Now that the post-New Year’s haze has cleared, it’s time to look at some of the most important items that’ll dominate the community landscape this year.
For this post, I’ve chosen to focus on video, automation, and advocacy marketing. While none of these trends is exactly new, promise to impact online communities in new and exciting ways this year.
1. Video - the visual storyteller
As a storytelling medium, you just can’t surpass the power of video. That’s one of the many reasons brands and platforms continually seek out new ways to capitalize on video technology.
As with most things, Facebook is trying its best to dominate the field. In 2017, the social media juggernaut introduced its Watch platform to a limited trial audience. This year, we’ll likely see this ostensible alternative to YouTube expand to the remainder of users on Facebook.
According to Michael Stelzner, CEO and Founder of Social Media Examiner, “We'll also likely see Facebook roll out new features for video creators that'll make it far easier to get exposure and be discovered.”
For community managers, this means a whole new set of incentives for generating and distributing video-driven content to their members. We'll need to watch closely to see how Facebook changes the field and, more importantly, what we need to do to adapt.
2. Automation - being able to scale with ease
Current estimates hold that global spending on marketing automation software in 2018 will approach $32 billion. That number will only continue to rise as more companies realize the power of automation for building and strengthening online community.
Here are a few specific applications we can expect to see:
- Automated Social Outreach – Instead of identifying individual targets on social media and wooing them to a community, platforms like SocialDrift can process key demographic data and perform those trivial tasks so that community managers can focus more on higher-touch work.
- Personalized Content Recommendations – Amazon and Netflix have experienced fantastic success by tailoring ultra-specific offerings to customers' unique preferences. In the same way, platforms like Optimizely will allow community managers to adapt content more specifically to individual users.
- Chatbots – Again, this is not a new technology. Nevertheless, chatbots are getting more and more sophisticated. Add Facebook Messenger integration to the picture, and you have the recipe for more widespread adoption this year. If you want a fantastic example of what chatbots can do, take a look at Slack’s Slackbot.
3. Advocacy Marketing - use your passionate fans as your promoters
When asked to share her prediction for the short-term future of social media, Joanne Sweeney-Burke, CEO of the Digital Training Institute, unequivocally pointed to advocacy marketing as a significant trend for 2018, especially for mobile conversion.
“Advocacy marketing is a tactic that will rocket brands into a new digital stratosphere if they can leverage the power of their online community.”
In 2017, brands’ organic reach on Facebook dropped by 1-2%. On Instagram, that dip was closer to 30%. The fact of the matter is, social platforms tend to devalue brand-generated content and put a premium on user-generated content.
Add to that the fact that the latter has a 28% higher engagement rate, and community managers have got all the incentive they need to start intentionally turning power-users into full-fledged advocates.