5 Key 2016 Social Media Trends

2016 Social Media Becomes A True Marketing Ecosystem

5 Key 2016 Social Media TrendsIn 2016, social media will become a true marketing ecosystem.

This has important implications for your marketing mix. Social media 2016 will require people and budget for creative and advertising/placement.

5 Key 2016 social media trends

5 Key 2016 social media trends will define marketing activity. Each has a significant impact on your overall marketing mix. (As a point of reference, here are 2015’s social media predictions and the state of social media marketing at the beginning of 2015.)5 Key 2016 Social Media Trends

1. Social media communicates

Unlike other channels, social media communications is multi-directional:

  • One-to-one: These communications can be between two individuals or a business and an individual. They can be public (i.e: using a social media handle) or private (such as a DM). This provides the groundwork for personal social networks.
  • One-to-many: This is the most common form of business communications. It includes traditional advertising. On social media, it includes public posts.
  • Many-to-many: This communications format is unique to social media. It’s open conversations that occur in multiple directions at the same time like Twitter chats.

Social media communications occur in real time or asynchronously.

Many social media communications have short lifespans. Therefore you must continually promote the same piece of information. When doing this, present the information differently each time.

The evolution of social media has given rise to homeless content, a term coined by Francesco Marconi. Two key options are LinkedIn Publishing and Medium.

On Social Media Examiner’s podcast, Mitch Joel cites the change in the content ecosystem where social media and related sites have gained traction so that blogging on your own site is less important. People can gain greater visibility on these broader platforms.

Regardless of where you publish, build your own email list so that you can communicate directly with your audience. Interestingly, many social media platforms run on email. Email addresses are part of a member’s identity and keep participants returning to the network. I’ve called email, the King of Social Media!

I recommend a blog, although for many businesses, building a minimum viable audience (MVA, a phrase coined by Copyblogger’s Brian Clark) can be time consuming and expensive. Joe Pulizzi’s research for Content Inc. showed that it takes at least 15 months.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Build your presence on relevant social media networks for your target audience. It’s “location, location, location” applied to social media. Be where your prospects, customers, influencers and fans are.
  • Participate and communicate on a regular basis. Give your business a human face on social media. Be an active member of the community.
  • Contribute and curate a mix of content regularly. Tap into other people’s audiences.

2. Social media is findability

Social media is where we seek people and information. This reflects a change in our habits. We spend our time on social media. More importantly for marketers, we trust our family and friends most.

Social media overtook search back in 2014. But don’t ditch your search marketing plans. Search optimization is still like having a safety school when you apply to college.Maximize social sharing - Shareaholic chart

To this end, you need a well documented and executed social media plan. Like the 2016 Content Trends research by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, the best-in-class organizations stand out by having a documented plan and mission.

Comparison of the best and worst in class content B2B marketers - 2015 data

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Monitor social media to determine your target audience’s hot buttons. Listen to your audience and that of your competitors.
  • Train employees to respond to and engage with your community where appropriate. Establish your ground rules for social media.
  • Follow and support relevant influencers. Beyond your own audience, help influencers who are important to your community.
  • Use social media interactions to encourage participants to deepen their relationships with you. Offer something of value to your audience in return for sharing their email addresses.
  • Optimize social media content for findability. At a minimum, use relvant keywords and hashtags.

3. Social media gathers microdata

2016 will be driven by microdata. To target your prime prospects and potential stellar customers, you must track and analyze their behavior. Microdata reveals what individuals or small segments do. It shows what motivates them to act.

For most social media platforms, this translates to investment, most notably advertising. This is one sign social media platforms are maturing as media entities. Like other businesses, they must show revenues and profits.

Social media advertising provides marketers access to a variety of targeting options based on different factors. At a minimum, advertise on social media to gain deeper insights into your core audience and look alike audiences.

While social media can provide a lot of data, focus on the information related to your key business metrics. Data translates to analysis and metrics associated with your goals. Know what you’re examining and why it’s important.

As Hubspot research revealed, tracking ROI improves results 17-fold. Measure COntent Marketing ROI-Hubspot state of inbound 2014

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Budget for social media advertising. Include a portion for testing new options .
  • Track relevant metrics. Mine data to better target your audience, get your audience to join your email list, and purchase.
  • Test different advertising, landing pages and conversion processes. Have budget to create and modify landing pages and conversion processes.

4. Social media distributes content

Social media has become a key element of every content distribution plan. Social media maximizes your readership by promoting your content to a broader audience.

Use social media to create and distribute a variety of content forms.

  • Micro content. Is epitomized by tweets and comments. This is hypershort communication. Use words, images and hashtags.
  • Small content. Is quick easy-to-consume information such as data charts, short videos, etc.
  • Large content. Is information that’s 500+ words, often more. It’s generally pillar content. It includes presentations, ebooks, videos and podcasts.

With greater demands on our time and increased content options, there’s a move to shorter and shorter content. Mark Schaefer dubbed this trend “Content Shock.”

Content Shock Graph by Mark W. Schaefer

By contrast, Jay Baer focuses on atomizing 1 piece of content into 8 different and smaller units of information. To maximize your reach, provide your audience with a choice of different options. Specifically, here’s how Baer’s content gets atomized.

  • A video on Youtube
  • A video on my Facebook page
  • An iTunes episode
  • A video iTunes episode
  • An episode of my own video site, JayToday.TV
  • A blog post (once per week)
  • A post on Linkedin
  • A post on Medium
  • A G+ post
  • 2-3 tweets
  • 2 Linkedin shares

Depending on the social media network, content can come in a variety of formats including text, images, video, audio, and presentations. Some platforms provide participants with a variety of different content formats.

For example: LinkedIn provides members with the ability to create micro, short and long content as well as private communications. Take advantage of LinkedIn Publishing to reach a broader audience than you can on your own media. LinkedIn Publishing -Top 10 Categories via OkDork-Chart

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Share your content on a variety of social media platforms. Don’t limit social media distribution. Reach your potential audience where they spend their time.
  • Schedule content sharing on social media multiple times. Once is never enough when it comes to social media sharing based on Co-Schedule data. Social Sharing Schedule-CoSchedule-2
  • Encourage employees to share your content via their personal profiles. You can’t force people to participate. Facilitate the process by distributing your information and encouraging employees to share it.
  • Take advantage of social media publishing forums. Contribute quality content to LinkedIn Publishing, LinkedIn Slideshare, Medium and other relevant forums.

5. Social media is where commerce happens.

Regardless of the kind of business you have (large or small; B2C or B2B), social media helps create sales. The challenge is determining which platforms can do the most for your brand.

Keep in mind that social media networks are continually adding new functionality to aid sales. Here are 3 examples.

  • Pinterest is a couchsurfing destination. For B2C marketers, it’s where consumers go to get ideas before they purchase.
  • LinkedIn Slideshare is where businesses turn for information. It’s useful for lead generation and thought leadership.
  • YouTube is useful for customer training. Show your customers how to use your products, regardless of business size or customer type.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Focus your social media use based on your product offering.
  • Track results by product, social media platform and conversion process. Where possible tailor your landing pages and conversion to the social media network.
  • Redirect landing pages when merchandise changes. This is particularly true for consumer products spotlighted on Pinterest.


In 2016 social media grows up. 5 key 2016 social media trends will shape it into a full-fledged marketing ecosystem further enabling marketers to build their brand, audience and sales.

Specifically, social media provides marketers and their audiences with the tools and platform to communicate, improve findability, gather microdata, distribute content and enable sales.

Along with this marketing functionality comes business responsibility. Social media requires budget, in terms of trained personnel, creative resources to attract prospects and paid advertising. This also translates to measuring results that contribute to sales and profits.

What’s your opinion about the 5 key 2016 social media trends?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/62141688@N08/6368994285/

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