Where we stand on the Social Media Tech Predictions of 2017

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We are halfway through 2017. Here’s a quick look at predictions made about 2017’s social media marketing trends and what has actually been successful.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

VR and AR have made significant leaps in marketing as brands continuously adopt the new technology. VR sales have risen significantly in comparison to 2016, which was a disappointing year for VR. PlayStation VR has made 1.8 million sales alone with revenues of $770 million since their launch in October 2016. Other brands such as Facebook’s Oculus Rift has suffered the lowest sales, forcing them to drop prices significantly.

Even though consumers may find the technology a bit pricey, many brands are taking to VR for their marketing innovations. Influential brands like Mercedes, The New York Times, HBO’s Game of Thrones, Nike and Google have been advocates of VR but have not been consistent with its use. This may be due to the fact that it is expensive for brands as well to design VR experiences. TATA’s brand campaign for Tiago involved a DIY VR Headset in the selected newspaper editions to let the consumers experience the feel of being in the car.

A Forrester Research report suggests that 42% of adults in the U.S. have never heard of VR headsets. Another report by Yes Lifecycle Marketing has also found that only 8% of marketers are using VR in their advertisements, and 35% still have no intentions of using it.

AR too faces a steep curve. Many brands adopted the new AR experience to boost their sales. Airwalk has previously used the AR trend to open invisible pop-up stores to sell their exclusive products to an exclusive audience. Axis Bank also launched India’s First AR Based Mobile Banking App. Brands like these started the trend of AR in marketing, but not many continued it. But Pokemon Go brought users back into AR, setting a new trend that shook the world.

Our prediction for 2018:

  • Due to the addition of AR in Apple’s newest iPad and the trend of virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri and Cortana, we can expect the AR and VR trend to take off in 2018, with brands switching from static posts to such innovative means of marketing.
  • Innovative thinking by Google with their cardboard VR sets is the first step towards a growing population of VR users. Complete adoption of this technology is slow but inevitable.

Live Stream

Live streaming appeals to the need for transparency and authenticity that social media users crave. The introduction of Facebook Live and many other competing apps has opened up a new video marketing paradigm for brands to leverage. Twitter announced its intentions for a 24/7 live stream in April as Facebook and Youtube continue to try and grow their existing live offering. Studies have found that viewers watch live streams three times longer than pre recorded videos. A Wyzowl survey indicates that 43% of marketers plan to use interactive video in 2017.

Buzzfeed, Dunkin Donuts, Tastemade and many more brands have leveraged the feature to engage with users at another level. HomeShop18 has become India’s first shopping channel to stream live on both YouTube and Facebook. The brand enjoys a huge following on Facebook and uses the platform regularly for live streaming their key shows and new launches, Live Anchor videos etc. Many efforts towards this trend have been made due to its reach and appeal. Brands have used this feature for exclusive product launches and connecting users closely to brands and their representatives.

Our prediction for 2018:

  • Live streaming can take a bigger leap as it has the ability to combine with other types of trends. We see the live stream aspect in Snapchat and now in Instagram and Facebook stories, giving us a glimpse of how live stream can be expanded.

Social Media E-Commerce

In the continually evolving world of Social Media, several things have changed. The world has just gotten used to Snapchat, and it’s marketing possibilities. Just like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest offer users the option to purchase products directly from within their apps, SnapChat too, joined the E-commerce sector to keep up with the market. Brands such as Nykaa and Flipkart use Facebook and Instagram as portals to sponsor posts for direct selling.

A survey by Aimia showed that 56% of consumers follow brands on social media to browse for products on sale; 31% of line shoppers also said that they specifically use social media to look for new items for purchase.

In the game of social media thrones, the ‘Me-too’ strategy has dethroned Snapchat as the leading social media app for users within a year. Instagram and Facebook’s recent adoption of short, disappearing stories, has made them the shining jewels for marketers. After just two months, Buzzfeed News reported that Instagram Stories had achieved 100 million daily active viewers, two-thirds of Snapchat’s total user base.

Marketers have realised that it is wasteful to market products on more than one platform as it turns too expensive. Even though Snapchat’s implementation of ‘Links’ would help market a product, actual selling is not done. Therefore, brands have started to transition to platforms that create the most sale and clicks such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Our prediction for 2018:

  • Social media e-commerce might move away from Twitter as the kind of content Twitter provides is not appealing anymore to users as they crave longer, in-depth posts.
  • Instagram may be the new king of social media e-commerce due to the utility of investment in Instagram sponsored posts.
  • The launch of Amazon Spark will change the social media e-commerce industry using the added messaging function making it easier to shop.

Marketing Bots and Messaging Apps

Messaging apps are used by 4 billion users worldwide, and there is a tremendous opportunity for brands to leverage this presence. Apps like Facebook messenger, Whatsapp and WeChat have evolved from just alternative to traditional messaging to complex platforms that cater to multiple services other than messaging. Brands are using these messaging apps to communicate with customers on a one-on-one basis and have integrated automation in them too. Yatra.com uses chatbots to help customers search and book flights directly from their Facebook Messenger.

Chatbots are becoming the new tools for brands to resolve customer queries instantly. The tool automates a critical aspect of marketing, customer service. According to a study by Retale, 58% millennials have used chatbots. Of the 42% who had not used a chatbot before, 53% were interested in using them, 26% had no interest in using them, and 20% were neutral.

Many social media platforms have adopted this technology to make their platform more efficient for marketers. As marketers get more and more picky about their choice of marketing platform, many brands have made significant leaps in the chatbots and e-commerce sector. With Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter and Google introducing bots, the compliance with bookings and customer service has magnified manifold.

Our prediction for 2018:

  • As chatbots become more and more advanced, most customer service conversations, at least the basic ones, would become automated.
  • Amazon Spark will act as another platform that works like WeChat in China. This will open up launches to innovative multi-purpose apps that can be adopted by platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Regarding predictions made by the internet, social media has done an excellent job in fulfilling expectations. Trends have followed through, but many trends were not predicted but still made ripples in the social media marketing industry. Our predictions are just hopes for the future as when it comes to the world of social media; nothing is predictable.

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