Social Media #Trends for 2017

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Social media has long been trumpeted as a valuable tool for meeting and event planners who want to boost their marketing strategy. Mastering social media is key to connecting with millennials, who respond well to non-traditional marketing models.

One of the factors that makes social media particularly challenging is the fast pace at which it changes. Things happen so quickly, it can be hard for anyone to keep up. A viral video or post can be forgotten in just a few hours. A once-dominant social media network can become defunct in just a few months, as seen in the story of Vine. In Dec. 2015, Vine was one of the world’s hottest social media networks, boasting more than 200 million users. In less than a year, parent company Twitter announced that it would be shutting down the social network due to declining popularity.

Thanks to the fickle nature of the business, it’s important for meeting planners who want to make the biggest impact on social media to stay on top of the latest trends. These are a few of the trends social media experts predict will make waves in 2017.

1. Live video

Live video was everywhere in 2016, and it’s only going to get more popular next year. In 2016, major social networks such as Facebook and Twitter launched live video streaming options which were quickly embraced by early adopters. However, this is the year that live video is expected to go mainstream. Recently, Facebook Live had its first truly viral live video—a mother of two put on a Chewbacca mask, filmed it and garnered 165 million views. With live-streaming on the cusp of widespread popularity, now is the time for planners to learn how to leverage it for events.

2. Paid ads

In the past, social media was a great source of free marketing. However, as every social media marketer knows, it is getting more and more difficult to reach your audience with each passing day. Some networks, such as Facebook, actively limit the reach of posts deemed too promotional, while others are hampered by the sheer volume of posts and clutter on users’ feeds. These days, marketers must pay to have their content seen, as well as create useful, valuable and entertaining content that users will be eager to like and share.

3. Virtual and augmented reality

In 2016, virtual and augmented reality became truly commonplace in meetings and events. At this year’s IMEX America, virtual reality technology was everywhere. Meet L.A. announced the launch of Virtual Discovery L.A., a virtual reality travel platform that provides meeting professionals with the ability to view 50 venues in 360-degree experiences. At its IMEX booth, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority gave away DodoCase VR viewers—similar to Google cardboard—and invited attendees to “Enter the Vegas VR Experience.”

Augmented reality recently made headlines with ultra-popular mobile gaming app Pokemon Go, and it’s bringing new innovation to meetings, as well. Holograms and other virtual meetings technology give meeting planners the opportunity to bring remote attendees to the forefront. As the technology becomes easier to use and more advanced, it can lead to better experiences for all attendees, whether they are on site or thousands of miles away. There’s no doubt that top social media networks are currently experimenting with ways to incorporate virtual and augmented reality into their platforms.