As a new year begins, technology experts are speculating on the next big trends in social media. While Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have emerged as the go-to sites for today's web user, what will the future bring in terms of how people interact with social media?
For many businesses, these questions are more than mere speculation - they are the trends around which entire marketing strategies are built. While no one can ever predict the future with 100 per cent certainty, here are five trends that are definitely gaining momentum.
In the past, a viral video on YouTube may have been considered a lucky fluke, but right now marketing teams around the world are working hard to create their own video hit. With Cisco predicting 1.2 million video downloads every second by 2016, even small businesses can harness the power of video.
While your particular video may or may not go viral, you can never go wrong by focusing on creating interesting and relevant content that is geared towards your target market. For businesses trying to gain a following on YouTube, informational and introductory videos will continue to be popular with consumers.
Games have always been popular amongst social media users. As such, more businesses are incorporating gaming into their marketing strategies. The latest trend is to incorporate games and real life activities into social initiatives, offering consumers the opportunity of earning rewards when they play along.
3. 24/7 customer service
The days of keeping bankers' hours are becoming a thing of the past as companies attempt to compete by providing 24/7 customer service. This trend is now carrying over to the social arena, with many businesses providing full-time responses to questions and complaints on Facebook, Twitter and other channels.
Having service around the clock can assist in keeping customers happy and extinguishing fires before they have a chance to get going. This process can either be outsourced or handled in-house, depending on a business's needs.
While it may not be a household word quite yet, crowdsourcing simply refers to the act of sharing information with other people via an online source. Crowdsourcing could refer to a group of users joining together to report traffic updates, for instance, or a group of business owners searching online to find help. Crowdsourcing will continue to gather momentum in the future, as more people harness the collective power of many to get things done.
As consumers continue to toss out desktop PCs and laptops in favour of tablets and smartphones, apps will continue to rule. According to ABI Research, the "worldwide app industry is well on its way to achieving 44 billion cumulative downloads by 2016"¹.
Apps that are interactive and integrate augmented reality are going to be popular with consumers. Augmented reality refers to the integration of artificially created worlds with real ones. An example of augmented reality is an app that allows customers to try on an outfit in an online store using their device's camera and items provided by the app.
When it comes to technology and social media trends, things will likely continue to change at rates that make it hard to keep up, but staying informed can help you reach more consumers as they engage with social platforms in new and different ways over time.
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This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Kathleen has a degree in marketing with over 10 years experience in the IT field as a database developer and web designer. As a freelance writer, Kathleen has written for several publications across Australia as well as for various business and hi-tech blogs online.