Digital trends in 2015 have been really crazy for those of us who run social media for our organizations. From the introduction of Periscope, to the announcement of Instagram ads, the influx of new tactics and ways to promote are astonishing. I think the rest of the 2015 will continue this streak of growth.
Within 2015 we’ve seen some digital trends start to fade and others never really take off. However, there are some digital trends that started strong and have continued to dominate through the summer. Recently, I sat down to look at this digital landscape and identify what I think are the top five digital trends that won’t slow down in 2015. Of course they are some digital trends that always dominate (rise of mobile use, senior citizens adopting social media), but here are five digital trends that I think were new to this year and are worth exploring.
5 Digital Trends That Will Dominate for the Rest of 2015
1. Social Media, Content and SEO Will Continue to Be the Mix for Successful Strategy
Social Media, content, and SEO. Everybody has a favorite when it comes to crafting their digital strategy. For those who favor social media, it’s usually because they love the social aspect. For those who favor content, it might be that they love crafting a story and doing the hard work of creating something unique. And for those who love SEO, it may be because they love seeing how they can beat Google and get to the top of the search rankings.
I admit that I often go back and forth between all three. Social media is the usually the easiest to do if I’m looking for a quick win. Content requires the most time, but it is the most satisfying in terms of providing context. SEO for me, often feels like I’m hitting a moving target.
I’m learning that in 2015 all three are a must for a digital strategy. Granted, I think SEO is shrinking a little in terms of importance, but with our new church campuses we rely on SEO for exposure when launching the new campus. I still believe that a good digital strategy starts with strong content (blog posts, videos, etc…) that is configured for SEO, and is then distributed across social media.
2. Social Media Is Continuing to Become More in the Moment, Leaving Auto Schedulers Behind
I understand why a lot of us use auto-scheduling when it comes to social media. We’ve seen an influx of tools that promise that we can plan out our social media and sit back and relax. While there’s some truth to that promise, we also seen new social networks that have blown up that process.
With Periscope, Snapchat, and Meerkat we’re seeing digital trends of a new type of social network that forces you to be in the moment. You can’t auto-schedule a Periscope live chat. This requires a new level of planning and thinking. Mentally, you have to think through what moments could arrive that you want to capture and you have to be aware of spontaneous moments that worthy of a Snapchat story.
I think these three networks will continue to grow in 2015 and push Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to find ways to keep users engaged. This is a good problem to have, however for those who run social media for their churches this is going to require more work.
3. Facebook and Twitter Growth Has Flatlined
2015 has not been kind to Twitter. First, they lost their CEO and reports have come out that they’re not seeing much growth. Of course they did buy Periscope, which has turned out to be huge hit. Facebook on the other hand, hasn’t had that bad of a year. However, just like Twitter they’re seeing a lack growth. One of the digital trends that’s most concerning is that the lack of growth is primarily from the young adult demographic.
I think Twitter is suffering from numerous problems. One of which is a lack of focus on it’s product. Twitter has to figure out what makes it different that Facebook’s status updates or Instagram’s photo features. I also think it suffers from a spam problem. In most of my feeds I’m finding that a large portion of accounts are asking users to buy this, click here or retweet. In other words, there’s a lot of asking going on. However, you don’t really find this type of experience on Facebook or Instagram. Yes, they both have spam, but not on the level of Twitter.
The other aspect that’s affecting Twitter is anonymity. While you could technically set up an anonymous Facebook account, the nature of Facebook discourages it. Twitter on the other hand makes it very easy to create an anonymous account. This of course leads to people trolling, harassing and conversations that are counter-productive. Twitter has tried to clean this up with easier harassment reporting, but I think it’s going to take more than that.
Facebook’s problem seems to be that they have lost their cool factor. Facebook for most people has become something like a utility. The other day, I compared to a church directory. It’s something that you have in case you need it, but not something that you get excited about using. You just expect it work and you’re not expecting anything new or exciting from Facebook. Now if you’re a young adult, that seems like the last place you want to be. Instead, you’ll want to be on social network like Snapchat. Snapchat has a sense of newness about it that Facebook needs to figure out how to replicate.
4. Instagram Ads Will Continue to Rise
While I have not tried advertising on Instagram yet, I’m excited about the future of third party tools that will arise that will let us purchase ads on Instagram. My hope is that the targeting will be as rich as Facebook’s and we can begin to see some fruit from our Instagram presence.
I also hope that this will lead to a few more features that I want to see. The first being true auto-scheduling inside tools like Hootsuite (see my current review here). Second, is the ability manage multiple accounts from single mobile device. Twitter and Facebook have made this feasible for their platforms and I hope that Instagram will do the same.
5. The Noise of Promotion will Only Increase (Which means it will be harder to be heard)
As I stated above, I’m afraid that Twitter has been overtaken marketers which makes it harder for your voice to be heard. I think there are two ways to combat this. First, you can try to talk louder, which means you double the amount of content your producing trying to hit the widest target possible. Second, you can be more targeted with your content and your audience. Obviously, I think the second choice is the best.
Last month at the Foundations Conference, I talked about how a lot of us are tempted to copy other church’s tactics and strategies when it comes to social media. This is especially true if you’re trying to mimic a large church like Hillsong or NewSpring. However, when you do that you end up doing a disservice your audience. You end up ignoring what the people right in front of you that you need to reach. As more voices and marketing enters the social media space, we become more prone to commit these types of errors.
As 2015 digital trends continue to reveal themselves to us, it will require a great amount of discipline to remain who you are and reflect that online. But if your church is in this for the long haul then eventually that discipline will pay off.
2016 Digital Trends are Almost Here…
While 2016 seems far away, it will be here before we blink. Of course it’s to early to make predictions about 2016 digital trends, I do think we going to see more people join social media and more networks that promise to keep you in touch with everything that your friends are up to.
It’s possible that with the digital trends coming in next year, 2016 might be the year we see some people say “enough” with social media and instead try to find some balance against the constant flood of information that is constantly being pushed on us. That will be a digital trend that I will gladly welcome.