McKim Agency Insight

By Sara Unruh, Media Director
and Tanya Penner, Content Writer

With social platforms constantly issuing updates it’s difficult to stay ahead of the digital marketing curve.

The platforms themselves constantly strive to earn users and retain their interest so they can deliver valuable audiences to marketers.

For marketers, being savvy about social media trends, functionality and updates is key to harnessing each platform’s full potential for the brands we manage.

We’ve examined some of the most significant changes to social media platforms to help keep our clients’ digital marketing efforts on track in 2018.

Top Five Social media marketing trends to look out for in 2018

Snapchat's journey to monetization

In November 2017, Snapchat announced a major redesign, which has just launched in mid-January. This update is said to make the platform easier to use, further personalize Stories to deliver more relevant content, and allow creators to monetize their Stories. Currently, only a handful of partners make money from their Snaps, but 2018 will see the door open for a larger pool of users.

You’ll likely see more marketers including Snapchat in their digital campaign mix — but we don’t think there will be a huge influx unless other platform kinks are worked out. For one, ads on Snapchat are skippable, allowing users to quickly bypass them as they would any other Story. So, many brands currently shy away from Snapchat because it can’t guarantee a return on investment for impressions.

It will be interesting to see if the 2018 update includes mandatory views, similar to YouTube’s minimum 5-second view ads. Regardless, for the time being most Snapchat ads will continue to come from large national advertisers as smaller regionals figure out how to make it work for them.

Brands are getting real with live streaming

Video continues to be the most effective way to connect with your audience. While live streaming has been around for quite some time on platforms like Periscope, its use has surged with its availability on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and now being tested on limited accounts on LinkedIn. The immediacy of live streaming offers users a unique experience to authentically connect in real time. It’s exciting and visceral because it’s in the moment.

Through live streaming, brands can express personality, engage, and build relationships – it gives brands the opportunity to be real. This is important because with the ubiquity of social media, brands are expected to behave like people, and be active on and accessible through social channels.

Asset 7LIVE

In a sea of glossy, highly-stylized, precisely-targeted ads, live streaming offers an unobstructed view that is satisfying because of its imperfection. While connecting authentically seems idyllic, beware: it also requires the brand to be open to unfiltered and raw depictions of itself because this is what audiences expect of live streaming events. We’d recommend approaching with caution – but done right, for the right brand, live streaming offers an incredible opportunity to build real and lasting relationships with your audiences.

No matter how you pronounce .gif, it's making a statement

Is the g pronounced like ‘go’ or ‘giraffe’? Does anyone care? Either way, you’ll likely be seeing more of them this year. As video popularity grows, our attention spans shrink. Studies have shown we now have an 8-second attention span – less than your average goldfish.

In this new reality, .gifs are the perfect tactic to deliver short but lively content. Animated and video content earns higher engagement than static images, but at just a few seconds long, it’s absolutely vital that your creative is crisply effective and on brand.

A new way to be seen on instagram

Instagram now allows users to follow hashtags, a feature launched at the end of 2017. Typically, users have a few hashtags they peek in on regularly, so this new feature eliminates the previous hassle of searching for hashtags and now delivers posts directly into one’s feed.

Brands will need to pay more attention to the hashtags they use in their posts to organically show up in a user’s feed. Checking to see what competitors and popular influencers are using is a good start, but be careful not to haphazardly add a bunch of irrelevant hashtags or you may be flagged as a spammer.

Is twitter's double up a downward spiral?

Increasing Twitter’s character limit from 140 to 280 in 2017 makes crafting the perfect tweet a little less challenging. But to us, the move feels like it might be a desperate effort to gain new users and encourage existing users to spend more time on Twitter.

From a marketing perspective the increased character limit does support more effective communication, but we’d be more interested in seeing changes to Twitter’s advertising capabilities. Because the reality is that advertising impressions reported on Twitter are unreliable because users scroll through their feeds so quickly.

Although Twitter hasn’t announced any big changes for 2018, it will need to do something because it isn’t growing in users like other platforms. And the bottom line is: users are what draw marketers.

Digital marketing on social channels provides ever-increasing opportunities to reach your target audiences.

You just need to make sure you connect with them in ways that resonate, and through channels that make sense for your brand.