5 Social Media Trends from #SMMW16

SMMWBrianFanzo.jpgThere is a place where the Starbucks coffee flows abundantly, every conversation is enlightening and your thumbs can’t possibly tweet fast enough. That place is Social Media Marketing World. As a seasoned alumnus of two years (that counts as an alumnus, right?), I can attest that everything there is to know about social media can be learned within the walls of the San Diego Convention Center, where the conference took place this week over the course of two days with 100+ sessions. 

Social Media Marketing World started with a captivating keynote from Social Media Examiner’s Michael Stelzner, during which he identified top trends impacting social media in 2016. For those of us in the PR and social media industry, a number of these trends were not all that surprising. What was, however, were the amazing statistics that supported these trends. Note: Statistics mentioned below come from the Social Media Examiner 2016 survey of 5,100 social media marketers. Let’s dive in!

1. The Year Of (Live) Video for Social Media Marketers

While YouTube has often been the first source for brands to distribute video content, Stelzner predicted 2016 will be the year brands expand use of live video.

Research unveiled at the conference shows 50 percent of social media marketers are using or increasing their use of live video in 2016. In fact, 73 percent of marketers are planning to increase their use of video in 2016  and 21 percent claim it’s the most important form of content marketing.


A year ago, Periscope, an app for broadcasting live video, launched at this very conference. Talk about starting off with a bang! If you want a new social media tool to succeed, launch it when the largest social media conference in the world is taking place with more than 3,000 attendees from more than 50 countries waiting to discover the next social media tool to add to their marketing toolbox.

Brian Fanzo, pictured above, recommends brands seek to provide unique access in real time at the right time with live video. From the streaming world of Periscope, the instant videos of Snapchat and now the introduction of Facebook Live, live video provides customers with exclusive access to brands in a way that other social platforms cannot deliver.  

2. Many Social Media Marketers Unsure, but Still Investing in Facebook

Social media marketers have been frustrated for years trying to figure out the shifting algorithms of Facebook, only to discover the organic reach of their brand (or clients’ content on Facebook) is limited.

As Stelzner revealed at Social Media Marketing World, almost all companies have taken a hit in their Facebook traffic, including Stelzner’s own Social Media Examiner. (Hooray for speakers with complete transparency – thanks Michael!) With Facebook being the number one traffic referral source for many brands’ websites, marketers and PR pros are still seeking the answer to the question of: How can we make Facebook work for us again? The answer, perhaps, is Facebook Live and, of course, pay for play. More on that later. 

Sixty-seven percent of marketers will increase their Facebook marketing efforts in 2016. Are you thinking of doing so yourself? Wait, didn’t she just say that marketers are unsure of Facebook? So why would brands increase their Facebook efforts? Because, one fact remains true: Facebook is still the social media giant of this space with 1.59 billion active users each month.

3. Brand Exposure Is a Key Driver of Social Media ROI

Stelzner unveiled the fact that 89 percent of marketers say increased brand exposure is the top benefit of social media. How do brands tap into it? By turning their customers into brand advocates. Your customers are going to share content via social. Why not have them sharing positive content about your brand? It’s authentic, real and gives your brand instant access to their audience (for free!).

4. “Pay to Play” Is Here to Stay

Social media, especially Facebook with its new algorithms, has undergone a shift throughout the last few years. Increasingly, organic brand content is now buried. So, to prioritize your content, the reality is many social sites are now “pay for play” models.

Although paying to boost your content is not ideal, and for some companies may be a hard sell to the C-suite, more brands are taking on social media advertising budgets (e.g. pay-per-click or banner ads) and delivering rock star ROI. While organic reach of content continues to dwindle, brands that leverage the power of paid ads on Facebook will continue to reach targeted audiences including current and potential future customers.

In the last year alone, Facebook has gained 50 percent more advertisers, while 86 percent of marketers say they use Facebook ads regularly. (By comparison, only 18 percent reported using Twitter ads). Seems like a substantial increase, right? What’s even more staggering is that in the fourth quarter of 2015 Facebook generated $5.8 billion in revenue from advertising. Bottom line: Facebook still dominates social media. So to play, you have to pay.


5. Snapchat Is Rapidly Rising!

If you’re a marketer, at some point in the last year you’ve probably asked yourself: Should my company or brand be on the image and video messaging app Snapchat?

While for most B2C companies the answer may resoundingly be yes (if bandwidth and budget allow), B2B companies may want to wait to test the waters. That being said, no matter what type of marketer you may be, numbers never lie. And the statistics for Snapchat are astonishing.

All signs point to Snapchat being the future of social media marketing and here’s why:

  • May 2015 – 2 billion daily views
  • February 2016 – 8 billion daily views

This app, which boasts only 200 million users, is on a path to unprecedented growth. And brands that are embracing Snapchat, such as Taco Bell, are winning big. The platform allows brands the opportunity to connect with customers (especially millennials) in a unique, very real way. In today’s world of perfected content and scheduled social calendars, consumers love seeing the brands they follow in an authentic, un-edited format. Snapchat is that format.

2016 is a year that will require marketers and PR pros to expand their horizons beyond the traditional social media mix. So whether it’s live video, getting your brand on Snapchat or starting an introductory influencer program, ask yourself: As social media marketers, what can we do to push the envelope this year and create online excitement around our brands? Make 2016 the year to get inspired, take chances and bring your brand’s social media marketing to the next level!

About the Author

Leila Erickson

Lelia Erickson is a former Maccabeast.

Topics:  PR Perspectives, Social Media Marketing

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