Social Media So Far in 2016

First and foremost, you don’t need us to tell you how far and beyond social media marketing has gone from what it was 5 years ago. Since its early days, where many insisted that it wasn’t a viable business strategy, it has grown into a fertile platform for valuable advertising options and thriving business opportunities. Today, not having a presence on social media means missing out on massive marketing potential.

Social media boasts astronomical penetration rates here in the Middle East, with a reported 80 million users on Facebook, 25 million on Instagram and Snapchat usage jumping from 3% to 12% in the region within just one year.

The challenge is that many companies in the Middle East still don’t approach the medium quite right. The modern day consumer wakes up, checks their social news feed, captures their Instagram-worthy morning coffee and Snaps their evening workout. Businesses must understand that when they’re communicating on social media, they’re interrupting their customer’s everyday conversations and lifestyle – meaning that having something valuable to say is crucial.

Social media boasts astronomical penetration rates here in the Middle East

With an influx of new platforms popping up every year and companies creating innovative content in a bid to vie for users’ attention online, the world of social media marketing poses new challenges every day. But with every new challenge, comes a new opportunity and it’s understanding how to make the most of these that will help you to stay ahead. Here are the trends and changes that we’ve seen in social media so far for 2016.

Spontaneous Updates

Social media is spontaneous by nature. Whilst content is often strategised and pre-planned well in advance of its publish date, sometimes it pays to broadcast messages that are more ‘in-the-moment’ than others. This year, we’ve already witnessed a huge rise in such content.

Consumers crave fast access to real-time events and information, allowing for authentic communication between the brand and the customer – minus the guise of marketing jargon. So far, social media in 2016 has been characterised by spontaneous updates, thanks to the likes of Periscope, Snapchat and Instagram which are optimised for on-the-go posts.

The rising trend of live streaming video has taken this a step further. The strategy gives companies the opportunity to humanise their business through more interactive content. The facts? It’s unedited and unfiltered – which may well make your brand guideline gripping hands tremble. But this doesn’t mean that live videos can’t be pre-planned in advance with a storyboard, thus minimising the risks of any unprecedented mishaps. Protecting your brand image is crucial at all costs and quality should not be compromised for immediacy.

Buy Buttons

Facebook has tackled commerce head-on by launching its own buy button built into its ads and creating immersive online advertising experiences such as 360 degree videos and Canvas. Pinterest has also gained attention by introducing ‘buy’ features for its users and advertisers. What’s more, mobile users can purchase a product in a sponsored post without having to leave the app. A Shopify study found that an average price of purchase made through Pinterest is $50 – higher than any other major social platform – attracting businesses with its huge e-commerce potential.

Social media influences more shoppers’ buying decisions than retail websites

Instagram follows closely behind with its call-to-action buttons on adverts, and it’s safe to predict that more social platforms will soon join the trend.The success of social commerce is in the stats – as recent research found that social media influences more shoppers’ buying decisions than retail websites. By the end of 2016, experts expect a significant rise of social media brands with some sort of a buy button as an element of their advertising campaigns.

Data Driven Decisions

Marketers have more data now more than ever, with a wealth of information at our disposal in social media. From Facebook Insights to Twitter analytics, Instagram video views and Custom Audience targeting options in the Facebook Adverts Manager – when it comes to social, your business decisions and future strategies can be based on hard facts. Never before has there been such accessible data to reveal how your target market has reacted to your advertising efforts – how many people have seen your content, engaged with it, for how many seconds, which actions they took on your post and more.

This data can help you to hone in on the personalisation of your social media campaigns, allowing you to focus on building stronger brand loyalty online and facilitate long-term engagement – rather than short term acquisitions and spontaneous, one-off sales.

Competition for Organic Visibility

As the ROI of social marketing becomes more apparent, and the strategy becomes more accessible to more businesses, we can expect greater competition for organic visibility. Currently, many advertisers fail to gain organic reach on Facebook, and as more businesses emerge, the competition for organic visibility will only intensify.

Understanding how to optimise organic visibility in cohesion with your paid marketing efforts is key. Recently, chatter about Instagram’s impending news feed algorithm change prompted a slurry of ‘Turn on post notifications’ updates, leaving many brands questioning what they can do on the platform to ensure that their content continues to be seen. We’re very interested to see if and how the update affects engagement, but at this initial stage feel that continued quality content will rule the roost.

In all its malleability and restlessness, social media has (of course) played a large role in 2016’s global marketing efforts so far. The way to fully unlock the potential of social media marketing in the latter half of the year is to stay up to date on the newest trends and understand how they can be utilised to help you grow your business. Need more help cutting through the clutter? Drop us an email today, or pass by the office for a coffee and chat soon.

Mark Warman - Founder & Digital Consultant Administrator

With a background in design, technology and user experience, I help businesses adapt. Adapt to the changing needs and expectations of their digital audiences.