You’re probably already aware that maintaining a social media presence is absolutely essential for any type of business to gain brand exposure and engaging with your consumer audience. But have you been keeping up to date with the social media trends that are set to dominate in 2016?

This year is all about fresh and up-to-the minute content through visual forms of communication, such as video and emojis. Users are also getting more social media-savvy and expect to be able to do everything they need in one app. “Tell me more!” you exclaim excitedly. Here are 5 social media trends that can’t be ignored when considering your social media strategy for 2016.

1. Real-time engagement rules

Towards the end of 2015 it became very clear that users are hungry for real-time video content. Live streaming app Periscope’s rapid rise in popularity since its official launch in March 2015 is a perfect example of the demand for live content. Once logged in, users are able to post live, unedited video segments that are viewed and commented on by their followers. In a similar fashion, Snapchat and Twitter Moments allows users to post live updates to their followers at the tap of their fingertips.

Give your audience a deeper look into your brand

Businesses who are taking advantage of these social platforms are quickly seeing results. By posting live video streams, a company is showing a more authentic side to its consumers, which in return builds trust and loyalty. People love the idea of getting live, behind-the-scenes peeks at what goes on with a company. For instance, retail chain Target used Periscope to provide a behind-the-scenes peek into their new Lilly Pulitzer line which resulted in such huge demand that 90% of the collection sold out within days. Behind the scenes, interviews and product announcements are just a few ways that Periscope and other live streaming apps can benefit a business.

2. Data-driven marketing will increase its dominance

It’s no secret social media helps you figure out who your audience is and how you can tailor your content to promote engagement and encourage conversions. Marketers haven’t previously had access to so much information about consumer preferences before and are quickly trying to cash in on this benefit.

Benefits of breaking down your data

Social media analytics can be used to determine when consumers are going through significant lifestyle changes, such as getting married, having a baby or buying a house, businesses. This is a time when consumers are more willing to change their spending habits and a sweet spot for gaining their loyalty. Plus, these consumers are also more likely to be advocates for your brand.

Coca Cola used Twitter’s Tailored Audience function to create personalised tweets that used consumers’ first names for their Share-a-Coke campaign in 2015, and increased sales by 7% in Australia and 3% in the US. These results strongly suggest that when marketing platforms are micro-targeted by audience segments, there is a noticeable increase in brand exposure and engagement.

3. Major leaps and bounds with in-app functionality

Long gone are the days when a user has to jump from one app to another to achieve what they need to do. Social media platforms and messaging apps are providing everything you need within one app for a seamless and time-saving experience. A perfect example of this is the messaging app WeChat, which currently has 549 million active users worldwide and contributes $1.76bn in lifestyle spending in China. Aside from allowing users to send messages to their contact list, WeChat gives users the ability to:

  • Express emotion with emojis and stickers
  • Send money and pay bills
  • Purchase products
  • Get one-on-one customer help
  • Make a call
  • Send voice messages
  • Host Group Chats
  • Post images, videos and status updates

Other messaging apps, like Whatsapp and Viber have developed similar functions although they’re not yet quite as developed as WeChat.

Jumping on the bandwagon

Due to its huge popularity, particularly in China, businesses worldwide are quickly realising the need to corner this lucrative market by setting up their brand on WeChat. By setting up a WeChat platform, companies can give users a range of functionalities, such as purchase products, access customer service and view regular updates and announcements.

Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo increased sales by 30% in China and doubled their WeChat followers from 400,000 to 1 million in just six months with the launch of their Style Your Life campaign in 2015. Consumers were able to try on outfits and use their mobile phones or in-store monitors to take photos and load them onto WeChat to superimpose them against different backgrounds (snow, tropical island, etc).

4. Gifs, videos and emojis.. oh my! 

Visual communication has become driving forces of engagement, with micro-videos, gifs and emojis becoming a common form of expression, especially amongst young consumers. Facebook, Twitter and Google are all vying for more video and integrated gif content to deliver the demand and retain users.

Press record to encourage engagement

Facebook is set to dominate the video scene with the introduction of 360 video, a camera system that simultaneously records 360 degrees of a scene, allowing viewers to pan and rotate to watch the video from different angles. For instance, ABC NEWS used 360 on Facebook to allow their viewers to take a look into Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Utilising new video apps to gain brand exposure and increase engagement will show that your business is focused on creating buzz and staying

Making sense of emojis

Emojis are another trend that marketers are using to their advantage. Think what you want about Kim Kardashian, but her release of the Kimoji app generated 9000 downloads per second which generated $1 million revenue per minute! The app was so in demand the servers crashed due to its inability to keep up with demand.

At first glance, they might just seem like a fun way to express yourself but if you take a closer look you can gather important information about your consumer base. “But how?” you ask (insert frustrated emoji here), “they’re just cute little images people use when messaging their friends.” Consider the following questions:

  • Do you know what emojis are associated with your business and what they mean?
  • Do you know the context of such conversations?
  • Can you convert that information into actionable insight?

By analysing the actual meaning and logic behind the use of emoji characters, you should be able to discover valuable information about your target audience.

5. Buy buttons will become the norm

The ability to purchase products in social media apps has already been introduced by Facebook and Pinterest, who’ve introduced ‘buy’ buttons for advertisers and users. Facebook are currently testing their ‘call-to-action’ button across small and medium-sized business in the US with the hopes of rolling it out worldwide this year. Pinterest ‘buy’ buttons are displayed on pins, which allows the user to click and purchase without having to leave the app.

A new way to reach your target audience

By the end of 2016 most major social media brand will feature a ‘buy’ button in some kind of capacity as an element of their advertising campaign. This will allow businesses access to a whole new realm of advertising, giving them the ability to push specific products targeted towards segmented audiences. For example, a baby products company is able to target women who are due to have a baby or recently given birth, to advertise newborn products such as clothing, nappies and nursery accessories which can be purchased at a click of a button.

So there you have it… another exciting year in the always-changing world of social media. Are there any other social media trends that you think are set to take over in 2016? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Kristine Stone is a copywriter at Sydney-based design agency Orion Creative. She’s obsessed with social media, blogging and keeping up with the latest digital marketing trends. A self-confessed word nerd, Kristine has experience writing about women’s lifestyle, bridal, technology, interior design and a wide range of other industries.


As we start looking toward 2015, enterprise applications are poised to play a growing role in the everyday operations of companies of all sizes and in all sectors. Here are five enterprise application trends predicted to take precedence next year and beyond.

Mobile

The trend toward mobile computing is growing in every industry as consumers largely ditch personal computers in favor of laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The enterprise market has been a bit slower to catch on, but it finally has, and the use of mobile applications has expanded from limited and isolated  functions to full-service organization-wide solutions. According to a recent survey from Good Technology, the adoption of both third-party and custom business applications continued to increase in the third quarter of 2014, with the custom app market up 107% from the previous quarter and up 731% compared to the same period last year.

Faster deployments, especially for growing companies

While large businesses may be moving toward custom enterprise applications, smaller firms are focusing on faster deployments that will provide immediate benefits and enable future growth. Thus, they will rely heavily on pre-packaged solutions from third-party vendors. According to Oracle senior manager Jim Lein, “With a wealth of experience successfully deploying applications, partners and vendors have developed time-tested best practices by industry, geography, and business need that are packaged up to account for on average 75 percent of an implementation. Midsize companies are trading in custom for speed, and as such, are live and generating value in less time than they may have spent on the RFP process.

Cloud computing, or everything-as-a-service

Cloud computing has largely become the norm for consumer applications, and businesses are now following suit. The continued rise of cloud applications was identified by Gartner as one of its top 10 strategic technology trends for 2015. Gartner VP David Clearey said in a recent presentation: “Cloud is the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing, and both internal applications and external applications will be built on this new style.” The new style, in which software, IT and business processes, and even hardware are offered as cloud-based applications, is being called “everything-as-a-service (XaaS).” Three major advantages of the XaaS model are that it is flexible, it allows all services to be integrated, and it is evergreen (i.e., updates are automatic so the technology never becomes obsolete).

Improved UX

Enterprise applications will stop looking (and functioning) like clunky traditional business software and more like current consumer applications. This trend was identified last year by mrc’s Joe Stangarone, and it is a movement that is still gaining steam, due to the ever- widening capabilities of cloud-based software. Stangarone sums up the movement well as he writes: “I believe one of the biggest reasons [we will see a push towards simpler, more intuitive business applications] lies in a simple truth: users now have other options. With the rise of cloud-based software, users can easily bypass company-supplied applications altogether, opting instead for third-party cloud solutions.”

Automation

Finally, technology has enabled more tasks and processes to be automated, and companies will increasingly take advantage of this functionality. From performing data backups, to sending automated client communications, to creating customer service workflows, to identifying trending topics and posts on social media, enterprise application software provides automated solutions that can greatly reduce the personnel time required for common tasks. As the technologies improve, and businesses become more comfortable with relinquishing control to the software, this trend will grow.

Next year is set to be a good one for companies interested in adopting enterprise application software—the field is growing and more powerful, versatile tools are coming on the market all of the time. As we move into 2015, these five trends will lead the way for organizations across the spectrum.

 
photo credit: More office windows at night

rosemary-brownRosemary Brown is a business and market researcher with over 20 years of experience. She has been extensively involved in exploring the impact of technological innovations on business organizations, enterprise culture and organizational processes. Currently, Rosemary is conducting a series of experiments to study the impact of web-based help desk tools like ProProfs Knowledge Base Software on customer retention & acquisition. Rosemary has a Masters Degree in Marketing Management and Strategy.


As we settle into 2015 and back into work (kinda hurts doesn’t it?), many of us will be thinking about what the year ahead holds in store for us career-wise – a promotion? New job? Or, is it finally time to launch that business idea?

Regardless of our individual paths, it is clear that Australian workplaces and the way we work are changing. Expert 360, an online platform matching professional freelancers with short-term business projects, has predicted the top ten workplace trends of 2015. From the rise of the Millennials, to yoga pants as accepted work attire (really?), here’s what we can expect from 2015:

1. Continuous job searching

Remember how our parents stayed with the same company for 30 years? Well those days are over. Employees are constantly on the look out for the next job. Networking is the new norm and the ever-present FOMO (fear of missing out) keeps everyone engaged. Smart businesses are starting to pick up on this and are nurturing this desire to excel.

 2. More Millennials stepping up as boss

The young ones generally get a bad rap at work – judged as lazy, over-educated know-it-alls who want something for nothing. But beneath this façade is a generation of young individuals who crave the opportunity to take on leadership positions. A recent study revealed 72% of Millennials (also known as Gen Y) would like to be their own boss and the rise of young guns such as Mark Zuckerberg shows that there is a place for young people to lead.

3. Casual wear

Women on the street are wearing LuluLemon and Lorna Jane with no intention of going to the gym. Yoga pants are now acceptable work attire. Causal Fridays extend across the working week and ties on men are an aberration. Pioneered by Google, this trend speaks to a need to express individuality at work, which can lead to increased productivity and innovation.

4. Internships

By 2020, 40% of the total working population will be Millennials and internships are crucial in giving them that first taste of the working world. Emerging trends in internships have seen the rise of virtual internships within the financial and consulting industries. Recent legislation in Australia and abroad reflects the importance of internships as a legitimate form of employment.

5. Working remotely

Rapidly evolving technology and more flexible working arrangements means that the bricks and mortar of workplaces are not required for employees to do their jobs properly. Employees can now work from home, or be in a completely different city, and still achieve the same results.

6. Fast talent turnaround

Remember the days when you scoured the Saturday paper for job ads and sent your CV to the company by post? It feels like an eternity ago. Now, companies want to connect with the right candidate and hire faster than ever before. It won’t be long until the Tinder for recruitment disrupts the market.

7. Work is deeply personal

We have long sought the perfect ‘work-life balance’. However, work is now deeply personal, so instead of trying to balance two separate spheres of our lives we will be seeking ‘work-life integration’, where we want to see the value of what we do.

8. Cultural fit – hiring for cultural reasons

Cultural fit and character are now key considerations when assessing potential candidates, with many employers adopting the ‘hire character, train skill’ approach. Our multigenerational workforce, with Millennials and baby boomers working alongside each other, means ensuring there is an alignment on the values and vision of the company is critical in bridging the age gap. Your management style might need to change depending on who you deal with.

9. Talent development key to retention

With corporate loyalty a thing of the past, one way employers are trying to hold onto staff is through talent development programs. Once reserved for those at the top of the pyramid, we are seeing career development programs and skill workshops at every level of the corporate hierarchy.

10. The rise of the freelancer

30% of Australians are now undertaking some form of flexible freelance work. If we follow US trends, by 2020, this number is expected to rise by 50%. Technology has been one of the main drivers behind this trend, making it easy for businesses to connect to talent on demand.

Have you seen any of these changes in your workplace? What are your predictions for 2015? Leave your comments below.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay