Last year, I wrote 3 MUSTS for Social Media in 2015 because everyone writes a “trends for the upcoming year” post, but looking back – I really called it!

So why not continue the tradition this year?

Making predictions for an upcoming year is a tough call with social media because our industry trends shift so quickly, but I’m convinced that even my 2015 predictions will continue to hold true this year.

Before we jump into 2016, here’s a 2015 prediction review:

1. Personal Connection

This was definitely a major key in constructing messages and curating content in 2015, and will continue to be this year.

In fact, we’ll begin seeing personalization take on a whole new meaning as apps and tech create devices and services that match up with users. And as these products grow, so will the need for targeted promotions.

2. Video

I was a bit ahead of this prediction last year – not in the world of marketing, but with business owners and brands.

They began engaging with video regularly in 2015, but hadn’t allocated budget for it or sewn it into the content marketing strategies.

However, moving forward this year, brands small and large know that video will be a necessary part of every content marketing strategy.

3. Ad Spend

Ad spend increased monumentally in 2015, but it’s going to be the heaviest portion of budget in 2016.

With the death of most organic reach across social networks, and the inundation of ads, we’re seeing more and more companies work harder and spend more to make their ads stand out.

We may even see interactive ads this year.

Now, let’s cover the 3 MUSTS for Social Media in 2016.

1. Rawness (Philosophy)

I’ve fallen madly in love with raw content. And although it’s not called that in the marketing community, it’s how I describe this specific type of content.

For example, it’s the content we’re seeing on Snapchat these days. It’s “in the moment,” not prettied up, and shrouded in humanness. It’s content that endears us to someone or some brand because it seems so “off the cuff” and vulnerable.

It’s humanization at its best!

And I know it’s the main reason Snapchat is blowing up at its current rate. In October 2015, 2 million messages were opened everyday on Snapchat. And by December 2015, that number skyrocketed to 2 BILLION!

If marketers and business folks alike aren’t taking Snapchat seriously, it’s TIME. If for no other reason than it’s going to help you understand the shift in social media that’s occurring right now.

Besides the raw content, a major feature is the ability to share video messages so easily. You can’t get more personal than that. And again, they’re raw – shot in the moment, not constructed in a studio with beautiful lighting.

How does this translate to your social media strategy for 2016?

What to do:

1. Start investing your time on social networks that organically share more raw content, like Snapchat, Periscope or Blab. And take a good look at how you can use that content to share across other networks.

2. Stop allowing your perfectionism to keep you from creating content – believe me, the audience will like you for who you are. And you will attract the right audience because you won’t be trying to be like someone or some thing else.

3. Be vulnerable in what you share. Don’t go overboard and be a sob fest or so hyper than people will question your credibility. But allow your true life to shine through what you share online.

4. Figure it out as you go along. Don’t waste time feeling like you have to buy the right gear or have the best set up, just do it! And grow by increments. Everyone started somewhere.

5. Spend lots of time viewing raw content. Go ahead, get out there and see what I mean. Watch what other people and brands are doing because it will help you in your own quest. Inspiration is a powerful tool.

2. Mix it up (Content)

When I say “mix it up,” I literally mean throw every kind of content and anything fun you can do with it into one bowl, and start getting creative.

Examples are Boomerang or Phhhoto videos, GIFs, quote photos with music in the background, still ads that have one moving part.

My point is that the content we share is going to have take a few steps up.

Our audiences aren’t going to be dazzled with the same quote cards or simple blogs anymore. Some will, most won’t.

As online audiences get more smashed up with content everywhere they go, it’s our job to make sure whatever content we’re producing is top notch. And not that it hasn’t always been this way.

But I mean a few steps above that. In addition, brands and businesses must start producing more content to keep up and get their message out there. That means writing more, making more videos, and utilizing photos every other time versus every few times.

Visual content is what’s HOT! And it shows no time of slowing down.

What to do:

1. Start being creative with your content and think of ways to make blogs more interactive, photos more stimulating, and videos more fun and educational.

2. Combine medias in one piece of content, ex. photos and music.

3. Get colorful with your content – don’t stick to the same old colors.

4. Utilize content you post on other networks and repackage it for use on a new one, ex. Snapchat stories work fantastic across networks.

5. Hire content creators to handle this for you if it sounds too intense. If you’re a business owner, there’s better things you could be spending your time on. Let the professionals handle it.

3. Social network downsizing (Technical)

In 2016, brands and individuals alike will start downsizing the social networks they use on a regular basis.

Why? Because it’s becoming too much. Also, because most brands have been marketing online for a few years now, and are seeing where they’re getting the best returns.

Social media success doesn’t come overnight, so it’s taken a few years to start seeing where to ween off, but it will definitely start happening this year.

In terms of the consumer, people are getting frantic with their time. They see themselves spending more and more time online, hanging out, and other areas of their life are beginning to suffer.

This year, we read studies that say Facebook breaks apart marriages, destroys self-esteem, and Instagram lends itself to unhealthy body images. People talk about how irritated they get when family or friends spend all their time online when they should be spending time together. And when asked, we all tend to agree that we’re spending too much time on social media.

Two brand new social networks have popped onto the scene and it’s barely mid-January.

So as we proceed forward in 2016, we’re going to see more folks backsliding into the places they consider most useful for business and interactions. And negating the rest.

What to do:

1. Take note of which social networks are working best for your business or personal brand, and figure out where to cut back.

2. Take special note of online audience behaviors. Just because a particular network is killing it for you now, doesn’t mean it will by the end of this year.

3. Continue building your email list. It’s still the best investment you can make in marketing.

4. Don’t be afraid to test wildly this year – cut back on posting, switch up your media, and test to see where your audiences are happiest.

5. Crowdsource your audience to find out where they plan on spending their time, and what is most appealing to them. Nothing better than cutting through the questions to find out from the source!

Now it’s your turn!

Agree/disagree? Share your thoughts below – I’m curious to know 🙂

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