can either create content by yourself -- or you can create content with someone else, who has his or her own following, and you can both trade followings and double your exposure. Win/win.
Long time coming, but I think people are finally starting to get this concept.
8. The true value of amazing copywriting will reveal itself.
Doesn't matter if we're talking about scripting video content, or the actual writing of high-quality blog content, or even the copy that goes into a long-winded Facebook post paired with a Call to Action.
Copywriting can move mice (and make them click).
You know the difference between bad copywriting and good copywriting. And the good stuff makes you want to buy things. Or enter your email. Or sign up. Or whatever you're being asked to do.
A lot of companies skimp of good copywriting. They think that "words" are enough. (These are also the same companies and brands that think just getting a post up on a social-media platform is a win. It's not.)
Great copywriters are hard to come by, but they are worth the investment. Why? Because they are the ones who take your story and tell it in such a way that your audience wants more of it.
9. Influencer marketing spends are going to go up.
However, just like the above stat about social-media effectiveness, I also believe that, while more and more brands are going to hop on the influencer train, that doesn't necessarily mean they will all succeed.
This isn't an influencer issue -- this is a marketing issue.
Brands, companies, startups, everyone is so quick to say, "Just tell everyone to buy it and they'll buy it."
Consumers are smart. Consumer behavior has changed. Consumers need to be won over -- and they aren't won over by an influencer taking a photo of your branded shaker cup with the caption, "Omg, couldn't live without this! Link in bio!"
Really great influencer marketing is so subtle that you barely notice it -- and yet you love it.
Want to know who crushes influencer marketing? That whole group of Vine stars out of L.A. who have since become kings and queens of brand sponsorships. They have spoken at length about how they approach each campaign, and they are prime examples of how to do things the right way.
Just like everything else with marketing, it's not that "influencer partnerships" are the be-all-cure-all. But they have a lot of potential, when done right.
10. Mobile everything.
This is a given, but worth saying again.
Mobile. Mobile. Mobile.
Mobile responsive. Mobile ads.
If it's not optimized for mobile, you're doomed from the start.