It’s that time of year again when businesses are recapping what happened in 2016 and predicting what will be trending in 2017. I had the opportunity to listen to a webinar last week hosted by Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a platform for managing social media that we at TEN31 Marketing love and use on a daily basis. The webinar was titled “Social Media Trends to Put Into Practice in 2017.” I took some notes from the hour-long session and want to discuss the key takeaways I feel will be important to note for small businesses next year.

Takeaway #1 Organic Reach Decline & Paid Reach Incline

This was probably the most noteworthy takeaway that I came out of the webinar with and will probably be the biggest challenge to overcome for small businesses in 2017. Organic reach on social media platforms has been decreasing and will continue to decrease in 2017. This means that if you are not paying a platform to advertise your content, less and less people will be seeing it.

Facebook was the first player to really make this a big deal when they introduced paid advertising in 2009 to anyone who owned their own page. Now, they’re making it harder than ever for businesses to get their content in front of users without paying to “boost” posts or creating targeted campaigns. With more and more businesses jumping on the social media bandwagon everyday, it makes it harder and harder to reach your target audience. Next year looks to be a more expensive year for digital advertising if small businesses are really serious about getting their content to the right people on social platforms.

What does this mean for you? Small businesses will have to start setting aside dollars solely for social media advertising. Instead of just running these platforms for free and reaping the benefits, they will have to pay to play and every post will be that much more important when you are putting dollars behind it.

Takeaway #2 Social Accelerating as a Search & Discovery Tool

Like previously stated, with more and more businesses jumping on the bandwagon of social media, these platforms are now becoming a place for search and discovery for consumers to find and learn about brands. Instagram has been a leader in this category appealing to a younger demographic. New brands have cropped up left and right and really use platforms like Instagram to launch rather than coming in as an already established brand. Consumers are now being exposed to hundreds or thousands of brands they might not have otherwise known about.

FACT: Digital consumers have an average of 8 social media accounts! The webinar hosts couldn’t stress enough that social is going nowhere anytime soon and is still on the rise as a major force to embrace and grow. So much so, that some companies, like Buzzfeed for example, are testing out forgoing websites altogether and just posting content straight to social media platforms.

Takeaway #3 Video Content Implementation

Video has been a key content format for a while now and will only continue to increase in 2017. Video takes content one step further than a photo can by creating an experience for consumers. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are continuing to make software changes to make video shooting and sharing easier and more accessible. While platforms like Snapchat have made it clear that they are here to stay and consumers have adopted it with open arms. This platform is based on short bite-sized videos that will self-destruct within 24 hours or less.

If businesses haven’t adopted or dabbled into this format for content yet, it looks like it will be necessary to start incorporating next year. Some things to keep in mind that we thought were helpful:

  1. Keep to short and visual videos of 30 seconds or less that can be enjoyed without audio as most people won’t have the audio on when viewing
  2. Get inspired from bigger brands and companies who have already been using video
  3. Test short clips to see how your audience responds and engages
  4. Focus on customer stories and emotional experiences

These 3 takeaways are the topics we feel will be most important for small businesses in 2017 and things that we will be incorporating into our client’s marketing strategies.

Let us know your feedback! Are you surprised by any of these or have you already seen some of these trends begin to unfold in your own businesses?