2018 promises to be another exciting year in social business. Below are my top five predictions for what's to come.
1. Video storytelling comes of age, and gets emotional. The proliferation of more personalized and engaging content through consumer and brand adoption of LinkedIn video, Instagram stories, Facebook Live, Twitter/Periscope/Moments, etc. will become the norm (and easier). The value of storytelling through video will be evidenced by the emotion that it is able to evoke.
2. Millennials, Gen Z, and Baby Boomers engage. Millennials and Gen Z will become the majority of the workforce. And not to be forgotten, the now technofile, mobile Baby Boomers will require social media experiences that bleed good UX and personalized customer experience. For these three audiences, trust will be the currency of brand consideration, engagement and loyalty.
3. Influencer marketing becomes mainstream. To reach individuals who are not marketable through traditional methods, brands will formalize their influencer strategy to deliver authentic content and drive engagement with new audiences. The right message, at the right time in the right channel - context - will become more important than ever before.
4. Social business AI and bots are here. AI and bots employed correctly in areas like customer service will drive social automation. Brands that approach automation responsibly, listen to their customers needs and create solutions that solve pain points will be successful.
5. Social platform governance gains favor. Codes of conduct, usage policies and rules will become more clear. The debacle of the advertisement scandals in the 2016 election have inched social toward standards of behavior to which participants will more willingly subscribe.
The last trend of governance leads me to what I believe will make social media and social business great again in 2018. It is simply that both individuals and brands will find value in the Three Golden Rules of Social Business.
The 3 Golden Rules of Social Business
Know the needs of and value you represent to your audience. Individuals and brands need to listen with both their eyes and ears to the needs of their current audiences and the new ones they seek to cultivate. Employ your resources and efforts in the direction of customer need, not brand want.
Avoid "I"itis. We tend to forget the old adage that we all have two ears and one mouth for a reason. When an individual or brand is trying to grow audience, authority, reputation and influence, the fastest way to build trust is to authentically demonstrate interest in others and work to support their interests. Through an external-first mentally on social, interest, awareness and consideration will be earned and offered, as will trust.
If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. There is nothing wrong with providing a fair critique or rating for subpar performance or service. There is something wrong with ranting based on emotion or acting based on a groundless bias. Treating others as you would like to be treated is simple to say, and hard to demonstrate with behavior and action.
As social media and social business continue to mature, the emotion and humanity is reigniting in our online conversations. I look forward to seeing how far we progress in the year to come.