12 Social Media Experts Share Their 2018 Predictions

Today social media is a part of our culture. It is how we connect and keep in touch. It has brought the world closer together, started revolutions and changed the way that brands engage with their audience. Today brands connect on a more personal level, armed with a greater understanding of their audience demographics, they can adapt their brand persona to win the hearts and dollars of their target market.

With 81% of American adults on at least 1 social media platform, the reach of social for businesses is not to be underestimated.

What's in Store for Social in 2018?

Calling on experts for insight, influencer marketing was a top topic brought into the discussion. Influencer marketing, of course, is not new in the social strategy mix but its importance is only set to increase for the year ahead.

With the growth of new technologies, you can also expect to see VR & AR integrating into social campaigns, creating unique experiences for consumers.

The popularity of video shows no signs of slowing down but the main key is high-quality content. With the quality of content increasing by the day, sub-par efforts will not cut it if you want to be noticed.

Beyond the trends, what's most important to take from social is the data. These platforms come with a mountain of data gold to help you learn about your audience, thus adapting to best appeal to their needs and desires. Do not forget to analyze, learn and adapt in order to stay ahead.

Our Experts Insight on The Future of Social

Name: Joe Sinkwitz

Credentials: CEO of Intellifluence, a platform designed to maximize commerce over social media for brands and agencies. 

Joe has been in digital marketing for over 20 years and continues to see a year-to-year jump in opportunity for brands. 

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

The answer, unfortunately, is it depends. It depends on who your buyer persona is and where those that influence that buyer persona exist online because you aren't just selling directly to one individual, you're convincing individuals to sell for you, where the approach occur as organically as possible. Couple that need with the reality that certain networks are more favorable for certain types of media: if you're in the fashion, cosmetics, or any other highly visual industry then you'll want to make sure you utilize a visual first network (think Instagram, YouTube, or Pinterest). However, what if your end buyer personas aren't actually on those networks? You'll need to bridge the gap with influencers that can help to transcend your message to those areas where your buyer personas actually are spending their time online. It may sound complicated, but it really isn't. By hyper-focusing on your buyer persona and graphing out the positives and negatives of different networks, you can easily figure out where your resources are best spent.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

One of the biggest changes that much of the social and influencer industries are waiting for is disclosure; the FTC has already indicated that they'll be paying a keener eye due towards influencers due to the rapid increase in transactional volume that has been occuring. While today it is possible for a business to run an entire campaign without disclosure, facing little consequence, those days are fast coming to an end. Fear not though; according to the data we've collected from brand campaigns run through our network, we find no discernable drop off in conversions when proper disclosure is made on an influencer advertisement. Thus, while there is going to be a mad rush to ensure disclosure rules are met, it won't hurt your bottom line. 

Name: Brieanna Scolaro, LMSW

Credentials: Director of Community Relations at Behavioral Associates - a for-profit mental health company in NYC. 

As one of the companies major strategists, Brieanna coordinates all of Behavioral Associates online and social media marketing campaigns. 

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Businesses should truly understand their target audience and get into the psychology of their daily lives. After you understand your target population, you will become more effective in understanding how to reach them (what platform) and the messages to be sending.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

In 2018, we will continue to see a shift towards Instagram and Snapchat marketing for 30 and under, with the older generations continuing to further dive into Facebook. However, companies should push from content into more video style marketing - as Youtube has been one of the fastest growing marketing channels. In addition, with the new development of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, there is a new door open for marketers in these realms. 

Marketers and other program coordinators should aim to further incorporate principles of psychology and human behavior into their strategies. We need to continue to develop new ways of reaching people, quickly deploying rapid testing, monitoring impact, and not being afraid to adjust our plan based on what we are seeing work or not work. A good social media campaign is one that speaks directly to the needs of your audience and explicitly uses benefit-first language.

Name: Logan Rae

Credentials: Entrepreneur, marketing & business development coordinator. Partner and Marketing Director, Bacon Box

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

2018 marketing focuses should be focused on algorithms, make sure your digital efforts are providing the proper content to the right audience. It’s often we see companies with mismatching agendas show up on social media searches. It’s great that your company is being seen however running a campaign efficiently is not based on impressions. If you want conversions focus on providing relevant content, not just getting your ad seen.

Another trend to look out for in 2018 are professionally produced video advertisements and testimonies. Creating short, direct content utilizing influencers is a good way to reach new clients, convert sales and retain your audience.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

Depending on the final changes net neutrality regulations will bring we will potentially see less small businesses utilizing internet services to deliver content. Right now there is a battle between political and legal agencies. In the coming weeks we will see how this will shape the reach of social media marketing. 

Name: Dr. Liz Gross 

Credentials: Thought-leader, data-driven marketer, and researcher with nearly a decade of social media marketing experience. She founded Campus Sonar, a specialized social listening agency for higher education. Liz is a frequent presenter at conferences like SXSW and is a published author on the topic. 

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Businesses should realize that social media is much more than a marketing and engagement tool; it's a source of business intelligence. By doubling down on social listening (finding and analyzing public online conversations on platforms like reddit, Twitter, blogs, and discussion forums), business owners can conduct cost-effective market research, competitive analysis, and media relations. Consumers are having unprompted online conversations every day that should inform product development and marketing strategy. The value of listening for this purpose is undisputed.

Marketers should stop focusing on likes, followers, reach, and engagement rate. In 2018, if businesses want to move the needle they must tie social media strategy to business objectives. Whether the objective is driving website views, generating leads, or driving individuals to purchase, social media can impact business outcomes measured in dollars, not likes.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

All the major platforms are moving to the story format. At the same time, the content is looking more raw - with stickers, free-form drawings, and on-the-fly filters. Brands will be forced to tell their larger story through unpolished micro-moments, and string those moments together through serialized content (such as podcasts, daily Instagram stories, short webisodes, etc..) or they will lose the attention of consumers. 

Name: Jake Pacheco

Credentials: Founder, RedCapp

RedCapp is a content management platform. RedCapp creates monthly content packages for users business social media accounts. 

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Going into 2018, social media will once again be driven with the main 5 - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Snapchat is also going to a focus especially with their app redesign coming, but aside from geo-filters, many businesses, especially small business may not find much value in the app.

Content is king and in 2018, brands and businesses should focus their social media efforts on creating the highest quality content for their customers and audience. Marketing, especially on social media is all about storytelling. Content such as info-graphics, quotes, blog snippets, promotions, product explainers, all work towards telling your brands story and tying your website, product/service, and social channels altogether.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

For 2018, we will once again usher in more video content just as we have seen the past couple of years. Social media is also becoming more and more competitive with more business and posts every day, so original and creative content will become more and more valuable, while brands that do not create high-quality content will be left behind. You can also expect to see the continued growth of influencer marketing, both micro and macro. More businesses will adopt influencer marketing to reach new audiences and engage better with their existing audience. 

Name: Mike Stricklin

Credentials: CEO and founder of Pluginz LLC. Partner of SUATMM LLC, shutupandtakemymoney.com. Lead Marketing in The Bee Token (Cryptocurrency startup) 

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

It really depends on the product or service you are selling. For products, we are noticing a huge push by Facebook to feature videos onto newsfeeds. That's basically all you see now. Pictures and links aren't being shown to potential buyers anymore. They want to keep people on Facebook for as long as possible, and videos are the way for them to do that. Another great tip is to cross promote with big influencers who can get your product (or service) out to more people than you would on your own, or who can hit a totally different demographic than what you have. There are thousands of reviewers and bloggers out there who are desperate for something new to talk about. Sometimes just sending them a product or telling them you would share their video/blog post / etc is good enough! Remember that THEY also need YOU to keep growing their followers as well. For the Bee Token, we do a lot of social media contests to get our community active and sharing our coin, and we also reach out to a lot of podcasters who would like to interview our CEO. We make sure to follow similar companies or projects in the cryptospace, and tag companies or venues, or people we collaborate with. This gives them a nod on our end, and could possibly get them to re-share our posts to their followers. I'm a huge believer in doing as much organic advertising as possible without having to spend too much money. If you have a great product or service, the world will do all the advertising for you.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

I think companies (who sell products) will be moving all of their focus into Amazon as a sales driving machine. There are very few websites that can even come close to competing with the number of active customers that Amazon has. I think most companies would do well to focus as much of their advertising budget into Amazon ads. There is an untapped goldmine that people don't realize is at their fingertips. Create as many keywords as you possibly can and us a software program (I use MyPPCPal) and let it run your advertising for you. You aren't looking to make a profit on the sales you get from sponsored ads. The purpose is to grow your products listing on Amazon through these ads, gain reviews, and get the ads shown on facebook and all other social media outlets. From there, your listing will grow exponentially organically and you will notice a huge push in organic sales that don't cost you a dime.

Name: Alicia Wiedemann

Credentials: Chief Client Officer at unified.agency 

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Social video should be a main priority for 2018 for marketers and business owners as video accounts for 70% of online activity this year, and Facebook predicts to be almost all video by 2020. Facebook and YouTube are leading the charge for video (with the launch of Live and Watch), and Instagram stories and Snapchat are growing.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

Paid social spending will increase—70% of media companies said they would increase video spending in 2018. eMarketer reports that social network and spending surpasses $21 billion, accounting for 25.5% of digital ad spending. It is predicted that by 2019, social spending will increase to 31 billion, 29.4% of digital ad spending. No longer just an awareness play, social video has been shown to influence purchase decisions, and even drive last-click sales. But with this growth comes challenges. Marketers will need to strategize around video length, placements and which social platforms to invest their ad dollars.

There will also be an increase in paid support and influencer marketing, especially as more people understand the limits to organic reach. Advertisers will adopt and invest in influencer programs, as there will be an increased shift away from celebrity endorsements.

In addition, from a channel perspective, you'll see: increased adaptation of Pinterest, who will continue leading the charge around visual search functionality and the evolution of the marketing capabilities and tactics that can be leveraged in Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn. 

Name: Lee Esposito

Credentials: Principal of Columbus, Ohio-based digital PR firm Lee Esposito Associates

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

One area in which business owners and marketers should focus their social media efforts is Instagram. Instagram continues to make it easier for brands to gain, reach, and engage with followers while at the same time customizing feeds. For example, Instagram Stories allows marketers the luxury of quickly posting videos or images that might not necessarily work within a highly curated feed, but still tell their brand's story in an engaging way. Instagram will continue to roll out features to help business owners and marketers build brands, such as allowing users to follow a hashtag and archiving low-performing posts.

All the signs point toward Facebook Marketplace becoming a one-stop shop, from house hunting to online yard sales. Marketplace offers a stronger sense of security than scandal-ridden Craigslist because it links back to a user profile, putting a face on the seller and on the buyer, even showing mutual friends. And since October, Facebook Messenger users have been able to send and request payments via PayPal, removing the need for a cash exchange when meeting face to face.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

One change we can expect to see is having more emphasis placed on social media conversion strategies, whether it's followers signing up for a newsletter or some other desirable website action. Measuring reach, impressions and engagement will begin to take a back seat to tracking a targeted conversion rate for a brand's social media efforts.

Name: Cynthia Johnson

Credentials: CEO & Co-Founder of Bell + Ivy, social media influencer with 1M+ Followers 

Cynthia has received numerous accolades including:

Top 20 Digital Marketing people to follow by Inc. Magazine. 

Top 50 marketers on SnapChat by Mashable. 

Top 12 Female Entrepreneurs that Inspire by Darling Magazine.

Top 20 people in SEO by Guardian. 

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Business owners and marketers should focus their social media efforts on creating a cohesive community with their followers and to improve the interoperability of information between all their channels. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have such a massive following and the potential to be an impressive channel to sell and promote a product, message and/or brand. Relatable, relevant and timely content throughout these platforms will create a genuine community of followers that enhances their brand identity which then creates more brand loyalty.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

Changes we can expect to see in social media marketing in 2018 is an increase in user-generated content. This directly relates back to the concept of building a community within your social media channels and becomes a powerful tool to increase user engagement to represent a well-rounded and trusted brand. Another change we can see is an increase in influencer marketing vs. traditional advertisements. Humans trust humans and word of mouth marketing is one of the most affected ways of marketing, especially when it is from a trusted source. YouTube is an example of a powerhouse that effectively utilizes influencer marketing. According to Think with Google, six out of 10 YouTube subscribers would follow a Youtuber/influencer's advice regarding what to buy or a specific brand over a celebrity. 

Name: Divya Menon

Credentials: Founder/Consultant, Bad Brain

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

In 2018 we will see many platforms thinking more about the advertiser's needs. From Facebook to Reddit, platforms are ramping up to meet expectations and fill-in gaps. The most important focus this year should not be on a single platform or a brand or content strategy, but in strategizing your strategy. What that means is work on the analytics and research process to find which metrics you need and what formulas you require to distill those facts into a strategy. Platforms are shedding more light on their audiences so advertisers can tighten everything from attributions to segmentation. If you have not paused to catch-up on the litany of new metrics and offerings being proffered from social goliaths, take this year to do so -- speak with your reps, spend time testing new types of inventory, and understand the breadth and depth to which you can now dive into your audience and communication.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

Facebook will continue to set the bar for data richness, but we will see them testing the efficacy of new video inventory against maintaining the integrity of their video platforms. While Facebook works on creating new avenues for advertisers, we will see other platforms add more backend features, like Twitter trying to provide more data -- a key requirement for most of us to part with our advertising dollar.

One hope I have is that platforms will work harder to provide a more pleasant experience with advertisements on mobile -- less accidental clicks, less forced-views. I think many of us in advertising are crying out for the quality click; gone are the days where we just want blind traffic. These steps that many platforms are taking, while building out data for us, don't necessarily address the issue of creating invested users (cough, Twitter, cough).

Name: Erin Ledbetter

Credentials: Sr. Vice President, Carusele // Research Triangle, NC 

Formerly Vice President of Community Management at Ignite Social Media, Erin oversaw content strategy and content development for brands like P&G, Chrysler, and ConAgra Foods. Today, she leads strategy and production at Carusele, a new kind of marketing company that develops and distributes influencer content with the precision of a media buy. Under her leadership, Carusele has produced award-winning work for clients like Walgreens, Revlon, Nestle, and Hallmark.

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

It’s time to shift our thinking on content from disruption to interception. Brands who focus on disruption ultimately produce content that entertains. It’s great for engagement but crummy for driving business KPIs. Instead, brands should focus on intercepting consumers with content that tells them why they should care. This requires a deep understanding of how your audience engages on social media but brands that spend the research time upfront so they can develop and distribute timely, customer-centric content will see an impact on more than just vanity metrics.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

Consumers are getting savvy to the fact that many social influencers are only endorsing products because they’re paid to do so. That said, the industry isn’t going anywhere. Even with a slight decline in consumer trust, influencers are still trusted by millennials more than any other type of brand marketing content. For brands to succeed in this space next year, they’re going to have to start treating influencers like real partners through long-term ambassador programming. At Carusele, we’ve seen engagement rates on influencer content increase as much as 400% after one of our clients switched from ad-hoc influencer campaigns to an ongoing ambassador approach. 

Name: Lacey Creaser

Credentials: Digital Strategist at Jackson Spalding.

Lacey has over 12 years of digital/social experience working with big brands like Kimberly Clark and Starbucks. Jackson Spalding was founded in 1995 with a vision to be the most trusted and respected marketing communications agency. The agency today has over 150 full-time employees in Atlanta, Athens, Ga. and Dallas offices.

Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Go narrow and deep on social. Brands should focus on a concentrated social media strategy supporting overall business objectives. It's hard for any brand to offer unique content across multiple platforms. Choose content themes and platforms that offer the most engagement opportunities for your specific audience segments. I​​​​t's important to only engage on platforms where you can fully invest and measure value. A brand can often dilute its own efforts on the most impactful platforms when trying to keep up with every new trend, platform and tactic introduced. A written strategy to follow, optimize and report against is a great way to amplify the right efforts.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

You got to pay to play and go even bigger with video. As algorithms are continually updated, it is increasingly difficult for brands to stand out from the crowd. To reach your audience and keep their attention, you must pay to play and then offer content that will keep them engaged and coming back. Video is the most preferred way to receive information. If a brand is not creating quality video content, their message will most likely not resonate with their audience.

Master your Social in 2018

Whatever your business, you not only need to be on social, you need to be nailing it with a killer strategy.

To learn more about how social media can help your business, give us a call on 917-633-6518, drop us a line in the comments below or check out our website. Here you can browse for news on social media marketing, including how brands are using influencer marketing to grow their business.

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