Social Media Trends 2018 at a glance

As we look forward to 2018, it’s clear that the dominance of social networking will continue to increase. Across all global markets, consumers are spending more time on social networks every year. While connecting with friends remains the top motivation for using social networks, digital consumers are also engaging in new activities like tuning in for live broadcasts, researching products, interacting with Messenger bots, and watching an ever-increasing number of mobile videos.

As consumers adopt new social behaviors, organizations are also maturing their publishing, advertising, and measurement strategies. In 2017, we saw a long list of innovative social advertising formats- the victor: mobile video- and the rise of AI messaging bots. Organizations are interested in these innovations. But they’re also under pressure to justify the ROI of existing social media investments.

In Hootsuite’s new 2018 Social Trends Report, they evaluate key global trends, offer recommendations to help solve common challenges, and identify practical ways your organization can better deploy social across all points in the consumer purchase funnel. Below we have summarized the five key trends from this year’s report:

1. The evolution of social ROI

For years, we’ve discussed the value of short-term vanity metrics; likes and clicks. In 2018, we start to see that social media can be used for so much more than these simple metrics.

In the past, organizations typically used social media to help promote their brand to the public.  In 2018, we are seeing how social media has become much more valuable.  Not only has it helped increase brand awareness, but now social media is also helping organizations achieve business objectives; for example, reducing customer service costs, following the development of brand reputation, and attracting the best employees.

This development requires new metrics – and more social media strategies need to match the organization’s most important business goals and challenges.  Hootsuite calls this trend “the evolution of social ROI.”

56% of respondents said that not being able to prove the ROI of social media made it difficult for their organization to be successful with social media.

  of social marketers track and measure the effectiveness of our social media efforts against defined goals and objectives, yet 29% are still trying to prove its value.

of social marketers track and measure the effectiveness of our social media efforts against defined goals and objectives, yet 29% are still trying to prove its value.

  of social marketers use metrics because they are “standard activity metrics for measuring social”.

of social marketers use metrics because they are “standard activity metrics for measuring social”.

  of respondents said that not being able to prove the ROI of social media made it difficult for their organization to be successful with social media.

of respondents said that not being able to prove the ROI of social media made it difficult for their organization to be successful with social media.

2. Mobile fuels the growth of social TV

The consumption of video content has seen a significant increase with the help of smartphones.  In 2018, we move away from the idea of brands publishing their own work and move towards the idea of being a broadcaster of your own brand through the use of mobile video with the traditional-TV style.

Using this style might not be the best approach for each business. However, it will allow some businesses to come up with new engagement strategies for their social audiences as well as come up with different ideas for social advertising.

3. Trust declines, while peer influence rises

In 2017, we heard all about fake news, saw U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprising success with traditional media, and saw a decrease in trust in mainstream institutions.

Businesses and consumers were directly affected by each of these cultural and technological shifts.  According to Edelman Trust Barometer and the results from their global study of consumer confidence, for the first time in history consumers put the same amount of trust in their peers as they do with experts.

33% of respondents said that not being able to prove the ROI of influencer marketing made it difficult for their organization to be successful with social media.
— Hootsuite 2018 Social Trends Survey

Instead of trusting institutions, vanity metrics, and mega-influencer celebrities, we are now trusting smaller communities where genuinely satisfied customers and dedicated employees matter more than ever.

4. Humans: meet AI

Marketers have started to see how useful machines are today. But, marketers need to understand the extensive changes AI brings to social marketing rather than just following the trend. Now, there are over 100,000 Messenger bots active on Facebook; this is a 233% increase from last years: 33,000.  We have yet to see how customers will value the use of these machines, but that does not diminish their rise in numbers.

In 2018, Facebook has already started to reap the practical benefits of AI. They have released new predictive analytics that will help marketers find insight faster. Also reaping these benefits are visual search engines; they are now allowing consumers to search using images rather than keywords, using something called machine learning. This will redefine how we search for products in the future.

5. The promise (and reality) of social data

Businesses know that there are many benefits when it comes to social listening and uncovering customer insights with social data. They’ve realized that integrating social data with other analytics systems requires a lot more work and resources than they thought. This will involve a lot of digging into the mountains of data found through social media. Hootsuite believes that, in 2018, businesses will need to determine how much effort and resources it will take to reap all the benefits that social data has to offer.


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