Social media is a fast-moving beast. It might seem like you’ve only just got your head around the latest developments when a whole new raft of trends emerge. In fact some innovations are probably being tweaked while you’re reading this. So where should your social media manager’s eyes be next year?

Live and let die

Live is now in the mainstream embrace. Facebook doubled its videos last year and Instagram is now in direct competition for short clips with Snapchat through its Stories feature

There’s been a bit of hesitancy around live, due to the potential for things to go wrong. Facebook’s biggest live stream yet featured (or didn’t) President Obama and a whole load of hits for YouTube. Live streaming still presents technological challenges but we know that engagement is higher (135% more reach than image-only posts and 10 times more comments than on recorded video) so it’s worth investing proper time and effort in. Common mistakes to avoid include not broadcasting for long or often enough, not generating enough noise around the broadcasts and neglecting the way people interact with live compared with video.

All eyes on Twitter

Twitter itself has been foraying into live, offering the ability to stream straight from the Twitter app, which cuts out the need for Periscope to stream direct from a device. There are other changes afoot over at Twitter as it’s been toying with character limits and usernames (much to many users’ fury) and has shut down Vine. But the company also acquired machine learning company Magic Pony Technology last year so we should expect some AI developments. There’s also talk of a potential buyout (perhaps by Google), so it’s certainly worth keeping a close eye on Twitter over the coming months.

Filters are go

Geofilters are great for increasing brand awareness, engaging with the community and reaching new audiences. In an effort to compete with Snapchat’s offering, Facebook is about to launch its own filter service, allowing users to overlay text on videos and add characters and masks. This means that businesses will be able to buy location-based advertising, with a filter covering potential customers in the area. This is all grist to the mill in Facebook’s current move towards more visual communication through photos and video content.

VR is the star

Facebook has already announced its plans to incorporate virtual reality into its offering. Back in June, it launched Facebook 360, which lets users to create complete 360 degree photos. Back in October, the company demonstrated a VR headset prototype that does not require a PC to operate and it’s now poised to release 360 for Facebook Live. Google also recently acquired eye-tracking startup Eyefluence. This presents a huge opportunity for retailers and it’s likely that Snapchat will follow suit to remain competitive.

Linking up LinkedIn

Though LinkedIn can sometimes seem like the neglected social network, with an increasing emphasis on employee advocacy, it still remains relevant. Most businesses have a LinkedIn presence as minimum and it’s used as a search tool by job seekers and recruiters. LinkedIn also remains a great platform for growing company brand by sharing content and giving your audience an insight to what it does, such as office photos, updates and educational pieces. Savvy social media managers will be increasingly sharing the content they’re already sharing on Facebook and Twitter. The site also remains a cost-effective medium with a low cost-per-conversion, compared with someone like Google Adwords so it could be a potential goldmine for lead generation. And as a brand ambassador, it’s crucial. A company’s salespeople will have thousands of connections so good for increased reach. But, more excitingly, Microsoft bought the company last year, its largest acquisition ever so we are likely to see a greater collaboration between Microsoft’s productivity software and the social network. The LinkedIn CEO has already indicated that he can see some sort of “economic graph” featuring every employee and their CV, along with every job and every digital skill necessary. It might be time to dust off the profile.


By Gavin Hammar, founder of Sendible

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