The future of social media marketing—7 trends to watch

Social media marketing has come of age. What used to be a nice-to-have is now a ubiquitous marketing tactic. In fact, more than half the world now uses social media. And recently, with people unable to gather socially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have turned to social media more than ever to stay connected with friends and family.

In this article, we’ll look at the latest social media marketing trends, and how they'll impact the ways in which brands interact with (and market to) their customers.

What’s the future of social media marketing?

Social media is no longer just a few apps with newsfeeds and static advertisements. New technologies have enabled all sorts of different channels for consumers and brands to engage:

1. Video content

Video advertisements have a 7.5x higher click through rate than display ads, mainly because videos provide marketers a way to engage with consumers with dynamic content that can stand out among all the traditional static content that people have seen for decades.

The strategies for engaging consumers with video content are evolving rapidly. For example, TikTok is famous for short-form, homemade videos that are extremely popular with younger consumers. Other outlets, from YouTube to Instagram, have thousands of videos from every kind of business imaginable.

For marketers trying to engage prospects, it’s important to understand how video trends are changing and how your content can evolve to meet these expectations across your various target audiences.

2. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) allows computers to make human-like decisions without direct supervision, and marketers deploy this technology to help provide customized, personalized content that would not be possible with traditional marketing techniques.

Chatbots, for instance, allow marketers to "talk" to consumers about their products or services without the need for a massive human sales team. Chatbots are used to offer custom promotions, handle general brand inquiries, and even accept and process orders.

This approach brings the traditional in-store sales representative experience online, at scale. If done well, consumers feel like they’re speaking with a person at the company, and can do so at any time of the day.

3. Influencers and micro-influencers

There are now more than 500,000 influencers on Instagram. Influencers are people on social media—often Instagram—who have large groups of followers, and are often involved with a specific niche.

Social media influencers provide marketers with a way to get their brands in front of consumers through sponsored posts, in which a brand partners with, or compensates, an influencer to to have them talk about or promote a product or service.

About 81% of the influencers on Instagram are so-called “micro-influencers.” These are influencers with between 15,000 and 100,000 followers. They often have very active audiences but are overlooked by larger brands, which can make them cost effective.

4. Stories

Stories is a feature on Instagram and Facebook, very similar to Snapchat, in which users post short clips that their friends and followers can watch. Stories has far surpassed Snapchat usage, with over 500 million daily users.

Instagram/Facebook Stories provides an opportunity to catch people’s attention at a time that they otherwise may have not noticed your brand.

If your business has existing Instagram followers, you can post your own Stories to share information about your brand. You can also run paid advertisements that run in-between clips when people are watching them. Both are valuable ways to get the attention of this large user base.

5. Messaging

We’ve already mentioned using AI chatbots as a way to engage with customers, however, there are a number of other ways that customers may want to talk directly with a brand through direct messaging channels.

For instance, Instagram direct messaging (DM) is a way for users to reach out to brands to learn more about a product or service. Having a person available to actually respond to people and engage with their interests can provide a high-value way to capture interested customers.

Managing all these different messaging channels with a small sales and support team may seem daunting. Fortunately, there are tools like Zendesk that can aggregate and organize these channels, so that you can quickly bounce between different platforms and ensure customers get a response.

6. Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) is the use of computers and screens to layer digital experiences on top of the real-world. A major AR platform has yet to take off at scale, but technologies like Oculus are showing the potential of what this can afford brands and marketers.

For example, if a consumer was wearing a headset while walking on the street, a nearby bar or restaurant could send them information about specials as they’re walking by the physical building.

More practically in the short-term, some smartphones have technology that allows technical developers to layer digital content onto the live camera. Ikea allows consumers to use this feature to explore their products from home. This technology should continue to become more available over the coming years.

7. Customer support

New technologies are great, but don’t overlook traditional customer support. Customers will always have questions to which only a human can respond.

The difference in today’s online environment is that consumers expect to be answered on whatever channel they’re using, so brands need to be able to interact over everything from traditional phone calls to Instagram DMs to emails.

Embrace the future of social media marketing

Social media marketing is rapidly changing and it’s important for brands to engage consumers in all these different channels. It’s important, therefore, that your e-commerce technology is able to integrate with all these different systems to provide a seamless experience for your customers. Magento provides all the tools and integrations necessary to keep up with these changes. See a demo of Magento to see how you can embrace all these new technologies for your brand.

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