Each fall, bloggers and social media experts are asked to make their predictions about the trends for the upcoming year. At a time when changes are occurring at an accelerated pace, it appears increasingly risky to predict what is coming. The ecosystem of social networking is complex with the emergence of new platforms for aggregation and distribution of content.
We can only observe and narrate the changes during the current year based on various studies, and speculate on the innovations that will bring new trends. That’s what I try to do with my columns on the influence of marketing in social media, and the emergence of new connected consumers of Generation C.
Over the past 2 years, several trends among companies and organizations and influencers and leaders of social media have been confirmed, and will continue to assert themselves in the coming months. Other new trends observed recently, will probably bring changes that we just can presume.
2015: The Maturity of Social Media Influencer Marketing
The past year was a year of maturation for the influence of marketing in social media. Several major studies were carried out during the year, showing that influence marketing concepts and content are better integrated into the strategies of companies and organizations.
1 – Companies have adopted Influencer Social Media Marketing
In early summer, the Augure firm released a report on the status and influencers of marketing practices in 2015. A study I have had the pleasure to participate with distinguished colleagues. The Augure Management report showed that 93% of respondents considered their engagement with influencers was an effective strategy to draw attention to their brand. While more than three in four declared that this approach allowed them to generate new business opportunities and gain greater customer loyalty. (Read also Companies Are Embracing Influencer Marketing in 2015)
2 – The CEOs are more involved in relationships with influencers
In 2015, we saw companies and organizations definitively integrating influence in social media marketing into their strategies. The leaders are more involved in developing sustainable and profitable relationships with influencers and have created Ambassadors programs for their staff. The strategies involve all departments. (Read also Social Media Influence Marketing: CEO Involvement)
3 – Blogs are needed for this marketing strategy
During the past year, the content marketing has become a priority for businesses and organizations. Corporate blogs (and leaders) have emerged, and organizations have solicited more influencers and ambassadors for the co-creation of content. More than ever, blogs have mastered content marketing strategies. And we’ll probably see a rise in new professional bloggers platforms in 2016. (Read also Social Media Influence Marketing: Why Blogs Matter)
2016: A year of diversification
Considering the new trends observed in recent months, the coming year that is already shaping up as a year of diversification. The emerging platforms and new visual formats will further the complex ecosystem of social networks.
4 – The power of influence in social media is within the reach of all
The emergence of new aggregation platforms and multiplicity of platforms have given rise to new types of influencers. Today, more than ever, anyone can distribute content, and be an influencer in his community. The power of information is within the reach of all. The influence of ever-growing celebrities on YouTube (Pew Die Pie) or Instagram (The Instagirls) demonstrates this. (Read more YouTube Millionaires) (Read also The World’s Highest Paid YouTube Stars in 2015)
5 – Content providers in the hot seat
In recent years, companies and organizations have engaged heavily in the production and distribution of content. However, faced with a glut of content, users have developed the habit of “content snacking”. This is an instant and rapid consumption of information that requires a new strategy and puts content providers on the hot seat. To meet their growing content needs, companies and organizations will need to foster sustainable relationships with influencers. (Read more Meeting the Challenge of Content Snacking)
6 – Visual and real-time user-generated content maturing
User-generated content (UGC) have quickly become extremely popular with marketers. The growing popularity of visual content platforms like Instagram and Pinterest has opened the doors to infographics, photographs, and illustrations, which easily engage the young generations. The new instant exchange platforms such as Periscope, Meerkat, and Snapchat are favored for their real-time sharing of user-generated content.
7 – The emergence of interactive and episodic content
The growing interest in visual content platforms has promoted the development of new forms of storytelling approaches combining interactive and episodic content. Podcasts and webinars are the new broadcast channels with platforms like Blab quickly becoming viral. While interactive infographics continue to gain ground among new generations. Social media influencers find themselves on multiple platforms, using several formats to reach target audiences.
8 – Clash of content and customization of the message
The increase in format types will force companies and organizations to diversify their approach depending on the target audience to stand out even more. They will have to do more and ensure a constant presence on multiple platforms to reach their customers wherever they are. Contextual data analysis enable them to further personalize their message and thus better meet the needs of target audiences. Beyond the content, user engagement will become a priority for organizations. (Read also The Social Graph for Managing Influencer Relationships)
9 – The rise of the amplification and virtual assistants tools
At the same time, the diversification of platforms and broadcast formats also requires companies and organizations to implement targeted strategies to amplify their message beyond the masses. Automation tools like Buffer, Storify or Hootsuite, and virtual assistants will allow organizations to better plan their presence on social networks according to their resources, and get better results with target audiences. (Read also 25 Content Amplification Tools for Marketing Professionals)
10 – Business relationships with influencers are likely to change
Although nearly 70% of respondents in the Augure study don’t believe that influencers should be paid for their services. Companies will need to understand the essential role of influencers in their campaigns and invest more time and money with social media experts in creating relevant content that will enable them to stand out, and integrate these strategies into their budgets just like the ads on Google or Facebook.
11 – GAFA giants emerge as content hubs
GAFA giants (Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon) have acquired new distribution platforms and changed their search engine algorithms with the aim of becoming the hub of content marketing. Meanwhile, intrusive ad blocking applications (AdBlock) have encouraged the emergence of native advertisements (NativeAds) and the rise of sponsored content, which will in turn, fundamentally change the marketing and relations with influencers. Google is currently testing a beta version of sponsored content platform for brands. (Read also Altimeter Unveils the 2015 State of Social Business Report)
12 – Booming of Employee Advocacy Programs
In 2015, companies and organizations understood the impact that their own personal influence could have in their marketing campaign and has adopted internal programs to encourage greater involvement of employees. Since 2013, company advocacy programs have increased by 191%, according to a recent study by Altimeter Group. Now, employees prove to be the best ambassadors of a brand or a company. (Read also The Fast Growing Influence of Social Media Ambassadors)
In the coming months, these trends will continue to assert themselves and take even greater importance in the deployment of marketing strategies in social media. In 2014 and 2015, influence and content marketing strategies have achieved a new level of maturity that will be reflected in the coming years. In 2016, with all new emerging trends we can, therefore, expect a year of diversification.
What do you think? Do you believe that other trends will change and evolve marketing influence and content in social media? Share your ideas and views on the subject.