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Social Media Trends

What’s hot, what’s not, and the analytics driving it all.

For the first time, digital and social media ad spending — $72.09 billion — surpassed that of TV — $71.29 billion, according to a recent study from eMarketer. This shift may have marketers everywhere revisiting their strategies, leading to big changes in ad spending.

Analysts say it’s no surprise that digital ad spending has grown so much, given the sharp rise in social, mobile, and video. As a whole, social media ad spend comes in at $15.36 billion or 21.3% of the total digital ad spend, up from 18.2% last year. Furthermore, they say this is the year of mobile, as ad spending on mobile is expected to rise 45% to almost $46 billion. eMarketer reports that 84% ($5.24 billion) of the social media juggernaut Facebook’s advertising revenue for Q2 2016 was from mobile ads. There are 267 million Internet users in the United States, and almost 79% of them access the Internet and social networks regularly via a mobile device, a number that is expected to rise to 86% by 2020.

According to Social Media Explorer, social media is expected to grow even further in the coming years. The number of users will grow at 8% in 2017 to a 2.39 billion people — almost the combined population of 2.6 billion of India and China. Analysts say having this sort of audience at the tap of a button makes social media a very attractive proposition for developing brand awareness and creating markets.

Most of us would agree that social media has reached maturity, and even within most pharmaceutical companies it is a well-established channel. There is a structure in place and brands are centralizing the activities. Content strategists, blog writers, community managers, data analysts, and media buyers, for the most part, are working together as part of one and the same social media team. And it’s not just the social media teams.

Analysts at Social Media Explorer note employees who are working for a company that considers itself “connected” are being encouraged to share business updates. This is because brands have started turning to employees as brand ambassadors to further their brand image. In other words, using employee social advocacy programs has grown about 191% since 2013.

Social media experts from INC to to Business 2 Community are predicting a continuous decline of social media organic opportunities. The main culprits for the decrease of reach are the algorithms that social media companies use to determine whether the content gets seen. Instagram and Twitter both introduced algorithms in 2016.

Social media experts from The TalkWalker predict that algorithms, bots, artificial intelligence, etc. will destroy the business models of people who produce content by disrupting the free flow of information. In the very near future, they say information flow will be filtered and measured and censored in the name of “reducing clutter” and revealing “only what’s important.” Facebook will decide what you see. Google will serve up only that content that complies with its rules and is housed on its servers. Email solutions like Gmail and Yahoo will tighten their own algorithms so even reaching the inbox is at risk.

In 2017, businesses will have to figure out what works for them. Rather than chasing shiny objects everywhere, experts advise focusing on the psychographics (what customers care about) versus their demographics. (PV)


Executive viewpoints

Winnie Tan
Associate Social Media Strategist, Digital,
Ogilvy CommonHealth, part of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide
Social media promotes a highly accessible, two-way communication channel between brand and consumer. The strong presence of social media offers marketers the opportunity to engage a large yet targeted audience. Its flexibility makes it easy to leverage brand strategies and address existing social chatter. The nature of its interactive environment will help achieve increased brand exposure and customer reach.

Joe Youssef
Engagement Strategy, Digital, Ogilvy CommonHealth, part of Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide
The biggest innovation I am seeing in social media is around the rapid improvement and adoption of artificial
intelligence (AI) and bots. AI is changing the way customer service is managed and improving response times of customer requests. As the technology becomes more sophisticated, and its ability to recognize natural language questions improves, demand and investment will grow at a rapid pace.

John Ciccio
President, Skipta
Social media allows marketers to participate in an environment in which their target audience is already collaborating and sharing information.  HCPs are already engaged within the social environment, so marketers can deliver their content to a captive HCP audience rather than trying to compete for attention when the HCP is busy practicing or otherwise not actively seeking information.

Marketers get to ‘go where the docs are’ versus hoping for docs to come to them.

Dr. Theodore Search, Pharm. D.
Founder and CEO, Skipta
The perception is that all social media platforms are the same.  Social communities for verified physicians/HCPs are optimal destinations to engage key healthcare stakeholders.  These verified communities have become proven destinations to focus marketing and educational opportunities, market research initiatives, and clinical trial recruitment.  When verified social communities are categorized the same as “traditional” social media sites, which may never be considered for these initiatives, impactful opportunities to engage key healthcare stakeholders may be lost.


What’s Hot

Calibrating Content — Marketers need to develop content marketing strategies that couple each piece of content on every channel with their organization’s overarching objectives and customers’ needs. There needs to be clear business objectives for content initiatives, including the value that will be delivered to distinct audience personas.  Source: Social Media Explorer

Creating a Customer Experience — Start throwing as many resources as possible behind your customer experience. Some marketers think their job is done once sales takes over a lead, but in reality, it’s just beginning. The way people
experience your brand impacts the way they talk about you, which has a profound effect on the success of your company over the long term.

Devote some of your marketing budget to nurturing existing customers or clients: make sure their experience is stellar. Respond to them when they mention your brand publicly (whether the mention is positive or negative), and cultivate a strong, lasting relationship with your brand’s fans. Source: Social Media Explorer

Integrating Intensely — Marketers need to stop thinking about content marketing and social media as “plus-ups” or “add-ons” to programs created in other channels. To drive optimal results for clients, content and social marketing need to be part of the fabric of almost every program. Ideally, brand and agency teams need to bring influencer and content marketers to the table during the initial strategy and planning stages to develop a fully integrated program.  Source: Social Media Explorer

Investing in Staff — Statistics from Search
Engine Watch report that 72% of Twitter users expect responses from brands they follow, within the hour. In a domino-effect, this has caused brands to start investing heavily into cross-functional social media teams that can keep abreast with the increasing number of client pings every day.

Eventually, most brands will have shifted client service entirely to their own social media accounts. Source: Social Media Explorer

Influencer Marketing — Influencer marketing will continue to grow and become an even more established part of the strategy. With the increased popularity will come more structure too. Currently many brands try influencer marketing and go wrong with this approach as it’s not easy to find effective and actually “influential” influencers. More data will help when picking the right influencers, in analyzing the results from influencer campaigns, and in actually delivering some ROI. Source: Sahail Ashraf, Business 2 Community

Chatbots — Younger generations are increasingly tuning out from the traditional public social media channels such as Facebook. The ideal channel for connecting with the young generation are messenger apps such as WhatsApp and
Snapchat. This is a more intimate and private way of communicating and it’s a challenge for brands. Brands that want to meet the increasing need for one-on-one direct conversations on messenger apps will need to find a way to automate the process whenever possible and this is the reason for the growth of chatbots. Source: Sahail Ashraf, Business 2 Community

Employees Become Your Social Media Army — Employee advocacy, encouraging and incentivizing team members to share brand messages on their own social media accounts, is poised to be a game-changer in 2017. There’s a right and wrong way to do this. Advocacy can’t be forced. Employees need to want to share company posts, and the content has to align with their own audiences. There’s little point in staff blasting out B2B pitches on their
personal Facebook profiles, for example. Source: INC

CEOs Finally Get the Hang of Social Media — It’s a rarity to find someone who’s not on Facebook, unless that someone happens to be a Fortune 500 CEO. A full 61% still have no social media presence, according to a 2015 report from But 2016 marked a kind of changing of the tides. Facebook launched a new “business influencer” program and LinkedIn’s blogging platform Pulse now showcases more than 500 elite business authorities. It’s no
longer an option but a business necessity. Globally, more than 2 billion people are now on social
channels; the average user spends nearly two hours a day plugged in. Source: INC

Sales and Customer Service Get More Social — Lots of businesses still think of social media as purely a marketing tool. That’s not true anymore. Consumers learn about products on Pinterest and Instagram. They’re sold to on Facebook and Twitter. They seek customer service on messaging channels like Facebook Messenger. This trend toward
“conversational commerce” only stands to accelerate in 2017 with the rapid deployment of chatbots. Source: INC

From Social Networks to Social Messaging — While the ever-increasing usage of social networks is a regular feature of online news, user numbers pale in comparison to social messaging apps. The biggest social messaging apps now have a larger community than the biggest social networks with market leader WhatsApp hitting the 1 billion user mark in February 2016. Source: The TalkWalker

The Social Storytelling Evolution — Good storytelling has always been a key component of effective marketing, long before social networks even existed. But social media innovations are changing the way audiences consume stories, and brands will need to keep up with the evolution of social storytelling if they want to remain relevant.
Source: TalkWalker

Virtual Reality Meets Social Media — With the giants of tech all investing heavily in this new area, 2017 could be the year that VR adoption becomes widespread and enters the realm of social networks.
Source: TalkWalker

What’s Not

Focusing Solely on Activities — Too many marketers focus solely on their activities: the number of blog posts published, number of webinars hosted, number of field events, and so on. Boards and CEOs do not care. They do care about the results of those activities. Source: Social Media Explorer

Being Everywhere  — Being everywhere on social media is not a great business strategy. Being relevant and successful on just one or two major platforms will always trump being lackluster everywhere. Source: Social Media Explorer

Organic Social Media Marketing — Organic opportunities have continued to decline. In 2017, you should continue to focus on the creation of great content that gets shared and gets people to take action that you want them to take. Then it’s optional if you’d like to supplement the content with paid advertising to get the word out and gain traction. Source: Sahail Ashraf, Business 2 Community

Website and App Traffic — Facebook, Instagram, and other social media companies prefer users to stay on their platforms. They don’t want users to simply click on links and leave to spend time on your company website or your app. It’s getting increasingly difficult to attract any organic traffic from social media platforms and this will continue in the next year. This means that an increasing amount of content published by brands will simply live in the social media only. Corporate websites and apps will become less significant and companies will lose a lot of control and will need better ways of measuring return on investment. Source: Sahail Ashraf, Business 2 Community

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