2015 marked the time when marketing via social media reached critical mass with Facebook reporting a 57% increase in advertising revenue for the first quarter of 2016 (compared to same quarter, 2015). It is amply clear that social networks will be among the fastest growing channels for advertising and marketing in the years to come.

Let us look at some of the top trends that will reshape social media marketing in 2016 and in the years to come.

The Future is Mobile

According to Google’s internal data, in the year 2015, mobile devices overtook the desktop as the primary device for accessing the Internet in 10 countries including the US. With an estimated 80% of the world’s Internet users now owning a smartphone, a majority of users are navigating social media from devices with limited memory and fairly small screen sizes. This means that marketers will need to be clear about two important aspects:

  • the types of ads to be utilized during a campaign
  • the spending distribution between ads to be served to desktops versus ads to be served to mobile devices

Social Networks are becoming Search Engines

While there is no change in the fact that ‘search’ remains search while social media remains social media, a majority of consumers are considering user reviews from within their network and on Facebook pages before making purchasing decisions.

Additionally, channels like Pinterest with tile-oriented design come ready-made to drive users from social media to purchasing decisions. According to the Shareaholic social media report, as early as Dec of 2014, the top 8 social networks were already driving 31.24% of overall traffic to sites.

Facebook’s User Demographics Shift to Higher Age Groups

Recent infographics produced by Adweek from eMarketer data show that while Facebook remains the market leader in social networking, the largest increase in Facebook users among all demographics is in the age group 65 years and older with the user-share from young millennials (18-24 years) projected to decrease.
While Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr are showing shifts to younger demographics, the 25 to 35 age group retains the largest user-share among all social media apps. If such trends hold long-term, businesses will need to utilize such information to target specific demographic groups.

The Rise of Video

Among the hottest trends of the year is the rise of live video capability with both Facebook and Twitter going head to head with regards to making available video-related capability on their platforms. While Twitter had a head-start with Periscope enabling user broadcasting, Facebook is currently catching on and is expected to have its video product race ahead of Twitter sometime this year. Clearly, users who host a number of live video transmissions will be amenable to be targeted with certain types of ads.

Private Social Media Gain Prominence: Groups and Messaging Applications

Probably the most interesting trend noticed in the last year or so is the rise in the private side of social media in terms of growing adoption of private groups and messaging applications. The explosive growth in messaging applications such as WhatsApp and WeChat opens up the background-side of social media for marketing.

In a way similar to the ads seen within Gmail, this development opens up the opportunity for these platforms to serve finely targeted ads on behalf of businesses, so long as the privacy aspects are taken care of.
Being a fast-developing area, social media is seeing several new areas for marketers to think about. These areas represent tremendous opportunities to market services and products to people using methods seldom imaginable before.

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