The post was originally posted blog.bufferapp.com. It is republished with permission.
Author: Kevan Lee
What is the next big wave of social media?
It’s really hard to say!
(And yet here I am saying it.)
To ride the wave of the next big thing in social media, it often takes a lot of trial-and-error, a good deal of trendspotting, and some courage to try new things. I’ve spent some time reading up on what’s to come for social media and I’d love to get your thoughts on three new trends that might be monumental.
E-commerce has felt a bit like a missing piece from the social media feeds. Sure, you can tweet/post/Snap about a product that you’re selling, yet your potential customers must still leave the social network they’re on to visit your site in order to complete the purchase.
Social --> your site --> $$
Social = $$
This is already in the works in some moderate ways, on sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.
Pinterest has a “Buy It” option on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, where you can buy Pinned products directly from Pinterest. Available products have a blue “Buy It” button next to the standard red “Pin It” button.
Here’s a preview of how the process works:
Facebook has been testing a Buy button for well over a year now and has been slowly rolling it out to more and more users. Like with Pinterest, Facebook’s option allows shoppers to buy products without ever leaving Facebook.
And you might be familiar with Domino’s pizza emoji tweet?
Yep, Twitter shopping is a thing, too. In addition to the pizza emoji, Twitter has a buy button that users can access to buy and sell directly from the Twitter stream. Here’s an example of the experience with a Warby Parker set of sunglasses.
Buying and selling on social media feels like it may be on the verge of something big.
And whatever solution falls into place here could go a long way toward solving one of the Big Mysteries of social media marketing:
How can I accurately measure my social media ROI?
For some time now, one of the biggest challenges for social media marketers has been assigning dollars-and-cents results to efforts on Twitter, Facebook, and the like.
And though this new frontier of social shopping and e-commerce might be only part of the return on investment (there’s still the lead gen and funnel parts that are important to consider), it’s one of the biggest steps toward tying a direct, monetary result to one’s social media marketing.
If purchases take place on social media, ROI becomes clearer, social media’s position in the marketplace improves, and we all win—buyers and sellers.
One of my favorite topics to write on (and one that I probably didn’t have a really great answer to) is the split between who you are on social media inside of work and outside of work.
Well, moving forward, that might not be an obstacle any more!
Facebook at Work, announced last year, seeks to carve out a work-specific social media zone for coworkers to communicate with one another.
Like this TechCrunch headline stated: Facebook at Work lets businesses create their own social networks.
LinkedIn is interested in similar work-style social media, and like a lot of other Facebook features, it’s possible that this one will trickle out to a whole host of other networks, too.
Even apps like Slack and Hipchat have helped add distinction to the work/life split, making it easy to converse with teammates in a medium that doesn’t dip into personal life.
This new, explicit distinction between work social media and personal social media could represent a huge shift in how social networks are used. It’s quite early days with things (Facebook at Work is starting its slow roll out, available on mobile currently). Guessing at some of the effects here, you could see changes to:
A lot remains to be seen here, but the early signs of work-centric social networks feels like too big a trend to miss.
When we go on our semi-annual Buffer retreats, we all stay in touch with one another not on social media but on messaging platforms: WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.
Is the same true for the ways you communicate with your nearby friends and family?
This seems to be a growing trend for a lot of the back-and-forth convos that take place. If social media is seen as a broadcast medium, messaging apps feel a bit more conversational.
And it’s possible that these two reasons might be why. With messaging apps, there’s:
Algorithms and ads have come to define social media more and more. Messaging apps are the complete opposite. For instance, on Snapchat (not quite a messaging app per se but disruptive enough in this sense), a user will choose to view a branded story and give it their full attention, whereas on Facebook the algorithm decides which posts the user might see.
So with people choosing a way around ads and algorithms, how does your content stand a chance of being seen?
This one definitely calls for some outside-the-box thinking. We’re currently spinning our brains with this one at Buffer and taking inspiration from folks who are charting new territories here already.
Alex Laughlin of the National Journal came up with a pretty neat experiment last year: She uses WhatsApp to send a daily newsletter to a group of subscribers.
The setup for the list is pretty simple. Here’re Alex’s instructions:
Essentially, people would opt in with a phone number rather than an email, and they’d get the newsletter messages straight away as chats. It’s a super interesting concept! And I quite liked this as the motivation for exploring this type of network:
If my fifteen-year-old sister’s social networking use is any indication,organizations should be hopping on these chat technologies — and quickly.
Online clothing retailer Everlane is one of the first to explore Facebook Messenger as a way to engage with customers and perform those standard e-commerce support roles with order confirmations, updates, shipping info, etc.
Customers can chat directly with Everlane support reps for any questions—even adding more items to an order.
(Here’s a bit more from Facebook’s announcement about their Messenger platforms).
And then there’s all the many different ways to get a message into things like desktop notifications or a Slack chat room (the next frontier!). Here’re just a few options:
I originally researched more than 20 new trends that social media folks thought might be big this year. The three above are the ones that seemed really promising, and a bunch of these below were simply too intriguing not to mention. They are:
I’ve added all these to a new story on Buffer’s Medium collection.
What trends are you keeping your eye on this year?
What do you see coming for social media?
I’d love the chance to learn from you with any thoughts you have on these items or any that I might have missed! It’d be awesome to connect in the comments or on Twitter.
Written by Kevan Lee
Content crafter at Buffer. You can find me online, tweeting about my writing process, or at home, second-guessing football coaches. Live simply, give generously, beat cancer.