edar / Pixabay

Social media is ever-changing. In 2017, Facebook dominated as the leading social media network with its focus on video and messaging, augmented/virtual reality became more popular with brands and ephemeral content emerged as a leading trend. How will social media continue to evolve next year?

According to Hubspot, “Nearly one-third of the world uses social networks regularly.” From Facebook Messenger and Instagram to Snapchat and Twitter, millions of people use social media every day. In 2018, some of the trends that are expected to take over day-to-day include an increased use of chatbots, a growing focus on sharing highly-engaging content and a greater push for mobile.

Take a look at what some industry experts predict for social media in 2018:

What Are Your 2018 Predictions for Social Media?

1. Kristine Neil, Owner and Creative Director for Markon Brands – @Thekneil

Brands will exist across news feeds, stories (where possible), and within messenger services. The intention isn’t to inundate, but to better integrate into the daily lives of their audience. Bots and virtual assistants for messenger services, or devices such as Amazon’s Echo, allows brands to be seamlessly present. This is happening today with Uber’s and Domino’s availability to take commands on the Echo, and with Harvard Business Review’s bot on Slack. It’s possible that Facebook will open up its M assistant to work with brands to empower more suggested activities based on the conversations users have on its Messenger app.

2. Natalie Athanasiadis, Head of Digital at Digital Visibility Group Melbourne

Chatbots are going to be one of the biggest things in social media marketing in 2018. They have evolved from inferior robotic responses to now being able to provide personalised and instant meaningful interactions with a brand’s audience. Facebook has reported that over 100,000 chatbots are currently using the messenger platform and this number is set to grow. This form of automation means you can spend the extra time working to further expand your business, while still producing a positive overall experience for potential customers.

3. Mark Aselstine, Founder of Uncorked Ventures – @MarkAselstine

We’ll see a massive crackdown on fake accounts, starting with Twitter, but moving toward Facebook as well. Platforms will spring up attempting to copy these platforms, but allowing only verified users. More adults will know and use Snapchat. Teenagers will, therefore, move away from the platform because of this, as they did with Instagram.

4. Paige Leidig, CMO of NetBase – @paigeleidig

Launching new consumer products on Social Media first will become the norm. Initially, to early advocates in the testing phase of a product launch. Then followed by the full launch of the product. This will deliver the immediate feedback from advocates and also enable exponential awareness among followers and other like-minded consumers. This year saw Arby’s successfully launch their venison sandwich on social media, the sandwich generated plenty of buzz online which lead to it selling out in 15 minutes in Minnesota and 90 minutes at an Arby’s in Atlanta.

5. Marissa Heckman, Social Media Project Manager at Power Digital Marketing

With brands increasingly disappearing from news feeds, ephemeral content such as Instagram Stories are key to staying visible and top-of-mind in 2018. By leveraging these features on an ongoing basis, users will continue to see your brand and can then search back to your profile to view more, like, comment, and tag, which will further boost your impressions by putting you back in their newsfeed and in front of the eyes of their following.

6. Sydney Liu, Co-founder of Commaful

Prediction 1: Snapchat and Instagram Stories Become Big Traffic Drivers

In 2017, we saw Snapchat and Instagram stories begin getting access to linking. This has already caused a big splash in influencers driving sales through these mediums. I expect marketers and influencers to find new and creative ways to leverage the creative, ephemeral, and highly engaging medium of stories to drive massive sales and traffic.

Prediction 2: More Useful Bots on Social Media

Many popular Facebook pages already have Messenger Bots tied to them. Most have debatable quality experiences. I expect high-quality bots to start rising to the surface and rapid iteration on bot quality as bots provide a DIRECT line of communication to followers in a world where algorithms make reaching followers much harder.

7. Ryan Swift, CEO of MyosMedia

In 2018 you can expect to see a large movement towards building communities. In fact, Facebook has just launched a bunch of new features for group admins and tailored their algorithms to increase the visibility of post within a group. Facebook will also look to add their 360 photo and video options to Instagram at some stage in 2018, as well as, increase focus on Instagram’s business options as they try to capitalize on last year’s growth and increased audience interest.

8. Frank Strong, Founder & President of Sword and the Script Media, LLC – @Frank_Strong

Organic social media fades as a marketing tactic and the costs rise. All the underlying algorithms have changed. The difference is so stark, I don’t think we can call it social media marketing anymore – it’s just advertising. All the major platforms are increasingly depressing visibility unless the content is sponsored. Social media sites don’t want to send users to visit your website – the goal is to keep them engaged on the platform. No matter how social media savvy you or your brand is, the cost is likely to continue to rise.

9. Brandon Chopp, Digital Marketing Strategist for iHeartRaves and INTO THE AM

As 2018 approaches, I’m predicting that influencer marketing through social media will become more difficult, particularly on Instagram. As more and more users buy likes and followers, it will become more challenging to figure out which accounts are legitimate and which ones are not. With this in mind, we’ve decided that engagement groups are more work than they are worth. From the perspective of our brands, we try to avoid influencers who are participating in engagement groups, simply because they are not authentic.

10. Danielle Isbell, Marketing Consultant at Odd Dog Media – @odddogmedia

I predict that 2018 will be an even bigger year for paid social. With organic reach at what feels like an all-time low for business pages on Facebook, 2018 will be even more about pay-to-play. Facebook is also removing dark posts, so all posts will be shown on the businesses page, paid campaigns included. This will provide some really interesting competitor analysis for marketers, who will now be able to see all campaigns being run in their niche. I’m really excited to see how this will change the playing field.

11. Meara McNitt, Social Media Strategist for Online Optimism – @OnlineOptimism

Instagram will continue to take over the niche occupied by Snapchat, forcing Snapchat to end as it is and adapt to a noticeably different platform.

Instagram will create “channels” for Stories of current events, including celebrations and emergencies.

Facebook will automatically link Instagram Stories to Facebook Stories, making users opt-out instead of opt-in.

Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube will be forced into user “censorship” to fight “fake news” – account authentications, limited abilities from personal accounts (link editing, page creation, etc).

12. Rachel Blanks, Account Manager for ARPR – @Rachel_Blanks

  • Social media influencers and advocacy marketing will grow as consumers continue to trust their peers and word-of-mouth over institutions.
  • Video – an effective way to engage audiences in the shortest time possible – has been a hot trend on social media for a few years now but it will really take over in 2018 on both organic and paid social.
  • More brands will continue to realize and embrace the power of live streaming as a way to capture the attention of their followers. Collaborative live streaming, like what Instagram released in October, will be the next big iteration of this trend.

13. Caitlin Johnson, Content Editor at Drop Ship Lifestyle and Performance Marketer

One of the big social media marketing trends I’m predicting for 2018 is less focus on posting at “peak times.” As the global average of time spent on social media continues to increase, it will be less about posting at the right time, and more about posting highly engaging content.

14. Matt Garrepy, Chief Digital Officer for Solodev – @MattGarrepy

  • AR/VR will become a new normal on social media platforms thanks to Facebook’s AR Studio and Snapchat’s ART programs. Movie studios are already tapping into VR, giving users the ability to immerse themselves in the world of the film before it hits theaters. AR/VR will continue to meld the real and digital worlds in unique experiences.
  • As video marketing expands on social media, marketers need to be more specific on how they use each platform to target an audience. Assuming Snapchat marketing should look the same as Instagram’s marketing would be detrimental as both platforms have two very different demographics.

15. Agnieszka Jaśkiewicz, Social Media Specialist at LiveChat- @Aga_Jaskiewicz

Make some space for bots!

2017 was a good year for creating and implementing your bot. 2018 will be a good year for adding some personality to the bot. Your bot is a part of your brand and the two should go together like toast and butter. Play a bit with your bot’s design, character and communication style to wow your customers!

16. Katie Espinoza, Growth & Partnership Manager at Rebrandly

In 2018, we believe that companies, brands and individuals are going to make the switch away from generic short URLs (like Google and Bitly links) that are associated with spam and start sharing customized, branded links. When you look at a social media post, there’s so much competition for readers’ attention- the image, the text, the hashtags and of course, the link. Instead of leaving it up to chance whether or not a link will get clicked or ignored by sharing a generic short URL that people inherently mistrust, marketers will make their links stand out by using a branded link that indicates to readers where they are going. Branded links enable marketers to send a powerful, cohesive brand message with every link!

17. Laura Shubel, Account Executive at Caster Communications – @LauraShoebell

Social media is getting more cluttered and competitive, with longer tweets and more interactive content. This year, we saw large social campaigns using video, and even AR as platforms added new features to attract users and ad dollars. Engaging content like this will trickle down, as brands and companies of every size will start using these features. The content we use will be even more engaging, as new, more intelligent features come out, like the new Snapchat filters for different photo subjects.

18. Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls

Rise of Micro Influencers

Less is more, a targeted small audience can be more powerful and effective than blanketing the masses, getting to the right people gives you the best multiplier effect and going viral is still the goal.

More mobile

The world is moving to mobile only, fewer people accessing web on big screens so tailor your message and content accordingly.

More video & rich content

In a mobile-first world, you have less time to grab people, attention spans are shorter than ever so video will be used even more, show don’t tell for maximum impact, rich content drives engagement.

Content rules, quality over quantity

Peers command higher trust, original content is at a premium, consumers continue to trust content more than ads.

19. William Gadea, Creative Director and Founder of IdeaRocket LLC – @willgadea

During 2017, vertical video started making serious in-roads, but 2018 is going to be the year when the 16:9 ratio that we are comfortable with from television is going to lose its stranglehold over digital. Already data is showing that vertical video engages more people on mobile and social media. But frankly, just looking at your distribution channels and thinking about what is right for them is not enough. How about the content itself? Think of all the painters that have made portraits in the history of art: how many of them chose a landscape format? Certainly some, but not a majority. So why should we film a talking heads video with big blank spaces on either side? 16:9 is great for many kinds of storytelling, but it’s not right for everything.

20. Luke Lynam, Head of Marketing for Haystack Digital

Influencer marketing has grown from being a fad to one of the most used marketing strategies on social media, but not everyone is aware of how effective it is. 2018 will be the year that agencies recognise the potential and acquire an influencer platform, bringing a higher level of professionalism to the concept. Consumer-facing brands will create more genuine connections with influencers, and the trust between consumer and influencer will continue to grow. It will quickly become the most profitable form of social marketing within the next 12 months.

21. Jordan Harling, Chief Digital Strategist at Roman Blinds Direct

Social media is primed to make the most of micro-moments in 2018. These are the seconds when a thought hits and the reflex to reach for a smartphone kicks in. Fully integrated campaigns, across TV, web and social, are going to dominate the landscape. We already see companies upload their TV commercials to YouTube, add a page to your website with descriptions and links to your products, and pre-empt any questions any potential customers may have. 2018 will see this taken further, with social media playing a key role.

22. Travis Mortenson, PR/Marketing Director for GitLinks – @tmort5

  • Prediction 1: We’ll see a greater trend towards using social media to actually engage in discussions.
  • Prediction 2: Social media users will be more wary of what information they post on social media and how they post it given the recent data breaches.
  • Prediction 3: We’ll see more Citizen Watchmen on social media.

23. Jessica Moreno, Social Media and Brand Account Manager for Active Web Group – @awg

In 2018, Live Video will become more prevalent in social media. Brands that currently utilize live video will learn to better adapt to their user’s viewing habits and take steps to maximize overall engagement. Content such as breaking news, online contests, and questionnaires will all transition to live video to appeal to the user’s FOMO and desire for inclusion.

24. Gary Nealon, President of Nealon Solutions

In 2018, chatbots are definitely going to be huge. It allows a small business to engage with customers on Facebook, without having a dedicated employee assigned to it at all times. If done properly, you can acquire a lead much more affordably, while also getting these potential customers on multiple platforms. We’re also going to see more and more companies and influencers leveraging Facebook Live. Over on Instagram, I foresee them starting to implement a robust ad platform like Facebook.

25. Jenna Mantis, Social Media Marketing Manager at Talent Inc.

As consumers become more savvy and demand a more tailored experience — both in-store and online — social media will need to keep pace. In 2018, I predict that Chatbots will continue to proliferate, enabling brands to build a social experience that directly addresses their followers’ needs, which will, in turn, help build brand trust and loyalty. Furthermore, video isn’t going anywhere. In fact, I expect to see newsfeeds increasingly inundated with video. As a result, marketers will have to distinguish their video content from the noise and engage viewers in deeper and more meaningful ways.

26. Rohit Bisht, Sales & Marketing Expert at XenelSoft Technologies – @rohitbisht01

Gone are the days when text and written content were streamlined, nowadays we people prefer to save our time rather than increasing our complexities, therefore, videos came into the picture because of its easy functionality. Presently, live streaming videos on popular social handles like Facebook or Instagram has won the hearts of people. In 2018, I predict the trend of video chats or content in the form of video is likely to be immense. Creating and uploading content in the form of video in multiple formats at the regular interval will be the hottest trend of 2018.

27. Leslie Carruthers, President of The Search Guru – @thesearchguru

In 2018, we will continue to see the shift from brand’s pushing data to the consumers and peer influence as the key determining factor. Brand’s need to participate in the conversation both organically and paid for reputation management and brand growth. Successfully gathering and capitalizing on consumer-generated content will be the differentiation for the upcoming year.

28. Alison Garrison, Senior Director of Creative & Marketing Services for Volusion

Augmented reality is going to play a huge part in social in 2018, especially with the release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Snapchat got on this train early by adding AR filters in selfie mode and Instagram followed in its footsteps to add these to the Stories feature. Coupled with the rise of live video marketing, AR is a trend that is going to continue to grow. It’s no doubt that more social networks and apps will find ways to include AR into their video and photo features in the next year.

29. Olga Andrienko, Head of Global Marketing for SEMrush – @Olgandrienko

There is a widespread talk of how 2018 is the year for Influencer Marketing and personification. Or, that 2018 is also the year when marketers should focus on Gen Z and disregard those millennials. But that’s nothing new. By and large, the biggest trend I see going on and flourishing in 2018 is what I call the tendency of “being in the moment”, or giving that experience to your users – the rise of live video, the proliferation of chatbots, the arrival of AR into the realm of Social Media, these are all the results of that trend.

30. Bilal Kaiser, Principal at Agency Guacamole – @bilal_kaiser

This year was huge for brands on social. There’s the good (helping hurricane victims), the bad (politicians’ Twitter feuds) and the ugly (#BoycottUnited).

Here’s what I see for 2018:

  • More sophistication in brands’ use of social—really committing to better understanding communities vs. just creating content because it’s hip.
  • The influencer space will continue to grow—but brands will be more thorough in vetting the right influencers. This is something we truly believe in at Agency Guacamole—follower count and cute photos aren’t enough. Is there substance behind the account? Does the influencer’s community mirror our target customer?

31. Samuel Scott, Global Keynote Marketing Speaker and The Drum Columnist – @samueljscott

In 2018, marketers will realize more and more that social media is a medium and not a tactic — there is no such thing as social media marketing or doing social media. Those phrases make as much sense as saying television marketing or doing television.

Rather, social media is a collection of mediums and tools that can be incorporated into existing marketing communications roles and functions. Advertisers can do advertising over social media. Direct marketers can do direct marketing over social media. Public relations executives can do PR over social media. Salespeople can do sales over social media. Customer support representatives can do customer service over social media

32. Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com – @deborahsweeney

  • Increased customer service and deeper relationships with customers necessitate marketing that is individualized and customized to meet customer needs and grab customer attention.
  • Podcast marketing is increasing and expanding.
  • Native ads: brands market their offerings in a non-disruptive way by blending within the user’s environment, creating a seamless experience.

Specific to social media, strong visuals will advance due to the fact most viewers would rather look at an image to tell a story rather than read about it. Additionally, be personable and connect with your audience in order to build on that relationship behind the screen.

What are your predictions for the future of social media in 2018? Sound off in the comments section below!

Responses have been edited for clarity and length

Read more: