Happy New Year! Are you planning your marketing strategy for the year and wondering what trends you should follow? We’ve had a good gaze at the crystal ball and picked our crop of the lot…

1: The rise of LinkedIn

It seems that 2018 is going to be the year of LinkedIn, with users of the network growing from 400m users in 2016 to 500m in 2017. Since LinkedIn’s launch in 2003, the platform has changed from a job-hunting, CV site to a content-first, networking and personal branding site. Since the addition of Pulse - LinkedIn’s news aggregation feature that allows people to write and upload their own articles - over 100,000 articles are now published every week. So what does 2018 hold for the platform? LinkedIn introduced video sharing in August 2017, and, according to AdWeek, videos are being shared 20 times more than any other type of content across LinkedIn.

Companies are not able to post their own videos on their LinkedIn page just yet but we wonder if that might change in 2018…

2: Instagram vs. Snapchat – let the battle commence

If you’re not yet using Instagram Stories for your business or brand’s marketing – then what’s stopping you? More than 200 million people used Instagram Stories each month in 2017 – 50 million more than rival Snapchat. If that’s not enough to convince you, then what about this: Instagram Stories was only introduced to the app in late 2016, five years after they were first launched on Snap. We believe its popularity will continue in 2018 as more brands and businesses jump on the bandwagon.

But what about Snapchat? According to a 2017 article by TechCrunch, Snapchat’s growth slowed 82% after rival Instagram launched its Stories feature… ouch! What will Snapchat be launching in 2018 to keep its 170m users interested?. We predict they may try and go further with AR – not just dancing hot dogs and BitMojis drying their hair and crying over no more tea (random or what? - Ed). Snapchat introduced its new feature Lens Studio in December, a desktop app which allows anyone to create AR lenses that place 3D objects into your Snaps. Its 2018 Lens Studio Challenge invites people to build their own Lenses and show off their creative skills.  

Will Snapchat start winning back its fans in 2018? It’s worth remembering that in a 2017 study by SCG, 88% of surveyed students use Snapchat and Instagram, but Snapchat is the most valued for keeping in touch with friends (89%). “Generation Z” also known as iGeneration, Post-millennials or Homeland Generation are the demographic cohort after millennials – anyone born from around the mid 1990s - are either in university or starting work and therefore reaching a stage of having their own income and buying power. A report by investment banking company, Goldman Sachs claims that Generation Z “will be larger and more influential than Millennials.” – so don’t forget to consider Snapchat if you’re making plans for this demographic in 2018.

With our own Gen Z-er on the team, why you could always start by asking us for some advice?


3: The world goes VR—AR crazy

Over the past two to three years VR and AR have been major buzzwords in video production, with some brands achieving impressive results – but the journey has really only just begun. Last year saw some great VR campaigns from beer brand Corona and a joint campaign for the launch of Stranger Things 2 by Netflix and Shazam (we wrote about it here). The iPhone X promises to bring AR to the mainstream with ARKit and a host of new apps springing up to improve your interactions with the augmented world, from shoot ‘em ups to furniture placement to business data visualisations – assuming you can afford the £1K price tag!

Facebook has been working on new social VR platform – Spaces. Currently available on Oculus Rift and HTC VIVE, Spaces allows you to hang out with friends virtually as if you were in the same room as them. Use your photos to create a virtual avatar, go live, video call friends and immerse yourself in this 360-degree world. And high-end VR headset sales are slowly improving, with sales eclipsing 1m units in a single quarter for the first time last year.

Two more activities might further improve sales this year, in the UK at least:

Westfield decided to swap its seasonal ice rink for VR fantasy game The Void, in which Star Wars fans can dress up as storm troopers to engage in deep space battles.

And one of the big film releases of the year is Stephen Spielberg’s sci-fi drama Ready Player One – currently tipped by The Guardian as the movie to portray VR in a more positive way.

Our money though is on AR. It’s more sociable and less isolating than a headset, and players are already used to the interface thanks to hits like Pokemon Go. And with creators Niantic launching Wizards Unite, there is potential for this platform to hook in a whole new wave of users.

We all need to keep an eye on progress with volumetric capture this year. This eye-wateringly data-intensive process not only creates the most immersive VR video yet, but also yields great results for use in AR, bringing the two formats closer together.


4: Chatbots are on a takeover

A chatbot is a computer program that conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. In 2017, we saw an increase in the number of brands using chatbots such as language learning software Duolingo and clothing brand Aerie. Facebook Messenger also expanded its use of chatbots this year and various plugins allow brands and pages on Facebook to add chatbots to their own messengers. Ikea even have their own chatbot on their AR furniture placing app, ‘Ikea Place’.

So where will chatbots go in 2018? According to a recent forecast from Forrester research, in 2018, 20% of companies will use AI to make business decisions or for customer support. We’ve already seen the arrival of voice bots such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home which have some extremely impressive capabilities to date, how long before voice activated bots will become part of office life? A great example of a B2B chatbot is the Instant Translator Facebook Messenger bot, which was originally made just to show what chatbots were capable of – now it’s huge and can translate instantly to over 19 languages, which is super handy when dealing with international clients. Read our blog post on chatbots here.


5: GDPR and the fight for privacy

GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation that follows on from the Data Protection act of 1998 - this new act comes into effect in May this year and will allow individuals to have higher levels of control over their personal data. So what does this mean for marketers in 2018?

There is going to be a huge shift in terms of opting-in and opting-out, having to delete data on request and the processes by which companies collect and store data. Since individuals will have more power over what their data is used for, marketers will have to have processes in place to be able to quickly delete data on request as well as being able to explain what data they have, how long they intend to have it for, and how they wish to use this data.

The penalties are huge for firms not complying with the new rules so if you’ve not planned so already, check out the government’s self-assessment guide here.

Stay tuned to our blog for a future post where we will delve into this topic more.


What do you think will be the top social media trends in 2018? Do you agree with us, or do you have other ideas? Comment below or get in touch on Twitter @ByThisRiverUK to carry on the conversation.