In the world of changing trends, ephemeral content that disappears within seconds and shifts in habits, likes, and preferences - the only constant thing is the need for innovation. Social media is akin to a living organism. It evolves at a mind-blowing pace. You will still hear users say they keep the social networking channels open because they want to be able to connect with their friends and family. Yet, in the same breath, they will admit that it is also how they keep up with news and get updates on new products and campaigns from brands they are following.
For companies, social media is, rightly, viewed as an absolute staple of modern day business. The most recent innovations are all about increasing interactivity as well as tools that help with browsing, visualizing, instant ordering and turning window-shopping (well, screen-shopping) into a more engaging and social experience. Here are some recent developments that are working towards these goals:
Live-Streaming and 360° VIDEO
No one will argue about the pulling power of a video any longer. But the allure of videos is constantly being taken to new levels. In live-streaming videos, the accent is on the feeling of being behind the scenes, seeing something authentic and feeling very much a part of the action rather than being just a watcher. Real-time comments and likes make this even more exciting and, of course, businesses are starting to capitalize on this. The latest craze is the appearance of 360° videos. Research has shown that they have the ability to motivate and engage the viewer on an even deeper level with the hope of converting them into customers.
This handy and marketable new feature of Pinterest is referred to, by the company, as visual discovery. It is an ideas generator that suggests styling ideas, recipes, related products and the like. Once you’ve taken a photo of something it will generate pins containing relevant products and there are bound to be some suggested purchases as well. Try taking a photo of your old chair and you will be tempted with photos of lush new chairs you could potentially purchase in its stead.
Facebook- The MasterPass Messenger bots
Here is a prime example of how a company can liaise with a social media platform to revolutionize the customer experience. MasterCard has done this in their new cooperation with Facebook Messenger which enables a seamless automated ordering experience all from the convenience of the messenger app. Messaging apps are predicted to evolve and include payment capabilities more and more. This growing trend is responsive to the needs and habits of modern day consumers which is key to good innovation.
Instagram - Shoppable Photo Tags & Like2Buy
Instagram has come up with a new, shopper-friendly feature with which you can now tag products in the same way people can be tagged in photos. With product tagging and the Like2Buy option, users can now browse, like and buy a product or save it in a wishlist for a future purchase. According to some calculations, social media users are 58 times more likely to engage with brands on Instagram than they are on Facebook. With all this in mind, it is clear that Instagram presence is essential for your business.
While once business relied on celebrity endorsement (if they could afford it), now a greater emphasis is placed on social media influencers who are perceived as relatable and 'one of the people'. This has the appearance of organic and genuine and to a degree, it often can be. It is essentially peer recommendation or at least it starts that way, although some influencers even achieve a near-celebrity status. Having a strong social media presence is the first step to brand awareness. Inspiring and cooperating with users in the right ways and with well-thought out campaigns should eventually create followers and influencers. Social media influencers create and share value-added content across different social platforms and have proven to be game changers for any brand.
The evolution of social media is an almost daily occurrence with new ways of interaction continually being sought-after and developed. It is one of the most exciting fields to observe as well as speculate about. Despite demonstrable results for marketing and member engagement, it is still a relatively new phenomenon and some businesses are only now finding out ways in which social media channels can - and will - become their jumping platforms.