People want to engage with good content online everyday and thanks to social media’s democratic nature, it doesn’t so much matter where that content comes from anymore. Content from professionals, news sites, consumers, and brands now share the same platforms, allowing the best to bubble up to the top based purely on reader approval. This provides an unique opportunity for business owners and brand marketers to reach their audiences through the merit of good content rather than big traditional advertising spends. Keep an eye on these five content trends this year to give yourself an edge in the race to the top of the feed.
Personality over perfection and spontaneous engagement over scheduled posts.
The goal of social media is to forge a true connection with your customers. People—especially millenials—can sniff out inauthenticty in seconds. Human-to-human communication is much more important than perfectly polished imagery, and in fact, insincere stock photography or messaging that isn’t in line with your customer’s style and values can quickly make you appear out of touch. Even big brands are eschewing professional gloss for a more user-generated feel on social media, while the increase in live streaming and mobile apps that help you create content on-the-go are helping fuel an era of spontaneous and real connection. Today, a Facebook Live broadcast or an Instagram post that shows the soul of your brand can generate more interest than a traditional, highly polished advertisement, putting the onus on personality, witty captions, and authentic visuals to win likes and shares. Candid photography also gives a far more approachable feeling than overly posed stock imagery and people are just as likely to engage with an image that captures authentic emotion as they are to a pro shot. While your iPhone is all you need to capture social media-worthy imagery, good lighting and interesting compositions will never go out of style. Read our nine tips for taking better photos with your phone.
Consumers are also becoming more socially minded in their purchase choices and choose to follow brands that they feel share their values. As a result, we see more and more brands becoming less afraid to voice opinions and interact with social issues of the day.
There’s no denying people consume more content on their phones than a desktop computer—and that mobile-first trend will only continue to rise. It’s important to present content specifically for the small screen. Make sure you resize graphics to the optimal dimensions for each network so the message doesn’t get cropped (Adobe Spark Post makes this easy: automatically resize images with one tap!) But beyond that tactical tip, the content itself should be created with the knowledge that people are scrolling quickly through feeds. Here are some things to keep in mind when constructing social media creative.
- Keep your social media copy short — a brief sentence or call to action are essential. Don’t add long paragraphs.
- Use supporting graphics that enhance your message. Avoid busy backgrounds that compete for attention.
- Make sure your content is legible. Designers are using larger type in order to help sell the message. Fonts that have added personality (for example, hand lettering) are being used more often for specific call-to-action words.
Social Media Videos
2016 was a landmark year in video communication as live broadcasting exploded across social networks and more small businesses than ever before shared videos on Facebook. The social behemoth continues its prioritization of video content in 2017 and as a result, 69% of marketers say they will focus more budget towards video, according to the 2017 Digital Marketing trends provided by Syndacast. But you don’t need big budgets to ride the wave of this megatrend: easily create graphics that move with Spark Post and animated videos with Spark Video–in minutes. Live video will continue to be important for building ephemeral social buzz, but you can stretch that content further by parsing out highlights with Spark Video and leveraging the content on your site or YouTube in order to generate SEO equity.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
Savvy brands let their customers take over, which not only saves you work if it takes off, but also encourages greater engagement and puts your goods or services in real-life context. Consider using real customers in your content, reposting images your customers share on social media, or leveraging their own words in your social media copy—just make sure you get permission first. Another way to encourage UGC is to create a branded hashtag. Companies like West Elm and Calvin Klein have successfully used UGC to move product by collecting customer photos under a branded hashtag, which in some cases has yielded higher return than professional product photography.
Green tones, bright punchy colors, and minimalist compositions
Every year Pantone selects a color that reflects the current cultural direction and it influences all disciplines of design from graphic design to fashion to interior decor. The 2017 color of the year is Greenery, inspired by our growing consciousness towards our environment and the food we consume. You’ll likely see more greens and earth tones across the graphics you encounter. 2016 also saw a huge rise in bold colors that eschewed soft vintage filters for vibrancy. Photographer Matt Crump coined the term “candy minimal” to describe his minimalist approach towards composition and use of soft candy-like colors, which spread like fire across Instagram. We can expect to see more reliance on bold, modern colors. And we suspect December’s highly visual Hollywood blockbuster La La Land, which used bright primary colors in its wardrobe and set design to influence aesthetics this year.
Digital trends come and go but these content trends represent a shifting tide in online communication that puts authenticity and relate-ability above all else. How do you plan to engage your audience in 2017.
Article by Amy Copperman and Nicte Cuevas
Graphics by Nicte Cuevas, Principal of Nicte Creative Design