8 trends ready to shake up social in 2018

2017 was a weird year. Politically, culturally, and technologically, it amazed and shocked. The silver lining being that the tech and advertising industry seems a whole lot more mature now, and the content we produce will mirror this.

Yes, Facebook has announced a global revamp of how we see and engage with content from publishers and brands, but we will have a great deal of new and exciting toys to mess around with in 2018.

So here you are, a list of some of the trends to look out for this year – collected by the Prism Content Team:



The Rise of AR

An exciting new bit of tech news is the huge amount of money being pumped into AR headsets. Tech companies all over are racing to own the next mainstream AR headset.

Google Glass came and went in a flash, but big bucks are flying into the world of AR – it seems that investors are predicting AR will entrance us and become the next big tech innovation of this decade.

Now, there are rumours that Snapchat will release a 2.0 version of their Spectacles which may have AR, however, is unlikely AR headsets to replace smartphones this year, but be sure to see a lot of activity in development and funding.

On the other hand, expect to see AR on your phones mature in exciting ways. With Apple’s release of the ARKit, and Snapchat releasing their Lens Studio, big players are encouraging brands to experiment with AR. It will be interesting to see if we can go from dancing hot-dogs, to genuinely interesting and engaging branded AR.

Instagram Stories ft. Giphy

Huge surprise from Instagram last year, the feature that was a direct clone from Snapchat has outgrown the original! Yes, Instagram Stories, the platform where we host our ‘cultured’ cuisine choice, and our embarrassing nightlife, has in-fact, month to month, outgrown Snapchat Stories by 50 million users.

“Now”, you ask, “how do brands engage with this new change?”. Instagram has been surprisingly accommodating to brands for this growing tool. The first benefit is ‘discoverable stories’ – users don’t necessarily have to follow a brand to see the story. In-fact hiding hashtags under stickers works a treat to connect your work to certain audiences.

Another great feature is if your brand account has more than 10k followers, you can add links to your stories, giving your audience a strong CTA to visit your site after the great story you created.

Instagram are now partnering with Giphy, enabling users to incorporate GIF stickers into their stories. This will allow users and brands alike to create even richer and more interesting visuals.

On top of this you will also soon be able to upload videos of any size dimensions to your story. By pinching the screen, you will be able to see the full image, with the ‘dead’ space being filled by a matching colour gradient.



The Gen Z Revolution

They are younger, healthier, next wave of interns, here to make you feel a little worse. In-case you haven’t brushed up on your gen knowledge, they are roughly 20 now and according to a study by GfK, they are more diverse, creative, healthy, and less pleasure seeking, excitable, and narcissistic than millennials.

As they are about to become one of the largest generations by 2020, being mindful of their perceptions and ideologies is a must.

Goldman Sachs, calling Gen Zers a ‘device-in-hand’ generation, recently valued them higher than millennials as a target group. In particular brands ought to pay much more attention to this generation as they are influenced twice as much on social than by price deals.



Brands start talking back

2017 was ultimately the year we started properly talking to robots – over 35.6M of us in-fact. Incredibly interestingly, a JWT report (Speak Easy) found neurological evidence that users develop an emotional connection to smart speakers.

It’s only a matter of time before smart speakers develop a more human voice and play a more important, stronger role in our everyday life.

Some predict that in 2018, smart speaker sales will grow by 70%. This in turn will fund investment in developing smart speakers further, and culturally shift the product from a fun niche, to necessity for your home.

Brands have already started to embrace this new bit of tech; Alexa, Amazon’s smart speaker, has thousands of branded skills it can learn, from ordering pizza, to getting a dry cleaner to come pick up your laundry.

Although Amazon have outright said they will not allow advertising on their smart speakers, there is room to create genuine brand experiences with these skills.


Live Streaming

First of all, the excitement surrounding live streaming, is that the tech is constantly improving, meaning we can create richer and more intimate experiences between brands and consumers.

Secondly, consumers enjoy live streams – 80% prefer live streams to branded blogs, and 82% choose them over branded social posts.

A good tool for brands is to set event reminders of your live stream to ensure a larger audience tune in.



Virtual Hangouts become Mainstream

Remember when Google + was a thing? Remember when they introduced the hangouts feature? Well, now it’s cool for some reason, and Gen Zers are running the conversation surrounding it.

Houseparty, a hangout app, has more than 1M users each day. Developers have recently begun investing in this style of platform style too.

Facebook, so confident in this platform, has developed THREE reactions to it. Facebook Bonfire, a direct clone of Houseparty. Facebook Spaces, a VR hangout, and Facebook Watch Party, where users can watch videos, live, together.

Multiple sources online are all predicting that virtual hangouts will become ‘cool’. Especially as Wi-Fi and mobile internet improves.

Currently, brands have not yet entered this platform with much enthusiasm. However, it’s not hard to image the scene – You’re in a virtual ‘house party’, talking to an old friend you haven’t seen for a while by the beer pong table, you’re telling a great joke you overheard at a bar the other day. As you get to the punchline, AmazonBot1001 slides over to the table, “have you heard of the new Prime subscription deal?”.

Twitter Will Adapt to Survive

Some interesting statistics for you: 23M active Twitter users are estimated to be bots. 44% of Twitter users have never sent out a single tweet. And the growth from last year in Twitter users was a very, very low 4%.

The latest news is that most users use the platform just to follow trending news and information from journalists and influencers. Twitter is failing to diversify its offerings in an exciting tech world. User numbers are not growing enough.

The key trend to watch this year is that the brains behind Twitter will probably be rethinking the current landscape of the platform. They have already begun testing out a subscription model for advertisers. Expect to see new marketing tools and metrics.



Social Is Regulated (finally…)

We’ve left 2017 bruised and shivering from the abuse of powers on social. Most of us are aware of the discussion taking place over how ‘big data’ insight, mixed with large scale misinformation, may have led to the delicious cocktail that is the political nightmares of 2017.

There are big claims by companies such as Cambridge Analytica that they can manipulate elections purely on who spends the most money.

There are authors who have shouted that our ‘democracy was hijacked’, as there are authors who are sceptical of the real dangers of ‘big data’. Whatever stance you take, international governing bodies have decided to act.

The real silver lining from 2017 is that privacy will now be an important issue. ‘Big data’ research and the abuse of it will be frowned upon by individuals who craft law.

Social media will finally be taken seriously as a platform that can decide elections and public opinion. We can really look forward to a new era of safety in information.


Hello 2018

In summary, we can enter our marketing world this year in a much more hopeful mood. Expect to see positive changes in the way audiences interact with social media.

We can build richer experiences between brands and social media users. And we should be getting lots of new toys to play with, in a much safer and positive landscape.




February 2, 2018