Social media, like technology, is everchanging. The industry evolves every day, and it can be difficult for companies to keep up. However, digital marketing is crucial for the ongoing success of businesses.

“Social media has undoubtedly become a critical platform for marketers,” said E.J. McGowan, vice president and managing director of Campaigner. According to a digital marketing forecast survey by Campaigner, 73 percent of digital marketers believe it was a top strategy in 2017.

It’s important to leverage these trends as they’re occurring and to anticipate any new ones. Doing so will prepare your company for competitive marketing strategies and set you apart from other businesses. Here’s what the future of social media marketing looks like.

Video is a growing marketing strategy that fares well on social media. Consumers would much rather watch a short clip than read paragraphs of text, especially while browsing social platforms.

“Video creates a longer lasting engagement and is generally more familiar to advertisers,” said Ian Wishingrad, founder and creative director of BigEyedWish. “They like buying it because it feels like a TV-buying experience – it’s familiar and therefore more brands/advertisers want to be a part of it.”

Video also personalizes user experience, helping you connect with your consumers on a more relevant level, said McGowan.

“In their easily digestible format, videos serve as an excellent way to convey a brand’s message in a creative and interactive way,” McGowan added. “As a result, social networks and other media have made it easier for individuals to consume and broadcast video. As video continues to grow at a prodigious pace, marketers must learn to adopt this disruptive technology or risk falling behind to competition.”

To attract and retain attention, you can implement video on your business’s website, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, but recognize which integrations work well and which do not. Don’t expect as much success with video marketing on LinkedIn as you would on more informal platforms.

A popular way for companies to promote their brands is to get someone else to do it for them. These people are often well-known personalities or even celebrities sponsored to endorse a business’s products or services, often on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and other social media.

While you might think that you’ll find more success with more renowned endorsers, statistics prove otherwise. Companies experience a higher level of sales when they sponsor individuals with a smaller, yet notable, following.

Typically, lesser known influencers attract more relevant consumers than celebrities, whose audiences are primarily attracted by their fame. To this end, Courtney Reum, co-author of “Shortcut Your Startup” (Gallery/Jeter Publishing, 2018) and co-founder of brand development and investment firm M13, advised shifting endorsements to these micro-influencers to personalize the experience for potential customers.

According to McGowan, one trend on the horizon is social media integration, which leverages two or more media or marketing tactics at once.

“While the concept itself isn’t entirely new, the benefits have gradually proved effective, and its implementation has only become even more seamless with new technology,” McGowan said.

The idea is to combine marketing strategies to impact a broader audience. For instance, you can broadcast your Twitter feed on the side bar of your website, or include a video of your brand’s mission on your company’s Facebook page.

The most crucial integration this year, however, is social media and email, said McGowan.

“When leveraged correctly, social media and email marketing can have a synergistic relationship for brands, with social media driving email subscriptions and emails bringing more followers to social channels,” McGowan said.

Marketers should coordinate the timing and content of posts and emails, and ensure congruent messages are being sent across all channels, McGowan added. “This will, in turn, maximize reach across the customer’s journey.”

The Campaigner survey outlined which sites marketers would most likely be willing to invest in, which they ranked as so:

  • Facebook (48 percent)
  • Twitter (12 percent)
  • LinkedIn (11 percent)
  • Instagram (8 percent)
  • Google+ (2 percent)
  • Snapchat (1 percent)

The remaining 18 percent do not plan on investing in social media.

It’s important to note that each channel is different from the next and is intended for different purposes. Snapchat and Instagram don’t have the same level of broad search functionality that Facebook does, and are geared more toward friendly connections than professional ones, said McGowan. But this doesn’t mean you should write them off entirely.

“Marketers can leverage these social networking sites in 2018 by crafting media campaigns that highlight the strengths of each site,” said McGowan. “For instance, video may fare very well on Facebook; however, marketers should pivot back to text content when launching campaigns on LinkedIn.”

Reum suggests keeping up with platform innovations and priorities, and any incremental changes.

“Figuring out how to capitalize on these small edits, in addition to keeping an eye on major trends, will be key to successful campaigns going forward,” he said.