In 2018, trends that are either new or developing have taken hold in the digital sphere, and they are altering how brands interact with their audiences via social media platforms. Features such as disappearing content, video content, social chatbots, live streaming and interactive broadcasting have allowed for a more open, active and effective social network scene for businesses to partake in.
Flimper’s business model encourages users to sign up for a time to meet with a team member using a built in, prominently displayed button that links to a separate landing page. Here, customers can schedule an appointment with someone associated with the company in the future or chat in the present moment with a bot. This function, generally referred to as a ‘chatbot,’ has been around since the 1950s, thought it has only recently become popular and recognized as a way of conversing with customers efficiently. Chatbots can be found on websites of businesses and brands such as Apple and Claro, to name a few examples.
According to a study done by Drift Salesforce in 2018, 15 percent of American adults say they used a chatbot to interact with a business in the past 12 months, while 16 percent own a smart speaker such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. The same study revealed that users prefer chatbots over apps when communicating with companies. With this digital feature, customers are made to feel as though their individual experience with the brand is valued and important to the company as a whole. Prioritizing customers in this way, businesses and brands can respond to customer questions and concerns in real time, even going so far as to suggest additional services of products customers can purchase or subscribe to in the moment. After individualized interactions such as these, customers are often prompted to give feedback on their experience through a survey, allowing brands to glean further information from their audiences about how they are perceived, the quality of the services provided and the relevance of the service to the lives of their customers.
Another trend, that of livestreaming and interactive broadcasting, is growing and allowing for advertisements of brands to give the impression of being integrated naturally with a user’s news feed on social media platforms. For example, Instagram live and Facebook live videos have paved the way for brands and businesses to share products and services with customers in a way that gives the customer a degree of agency. A study done by Talkpoint in January 2018 shows that 87 percent of audiences want behind-the-scenes access, and prefer to watch online live-stream video because it offers more behind-the-scenes content than traditional television.
In a similar vein, sponsored content on Instagram and Twitter can be integrated into feeds organically, leading to audiences being able to technically control the extent to which they engage with such content. Both Instagram live and sponsored content share this aspect of giving the customer control over their interaction with the content, while still giving brands and businesses the power to reach audiences directly through these established features on social media platforms. 70 percent of individuals want to learn about products through content rather than through traditional advertising, according to CMO.com, specialists in delivering marketing insights. This, paired with the fact that people view native ads 53 percent more than banner ads, makes this digital trend increasingly beneficial for brands and businesses while not disadvantaging viewers significantly.
The trend of content disappearing after a certain amount of time, referred to as ephemeral content, has proven to be helpful for businesses as well, considering the opportunity it gives businesses to share time sensitive content. With this feature, businesses can have promotions during a set time period or share limited-time discounts with audiences who subscribe to their platforms. This can incentivize audiences to both subscribe to platforms of brands and pay attention to the content these platforms share, for fear of missing a special promotion or sale. The time limit placed on content gives extra urgency to any purchasing decisions customers might make, which can work to benefit a brand’s sales. Additionally, the idea of belonging to an exclusive group, regardless of the extent to which membership benefits the individual, is often an appealing concept, which brands and businesses can use to benefit them. In this way, audiences are being rewarded for their subscription and loyalty with exclusive information that is intended to appeal to them and their purchasing habits.
With a plethora of digital trends developing rapidly to keep up with the changing tech landscape, brands and businesses seek to keep up as well. They can use these implemented upgrades to alter their marketing models, and to diversify the way in which information, especially information that would be of interest related to their sales, is shared with their audiences. Chatbots, livestreaming, interactive broadcasting and ephemeral content are among the most prominent new digital trends, and most likely, a new set of trends will arise soon.
How Businesses Can Use Prominent Social Media Trends:
- Use social chatbots on your website to engage the user
- Always give the user the chance to provide feedback on their experience with your product or service
- Share content with the user in a way that allows them to “opt out” of interacting with the content (via video or sponsored content being featured)
- Share promotions and discounts with audiences that subscribe to your content to reward them for their subscription