As an entrepreneur, you already know that social media is a powerful tool to boost your marketing and connect you to a larger network of potential clients. It can help you create a more personal and unique brand by allowing you to engage in more meaningful conversations. And it allows you to maintain a constant presence in the lives of your audience. These are obvious benefits to harnessing the power of social media in a general sense, but like all things in business, social media is constantly evolving. It’s important to keep track of new developments to find ways to use them to your advantage.

Here are 4 trends in social media that are gaining popularity and can take your business marketing to the next level.

Vicarious Experiences

As the internet evolves and provides users with increased connectivity, our ability to provide more personal viewing experiences has also increased. Social media has been quick to develop new ways for your audience to live vicariously through you through interactive video and images.

  • 360° Images – Facebook has introduced the ability to shoot 360° images that allow your audience to pan from side to side. They’re popular because they give your audience an interactive experience that lets them feel what it’s like to be where you are. It’s great for showing off the scene at a convention you’re attending, or beautiful scenery on your next adventure. Remember, your audience wants a more personal connection to you, and that helps you build a more unique brand. Take advantage of that by showing your audience exactly what makes you, and your brand so awesome. You can create 360° images using the Google Street Video App. Facebook will detect the panoramic view and format it accordingly to share online. And, while Facebook is the only social platform to develop 360° images, it is likely to become a common feature across all platforms relatively soon.
  • Live Video – Videos on social media have been around for a while, but in the last few months live videos have taken over completely. It has become so popular, that even news outlets are using the feature to report their stories. Live video allows you to have direct conversations with your audience, while also getting to show off your personality. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to potential clients, and give them a feel for your style. Again, Facebook is leading the way on this trend, but others are most likely not far behind in developing their own versions.

Chatbots

Social media is making it much easier for you to respond to your clients, even when you aren’t physically available to do so. Chatbots are the latest in artificial intelligence technology, and they are already being used by companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon. Chatbots can manage everything from sales to customer service, but how can you use them for your business?

We’d recommend starting with a Facebook chatbot, which automates responses to messages you receive so that someone is always available for your clients. It will reduce your response times and increase communication with the people who matter most to your business – your customers. The chatbots of social media are still relatively simple. But it is expected that they will develop considerably in the coming year and will become increasingly more valuable to your business.

Paid Content

It’s difficult to guarantee that the content you are sharing on social media is seen by the right audience. Things move so quickly, that it’s very easy for your content to get lost in the shuffle. But social media is giving brands more opportunities than ever to increase visibility to their target markets. With the rise of paid content, you can allocate some of your marketing funds to promote your material. Most social platforms have some option for paid content, such as boosting a post on Facebook. This ensures that your content displays in the right place at the right time.

Less Automation

The biggest trend in social media is the departure from automation that many businesses are taking. As customers continue to crave more authentic, live and vicarious experiences, they are less enamored with automated content. Businesses are learning that authenticity sells. So they are spending more time personally engaging with their networks and less time pre-scheduling their content.

While automation does provide a needed respite from social media, it is better to use it in small doses. Take the time to listen to your customers, engage with them and give them the human interaction they are craving. Your business will benefit from a more inclusive, interactive relationship with your social media community.

As entrepreneurs, it’s important to take advantage of every tool available to you. Social media is one of those tools you can’t ignore. Stay informed so that you aren’t left behind as social media evolves. Find ways to incorporate these latest social media trends into your marketing plans. Your business will benefit from a more personal relationship with your customers.