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2015 has produced some staggering numbers when it comes to social media. Facebook reported a billion users a day, Pinterest generated over 60 million buyable pins, Instagram reached 400 million users and Twitter still sees over 100 million users login daily.

Social media is evolving rapidly so if you want to stay ahead, you should know where social media pros are focusing their attention in 2016. In this post we’ll look at some of the hottest social media trends coming this year and what they mean for your small business.

Real-time updates

The launch of Periscope introduced a new level of immediacy to social media. Compared to the more after-the-event updates we’d usually find on social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, this live-streaming app focuses on making real-time updates more popular. And they succeeded, now with 40 years of live footage being watched on Periscope each day.

By being able to capture a moment and share it instantly with your audience, the social aspect of social media is multiplied. People love this in-the-moment content as it’s more personal and less edited. Plus, it makes them want to spend even more time on social media.

What does this mean for your small business? It means that if you’re not using live streaming and in-the-moment content, now’s the time to start. Check out our guide on Periscope to learn how this platform works and how you can use it to market your small business.

The year of live video, finally

Every year in the past few years, someone has declared that video is going to be the Next Big Thing in social media. While video has indeed become more popular and has been adopted by more and more brands, there are now clear signs that this is the year when video will take the stage.

Just look at the amount of live video-streaming platforms that were launched in 2015, from Meerkat, Periscope and Blab to Facebok Mentions. Not to mention this new weird yet interesting video streaming app called YouNow that teens are using and paying for to watch other teens sing, dance, talk, sleep. Yes, sleep! This shows that video is finally ready for primetime.

So, what should you do? Take advantage of every social platform you’re on to interact with your audience and to live stream fun, interesting, useful content that your fans and followers would be interested in. “But I’m a small business” is no longer an excuse as these opportunities are open to all. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you already have what it takes to create video content and share it on your social platforms.

Social and content marketing merge

The announcement of Facebook’s Instant Articles has caused so much excitement that it shows that this is something to watch out for in 2016. What does it mean? It means that Facebook is no longer just a social media platform but is quickly becoming more of a content-based platform. With Instant Articles, Facebook is aiming to get users to spend more time on its platform instead of leaving to read the articles on other websites.

Huge publishers like National Geographic and The Guardian are already taking advantage of this feature and have signed up to have their articles published directly onto Facebook. Twitter is also considering upping its 140 character limit and some also believe that the social network will allow long-form content to be published in the near future.

Popular networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and more are probably already working on other new and cool ways for brands to deliver content and for users to view and interact with that content, so make sure you’re ready.

Let them do the social marketing for you

Instead of creating marketing campaigns and constantly pushing your products and services to social media, why not take a different approach and let your audience do the work for you?

Here are a few ways you can achieve this:

  • Build meaningful relationships with influencers in your industry and encourage them to talk about your business and products.
  • Create a fantastic working environment that your employees will want to brag about on social media. Remember that your employees are your biggest advocates and content coming directly from them will results in a greater reach and more authentic trust for your brand.
  • Customise the content you share based on your customers’ needs. This can be content that you create or that is sourced from external sites.
  • Use social media to build a conversation, and not just to promote your content and your business. The more you engage with your audience on different topics, the more they’ll talk about you as being helpful and fun to talk to.

Growth of social commerce

Think about how many times you’ve seen products on social media that you would’ve liked to buy. But you had to leave the social network and then run a search on Google to find that product, create an account and input credit card details. With social media entering the ecommerce arena, this is set to become a whole lot easier.

More social platforms, with the leadership of Facebook, are aiming to become a one-stop-shop for everything online.  In 2014 Facebook introduced Buy Now buttons while a year later Pinterest announced the introduction of buyable pins. It didn’t take Instagram too long to get into the one-click purchase arena as well.

So expect Buy Now buttons to pop up on all major social networks and make sure you take advantage to sell even more products to your potential customers on social media.

What are your predictions for social media marketing in 2016? Comment below.

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