Simon Pilkington
November 1, 2017

9 Social Media Trends Predicted in 2018 for Marketers

What are the top social media trends in 2018? We explain how ephemeral content, augmented reality, and new platform features will shape social media marketing.

2017 has brought about numerous new features for social media platforms. Some highlights include:

– Twitter introduced a 280-character update

– Instagram began testing a 4×4 grid, after also introducing the ability to include several photos per post this year

– Facebook introduced Facebook Stories, a direct assault against Snapchat, which it tried to buy back in 2013

So what’s the social media forecast moving into 2018? Technology and innovations by the top social media companies are growing at rapid rates. As these online giants add exciting new features, they also bring on new users who may have been holding out for some reason or another.

Look out for these social media trends for 2018…

Popularity of Ephemeral Content

Ephemeral content (popularized by Snapchat and adapted by both Instagram and Facebook) is short-lived content that disappears after a user has viewed it (or after a maximum 24 hour period). This content format is popular with millennials and generation Z, who will be the focus of many brands’ marketing efforts in 2018.

The use of Instagram Stories has already surpassed that of Snapchat, so we can expect this content to reach an older audience of social media users. The concept of disappearing content may sound scary to many marketers but several brands are already using Instagram Stories for ads.

What makes ephemeral content popular is that people think it’s more authentic than planned content. With this in mind, social media trends 2018 suggest that you should post your best, high-quality content on your Instagram feed and real-time content on Stories.

Another element of interest to marketers when it comes to the use of Stories is that they are located at the very top of the news feed on their respective networks, keeping your brand top of mind when our tar

get audience is using this feature. With Stories, there’s a component of FOMO (fear of missing out) and an impulse to take quick action, because the content is gone after 24 hours.

Generation Z Join the Workforce

Some sources define the oldest members of Generation Z to be 22 years old, while others set the cutoff at 17. Either way a new wave of bright eyed, bushy tailed, and even more tech savvy than the definitive Millenial social media generation are joing the workforce, spreading their influence and purchasing power online.

This is the first generation to have emerged from the womb with devices in hand, naturalised into the age of the internet, and to whom social media is second nature. With this comes swathes of followers, which with the proliferation of influencer marketing will make them attractive prospects for brand partnerships.

This means that social media trends will likely shift further towards the platforms most popular with this demographic, so expect more growth for Instagram and Snapchat. Brands also need to create more personalized content, because like millennials, Gen Z puts a premium on authentic experiences.

New Augmented Reality Apps & Platform Features

Social media trends are often dictated by developments in their supporting technology, and with the latest iPhone camera features, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that augmented reality is here to stay.

Snapchat Spectacles have been talked about as a business venture that will pave the way for augmented reality. On a related note, Snapchat just released a software update that allows you to superimpose your Bitmoji (one of their popular features) into the real world.

We’re likely to see more AR apps, and with that comes opportunities for product placement and new ad formats.

Continued Rise in Influencer Marketing

Instagram marketing has proven to be a great success for the early adopters, and we are already seeing niche stars of the online world from Instagram or Youtube being recruited by major brands for high budget influencer campaigns. Case in point, fashion blogger and music producer from the Berlin underground has come from relative obscurity to filming this collaboration with the gargantuan TAG Heuer watch brand.

Most brands will be taking advantage of some type of influencer marketing, but not all are transparent about it. Instagram rolled out an update to try and address this issue. The update displays a subheader under the influencer’s username which says “in paid partnership with”, in order to disclose sponsored posts.

Consumers may become bored with seeing influencers with ~10,000 followers promoting brands that aren’t related to their niche.  Influencers will likely become more selective about who they decide to work with.

For 2018, building relationships with key influencers is something brands should focus on. Building relationships is complex, since each influencer is different and will require personalized messaging. Social media trends 2018 may also involve brands turning to real experts instead of social influencers.

Live Streaming & Video Content Take Over

2017 saw the rise in popularity of video content, which is effective in getting attention, engagement, and followers. On that note, video is the fastest growing ad format. By 2020, it is expected that video will make up 80% of consumer internet traffic.

Social media sites have also started offering in-app live-streaming and ways to create ephemeral content. What was once a novelty became a mainstream focus of social media, with some brands turning to livestreaming to capture the attention of their followers. An added advantage of livestreaming is that it requires commitment, keeping uninterested audiences away.

You can also expect that your simple image posts will receive less reach, as they are outperformed by moving images and videos. Thankfully, by using a few nifty apps, a smartphone and a shred of creativity, it’s pretty easy to put your stills into motion. Check out our post on making video on a budget for more.

Digital Hangouts

Predictions for social media in 2018 include the rise in use of digital hangouts.

Data plans are getting cheaper, so most smart phone users have the gigabytes to stream stream video all day. Houseparty, is a video hangout platform used by over one million people daily, and is an emergent platform for younger users,. Facebook are also creating their own version of this format, currently called Bonfire.

Tightening up on Fake News

A study found that 59% of links shared on Facebook have never been clicked, meaning that many people just read headlines without taking the time to digest the whole story. After some snafus in the 2016 United States presidential election, social media sites have started to embrace a more personal approach to governing conduct on their platforms.

Source: Vox

Facebook, which was criticized as one of the major channels for spreading fake news, is exploring methods to update their machine learning to track possible hoaxes and send them to human fact checkers for review.


Social media has become a popular medium for providing customer service, apart from email and phone calls. Some people prefer this over the latter two options because with social media, you get real-time updates and answers.

However, large businesses tend to receive more social media inquiries than what human agents can reasonably handle, which are often just the same questions over and over again. Instead of (or in addition to) creating a FAQ page, many businesses are building chatbots to assist customers looking for further information.

Source: The Verge

A chatbot is a software application built to stimulate human conversation. In fact, there are over 11,000 monthly active bots on Facebook Messenger. Gartner has predicted that by 2018, 30% of our chat conversations will be with chatbots. If you’re not using chatbots for your business, Hubspot claims that you’re already behind.

Facebook Becoming (Almost) Entirely Mobile

Contently predicts that by 2020, 59% of US users will access Facebook exclusively by mobile device. This prediction doesn’t sound too farfetched, as the 80% of the company’s advertising revenue comes from mobile ads.

Source: AdAge

Facebook wasn’t initially designed for mobile, but with popular apps like Snapchat and Instagram, which are completely mobile-based, Facebook had to adapt in order to stay at the top of the social networking ranks. Knowing all this, it’s best to optimize for mobile ads specifically when using the platform’s paid ads feature.

Social Media Trends 2018

Social media gave brands and their customers a chance to connect and the major players are constantly coming up with more ways to do so.

If we are to believe social media trends 2018, the near future will bring about brand looking to a new target audience (Gen Z-ers), new sources of media (AR/VR, video), and focusing on other social sites like Snapchat & Instagram (and maybe even Houseparty).

What are your predictions for social media trends 2018?

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