In earlier days, social media was primarily used for personal connections — a way to stay in touch with family and friends and share thoughts in 140-character bursts. But now, social media has an important role to play in any company’s SEO strategy.

Furthermore, emerging trends that create the kind of immersive experiences users crave will shape the social media landscape for marketing in 2017 and far beyond.

Social Media Trend #1

Immersive Experience

For many users, and especially millennials, social media is now the primary tool for all kinds of online interactions, both personal and professional. Static, evergreen content may dominate on websites and blogs, but in the social sphere, users are increasingly demanding real-time interactions on every level, from the ability to chat live via a messaging app to seeing current events streamed live from someone’s smartphone.

Current social media tools make it easy to create and share these kinds of immersive experiences — those that give viewers the feeling of “being there,” or sharing in events, rather than simply viewing video, images or posts that report after the fact. With tools for live streaming, short-term sharing and apps full of features for manipulating images, users can offer their followers and contacts a way to become a part of experiences and events while they happen.

Social Media Trend #2

Live Streaming Is Here to Stay

For quite a while, marketers have understood the power of video — just consider the rise of YouTube as a legitimate search engine and home to a vast array of tutorials, product reviews, and testimonials. But the days of producing and posting a prepared video that remains evergreen are giving way to the new trend of live streaming — sharing videos of unscripted events in real time.

With features such as Periscope and Facebook Live, news, events, and experiences aren’t just reported, they can be lived. Viewers get to be a part of things as they happen, not knowing how they might end. While that can lead to dangerous places such as live streaming suicides and crimes, live streaming continues to claim a growing share of social media time in a world of immersive experiences.

Social Media Trend #3

Augmented Reality

The social media users of today want to share real experiences of real people — only heightened with extra effects. For that reason, videos and images that present not just reality, but augmented reality, have more impact and shareability than those that simply offer a glimpse of the world as it is.

Augmented reality adds new layers of information, interactivity, and experience by making it easy to add text, music or graphic effects to videos and images — and this kind of “reality 2.0” engages viewers more than standard video and photography.

Social Media Trend #4

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Ephemeral Content

In stark contrast to static web content, ephemeral content is only available on social media for a very short time — and that increases interest and demand. Pioneered by the image-sharing giants Snapchat and Instagram, the ephemeral content disappears within 24 hours or so of posting. With an emphasis on original, unpolished video and images posted in real time, ephemeral content provides an intimate, typically unscripted look at a poster’s current reality.

The quest for real-time engagement and the demand for immersive experiences can create new opportunities for brands of all kinds to showcase company culture, connect with customers and build loyalty. In the new world of social media, it’s all about being real — and being there in real time.

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