Guest Column: Instagram predictions for 2018: Paul Webster

As brands delve deeper into the behaviour and demographics of their audience, they can create more relevant and timely content, which will ultimately help drive sales

e4m by Paul Webster
Updated: Feb 26, 2018 8:55 AM

With the start of the new year, we at Instagram, wanted to share some predictions for 2018. These are based on the consumer behaviours we've seen this year from our 800 million strong community, and our work with brands of all sizes from all around the world.

1. The social media store: Whether it's finding the latest travel destination, the hottest restaurant or the newest fashion trend, people want to engage with businesses. And with 62 per cent of millennials saying that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer (Forbes x Elite Daily,) social platforms are faced with an exciting opportunity to break down barriers that prevent engagement leading to direct sales outcomes.

In 2018 social media will become the go-to for commerce, as brands begin to capitalise on this engagement, driving direct sales outcomes through social channels. Over the last year in the US, we've been trialling Shopping on Instagram (which makes it easy to purchase a product from within the app) and we're excited to bring it to more countries in 2018.

2. Video: Here next year, but gone tomorrow. It's predicted that by 2019 mobile devices will account for 72 per cent of all online video viewing (Zenith Media, Jul 2017.) With this comes a huge opportunity for brands to get creative and build immersive video experiences that will truly engage consumers from the palm of their hands. We expect temporary formats like Stories to grow in popularity. As we move into next year, we expect to see brands take risks with ephemeral formats. Safe in the knowledge that anything posted will disappear after 24 hours, resulting in more creative freedom.

3. Messaging will be a place for business: Alongside the shift to mobile, we've seen people shift their preferred method of communication toward messaging - a communication style that is instant, direct, and personal. People increasingly want to communicate with businesses in the same quick, informal way they communicate with their friends. 64 per cent of people would prefer to choose messaging a business over picking up the phone or sending an email (source.) We predict that this will continue to grow in 2018 and that will see even more business being done within messaging.

4. Small businesses will drive marketing innovation: It used to be that creating global marketing campaigns was the preserve of big brands, with big budgets. But the ease and efficiency of social media has levelled the marketing playing field, enabling small businesses to establish and grow on a global scale. In 2018, we expect these small firms like Tjoritreasures, ikkadukkaonline, Kanabis, Sportskeeda or Paper Boat unencumbered by process, continue to push boundaries and set a new bar for everyone within the industry.

5. The rise of the niche: On social media, people from all over the world connect through shared passions and interests. On Instagram, there are literally millions of niche communities from #fitnesslovers to #stylegram. This means that for any brand, there's a valuable and highly engaged audience that can be easily reached. This rise of niche communities has fuelled the rise of niche businesses like Clovia and Oceedee Shoes that specialise in a specific product or service and is tailored to a specific audience.

6. Re-evaluating the value of content: While social metrics such as "likes" and comments are indicators of engagement, real metrics that matter and measure marketing success are sales, brand lift or a specific business action. With brands being given more detailed customer insights, they can pinpoint actionable information about who their followers are and what content resonate better than others. As brands dive deeper into the behaviour and demographics of their audience, they can create more relevant and timely content, which will ultimately help drive sales.

Paul Webster is the Regional Product Marketing Manager, Instagram.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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