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Some social media trends to watch for in "16

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It's that time of year again when we take a look back one last time before sailing away into the New Year, and one topic that will continue to garner attention in 2016 is social media—still a fast-paced environment that continues to evolve.

Looking at trends over the past couple years, I feel that many of the same trends are continuing, just with increased importance. Visual elements still dominate. With visual-dominated social media sites, like Instagram and YouTube, continuing to increase in popularity, along with higher visual content on more traditional sites, adding photos and videos to your social media accounts will continue to be important. In fact, according to a report on the website Social Media Today, 50 percent of daily users on Facebook watch at least one video per day. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has said that he expects the social network's News Feed to be mostly video in five years.

It is safe to say that social media is not a passing fad. While it will continue to evolve, it's here to stay in one way or another. How do I know? Fast Company magazine said there are more than 2 billion active social media users worldwide.

And businesses are not shy about boosting their social media presences, either. Did you know that nine out of 10 U.S. companies are now active on social media? If you are part of the 10 percent still not involved, it's past the time of deciding if you should be there. You do not want to fall behind.

Besides those staggering statistics, the Fast Company article also had a few takeaway points that I found interesting. In the business world, along with our personal lives, we have seen transitions in how we communicate. I have taken to emailing colleagues just as much as speaking out to them from my cubicle. It can be faster and streamline discussions if multiple aspects are involved.

It has been discussed for years whether social media could potentially take over the messaging element of office communication, and Fast Company makes it clear the new app Slack (https://slack.com) could actually do this. Slack is free and has unlimited spaces available for your team. This could be good to use if you don't always have time for regular meetings or you feel like there is a lack of communication at your shop. It could be something to test out and see if it benefits your business.

We all know that the move to mobile is also continuing. An article on Business 2 Community, a site that covers breaking news and top trends in social media, states that the increasing use of mobile to access social networks—78 percent of U.S. Facebook users access the site by mobile at least once per month—is having a big impact on localized marketing. Since more social media users are posting on the go with their mobile phones and devices, there is real-time hyper-local data that present opportunities that never really existed before.

When posting to social media in 2016, think about how digestible the content is. For instance, though Facebook does not have the short character limit that Twitter does, that does not mean that you should write multi-paragraph posts on your page. Think about how that will appear on a mobile device.

With that said, the Business 2 Community article also touches on the fact there are places for long form social content. For instance, if you are writing a blog for your website, posting this type of content to LinkedIn as well can be helpful. In addition, Facebook is revamping its Notes feature to allow longer form writing on the site.

This may be something to play around with in the New Year, but keep in mind how it will look for mobile readers and what the value is for your customers. If you are explaining “how to” type information, like changing a tire or oil, that may be something that can be explained more thoroughly.

I think the biggest rule of thumb with anything you post to social media is figuring out the value of it for your customers. If it's something that can be valuable with just an infographic, that is great. If it's something that needs to have a bit more explanation, then do that.

However, don't just post long explanations because you think you should. See how your audience is responding to your content and then cater later efforts to what your audience is showing you it wants.

Stay tuned to Tire Business' social media blog series in the New Year to always be up-to-date on the evolving world of social media. Do you have a specific topic you want more information on? Reach out to Jennifer Karpus-Romain at @jenniferkarpus on Twitter or email her at jkarpus.romain@crain.com.

References:

*http://fortune.com/2015/11/18/businesses-cant-survive-social-media/

*http://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/irfan-ahmad/2015-09-25/5-biggest-social-media-trends-2015-infographic

*http://www.business2community.com/podcasts/top-12-social-media-digital-marketing-predictions-trends-2016-podcast-01402336

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