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4th January 2018

A very social Christmas… what’s in store

for 2018?

‘We’re the last generation who’ll use Facebook’, my 16-year-old nephew tells me on Boxing Day… as his mum does a bungee jump in her VR headset.

In the background my dad, 61, is talking to Alexa, asking her the football scores (even though he has Sky Sports rolling on the TV in the background). My boyfriend is laughing at Snapchats from his mates and my mum asks me, ‘Have you just tagged me in that picture? I look awful!’.

So, if 2017 was the year that every generation embraced social media, what lies in store for 2018?

1. Social first. Brands understand the power of social media now more than ever; social is no longer an add-on or a nice to have. More and more brands will switch to social first strategies and with this shift in strategy the demand for higher quality content will increase, but is this what our audiences want?

2. Authenticity. Instagram & Snapchat stories provide audiences with short, snackable real content, that gives you exclusive access to behind the scenes footage, an insight in to the real world of celebs, influencers, your peers, your friends… Stories will continue to rise and in some instances, take precedence over posting. In a world where real, authentic, unpolished content is key, will brands be confident enough to play by these rules?

3. As people demand more authentic content, influencers will continue to influence purchase decisions as people actively seek ‘peer to peer’ recommendations. However as high profile influencers become the new wave of celebrity, this strategy is no longer as cost effective as once may have been the case. Not only that, but audiences are fast seeing through it and are not ashamed to call you out on it! With the demand for more real content, real people come to the forefront; UGC is key, breeding a new wave of micro influencers, real people, with real friends, with real opportunities to influence purchase decisions. They might not have the biggest following but they also don’t have a hefty price tag.

4. 2017 was the year of mobile first; will 2018 be the year of mobile only? With the increasing popularity of stories, brands should be considering mobile only strategies, thinking vertically and playing to the true strengths of a platform.

5. Live. Live content firmly established itself in 2017 and as people demand more ‘real’ content, Live will become even more commonplace in 2018.

6. AR and VR will finally have their year. Despite predictions year on year that ‘this is the year,’ 2018 will really see the rise of this technology. Not only are headsets accessible to all, some at less than £5, but with big brands investing in the technology, the quality will also greatly improve. Warner Brothers are set to launch Harry Potter’s Wizards Unite in 2018, which will see fans across the world embrace this technology, truly blending magical fantasy with reality.

7. And finally, as social becomes a more integral part of marketing strategies, proving the ROI of social media is becoming ever more important and something we get asked frequently. The real question is ‘what does success look like?’ With organic reach dead and paid reach ‘paid for’, is ‘reach’ really the be all and end all? Brands should align their objectives with their wider business objectives; with a clear strategy, social media can drive sales and conversions, if, of course, that’s your goal.

So… in summary, in 2018 social media has the power to influence behaviours now more than ever but it’s important to remember that our audiences are not only savvier than before, they’re also more vocal. If they don’t like something they WILL tell you and not only that, they WILL tell everyone else. In 2018, make sure to keep it real, stay true to your brand, play to the platform and remember that one size never ever fits all.

By Laura Weightman, Head of Social