The future is here: 6 priorities your brand needs to address to thrive in a social age

The future is here: 6 priorities your brand needs to address to thrive in a social age

Feeling overwhelmed by the pace of change in social media? You should be.

By 2022, it’s predicted there will be over 6 billion digitally connected citizens. In 2017, we already spend on average over two hours a day on social media/messaging platforms. And the likes of WeChat already go way beyond cat memes: you can order taxis, browse takeaway options and apply for mortgages all via the social platform.

Like it or not, the way we communicate and converse is ever more facilitated, tracked and modified by social media technology – and brands need to keep innovating to keep up.

Here are the 6 action points that your brand needs to prioritise to thrive on social media into 2018:

  1. Stay authentic: In a world of fake news and consumer distrust, your brand’s integrity as a source of genuine information online is more important than ever.
  2. Be relevant: Get sophisticated with who and how you target. We all naturally engage more with content that’s relevant to us, so deliver distinct messages to narrow audience segments rather than broadcasting blanket noise to generic groups. Reflect this in your influencer strategy, too: use micro-influencers to provide trusted, authentic voices that reach into the heart of smaller loyal, engaged followings.
  3. Get personal (or: take “be relevant” one step further): Low levels of trust in sources and platforms are pushing consumers further away from public social media and ever more into private messaging, like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. Make the most of this by creating ways for consumers to engage with your brand one-on-one through these channels. An easy way in is with an AI-enabled Messenger bot, which can facilitate everything from functional product purchases to engaging games. Facebook’s Discover tab, in early roll-out, also allows consumers to ‘invite’ brands to enter private messages. Talking to your friend about a new song you think they’d like? Send them the track in Messenger via Spotify, for example.
  4. Embrace social commerce: Think social is only for brand awareness and consideration? Think again. Purchase via social is now common, with the likes of bots and ‘click to buy’ ads, and it’s starting to be used for other points in the commerce user journey too – in particular, search. With attention spans at an all-time low and images 60,000 times quicker to process than text, visual search will soon almost entirely replace text-based search. Pinterest Search Ads and Instagram Tap to Shop ads are examples of social media-led visual search, while Viber’s Instant Shopping allows consumers to browse and share products directly into private chats. In short, watch this space: there’s sure to be more where this came from soon.
  5. Innovate in video: Text is dead, long live video. Make video your primary format for social content, and tailor for different channels, audiences and objectives. 360 live video of an event? Competition prize of a private chat with talent using Facebook group video chat? Instagram Stories showing “behind the scenes” of a new product launch? Or even partnering with Facebook to produce original branded video content for the “Watch” tab? There are countless ways to use video, and they’ll only increase.
  6. The future reality is mixed: Augmented reality is still cool and all – but aside from some very innovative uses of it, we can probably all agree that we’re a long way from walking around with VR headsets on. Instead, mixed reality, where physical environments are mixed with virtual, is likely how this tech will continue to integrate into our lives at scale. The likes of Pokemon Go and Snapchat/Instagram filters have shown how easily this can be adopted by the masses, while further innovations like iPhone X’s Animojis and Google Lens are imminent: the latter is poised to augment visual search on your smartphone (see point 4) – point it at a restaurant and it pops up reviews, for example. Start playing around with the likes of filters and lenses, and get comfortable with mixed reality: it’s arguably the most important tech of the next few years.