Samuel Pique-Perry, director of Monmouth-based So. Social Media, explains what changes to our favourite platforms could mean...

Are you a newcomer to the social media stage, or a seasoned tweeter with a portfolio of posts under your belt? 
In either case it’s important to know what is new within the core social media channels and how you use them most effectively to promote your brand.  
It’s been some time since the traditional scatter-bomb technique has been considered even remotely effective within the social media spectrum, and with consistent algorithm updates to encourage a more human approach to social media, the position of the successful digital business must be adapted to ensure progression.
I’m going to focus on the three core platforms most businesses will be using: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 
It’s likely that Facebook will be the crown jewel of your social media campaign, but is this correct? 
For most companies Facebook provides the most effective platform to engage with their consumers, it is also the most business-friendly social media platform. 
Facebook allows businesses to add a ‘shop’ which links directly to their website, uploading products and amending prices seasonally. By using this feature effectively, you can drive conversions by linking your creative content to the products in your shop. 
For example, a BMX Bicycle shop wants to increase traffic to its website. Instead of just posting pictures and copy, the shop uses creative video content of local BMX riders using their bikes to do tricks, the shop then links the video to the exact bikes on their website. The content appeals to the consumer and the link allows the consumer to engage with the content. Simple.    
Facebook has made some significant changes to it’s algorithm in 2018. 
The ‘reach’ figures which any business can view from within its page insights now display only the figures for users who have ‘seen’ your content on their screen, rather than figures for all users to who’s news feed the content was delivered, seen or unseen. 
The creativity of your Facebook content has therefore become paramount. Plain text and basic images will no longer suffice. Think about investing in video and high definition images taken professionally to ensure your Facebook content stands out from the noise.  
Twitter often features within a brands social media portfolio; however, the Twitter of today is a far more temperamental creature than the Twitter of the past. 
Many companies will have found it easy to generate hundreds and thousands of followers on Twitter over the past 10 years, but more recently it has become more and more difficult for newcomers to the scene to break through the static and stand out. 
Why is this? Well, Twitter has always struggled to stay on top of consumer behaviour, in particular the consumers relationship with video. 
While Facebook has been pushing video to the fore for some time, Twitter has never quite mastered it. 
Not being able to effectively appeal to a video driven user means that more established Twitter accounts now have the monopoly, they already have dedicated followers who engage with their content. With a lack of creative options in place, a less established Twitter account will find it much harder to develop an organic following in an already crowded marketplace.  
Adding alerts for ‘happening now’ live streams in the Explore tab and highlighting them on the sidebar on desktop is a small step toward making video a more prominent Twitter feature. However, it’s likely that the channel will be exploring more options to better promote their video content to more users in 2018.  
One way that businesses can effectively exploit Twitters user numbers is within the ‘customer service’ sector. 
Various studies show that Twitter is most often the platform of choice for customer service queries and while Facebook is attempting to master this sector with the creation of new bots, short term, it makes sense to maximise on your customer service offering within Twitter, providing fast response times and effective answers to your customers. 
Instagram once felt like the newcomer to the block but since it’s takeover by Facebook the image sharing platform has mushroomed into a global social media phenomenon, and one that your business should be exploring. 
Until recently, Instagram was simple to master, post relevant content and garnish it with a sack full of hashtags to pull in engagement. 
However, in 2018 Instagram has put a stop to this in a bid to encourage a more human approach to its channel. 
As such businesses should now be putting far more attention into their ‘stories’ and less attention into bulk uploading images with loads of hashtags. 
Many established Instagram accounts are pulling back on their content frequency, but when they do post, it’s great content, creative, relevant and beautiful high definition imagery and video which highlights the best of what they can do. 
Think about why your business is posting, what is it saying to your followers and most importantly, why should they care? 
Inspire with your Instagram feed, explore the lifestyle of your consumers and emphasize that within your imagery and video.  
A final, but no less significant, point of focus for Instagram brands is to ensure a fast response time to all, if not most of the comments you receive. 
Instagram rewards ‘real’ users, after all, you wouldn’t ignore a question from someone in the street, so you shouldn’t ignore your Instagram followers either. Respond with a sentence rather than a single word or emoji to amplify the human feel and most importantly make your responses timely. If the comment really doesn’t require a response, ‘heart’ the comment or just say ‘thank you’. 
It’s clear that social media is taking a step toward re-humanisation, all channels are exploring ways to analyse user’s psychology and promote the correct content to them in the right ways. 
These same channels are also rewarding the ‘human’ business, the business which chats, answers questions and behaves organically. 
Keep this in mind when you next log in to your business social media accounts.