It takes time and thought to build your social audience. Small businesses must invest in new tools, develop new strategies, and commit more employees, only to see numbers fluctuate. The secret to success on social media is to look past all the old ideas to the trends that will continue on in 2017.

 1. Missing Content

The major social networks are now using algorithms to manage what shows up in user feeds to deliver a more personalized experience; unfortunately this often means that newer posts and your organic content get pushed down the queue. You can pay for social media ads and still do well, but your fresh content is more likely to get missed. But Facebook, Instagram and the rest will be sticking with it.

 2. Paid Advertising

Small businesses may see paid ads as a money grab. Social sites are using these algorithms because they claim that pages are so cluttered that users miss 70 percent of posts. Paid advertising is off-putting to those with limited funds, but if it cuts through all that chatter, it can be worth it.

 3. Employee Advocates

You already have a social marketing team – your own employees. More companies are encouraging their employees to become brand advocates on social media. Audiences trust personal posts more than those coming from the company itself. It takes a little incentive to make this work; but giving a few small gifts is a cheap way to expand your social reach.

4. Skills Shortage

Proper training for employees who carry out social tasks is rare. This can lead to branding errors and missed opportunities. Part of the problem is that formal training in social media management is hard to come by. However, the need has been recognized and more universities and business training companies are covering social media in 2017.

 5. Streaming Video

Mobile technology has made streaming video commonplace. Now almost anyone can record events and stream them to the world as live video on social media. People are fascinated at seeing real events in real time, whether it’s a card trick or a hurricane. Because of this inherent fascination, small businesses can use it as a cheap and effective marketing tool.

 6. Management is now onboard.

As of 2015, more than 60 percent of company CEOs had no social media profile. That is now changing. For small businesses, the owner can be the most visible part of branding. Eliminating that identity is removing the core of company character and history. More business leaders are taking the time to capture a personal following, and often exceeding their company’s.

 7. Less Automation

Automated tools for social media became popular, but ultimately failed. Social media is about making a human connection, and automated responses did not fool or engage audiences. If anything, it drove them away. With the possible exception of the new chatbots, companies are back to actual involvement rather than leaving their social networks on autopilot.

8. More than Marketing

Many organizations see social networks as marketing platforms. But your followers can make instant purchases and chat with customer service. Social networks are becoming sales platforms, and the social commerce trend is only going to increase. This in due in part to chatbots, an AI digital assistant guides users through various social tasks- including finding and purchasing products.

 9. Emotive Purchasing

A brand’s social presence is a chief motivator for buying to 28 percent of consumers. Shoppers are more likely to buy from a company they’re already following, so selling on social media is an idea that seems overdue. More brands are building social commerce by putting more emotional content and loyalty emphasis on branding.

10. Business Analytics

Social analytics are old news, but a richer tool set is appearing to meet more business needs. Small businesses are now better able to analyze and emulate what their top competition is doing. In 2017 and beyond, small business owners will discover more insights for optimizing their social presence.

Social media, like all digital technologies, evolves and changes constantly. The tools are still changing in 2017, but the social media culture remains the same. It continues to grow rapidly, and provides even more opportunity.

By:  Sia Hasan