5 Social Media Trends to Watch For in 2018

George Chilton talks social media on Hubbub Labs

Is this the death knell for clickbait on social media? How does the new Facebook algorithm affect video reach for Pages? Will we be fully immersed in VR tech this year? What will Facebook AR look like? And more…
VR is coming to mainstream Social Media
Photo by Paul Bence on Unsplash

 

There’s a lot for digital marketers and users to look forward to as we move into the new year. We will see more relevant News Feed content, a new war on clickbait and engagement bait, greater experimentation in the virtual reality and augmented reality arenas, and quality video content will continue to dominate.

Here are 5 predictions for Facebook social media management in 2018.

  1. We’ll see a shift towards higher quality content

Comment YES if you hate engagement bait! Facebook’s latest announcement that it would start to “demote individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait” is good news for almost everyone. It signals a new beginning for social media as the onus is now one creating content that truly informs people and encourages engagement naturally.

Specifically, the Facebook algorithm will punish pages and posts soliciting engagement in the following ways (scroll through the gallery for examples):

  • Vote baiting: attracting engagement by asking for likes and other reactions to vote for something. “Click like to vote for our page!”
  • React baiting: Asking people to react to a post to indicate their opinion, e.g. “Yes = like; No = Heart”
  • Share baiting: Asking people to share with the friends in exchange for something, or to indicate something, e.g. “Share with your friends if you want to get rich!”
  • Tag baiting: Asking the user to tag a friend – e.g. “Tag a friend who’d do this!”
  • Comment baiting: Asking users to comment a set phrase or two to show support, e.g. “Comment YES if you agree!”

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Pages that use these tactics will see reach on posts decrease, and those that do it regularly will probably see traffic trickle to a halt.

  1. Clickbait will die a slow and welcome death

Facebook wants marketers to know that it takes its “News Feed values” seriously and is also coming down hard on posts that it considers to be low quality, inauthentic, or clickbait-y.

The company says this is to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook.”

This is likely to be partly in response to harsh criticism and possible sanctions in the wake of the rise of so-called fake news during the 2016 US presidential election, Brexit, and other political contests. But whatever the reason for Facebook’s shift toward promoting authenticity, value, and quality we can certainly get behind it.

  1. Video and Facebook Live video with continue to dominate

Native video content was big on Facebook in 2017 and it’s only going to get bigger this year, engaging more of the audience than links, images and videos hosted on other platforms.

Again, Facebook is rewarding quality content producers with two new additions to the algorithm, improving reach for videos that lots of users are searching for. If this is the case your video will receive higher distribution in the News Feed.

This is also true if your video is getting repeat views, and people keep coming back to your Page for more, you see increased video distribution.

While it’s important to keep produced videos short, include subtitles (if necessary), and add calls to action, Facebook Live videos still do better when they are longer, as they tend to garner more engagement during the broadcast.

  1. Facebook Spaces and immersive virtual reality will start to have an impact

We were lucky enough to attend F8 early in 2017, at the Mobile World Centre in Barcelona, where Facebook unveiled the innovative Facebook Spaces – an immersive VR experience for users that own Oculus Rift and HTC VIVE VR tech.

Facebook Spaces is an app that allows you to enter a VR “space” and talk and interact with your friends via customisable avatars (characters that represent you). Look at these happy people:

As VR headsets become more pervasive, we predict that the social media space will be a petri dish for VR initiatives.

Not only will we see VR games being developed for real time fun with your avatar friends, but as it develops there will be amazing sponsored opportunities for marketers in the real estate industry, as well as in design, leisure, travel & tourism related industries (and many others, we’re sure).

  1. Facebook’s Augmented Reality Camera Effects Platform will rock your world

Even more exciting and accessible is Facebook’s Augmented Reality (AR) Camera Effects platform. It is currently still in (closed) beta, but open for developers to experiment: offering artists and developers  the opportunity to “create effects for the Facebook camera” via Frame Studio and AR Studio.

Frame Studio lets you design frames to use on your profile pictures, or on the Facebook camera. Somewhat more excitingly, the AR studio will allow you to look through your smartphone screen via the Facebook camera app and see a new augmented world.

According to Facebook, developers in the beta trial are currently working on ”animated frames, masks, and interactive effects that respond to motion, interactions during Live broadcasts, or third-party data”.

The AR studio combines three main elements, including a Face Tracker which can fit masks to faces in real-time, Sensor data which allows you to move your phone around and explore a virtual or augmented space and Scripting APIs which let developers use data to change effects and “respond to user interactions” in real-time – including in Facebook Live broadcasts.

Opportunities for brands abound. Imagine your product being displayed in place in a sponsored AR post on the Camera Effects platform. You might model those new sunglasses you like in the mirror at home, before clicking “buy”; your sports shoes could tell you how many kilometres you just ran;  you can check out that new sofa and how it looks living room without leaving home; or perhaps as you pass an ad on the underground and a presenter will jump up out of the screen and give you more information…

Social Media in 2018

2018 is going to be the most experimental and exciting yet for marketers on Facebook – and we’ve only just scratched the surface in this post. What are your predictions for the year to come?

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