At South Africa social media week 2015, we predicted trends on digital platforms such as online storytelling, convergence of traditional media and social media, social psychology and the growth of the image networks. We certainly have seen many of those trends come to be in the year that was. These are the top predicted trends to watch out for in 2016 across digital and social platforms:

1. The increasing growth of micro video

With traditional television commercials brands have invested large sums of money into the production and flighting where they were promised reach, but they had no amount of control over who was viewing and consuming their content. As more and more people access the internet, the potential reach with micro video (particularly on social media) is larger. What’s more is that brands are able to target their content and map it to the right consumer. So the brand message is delivered to the right person at the right point in time and in context. Also take into account that the way consumers view advertising is also changing, as with PVR decoders consumers are now able to pre-record their programs and skip through the advertisements. In fact many pre-record their programs just so that they do not have to view ads. Snapchat is one of the fastest growing platforms in the world because of the ability to serve customers with bite sized video content. Taking all of this into account, brands investing in great micro video content with great quality, as they would a traditional television commercial is the number 1 trend to watch out for in 2016.

2. Facebook wants to own Brands too

Whilst this may not come as a secret to many, recent developments have confirmed that Facebook wants to own your online presence all the time. Brands who publish videos on Facebook ‘competitor’ YouTube have and publish the link to Facebook have their videos displayed on a smaller area of the user screen than publishing the video directly to Facebook. Why? Because Facebook wants to have videos uploaded organically to their platform. Facebook also has enhanced features around news and also recently updated their notes section, so brands can publish blog type articles. Facebook rewards Brands for publishing content organically by giving them higher reach on these publishes. Whether we will see Facebook introduce promoted conversations or promoted stickers in the future remains to be seen, but for now expect brands leveraging Facebook for video and for blogs are another top trend to watch out for in 2016

3. Instagram will develop into a business to consumer channel

Not surprisingly, what Facebook does, Instagram should be expected to do too. After all, they are owned by Facebook. In 2015 Instagram introduced the ability for brands to be able to advertise on Instagram. We also saw Instagram launch their own business profile @Instagramforbusiness where they feature business stories. This profile now has more than 27 000 followers. Brands have been experimenting on Instagram with mixed results. A great South African example of a brand which has seen success on the platform through understanding of the communication style and Insta-fit content has been Mercedes Benz South Africa. Watch out for other brands trying to own this space.

4. Content

Content on social media will become more iterative. Brands will invite more feedback. Facebook and Twitter are setting the trends by introducing polls. Microsoft South Africa for example runs polls on topics of interest at least once a week and this has led to high levels of engagement. One of the big learnings from 2015 is that content consumption had changed. Information savvy consumers want less product push and want more entertainment and education on social media. Interactive content also creates more engagement. Micro video, polls and even GIFS, which are used by companies like Coca Cola, are producing more engagement because they educate and entertain. Look out for this trend in 2016 and for brands leveraging social listening and data when devising these content strategies. The future of 2016 content is interactive.

5. The definitions of influencers will change

The definition of an influencer and an advocate will change. Back in the day we had what we call the “Oprah effect” with celebrities or quasi celebrities endorsing products an those products flying off the shelf. This was before the explosion of social media and people becoming more informed. These days, savvy consumers know the difference between a celebrity brand who has been paid to endorse a soap they clearly don’t use and someone who is legitimately speaking about a product. A celebrity or media personality with 100 000 followers is less valuable to a brand than 10 consumers with 10 000 followers that are genuine brand advocates. Also take into account that many people are double hatting- business people by day and bloggers by night. This means that the traditional approach towards an ‘influencer’ needs to change along with its definition. Companies are also increasingly investing in their staff as influencers, feeding them with content and encouraging them to spread the love.

6. ROI

Brands are increasingly expecting their marketing teams to move from being cost centers to being profit centers as part of the shift towards revenue marketing. Even the cost of maintaining “free” platforms like blogs and social media are not really free. Because time money even on these platforms, and reach of good (and bad) content is increasingly being driven by media spend.

7. Brands existing for a purpose

Many brands are using their platforms to show customers, especially purpose driven Millennials that they exist for a bigger cause. It is the point at which social media and micro video meet philanthropy. Take for example Pepsi deciding not to invest in the superbowl but rather producing online content where customers can vote for a charitable cause, with Pepsi rather taking the spend on advertising and funding that cause. Or the Microsoft Upgrade your world campaign for the Windows 10 launch where they gave their fans an opportunity to do something for a good cause. Social philanthropy is another top trend to watch for in 2016.

8. sCommerce

sCommerce (to coin a phrase) is where social media meets eCommerce. Social media is increasingly offering the ability for customers to ‘Buy now’ with a social shopping experience. Pinterest offers this, Twitter cards have been used to great effect to sell product from the Microsoft Online store in December where stock in the store sold out in less than a week. Larger global collaborations between Facebook and Shopify suggest that this trend is expected to stay in 2016.

9. The year of the emoji

Fortunately or unfortunately there is a trend on brands leveraging or designing emojis as part of their campaigns. Skype advertising had leveraged their own native emoji’s but we have also seen emoji based campaigns from MTN and Coca Cola. Chevrolvet recently also wrote a press release in emoji. Watch out for a smiley near you in 2016!

10. Personalisation and helpfulness

Brands will become more and more personal and helpful in their engagements with customers. Take for example Coca Cola sending birthday messages to their customers, or Microsoft South Africa creating custom content for their biggest fans and inviting them to events or Hilton Hotels suggesting restaurants to people on social media looking for a night out of good cuisine. A/B testing of messages will allow brands to be able to do more of this personalization at scale. Personalisation leads to customer experience and customer experience is the new social and digital frontier in 2016. Watch out for more of this trend in 2016!


 

Article written by Good Things Correspondent Farren Roper. Click here for more info.

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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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