Social media interactions are crucial for brands to increase customer engagement as one of the leading factors in brand loyalty and purchase intent. Just this past year, social channels have revolutionized online shopping, customer service, brand engagement and online marketing. Here’s a look at the most popular tools used by social channels, and how these tools can improve your marketing tactics in the upcoming year.
Perfectly edited videos are no longer the standard; social media users want to see live and raw footage. Facebook and Twitter (Periscope) are the primary players for live video and they will continue to stay competitive, as is the trend. As of August 2, 2016, Instagram joined the photo-sharing app world with the “Story” feature, as Snapchat will ultimately branch out into live video. According to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, one minute of video is equal to approximately 1.8 million words. Those are plenty of words to convey a brand message.
Cisco revealed that “Mobile video will increase 11-fold between 2015 and 2020, accounting for 75% of total mobile data traffic by the end of the forecast period” Eventually, more brands will utilize live video streaming than ever and will battle for amount of views and engagement. Since live video is at its infancy stage and it’s currently free, this is the best time for brands to go live. Keep in mind that the majority of users on Facebook, Instagram and Periscope receive notifications when someone that they follow is live streaming.
Live video is a strong way for businesses to leverage personal branding and increase interaction with their audience. We recommend companies experiment, learn and be prepared for “what if this happens live” moments. During the experimental stage, businesses should figure out audience and industry relevant topics, and the best ways to film in order to increase engagement and viewership.
AI – Artificial Intelligence (Chat Bot)
With the rise of chat bots and digital assistants like Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant, we can safely assume that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will provide an unsurpassed level of convenience for consumers. Facebook’s Messenger app has partnered with companies to build enhanced bots for their users. A successful business example is 1-800-Flowers’ Facebook Messenger chat bot which allows users to place an order within under a minute!
As the usage of bots in social media messenger applications grows; there will no longer be a need to download an app or software to communicate with businesses. The only downside to AI, as many have contested, is the lack of a human and personalized touch behind its messaging capabilities. This issue will soon be fixed, according to a report from Tech Republic: “Facebook is launching the beta of the Send/Receive API for more advanced bots. Developers can feed it with several conversations and using natural language processing, the bot can handle several variations on that conversation and then learn. That means bots will be able to have conversation-like interactions with people because they can understand.” A far more personalized experience with chat bots is on its way to Facebook. Eventually Messenger bots could start utilizing in-platform historical knowledge of users’ online habits, locations, hobbies, and preferences to improve the user-AI experience.
A quick evolution of sales techniques has come a long way: from selling merchandise in brick-and-mortar stores, to ecommerce sites, to search engines and now social platforms. Last year retailers utilized social networks to offer consumers a more convenient and simplified shopping experience. For example: Kate Spade is one of the retailers that uses Instagram’s new feature that allows their organic posts to include a small “tap to view” icon at the bottom left of a photo. Other retailers experimenting with this feature include: Jack Threads, Warby Parker, Macys and Abercrombie. Once Instagram users click on “tap to view” they see tags featuring the names of the products and their prices. They can click on an individual product and this leads them to a more detailed description of the merchandise. A retailer can add a Shop Now link which will lead users to the original listing of the product.
Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have also implemented purchase capability in their platforms. Facebook has incorporated the “Buy Now” button and has long provided brands with the opportunity of paid advertising with a direct link to their website.
- Facebook has rolled out a new feature called the “Shop Section” where product inventory can be uploaded for free.
- Twitter is a great social channel to leverage retargeting via promoted tweets. These type of tweets offer the Buy button for a fraction of a price compared to Facebook and Instagram sponsored posts.
- Lastly, Pinterest has upgraded the Buy button: every e-commerce site that uses IBM Commerce, Magento or Bigcommerce can use it.
Sprout Social found that 57% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they follow. Furthermore, 75% have made a purchase because they saw it on social media. Social commerce is here to stay in the long-run. This year social commerce retailers will find quicker ways to make sales and shorten the consumer decision journey.
In 2016, consumer exposure to augmented reality (AR) was limited to Pokémon Go and Snapchat filters. This year, augmented reality will be a step closer to becoming ubiquitous on social media. Juniper Research estimated that the market for augmented reality will grow from 515 million dollars in 2016 to 5.7 billion dollars in 2021.
Snapchat has quietly introduced the public to augmented reality. This social channel offers a variety of filters that are activated by different facial expressions. Brands such as Gatorade, Taco Bell, Disney and Starbucks have partnered with Snapchat to create their own filters. So, what’s next for Snapchat and augmented reality? It has been reported that Snapchat has bought an Israeli AR startup for an estimated of 40 million. It appears that Snapchat will take its simplified version of augmented reality to the next level.
Overall, these trends tell us that society has become more fast-paced and on demand. With live videos and real-time brand-consumer engagement by the masses, brands are effectively delivering an authentic and transparent message. Chat bots will ease customer service, and ultimately, eliminate the need for people to call or email businesses, thereby avoiding the dread of waiting in line to be addressed. Social commerce will convince users to make a purchase decision right away via a social network. Augmented reality as an upcoming feature will no doubt add to the social commerce experience and ease decision making for consumers. As long as marketers are up-to-date with these trends and implement them in their marketing strategies, they are sure to make strides in the social commerce world and catch up to those setting the standards.