As the digital space continues to evolve in a predictable — and at times quite unpredictable — environment, brands need to keep experimenting with methods of content delivery to have a grip on the imagination of their target audience. Brands who are daring on what they do with social media always have an edge.

Several platforms are now having a more defined audience according to age, gender and other demographics. Dormant social media platforms which are not very active are closing as brands consolidate their social presence to have a more effective reach.

More in-the-moment content will prevail

Several platforms have taken cues from Snapchat, in inculcating expiring content within their channels.

The rise of chatbots

Artificial intelligence will reach higher levels of being integrated in people’s daily lives. Brands will invest in the development of digital assistants to automate several processes.

The increase in private social media

Brands now connect with the younger generations through messaging apps, where they indulge in one-on-one direct conversations.

Community led activations

Brands are going more local targeting community events to have a physical interaction with target audiences. Events like ‘Ripe Marketing’, ‘Good Vibes Market’ and community curated events are getting strong attendance, and these are completely driven by social media. Brands enjoying the connections with its customers. Several small businesses rely on these community markets to create their exposure.

Employees turn into beacons for their brands

Several brands have now starting turning to employees as brand ambassadors to further their brand image. Employee social advocacy programmes have risen to about 191 per cent since 2013 as per Social Toaster.

Digital video content is climbing towards its peak

Marketers have understood the importance of developing digital video content. Eighty-three per cent of brands mentioned they would like to create more video content if time and resources was not an obstacle.

The evolution of social purchasing

Brands have started integrating aspects of e-commerce within their social media channels. Channels like Facebook and Pinterest have product showcase features for a call to action.

GIFs and emojis sketch a personality for a brand and how customers express themselves

The user has a choice of self-expression rather than images and text, which was prevailing in the early years of social media. The use of these tools helps brands in amending their perception as and when needed.

Social storytelling

Brands have learnt to become more informal in their way of communicating, with live videos and not to perfect content. Marketers are creating brand properties by introducing a face to the brand, and answering their customers in real-time with various ways of storytelling.

Niche social media platforms are become more relevant to many brands who would once think that Facebook is their sole platform. Brands are making a shift with their customers as they try and understand consumer behaviour and apply it to their digital marketing.

In the Middle East, brands have been a little bit more conservative on social media. We now see a shift in brands educating their sales and customer service to get more social and engage with the end-user. We also finally see CEOs giving a hand to social media and being more open to trends.

The writer is Director of McCollins Media.