For most brands in 2016, social media marketing has proved more than tricky. Platforms are intent on making our lives harder, it seems, with algorithm changes made to suit users, at the expense of brands.

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That's fair enough – users are the heartbeat of social media – so marketers have to roll with the punches. In some ways, travel brands are in a privileged position anyway when it comes to social media marketing – content posted by members of the travel industry generally tends to be extremely user-friendly, which stands us in good stead for staying in users' timelines.

Going into 2017, however, we can't just post the same sort of content and expect it to achieve the shares and engagement we've become used to – it's crucial to follow the trends and align your social media strategy accordingly.

The SocialTimes website has come up with five trends it expects to shape social media in 2017:

1. Video to take over Facebook

Within a half-decade, Facebook says its News Feed will chiefly comprise videos – written posts will be few and far between. We are already at a point where with every swipe down we come across a video and they will only become even more frequent as Facebook Live and vertical video ads become more popular.

2. Instagram to become a priority for brands

In terms of user engagement, Instagram is THE platform: user engagement with brands on Instagram is currently 10 times higher than on Facebook and 54 times higher than on Twitter. Those sorts of figures could see even those travel brands who appear ill-suited to the platform make it a priority, in an attempt to take advantage of the opportunities the platform presents for engaging in visual storytelling that connects with customers.

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3. Brands to get on board with GIFs

GIFs are a daft but wonderfully expressive visual, often used by users to convey their mood and tone. Brands will get fully on board with the GIF trend in 2017, accepting that while they are indeed a bit silly, they're an opportunity for them to express themselves and build a more personal relationship with their customers.

4. Informality to become the norm

Social media has never really been well-suited to formality, but mediums like Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Facebook Live have seen the balance shift towards informality even further. On these platforms, brands are required to cut loose a little in a bid to engage users in their storytelling – uptight brands will simply be ignored.

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5. Artificial intelligence poised to play a part on social

AI-powered chatbots have been embraced by some travel brands this year, primarily as a tool for providing capable customer service, delivering human-like conversational interactive experiences to customers. In 2017, AI "is coming to social in a big way", SocialTimes predicts. The question is, though, can chatbots really prove to be more than just a customer service tool for firms? Microsoft's experiment with the technology – in the shape of 'teen girl' AI Tay – didn't exactly go to plan...

The solution

Download our free guide to social media for more insights on how to give your travel business leverage by making the most of the platform.

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