Social Media Trends 2017 – 2018

For more than 10 years, social media has been permanently installed in France. They are so well installed that it seems like they’ve always been part of the landscape, like TV. Except that TV hardly evolves, while the social media are in perpetual renewal and transformation. I propose you to make an inventory of the main trends of 2017 and what to expect for next year.

Last week, I was invited by Strategies magazine to speak about the major trends in social media. An exercise more complicated than it seems in recent months have been hectic, but a very interesting exercise, because taking the step back is the only way to measure the relevance of the actions carried out and those that are planned. I propose you a summary of my speech, of which you will find the slideshow at the end of the article.

What you already know

Facebook and Google share the biggest part of the pie. I think you do not learn anything by saying that social media today is dominated by the duopoly Facebook – Google who have the largest social platforms (YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp …). This duopoly is not new and generates a huge imbalance in the distribution of advertising budgets ( Google and Facebook bring in one-fifth of global ad revenue ). A situation that worries, against which many are those who seek to fight ( The Race Is On Google-Google Challenge ‘Duopoly’ in Digital Advertising ), but in the end suits the advertisers well, because it limits the work of planning (two advertising agencies cover almost all audiences).

Messaging apps are more popular than ever. Again, I hope I do not teach you anything: mobile messaging apps have grown dramatically in popularity, thanks to a steady stream of new features. Explosive Uses ( WhatsApp: Now one billion people send 55 billion messages per day ), even on apps that are not the property of Facebook ( Skype for Android hits 1 billion downloads on Google Play ) and increasingly sophisticated advertising solutions ( Facebook tests tool to make it easier for businesses to send message blasts on Messenger ). The French socionautes do not deviate from the rule with a clear preference for Messenger and WhatsApp ( To communicate, the French prefer Gmail, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp ).

Chatbots are becoming commonplace. We talked a lot about it last year, the media craze has passed, but the uses remain with a rate of adoption among advertisers that is increasing steadily: 38% of companies are currently deploying their chatbot.

The triumph of the video. Easier to consume than texts and above all, requiring less effort, the video has become THE reference format for social media. If the smartphone has dethroned the TV is simply because viewers now have a TV in their pocket, permanently connected and searchable anywhere ( 50% of the video will be mobile by 2020 ). A trend that has not escaped the advertisers who rushed on this format, causing a beginning of saturation: The rise (and fall) of autoplay video, in 5 charts.

So, they fall back on sponsored videos, less polluting, but more expensive and complex to handle for non-affinity brands ( The emergence of branded web-series ).

The generalization of GIFs and stories. I guess that trend has not escaped you either: the use of animated GIFs to brighten publications. Almost as fun as videos, GIFs are much cheaper to produce, we can even reuse them to infinity. A practice that has now become a quite respectable business: In Six Seconds, Giphy Could Make Billions. Ditto for stories, a format popularized by Snapchat, but has since been adopted by Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, Facebook, and even YouTube. Certainly, the most interesting publication format to work today.

The revenge of social commerce. Who remembers online shops encapsulated in a tab of a Facebook page? If these attempts are retrospectively smiled, happy shoppable is now a reality which all advertisers benefit ( Why shoppable happy is the future for e-commerce businesses ) and that are found on all major social platforms, Pinterest to Instagram in going through Facebook.

The many scandals of brand safety. The US elections were an opportunity for many activists to speak out and try to rally voters to their cause. This has resulted in a significant increase in politicized content and thus mechanically extremist content. Content that was not necessarily moderate and that was available in the advertising inventory of major platforms. But to the extent that more than half of the advertising slots are bought by machines, some advertisements for quite respectable advertisers have found themselves next to much less respectable content.

This resulted in panic among advertisers that have either cut their budget ( P & G slaches digital ads by $ 140M over brand safety ) or were carried over to other formats ( Native ads gain as Advertisers seek brand safety away from programmatic ). The situation is visibly back to normal with very strong commitments formulated by Facebook, Google, Twitter … to moderate content and implements contextual analysis algorithms to limit the risk.

These 7 trends are roughly those that marked the year. Of course, there have been others, but of less importance.

What to prepare for

As stated in the article’s introduction, social media is constantly changing, under the influence of various factors: technological, legislative, functional … Let’s look at the uses and practices that will increase in the coming months.

Data becomes a major economic issue. Data has always been the raw material of marketing (and therefore advertising) and business intelligence. That being said, with the explosion of data production and the new regulation (does the GDPR mark the end of the golden age of online advertising? ) Data management has become a reality. the subject of prime importance for companies. First, because there is a deadline that inexorably approaches ( The state of the ad industry’s preparations for the GDPR, in 4 charts ), and because this new regulation will completely revolutionize advertising practices, but also media ( How marketers are planning for ‘post-cookie’ digital media ). It is therefore urgent to appoint a manager and to define a coherent and ambitious action plan.

The end of the natural reach. Last month, Facebook conducted an experiment in several “small” markets (Slovakia, Serbia, Bolivia, Guatemala, Cambodia …) to isolate the publications of the pages in a tab apart: Facebook’s reach-killing test in Slovakia is a big warning to all media. We already knew for many years that the natural reach was very low for advertisers, but here we are talking about a pure and simple withdrawal of non-sponsored news feed publications. Suffice to say that the worry is at the highest … whatever … would that really change the situation? Let’s face it: apart from a minority of ultra-affinity brands, most publications are sponsored, so in the end, it would not change much. Certainly, for the moment it is officially not a question of reiterating the experience, but we must not be divinely understood that we are moving slowly, but surely towards this scenario. Start saving now, because your Facebook budget is not ready to go down!

More micro-influencers and ambassadors. If advertisers can no longer use their page or account as a reliable communication channel, they still have the ability to use those of others. This is the principle of influencers who “rent” their audience through product placement. Practices that quickly became widespread but normalized ( Instagram pushes more influencers to adopt its new format for sponsored posts ). We are therefore moving from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, with both a better understanding of the uses ( Marketing Influence: consumer expectations and the impact of influencers ) and the stakes ( objectives, efficiency, and limits of marketing). influence on Instagram ), as well as more powerful tools to fight against fraud (the “fake” influencers, black marketers’ beasts ). If there are now many platforms to facilitate the creation of a campaign and mobilize thousands of micro-influencers in a few clicks of the mouse and in quite reasonable cost orders, the ideal is to start now to internalize these practices, especially with ambassador programs (eg Meet the new ASOS ambassadors bringing fashion to your campus ) that combine proximity and reach; but also relying on your employees: What Is Employee Advocacy & How Does It Really Work? and 10 Brands That “Get” Employee Advocacy.

Brands suffering from alternate realities. The year 2017 was marked by numerous revelations of large-scale manipulation of public opinion through massive use of social media ( Russian-backed content may have reached 126 million on Facebook, Russian groups made 1,100 YouTube videos during 2016 US election, Russia used to report to Brexit …). A proliferation of fake news that leads citizens to be wary of the media … and to turn to alternative sources of information, the very ones that are behind the fake news, a shame! If the phenomenon worries by its magnitude, it has enough to make advertisers nervous, because several scandals based on alternative facts to report: Pepsi-Cola, New Balance ( New Balance) ) or even more recently French banks ( The National Front encourages its voters to leave the Société Générale and HSBC in retaliation for the closure of accounts ).

Of course, these brands have reacted to attacks, but in a climate of permanent suspicion, a small group of well-organized activists can be quite harmful to a brand. It is up to you to prepare for it and to define crisis scenarios that are robust enough because no one is safe. And remember: ” there is no truth, only points of view “.

Discovering Generation A Forget the millennials, they grew up, got married and settled in the suburbs, adopting the same lifestyles, aspirations, and concerns that previous generations ( Millennial Americans Are Moving to the ‘Burbs, Buying Big SUVs ). If you really want to prepare for the future and take a place in the subconscious of future consumers, it is the generation A members that must be targeted now. Problem: These college kids are born almost at the same time as YouTube, Spotify, Netflix or AdBlock +. They grew up in a completely digital environment with permanent access to an infinite amount of content and services. From the 6th, they have already toured the most famous YouTubers and turn to much more trash content (eg the Gauntlet Challenge ) and are no longer satisfied with what they can see on TV or hear at the radio. In synthesis: it will be by far the most complex audience to address. Do not think to attract their attention with the same recipes as for previous generations, you will have to surpass yourself, both in creativity and in execution. So much to get started now or you will not have a chance to exist the day they will have more purchasing power.

From the place of social media in a global communication device

With more than 3 billion users worldwide, no one is questioning the importance of social media as a vehicle for transmitting information or distributing content. However, even with more than a decade of practice, I still see many (too) advertisers who simply duplicate their TV or paper campaigns on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. This leads me to think that many professionals cling to a clearly outdated model of communication. In this article, I propose to take stock of communication practices and how they differ but complement each other from one medium to another.

A Paid-Owned-Earned model that is almost 10 years old

Last week, the syndicate of Internet boards published the latest version of its study on the advertising market in France: 19th edition of the Observatory of the e-pub SRI, conducted by PwC, in partnership with UDECAM. This study highlights a reality that we already know, but that the market is obviously very hard to admit: TV is no longer the medium of reference, no more. With a market of more than 4 MM € for the year 2017, up 12%, digital media are very clearly favored by advertisers.

The reason for postponing advertising budgets from traditional media to online media is simple: money goes where consumers spend the most time. More than an advertising arbitration, this change marks the end of an era: that of media and mass distribution/consumption. This new media landscape naturally imposes a new model of communication.

In fact, reflections around a new pattern of consumption began many years ago, particularly with the tripartite model theorized by Forrester in 2009: Defining Earned, Owned, and Paid Media.

If we can only recognize the ingenuity of this model, which has made reference, it is clear that it is no longer really adapted to the current media landscape. Try to put yourself in the context of the times: the iPhone 3G had just been launched and MySpace was still cash machine. In 2012, I published an evolution of this model: From the maturation of the digital media mix to the time of social media.

We are in 2018 and practices have evolved so much that it has also become obsolete: the media owned and earned are atrophied, while the shared and the paid merged. The uses of social media have therefore evolved enormously (see Panorama of social media trends in 2017 ), as well as that of the media in general with a net decline in TV, especially among young people: 15-24-year-olds no longer only half of their video time watching linear TV.

Infernal pace imposed by digital media

The problem faced by traditional media such as advertisers is that thanks to smartphones, consumers are now permanently connected and exposed to a continuous stream of content of all kinds. In this perpetual flow, one information chases another. Just last week, we were treated to:

  • riots for Nutella jars on sale;
  • camels cheating on a beauty contest;
  • stations of the RER C closed because of the flood of the Seine;
  • RER D users who need to be cooled;
  • baboons escaping from their pens at Vincennes Zoo …

With so many news circulating on social media and generating innumerable conversations and hijackings, how do you expect traditional advertisers (insurance companies, laundry, car manufacturers, telephone operators …) to get their messages across?

Very clearly, we have reached the saturation point, shouting louder than the others will only add to the cacophony. In other words: do not try to replicate the traditional media communication practices on social media (repetition), it would be not only counter-productive but also expensive ( ‘Organic reach on Facebook is dead’: Advertisers expect price hikes after Facebook’s feed purge ). It is, therefore, necessary to adapt the communication practices to the media and their specificities.

Complementarity of the media to maximize efficiency

Until about ten years ago, it was necessary to choose between the power of traditional media (able to broadcast an advertising message to millions of people in a very short period of time) and the accuracy of digital media (especially campaigns of targeted emails or keywords). The problem was that a barrier separated these two media, the digital barrier. Devices have been well tested to link the media in an offline (short URLs broadcast on TV, QR codes on magazines …), but to no avail. Today the situation is different, because 3/4 of consumers are equipped with a smartphone, and that all users have installed Facebook or Instagram. The omnipresence of social media in the daily lives of consumers makes it possible to consider advertising journeys using several types of media :

  1. an offer is exposed to the greatest number on the traditional media (TV, radio, press …);
  2. this offer is relayed on social media to specific targets (those that have the best chance of transforming or are already in the base of the advertiser);
  3. the offer is staged in different ways (depending on the specificities of each social platform and the interests of the targeted members), but with a unique anchor (the hashtag);
  4. The advertiser’s accounts and official profiles lead prospects to mini-sites and online stores for action (or feed a PRM database for further processing);
  5. once the purchase is made, customers are loyal to media where they spend the most time (social media), in order to extend the relationship until the next purchase.

In this scenario, the hashtag is used to bridge the gap between traditional media and digital media. Social media occupies a central place in the daily lives of consumers, it is the preferred medium to increase the scope of an offer (coverage), to engage targets (through open questions or devices that promote interactions) and to improve proximity to customers (regular contact points).

The goal is not to replace traditional media, but to have a holistic approach to different forms of communication :

  • advertising (supply-oriented);
  • affinity (based on the focus of the targets);
  • transactional (favoring efficiency);
  • relational (focusing on satisfaction and loyalty).

Certainly, this holistic approach requires moving from a perfectly controlled communication (content, formats, dissemination …) to a malleable communication (adapted to targets and media). And that’s where it usually gets stuck: advertisers are not quite ready to deny decades of controlled communication, fixed, to adopt more flexible practices (eg: to use a network of micro-influencers to distribute an offer by entrusting them with adapting the message according to the relationship they have with their audience).

Digital transformation: why now?

It’s been more than 20 years since I worked in the web environment, two decades during which I exhausted myself to explain, reassure and persuade companies of the interest of the web and digital media. If today nobody questions the necessity or the interest of the digital transformation, I would like to dwell on the combination of many socio-demo-eco-technological factors which make the digital transition become obvious: why Is it a question of survival now when it was not really a few years ago?

20 years of maturation for a profound transformation

The first Internet connection for the general public was launched in June 1994. The digital content and services we access are therefore the result of more than 20 years of evolution ( what were the websites like in 1995 ). To give you an idea of the atmosphere of the time, I recommend watching these two reports broadcast on TV in 1995 here and there.

More than two decades of evolution covering different aspects:

  • changes in usage with constant growth in online shopping ( mapping of e-commerce in 2017 ), more and more time spent on social media (see my latest social media panorama and: in 4 years, internet users have gone from 3 social accounts to 7 ) and media consumption habits that move away from the sacrosanct TV ( Evolution of media consumption patterns, Time spent with the media in France and YouTube has 1.5 billion logged-in users watching on your mobile video );
  • evolution of offers with new business models (subscription-based business, pay-as-you-go …) and new distribution channels (audio/video streaming, a generalization of content platforms and services …);
  • evolution of media with the advent of smartphones that largely dominate alternative terminals, but prepare the rise of personal assistants as well as augmented / virtual reality …);
  • evolution of technologies (online software that is emerging as the new standard, APIs and cloud computing offerings that redefine the computing landscape, the generalization of artificial intelligence, natural interfaces …);
  • evolution of marketing and communication practices ( programmatic buying, marketing automation, machine learning …).

So there has been an evolution on almost all plans. Add to this the irresistible rise in power of the GAFA that stands out as the new superpowers ( The GAFA are not our enemies … but beware anyway!, How Facebook has transformed to become the dominant media of the 21st century, How Amazon is conquering our homes and imposing itself in our daily lives ), as well as many economic, ecological, demographic, societal tensions … that shape a daily life based on the uncertainty with which it is necessary to know how to compose ( What marketing tools and practices in a VUCA world?

We all agree that this is a lot of innovations and evolutions to assimilate in a short time. The resistance to change in business is at its highest, but fortunately, the retirement of baby boomers will accelerate the renewal of assets ( The “Papy boom” will peak in 2017 ).

All this “new blood” that disembarks (and will continue to land) in a company allows to dust off the mentalities and turn the page of the twentieth century definitively to project into the twenty-first century and its projects increasingly crazy (blockchainisation of all sectors, development of neuronal interfaces, spatial conquest …).

This is why we are talking so much about digital transformation over the last two years because the pressure has never been greater to accelerate the digital transition, as well as the heavyweights of the French economy (banks, insurance companies, industrial …) than SMEs. All the factors mentioned above are cumulative to increase the impact and make the digital transformation THE priority of the companies, NOW, not in 5 years.

Are French companies well placed? Yes and no

It is always difficult to get a ranking of the best students in terms of digital transformation as the number of factors to consider is important. There is the University of Tuft, in partnership with Mastercard, which publishes for several years their Digital Evolution Index and provides a good frame of reference, but it remains debatable.

All these macroeconomic data are difficult to interpret at the level of your company, so I suggest instead to get an idea of the situation with the increase in investment ( Boudée for 10 years, France finally finds its attractiveness to foreigners ) and the new political momentum in Europe, particularly in Estonia ( Is This Tiny European Nation Preview of Our Tech Future? ) and at the national level ( Why should we take President Macron’s “nation-building” seriously? and Edouard Philippe wants to be inspired by the re-administration of Estonia ). In summary: there is a very strong dynamic that drastically increases the competitive pressure.

The good news is that there is a real awareness: according to a study by Umanis, 76% of companies believe that the digital transition is a strategic project, and 56% think that the disruption must come from the Internal ( Digital Transformation: Where are the French companies? ).

The problem is that there is a big gap between the boss/managers’ discourse and what their teams think. Last month, Capgemini published a very informative report ( The Digital Culture Challenge: Closing the Employee-Leadership Gap ), where we learn that 75% of leaders believe that their company has a culture centered on technological innovation. this feeling is only shared by 37% of employees. You will note in the following diagram that France is the country where the gap is the strongest (ouch!).

The report focuses on the cultural reluctance that is particularly strong in France (re-ouch!):

In addition to this cultural reluctance, it is above all the lack of vision that slows the digital transformation: employees do not really understand why they have to change their habits and especially to which model they should orient themselves. Basically, they are asked to “think digital” or “do more digital” without it fits into a coherent strategy. Big deal…

Successful festivals and their social media habits

The life of the festival organizer is a great challenge. It takes a tremendous amount of work to select and provide the right people, to build a dedicated work team and to form a brand image that perfectly matches the target audience. Even if you have succeeded in the above-mentioned endeavors, your marketing work never ends.

According to one of the world’s largest Eventbrite event platforms, 25% of online traffic to pages to buy tickets globally comes from social networking links. With the right marketing strategy, you can increase this traffic and turn examinations into more sales or presence registrations for your event. That’s why we ‘ve put together for your practices and tips with a proven track record that can bring your festival to the forefront of social networks.

Do not compromise on design

The interesting concept of a festival needs a creative visual identity – logo, page layout in social networks, publications, etc. Branding your festival is paramount. First visual impressions and parallel marketing (both offline and online) should professionally design the image of your festival and its personality. Good design is a great investment, so do not gamble on cheap Word solutions and posters.

Engage participants

Talented participants in your event can be priceless in raising awareness of social networks. The festival’s headliner is likely to have a solid base of social media followers as well as a loyal fan base. Work with all participants to mention your event in your feed and inform your fans.

Continue to share after the festival

Even if your event is over, you can use the social network to find the best content from visitors and share it with the world. There will always be videos and pictures that you can use to remind people how well they’ve spent or to make those who miss the event feel sorry for it. Tools like Storify can make it easier for you. It’s never too early to collect a new audience for your next edition of the festival.

Facilitate sharing

Your visitors can share photos and videos of their experiences with social networking friends. You can encourage this behavior by creating more opportunities for that. From the banal photo banner with the logo of your event to the shaping of an original special environment that naturally predisposes you to take pictures or videos for Instagram and Facebook – the variations are a lot and depend on the creativity of your team.

Define your target groups and find them online

When considering a digital marketing strategy at your festival, the first thing you need to do is segment your potential audience and create profiles for each segment. For example, families, teenagers, women over 40, etc. Once you’ve taken this step, you can decide: which social network channels to use, what online platforms and media to work as information partners, what kind of approach to using in the ad.

Pre-planning content for less stress

The content you post in social media is a magnet for web traffic and engaging a potential audience. The earlier your marketing team is ready to plan content for both before and after the festival – the better for your event and team.

The people behind the event

The team, volunteers, sponsors, participants … Tell the story of the people behind your festival. Once a week you can present one key figure from the kitchen. This will give you a more human look at your festival and remind your audience of the work that sits behind the successful realization of the event. People will appreciate this strategy and will use their profiles to promote your event further.

Hashtag as a living tool for tracking feedback

Hashtag not only helps visitors to discuss events but also facilitates organizers to track online conversations that affect the quality of the organization. The tool can serve not only to select and share user-uploaded content but can also proactively raise questions about the event. You may find complaints that you can handle on time and make your festival more enjoyable for everyone.