Looking back at our social media predictions for 2018

As 2018 starts to draw to a close it’s time to reflect on the year and take a look back at the social media trends we predicted to stand out over the past 12 months.

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The cold, dark days are finally upon us and 2018 is starting to draw to a close. Around this time last year, I took the plunge and decided to make predictions about what 2018 would have in store for the world of social media. With December only a few days away industry experts across the world will be furiously writing their predictions for next year and looking towards 2019. However, before we look to the year ahead first let’s take a look back at our predictions for the past year and reflect on how social media has developed.  

1. The growth of video content

Were we right? Yes

In all honesty, this probably wasn’t the most controversial prediction we could have made, video content saw a huge rise in 2017 and this trend only continued during 2018. Video content saw huge developments during the past year with social media platforms looking to boost their long-form video capabilities. Both Facebook and Instagram rolled out video streaming services this year, a move that further highlights the importance of video content. While it’s still relatively early days the addition of Facebook Watch and IGTV are indicators of which way the industry is moving and the steps organisations need to take to stay ahead.

If you aren’t already utilising video content as part of your social strategy fear not, there’s still chance to get in on the action. However, it’s time to act now before you get left behind.

2. The end of organic reach

Were we right? Yes

In comparison to a few years ago, the organic reach of each of your social media posts is likely to have dropped dramatically. A post in 2013 might have reached around 12% of your followers, whereas now the same post will likely only reach around 5% to 6%. Each year organic reach has seen a decline as social media platforms push brands and marketers towards paid ads and promoted posts. Once again this year’s State of Paid Social report highlights how marketers are increasing their social spending with 49% making the decision to spend more in comparison to last year and 60% planning to spend even more in the next 12 months.

Again we weren’t exactly putting our necks on the line when making this prediction as it is a trend that has been around for the past few years. However, it’s not a trend that looks to be slowing down any time soon so it’s about time you started to consider investing in social advertising.

3. Importance of influencer marketing

Were we right? Kind of

For brands, micro influencers are the way forward if they are looking to promote their products on social media. Once again this is a trend we have been seeing for a couple of years, but the move towards authenticity instead of simply whoever has the largest follower count is important for businesses using influencer marketing. However, the one issue surrounding this is that consumers’ attitudes towards social media have shifted due to the rise in fake news and the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, as users have lost their trust in certain social media networks. According to Edelman’s 2018 Global Trust Barometer, media – which includes social platforms – is now the least trusted institution.

Social platforms, especially Facebook, have been working to put measures in place to eradicate fake news and uncertainty on the platform, but it is still an issue. This, however, does highlight the importance of using small influencers who are able to gain the trust of their followers and build a closer relationship with them and your brand, instead of the ‘celebrities’ who will endorse anything if you pay them enough.

4. Increased use of Stories

Were we right? Yes

Brands across the globe are making the most of the Story feature on either Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or any of the other social platforms that use them. In our prediction post, we pointed to the fact that in April 2017 Instagram Stories had risen to 200 million daily active users. Looking at that figure again you can see the popularity of Stories as in June 2018 this figure had doubled to 400 million. This is a figure that is only likely to rise going forward with Instagram constantly releasing new updates and features to allow marketers to make the most of Stories. The success of the Stories feature doesn’t just stop at Instagram. Facebook and Messenger Stories have now reached 300 million daily active users, nearly double the number of daily active users of Snapchat. While Snapchat was the creator of the Story feature the recent success of Facebook and Instagram’s use of Stories further highlights why marketers should be making the most of them.

As has been the case with many of the previous predictions this trend doesn’t look likely to start slowing any time soon. If you haven’t started using Stories as part of your social media strategy already, it should be a high priority in 2019.

5. Adoption of AI

Were we right? Yes

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was a hot topic throughout 2018, with automation a key driver for many industries. In the social media industry AI is still relatively new, however, the past year has shown how brands can use the technology to streamline their customer engagement. More and more companies are looking to utilise chatbots as part of their social media strategy to help deal with low level customer queries. The 2018 State of Chatbots report found that 15% of respondents had interacted with chatbots over the past 12 months. While this is still a small percentage in comparison to phone and email it’s still a significant amount and highlights the rise in popularity of chatbots and AI.

Time to look forward

Ultimately the majority of the trends we previously highlighted we started to see towards the end of 2017 and have continued over the past 12 months. The world of social media is fast paced and ever changing, making it a hard industry to predict. It’s more than likely these trends we predicted for 2018 will continue through into the year ahead, but as is always the case there will be a few surprises along the way.

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