Welcome to the first of our social media predictions for 2018. It’s that time of year when experts gaze into their crystal balls and make bold predictions for the year ahead. Unfortunately, here at Social Brighton, we seem to have mislaid our crystal ball, so we’re going to have to base our predictions on facts, trends and specialist insight. Oh well.
We got a bit carried away so are going to release our 2018 predictions as three separate blog posts, grouped around different themes:
- People vs Machines
- Building Trust
- Video & Interactive Shopping
So if you like this one, do look out for the other blog posts, coming soon on our website.
People vs Machines
When Steve Jobs brought the first computer mouse to Apple in the 1970’s it’s build cost was $300 per unit. Through innovative design they were able to reduce this to $15, thus enabling mass-market adoption.
Since then very little has changed in the way we interface with computers. Most of us still have some form of screen, keyboard and mouse setup. Smart phones evolved our interactions with technology further, allowing gesture-based controls such as swiping, tapping, shaking, pinching (and unintentionally dropping). This year has seen brand new user interfaces becoming more widely adopted.
The continuing battle for Voice Controlled Interface dominance
Google, Amazon, Apple and (soon) Facebook are competing to win the race to have the biggest selling voice controlled interface. Their devices allow people to use just their voices to get information, listen to music, control household appliances, set reminders and generally handle many activities previously carried out on screen-based devices.
This new way of operating daily technology will have a huge impact on businesses and social media. How will you reach customers when they aren’t viewing your banner adverts while looking through emails or accessing their favourite social media network in new ways? How will you ensure you’re top of the search listings?
At the moment when your customers search online they’ll be served a page of results ranked in order of relevance. So even if your business isn’t top of the search rankings the chances are you’ll get some traffic. However, if one of your customers asks a voice interface such as Amazon’s Alexa the same query they’re likely to only be given the top search result.
This is worth considering right now when creating written content. You should focus your content around specific questions and answers, perhaps in the style of FAQs. As 25% of all voice searches are for local information you’ll also need to make sure you’re listed on Google My Business with all the correct information.
If you have the resource it may also be worth developing a ‘Skill’ for Amazon’s Echo device to enable people to access your online information more easily. You should also revisit your audio content strategy. Do you know how to produce a killer podcast or create an engaging radio advert? These skills will become increasingly important as your customers move away from screens and audio increases in prominence.
Virtual Reality headsets give businesses new ways of showing off products and services
In 2017 virtual reality hardware has improved in functionality and reduced in price. Consumers can now buy headsets to hold their smart phones for just a few pounds, giving them rudimentary VR experiences. Integrated headsets from Oculus and Sony Playstation have increased mass-market adoption. Facebook made headlines by acquiring Oculus for a huge $2bn back in 2014 and aims to get 1bn people into VR this year. This clearly highlights the potential seen in this new technology. Experts argue that this form of 3D interaction with technology is much more natural for humans than 2D screens as it echoes the world we live in.
In terms of business this offers huge opportunities for many industries. Estate agents are already using VR to allow people to view properties remotely, travel companies are giving consumers a taste of their holiday prior to booking, and music and sports events companies are allowing people to ‘attend’ concerts without having to travel to the venue itself. It can also give customers immersive ways of seeing behind the scenes of your companies – perhaps by viewing a production process, or experiencing a branded event. It could also be used to conduct market research, helping customers experience and feed back on a new a product or store, influencing its design before it’s even built.
Chat apps will become an important engagement tool
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has advanced throughout 2017 and is now beginning to deliver more contextual and personalised experiences for consumers. Many businesses are making use of Chatbots. These automated text based chat services can handle customer enquiries and help brands to focus their human resource on more complex matters. As 54% of social media users prefer to engage with brands via messaging apps than by email or phone this is something to consider.
Despite the huge amount of usage Messenger and WhatsApp command these services bring in relatively little revenue for Facebook. Messenger currently offers Paypal transactions and equities trading, but in 2018 we are likely to see an increase in in-app advertising and purchasing, with the possible inclusion of transaction fees.
While business-related functionality is limited it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with chat platforms and start engaging with customers on a small scale to develop your technique and style. It is important not to appear too intrusive, as people are typically more protective of their personal chats than of social media account. Becoming proficient in marketing via chat platforms early on may well yield great rewards in the future. 53% of mobile messaging app users say they’re more likely to buy from a business that they can contact via chat services.
That’s it for now, but if you have the time and inspiration you can read more insights in our next blog article here.