Most important digital and social media trends for 2018

Where has this year gone? Literally in the blink of an eye, the first half of 2017 has gone by. It is vital to start planning and strategising for 2018 already.

If there is one advertising/marketing platform that changes dynamics, algorithms, directions and objectives at a very fast pace, then it definitely has to be digital marketing. And yes, it sometimes gets tough to keep abreast of the ever-changing demands and challenges it brings, but make sure to keep the following points in mind when designing your digital media strategy for 2018.

Video ads:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in the digital world a video is worth a thousand pictures! Many brands still hesitate from going digital for reasons such budget constraints, limited exposure, risk factors, and so on. The majority of social media users are the young – the instant generation. They do not want to see a two to three minute commercial of a brand on their timeline. However, if the same brand comes up with a short video with interesting content, they will not only like and share it, they will also discuss it. Engaging content plays a crucial role here.

In an article for the Huffington Post, Scott Macfarland, who has over 29 years of experience, wrote that consumers are at least 64% more likely to purchase a product or service that has video representation. Video content does increase conversion rates in sales. Facebook has recently added a new feature – your cover photo can now be a video too! Videos are a perfect way to show how a product works. Videos allow for greater engagement, lower site bounce rates and also showcase product usage in multiple scenarios.

According to a report by Cisco, by 2019:

  • Video will account for 80% of global internet traffic
  • Nearly a million minutes of video will be shared every second
  • It would take an individual 5 million years to watch the all the video that will be shared each month.

Adopt a mobile-first approach:

Many brands are first designing for mobile (or smallest screened devices) first, then working up to the bigger ones. With mobile-phones now officially named as the primary devices used for browsing the web, more companies are realising the importance of having a site that effectively delivers content on a smaller screen, and are rushing to get onboard. Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, believes that nearly 50% of South African have smartphones. MTN recently noted that the number of  smartphones on its network in SA increased by 32.6% to 7.3 million, while Vodacom said that it has 7.3 million smartphones active on its network in SA, this is not taking into account CELL C providers and users who did cash purchases. Smartphones come with significantly smaller screens than tablets and desktops, which limit the amount of content a user can easily view at once. This forces brands to do-away with any information or content which isn’t 100% necessary.


According to data from Facebook:

  • The number of video posts per person has increased 75% globally and 94% in the U.S.
  • The amount of video from people and brands in News Feed has increased 3.6 times year-over-year
  • More than 50% of people who visit Facebook in the U.S. every day watch at least one video.

According to statistics from YouTube:


  • YouTube has over a billion users—almost one-third of all people on the internet—and everyday people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views
  • The number of hours that people spend watching videos on YouTube is increasing 60% year-over-year
  • The number of people watching YouTube has increased 40% year-over-year since March 2014


The rise of content marketing

Content is and will always be king. Creating content for content’s sake will get you nowhere. Brands need to be spending a lot of time creating more relevant, inspiring and interactive content than ever before! Content should be guided by a documented content strategy and connected to your company’s goals.

Companies running an active blog generate 67% more leads on a monthly basis compared to those who don’t blog. Brands place a high value on incorporating content that is captivating yet meaningful to engage potential customers and clients. Brand content can be presented through blogs, videos, graphics, and games. Red Bull is an example of a brand that has mastered branded content.

Humanisation is the new automation, get up, close and personal – or lose! The only way to make consumers interact with content, is personalisation. Offering personalised content means sharing relevant and knowledge based posts to offer a solution to consumers. It’s important here to note that personalisation requires companies to first know their consumers well. This may well begin by drawing out buyer profiles and knowing consumer demographics, and behavioral preferences. One size definitely does not fit all!



Influencer outreach needs to be seen as an owned asset, not just paid media.

Influencer marketing continues to be a growing trend, in major part because it can be so effective. However, Socialtyze CEO John Bohan says most brands aren’t approaching influencer marketing correctly. They’re coming to it with a very campaign-centric mindset, thinking mostly in the short term and hoping they see a quick bump in sales as a result — and that’s not true influencer marketing. Effective partnerships start with identifying influencers who already love your brand or have engaged social followings that align with your company and offering them some data-driven creative guidance.

The most exciting part of influencer marketing is the long-term potential and the opportunity to create a powerful marketing database of influencers that your brand can control. CMOs should view influencer marketing as more of an owned asset and long-term partnership to take advantage of those opportunities.

The fast adoption to new social media platforms and features:

Brands need to keep abreast with social media platforms, their capabilities, platforms which are becoming redundant and new social media platforms rising in popularity.

The rise in popularity of Snapchat’s facial filters (artificial intelligence lenses) makes the network interactive, engaging and unique compared to others. Snapchat certainly has their own slice of the pie with 150 million active users in 2016 and 41% of US adults between the ages 18-34 use the network daily. According to TechCrunch, there were 100 million active users on Instagram Stories within two months after its release. Additionally, Instagram Stories are watched by 18% of the network’s 600 million active users each day.


Social can seem daunting and always changing. Your brand success in 2016 depends on two aspects- a) knowing the marketing trends and b) consistently applying them and creating unique consumer experiences.

Digital marketing evolves every day, forcing all leaders to keep up or fall behind. Once well-known and popular brands are no longer in existence. No one expects to become one of those brands, but the truth is, if you don’t know what trends are coming around the corner, you could put yourself at risk.


Written by Jainita Khatri. She is the founder of Prana Business Consulting. She has 15 years of practical experience in marketing for blue chip organisations and has consulted extensively with entrepreneurial and medium sized businesses. Jainita’s passion lies in digital marketing – helping businesses to build their brands and businesses. Jainita is a speaker at conferences and guest lectures Monash University and UJ on various marketing related topics.
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