Social media is now an essential marketing tool for every type of business. However, it's not an overstatement to suggest the medium has revolutionised the travel industry, with travellers able to share their thoughts, feelings and images from their trip on a public platform.
In fact, as many as 97% of millennials are now using social networks while travelling, according to some surveys. It is statistics like that which prove that social media is the platform for travel firms to connect with their customers.
In order to give yourself the best chance to engage your fleet-footed customers, however, it's crucial that you are keeping up with the latest trends and adapting your approach accordingly. With that, here are our predictions for social media in 2016:
1. Live video to go mainstream
We've long thought that is was only a matter of time before live-streaming video enters into the mainstream – this week has affirmed that belief. On Wednesday (6 Jan) up to 50,000 people at once tuned into live-streaming platform Periscope to observe people attempting to cross a puddle in Newcastle. The Guardian called it a "truly captivating spectacle" and it represented one of the first brilliantly surreal moments on the internet in 2016.
Doubters have questioned how live streaming will work from a marketing perspective, but #DrummondPuddleWatch illustrates a thirst for immediacy and the unpredictable – two characteristics that live video is renowned for.
2. Snapchat to rival the 'big four'
Most businesses regard Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn as the marketing platforms of greatest value. However, is there room for one more, in the shape of Snapchat? We think they're could be, with early adopters benefitting from the platform's experimental nature, making for more creative campaigns. It's not for everyone, of course, but for those with a licence to push the envelope in order to engage customers – especially those under the age of 35 – or leverage the reach of influencers, should sit up and take note of the ever-growing platform.
3. Businesses to drop the formal approach altogether
A study by Jamilah Alamri of the University of Nottingham on the impact of social media on the formality of discourse among students in Saudi higher education revealed a "gradually increase trend towards informality over time'. While a similar study has yet to be conducted among consumers, we believe the results would stand comparison with one another. That's because social media does not lend itself well to formality. Just as well, as personal relationships tend to be built on informal interaction, meaning social media is the perfect platform for businesses to engage customers, if they get their approach right.
While a meagre three predictions might appear to be a little light compared to other similar articles you see, we believe there is a value in limiting ourselves. It gives us and you a chance to accurately judge the prudence of our predictions, without spreading our bets by listing, say, ten. It also adds an extra element of excitement for the year ahead.