As we wrap up the first month of 2018, we should take time to notice the many ways that social media marketing may evolve throughout the rest of the year. Buffer Social and Social Media Week came together to do some research on the topic, in order to shed light on this year’s social trends. They interviewed 1,796 businesses and advertisers to find out more about the behavior of marketers and the future of social media advertising. The State of Social 2018 report points towards some key trends and predictions for the coming year.

The report found that 96% of businesses are using Facebook as their primary social media account, making it the top current social platform for advertisers. The second most widely used social platform is Twitter, with 89% of businesses reportedly using the site. LinkedIn and Instagram tied for third place in social platform popularity among businesses, with 70% of businesses utilizing each. Snapchat was ranked the lowest in terms of current popularity across social platforms for businesses. It’s likely, however, that in 2018 we will start to see more businesses using this platform to their benefit. Young audiences are especially receptive to the app, and with new advances coming in terms of Snapchat ad placement, we’ll see if the platform will get more attention from advertisers this year.

The State of Social 2018 report also found that video content will dominate the coming year, visually. Most businesses (85%), planned to create more video content in 2018. However, interestingly enough, most businesses felt that they could not create the video content they wanted. Most companies didn’t have the time or budget to create such content. Other reasons for not creating more video content included not being sure of what to make, and not knowing how to film or edit videos. These findings could indicate potential job opportunities for skilled content creators throughout the coming year, at both small and large businesses alike. More and more companies could use assistance with content creation this year, especially when it comes to video production.

Social stories are sure to blow up in 2018, according to the State of Social report. When Buffer Social and Social Media Week conducted research on this topic last year, only 29% of responding businesses said that they had tried the story feature on Snapchat or Instagram. This year, that percentage rose. 42% of businesses now say they have tried making social stories, and 68% of businesses plan to utilize the feature more in the coming year. Throughout this year, we will see more businesses and advertisers using stories to their advantage on both Instagram and Snapchat.

Another key trend that will pick up this year is live video broadcasting. While the report indicates that, so far, only 31% of marketers have tried their own live videos, research shows that Facebook live videos get up to 6 times more interraction than regular videos. This indicates huge engagement opportunities for the advertisers that try the feature. Other live video platforms such as Instagram or Periscope are not as popular or effective, in comparison to Facebook live video. In 2018, marketers should try broadcasting Facebook live videos to increase their social engagement.

The last important trend to take note of this year is marketing in the “messaging space.” According to the report, more people currently use the top 4 messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and Viber) than the top four social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn). This surprising fact offers an area of untapped advertising potential. The intense growth rate of messaging app popularity hints to huge engagement opportunities for marketers. Surprisingly, though, only 20% of businesses have used messaging apps so far. Throughout the coming year, we will see more marketers utilizing popular messaging platforms for advertising.

Overall, the State of Social 2018 report indicates that 67% of businesses plan on increasing their total social spend throughout this year. Research shows that social marketing is becoming more about increasing engagement, instead of just making direct sales, generating leads, driving traffic, or increasing reach. In fact, 42% of marketers reported that increasing engagement was their main way of measuring their social return on investment, in comparison to other methods.

With companies’ advertising budgets expected to rise, the focus on social engagement intensifying, and more tech advances developing every single day, we are looking to the rest of 2018 with excitement. Thanks to the research by Buffer Social and Social Media Week, we can now see the potential trends, shifts, and changes in social marketing this year.

You can view the full State of Social 2018 report here: