Social 2018 – Familiar Conversations, Interesting Plot Twists


Tis the season…no, not for Father Christmas and mince pies but for social media predictions. A quick look at Social Past and Social Present to inform Social Future but we’re not astronauts (although our latest space stunt for wilko says otherwise). We’re interested in near-future social media trends that will impact our clients in 2018. That means a few familiar conversation points but very interesting plot twists over the next twelve months.


 Whether its King, Queen, or just your biggest investment in 2018, the content conversation is not going away. In fact, it’s going to intensify with ANOTHER year of video, more talk of the importance of voice in the age of Alexa and podcasting, and more ephemeral content via Stories.

Facebook Watch, YouTube Red, and other social-first premium video services will dial up the production values of social video and don’t be surprised to see that bleed into the newsfeed as storytelling, characters, and narratives give reason to view through beyond 3 seconds. It won’t be the death of micro content though, Stories are everywhere and their importance in 2018 shouldn’t be underestimated. Especially on Facebook where Stories could become the antidote to increasingly depleted organic reach for brands.



Instagram launched new influencer tools in 2017 and, in doing so, legitimised influencer marketing as a tactic for success. This isn’t news for marketers who spotted fatigue in banner ads and display long ago and decided to plump big budgets and planning into strategic partnerships with celebrities and high reach social users. In 2018, I see two things occurring.

Firstly, influencer marketing will transcend single hit content (no more celebs holding protein shakes) and focus on longer term relationship building. This will translate to more innovative partnerships, more impressive social-first content and impressive results for brands. Secondly, the kids are coming. YouTube Kids is already in the app store and it will soon be joined by a child (and parent) friendly version of Facebook Messenger. This means Generation Alpha is going to be big business in 2018. They will be the first generation to be 100% digital, having never known a world without smartphones, all-encompassing social media and digital behaviours as standard. This is going to bring a new generation of influencers who start young and redefine how we use the platforms, what kind of content is popular and – in turn – how brands work within THEIR space.



We can’t talk social media trends without talking about some major players. It’s going to be another big year for the platforms as they each try to innovate, collaborate and stand out in an increasingly scrutinised yet valued digital world. I see nothing but upward trends for Facebook, Messenger and Instagram as they place themselves as a holy trinity under Zuckerberg rule. There will be continued questions over privacy, data (especially as we move closer to GDPR), and digital dictatorship but they have the power to innovate and will continue to do so.

The interesting debates come with YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter. Its been an interesting year for YouTube as controversial content, ad placement errors, advertiser fear and challenges afoot from Facebook Watch continue to shake its position as the de facto video discovery engine. They have the power and resources to pull it back but fundamental change is needed. Same with Snapchat. Having redefined social media for a whole generation, Snapchat have struggled in 2017. IPOs and Spectacles have done nothing for Snap Inc. so 2018 is going to be a make or break year. Speaking of make or break, the jury continues to be out on the future of Twitter but recent changes to managing risk, trolling and controversial content could be step one in an interesting new future for Twitter. Don’t be surprised to see more acquisition, more feature bolt-on’s and more rulebook rewriting.

We also cannot ignore Chinese social media, specifically WeChat. The ecosystem WeChat has created within China’s firewall is impressive and it has answered a lot of questions Facebook have failed to do in terms of social commerce, messenger as true utility for use everyday tasks and integrating social media beyond likes.


Social IRL

Predictions around social media trends and how they will impact real life will always centre on augmented reality (AR). There is no doubt the volume of installations, campaigns, stunts, etc. will escalate in 2018. However, I think there is a simpler move afoot. The optimisation of space to be social-friendly, specifically Instagram-friendly. Users crave an experience and giving users a reason to snap a photo or video, share that video on their Insta (or Stories) and bring the brand into their newsfeed is going to be an important tactic for brands with physical locations.

5G is also coming. Rumoured to be 100 times faster than 4G, the speed of connection is going to impact everything from Internet of Things (IoT) to downloading films and that means mobile users will be able to send and receive data at a much faster rate. That has to have an effect on social as the speed of sharing increases with everything else.

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