Social media is invaluable for businesses to engage with users, increase brand awareness and grow their audiences. But, as with any marketing method, it’s vital to pay attention to leading trends, to ensure you’re capitalising on the best opportunities, and, crucially, staying ahead of the competition.

Here are some social media trends that are set to dominate in 2016.


1. Faster engagement

Social media users expect instant responses, and research has proven, if they don’t get one, they aren’t happy. There’s no excuse for businesses not to make fast response time a priority as part of their social media marketing strategy, but it seems that in 2016, firms will need to speed up their response rates. Over half of people surveyed expected a response to their social media comment within an hour, whilst this rises to nearly three out of four users who make a complaint. Despite this, even last year, the majority of messages brands received weren’t getting a reply within three days.

If you want to gain respect from audiences and enjoy a competitive edge over your rivals, make sure you employ super-fast real-time engagement in your social media marketing campaigns. Use tools to see who is saying what about you online and when. A social media dashboard, offered by experts, such as ShoutPilot, can help achieve this task.

2. Live streaming video

Live streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat gained a huge following last year, and it looks like their popularity will continue to blossom in 2016. For businesses, live streaming content is an exciting proposition to add value to a social media marketing strategy. Video content is already well received on social media, but broadcasting content live offers new and enticing ways to engage with users, and offers great scope for a wide range of businesses. By streaming video in real time, audiences on social media can see things as they happen, whether it’s a live product demonstration, a question and answer session, a company announcement or a live event. As a natural, authentic way to increase engagement with consumers, this emerging strategy reinforces the notion that social media users want to experience more real-time communications.

3. Optimise social media for search

Optimising your content is still vital for getting your brand name higher up search listings, but there is an increasing importance placed on making sure that this includes your content published on social media, too. In 2016, make it your mission to optimise what you post on Facebook and Twitter for search, so that you include relevant keywords, use hashtags appropriately and make effective use of character limits. Social signals, such as shares and likes, can boost your rankings, so make sure your content has got plenty of appeal. Maximise your campaigns to the best effect with use of a social media dashboard.


4. Mobile optimised

If you want to survive in a competitive arena, not being mobile optimised is no longer an option. In fact, as we get stuck into 2016, it is fast becoming a major priority. Research has already shown that more users now search using their mobile devices than laptops, and this trend is only set to continue. With 80% of internet users owning a mobile, and the rise in mobile devices, being mobile ready is vital for any social media marketing strategy. Non-mobile businesses should take heed – 14% of millennials say they wouldn’t give a business the time of day if it wasn’t mobile optimised. 80% or our Social Media Traffic comes from a mobile device – get your website optimised for mobile with us.


5. Social media commerce

In recent times, social media has taken on a wider role in helping to engage consumers and increase sales. Various platforms have begun to employ different methods to help capitalise on the opportunities to encourage a sale, through adverts or buy-now features. It appears to be working, as research has even proved that more and more of us are being influenced by social sites than retail sites when it comes to making a purchasing decision.

For savvy businesses looking to boost sales this year, look at how you can combine social media and commerce functions to capitalise on opportunities.


6. Data analytics

If you don’t use data analytics to monitor your social media marketing campaigns, you’re already missing a trick. In 2016, the value of doing this is likely to get even greater. By using analytics, you can make your messages more targeted, so that you can focus on long-term user engagement and loyalty.

Increasing your game with regards to data analytics can be tricky, so consult experts such as ShoutPilot who have the skills to help refine your strategies. You shouldn’t just focus on the number of likes or followers, but instead pay attention to response rates for individual platforms, trending topics, comments from influencers and use of keywords to create an overall balance for understanding audiences, and how to personalise communications to them. You can achieve this with our social media dashboard.

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