What to Expect in 2018
As this year comes to an end I thought it might be fun to look at next year and highlight a few key things that we plan on integrating into our Social Media strategy. Not all of this is new, but with tech advancements all of the below is becoming more accessible to the common user / in-house Social Media team. Enjoy!
Facebook Watch UK | Live Stream | Pay to Play
This is a personal plea directed at Facebook to launch Facebook Watch in the UK! Let's hope we ring in 2018 with access to the new video service that's already available in the US. Facebook watch is a dedicated place your community can go to watch and engage with your videos (just think Youtube channels with your Facebook friends).
The expansion of Live Streaming content is going to take more pride of place in the new year with carefully choreographed streams, multiple cameras and interactive broadcasting. We're planning on taking our live stream to the labs to share our research in a new way.
I always bang on about pay to play in basically every talk, presentation or workshop that I do; but in 2018 it will become more important than ever to have your own dedicated in house budget to boost and promote your own posts. If your organisation hasn't already given you access to the corporate credit card, next year is the best time to ask.
Chatbots | Messaging | Listening | Micro Moments
The rise of AI is not as frightening as it might seem (kind of), chatbots and messaging apps will help us all directly communicate with our audience. It will help us provide the personalised service our community expects, and with AI integration it will also save us time... and hopefully won't be too creepy!
There will be a considerable amount emphasis on listening tools for us next year. As of 2018 we'll be signed up with a tool (to be announced soon) that will easily track campaigns and allow us to be the first to know when people are talking about our University or research around the world. This will tie into our Crisis Comms plan but will also allow us to engage with our audience on a different level, creating customised high quality Micro Moments. Social Media has evolved from trying to reach millions of people to putting more effort into engaging with smaller pockets of genuinely interested users. With listening tools this is going to be easier and more streamlined.
We've had a go at it already with our #TeamUofG campaign creating customised GIFs and videos as reply tweets to students expressing their joy at being accepted to the university in August.
Ephemeral content? Yes ephemeral... means it disappears, don't worry I had to look it up too.
Snapchat, Instagram stories and expiring posts are in some cases the best way to communicate with our student audience. Yes, Snapchat is still relevant, and as long as our student population is using it so will we. What we share on Snapchat is unique, and more often than not stays completely within that channel, the students drive the content.
We're putting a lot of emphasis on our Instagram stories to share our research and so far it has been very successful with a large amount of our audience clicking through the story to 'find out more'. Though content disappears it shouldn't effect the quality, most of our engagement on posts happen within the first 24 hours anyways, so we'll be ensuring the quality of our ephemeral content still rivals our normal posts.
Student Generated & Micro-Influencer Content
We all know the importance of user/student generated content; but what if we throw Micro-Influencers into the mix? Over the past few months we've been working with our External Relations (Recruitment Marketing) team on a project called Future World Changers. The aim is to work with some of our students to help them achieve their ambitions. Though we've been the ones creating the videos, we take full direction from the students. So far they've been really successful, and the aim for next year is to build up multiple influencers who all have different ambitions in different fields. We want to be able to follow these students creating 2 to 3 videos for each and sharing their stories with our community.
Everyone now days has a 360° camera and is pumping out fairly high quality photos regularly, what I don't see is high quality 360° videos (on the cheap). Next year we'll hopefully see a more cost effective way to create 360° videos and live streams. Also, augmented reality... but I don't want to get into that as I don't feel it's attainable yet for us 'normals'.
By long form, I don't mean feature length and a sacrifice in quality, but I do feel that the better we understand our community the more we should be able to confidently share those 3-5 minute videos with actual content they're insterested in that tells a story. Just make sure you grab their attention in the first 10 seconds! Our Christmas video this year was 5 minutes long and though there was the usual drop off after 10 seconds we were still averaging a video watch time of 25 seconds which might not seem very long, but compared to other shorter less engaging videos that generally average around 7 to 8 seconds we think that's pretty good.
Happy New Year!
I'm sure I've missed lots, and I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on what you think will be prevalent next year too. Here's to hoping that 2018 will be just as jam packed as this year with lots of new amazing Social Media tricks up its sleeve.
Wishing all of you a wondering holiday and a Happy New Year.