Hard to believe the first month of 2016 is nearly over (didn’t it just begin?) and even as I type this, tactics, strategies and options in the world of social media are changing. I know as a small business owner you’re not only on the lookout for the most effective use of your digital marketing dollars, you’re also looking to easily digest the latest offerings to see how they may benefit you. Here is a breakdown on what to expect in 2016.

social media marketing

Up-and-coming Social Media Platforms

To stay ahead of the curve, proactive social media marketing efforts in 2016 will cover more than the traditional “Big 3 Networks” comprising of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. While it will take a great amount effort by a newcomer to actually surpass Facebook in terms of overall supremacy any time soon, the trend in 2015 was more B-tier social network action and growth around these same second tier networks. This trend is unlikely to change or reverse any time soon. Some of the more obvious newcomers are are Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr in terms of bringing themselves and their users into the mainstream with ad offerings and impressive growth.

Smart social media marketing professionals are currently investing in even more obscure networks such as SnapChat, Ello, Medium and Periscope to see online brand development goals come into fruition.

Specialized Content and Context

Savvy online marketers have already accustomed themselves to the notion of covering specialized networks and offering more unique content, but the need to specialize and offer more value to a specific niche has never been greater. Too often up until now, content on social media has been largely text and image based. Finding room to add video in the mix in 2016 by using platforms such as Periscope, Instagram, Vine, YouTube and Facebook will add immense value to any forward-looking social media effort.

To get into the specialized context area requires finding more specific areas to spend time creating content and communicating online. Excellent such examples are online communities and groups such as those which can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

Social Commerce

Whether you believe it or not, social media influences shoppers buying decisions. But, fear not, you can tap into this growing trend by exploring advertising options for each of the networks. Pinterest recently rolled out Buyable Pins, and Instagram started offering ad options to everyone (it was once only available to a select few.) This on top of hte already robust offerings of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. In the coming year, small business owners will want to explore more ways how you can integrate these features into social media and content strategies.

Whether you achieve your full effect online this year by achieving niche mastery in fine groups and communities, by exploring the new networks, or including social advertising – the goal is to stay relevant online. This isn’t to encourage a completely reactionary social media marketing approach, but to remind managers of accounts that the future will not sit and yield to the past — innovation and growth is a constant necessity if you seek to reap the reward of successful social media engagement.