A lot has happened this past year in the realm of social media. Facebook introduced live video, Instagram launched Stories, Snapchat became a camera company and Vine went the way of the dodo. While ad spend is up for social networks, customer satisfaction isn’t as high as in recent years. Social media users are more diverse and digitally savvy than ever before—challenging brands to engage them through meaningful, frontline marketing. Let’s take a look at some of the top social media trends going into the new year . . . we hope you’ll “like” it.

Paying To Play

A recent study by Steelhouse/Forrester revealed that a majority of marketers (89 percent) spend on social advertising, while 77 percent purchase display banner ads, 65 percent use video advertising and 60 percent use email advertising. According to a separate survey by Animoto, a cloud-based video creation service, 70.8 percent of respondents said they plan to invest in social video ads, including ads to boost content over the next 12 months.

When it comes to marketing B2B, brands are struggling with whether social media is worth the effort. According to a study by Regalix, 67 percent of respondents said they allocate budget to social media ads. Despite this fact, whether or not the investment is worth it seems to be in question. While 52 percent said that social media marketing is “very important,” the remaining 48 percent said the effort was “somewhat important.” Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they hope social media marketing will increase brand awareness and a majority (58 percent) named LinkedIn and Facebook as having delivered efficiently on advertising dollars.


Influencers Reign Supreme

Per Social Times, 84 percent of brands are now using influencer marketing to drive their business goals, and for good reason. Forward-thinking brands realize that the word of an influencer is far more powerful than a pop-up ad. Massive video game events, once the epicenter for press conferences and secret demos are now moving in a completely different direction. During Gamescom, Peter Moore, Electronic Arts’ chief competition officer said, “I’m not too sure that press conferences have a future. The medium is changing. Influencers, celebrities who aren’t the classic journalists are finding their own way. Our job is to put the games in their hands.” Brands like EA and Microsoft opted for public user experiences rather than press conferences to accomplish just that.

A study by Think With Google revealed that 70 percent of YouTube subscribers relate to YouTube creators more than traditional celebrities, making a strong case for the power of branded content and strategic influencer partnerships.

Women Want Answers

According to a study by Influencer Central, 88 percent of women say they often seek peer opinions over social media prior to making purchases, while 59 percent turn to experts, and women value firsthand experience over any other reason for the recommendations they receive. While a vast majority of women reach out on social media channels for help, the offer goes both ways. Seventy-two percent of women consumers often share their own opinions, advice and recommendations via social media as well.


Rising Demographics

Analytics firm, eMarketer estimates that 17.5 million social network users between the ages of 12 and 17 will use a social network at least once per month in 2016, with that number growing to 18.2 million by 2020.

In addition, more than half (55 percent) of African American millennials report spending at least one hour a day on social media, which is six percent more than all millennials, and 29 percent say they spend at least three hours a day on social media—nine percent more than all millennials.

Facebook Love

According to the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released in July, social sites such as Twitter and Facebook saw a decrease in satisfaction year-over-year, dropping 9 and 8 percent, respectively. If you’re wondering which social media site ranked the highest in customer satisfaction, Wikipedia dominated with a 78 ranking. Top satisfaction rates were followed closely by YouTube (77) and Google+ (76). Pinterest (76), Instagram (74) and Tumblr (67) all dropped 3 percent. LinkedIn (65) tied with Twitter for last place.

A drop in Facebook satisfaction hasn’t stopped users from flocking to the site, with 71 percent of American adults using it, according to Pew Research. Advertisers love it, too, naming Facebook the best platform for calculating return on investment (ROI). Facebook Messenger is now the top messaging platform of its kind, with a whopping one billion active users.