We all know that social networks represent a huge opportunity for businesses and organisations looking to engage with existing and potential customers. But social channels are also fast-changing. So what are the top 5 trends for 2017 that will affect running, cycling, triathlon, outdoors and adventure brands? Read on to find out more. 

1  Social Messaging

Often when brands talk about ‘social media’ they mean the social platforms where users post updates, images, videos and so on. But social messaging has been on the rise for some time now and 2017 should be the year that brands get to grips with it.

Already the main messaging channels are bigger than the platforms: Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Viber and WeChat already have more users than Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Facebook has recognised the growth of social messaging and offers advertising which links directly to the advertiser’s Facebook Messenger page so the customer can immediately start chatting to a brand representative. Other social networks are bound to follow suit.

What this means for you

The obvious opportunity here is that social messaging allows brands to directly engage with consumers in the online spaces that they are already spending time. Get this right and you can build and deepen relationships with customers where and when they want to talk to you.

2 Chatbots

Linked to the growth in importance of Social Messaging, Chatbots are Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven software systems that ‘talk’ to people, automatically responding to their questions and helping them to make purchases.

Again, Facebook is at the vanguard here, integrating Chatbots into Facebook Messenger so that brands can respond to queries in a scalable way. As usual, other social outlets are not far behind with Whatsapp, Twitter and Google Allo all working on their own versions.

Chat Bots - 5 Social Media Trends That Sports Brands Need To Think About In 2017

What this means for you

Recent research showed that over a third of customers prefer dealing with a brand online rather than on the telephone. As AI develops and brands learn how to use Chatbots, they will become an essential scalable way to solve problems and drive purchases.

3 Live Video

YouTube has 1.3 billion users at the start of 2017, with 30 million of them visiting the site every day. And they are all there to consume video content. Indeed YouTube exists because of raw, unfiltered, user-generated video.

The next level for video content, however, is live video. Starting with Twitter’s Periscope – which claims that its users watched 110 years of live video every day in 2016 – there are now several outlets for people looking to stream their lives. Facebook Live has been credited with massively increasing the reach of Facebook itself. On January 17 this year, Instagram unveiled the latest version of its Stories app which allows users to create live video that ‘self-destructs’ after a short period. And YouTube is developing its own version. There is no lack of demand for live video and social channels are determined to cater to it.

Live Video - 5 Social Media Trends That Sports Brands Need To Think About In 2017

What this means for you

If you knew that a huge number of your target customers would be in one place at the same time, you would go there. Right? Well, a good proportion of them are – or will be – consuming live video in 2017. So you had better be there too if you want to be part of their lives. And live video provides an unparalleled chance to engage with people online. This is a fantastic opportunity right now that most brands are not making the most of, so there is first (or at least early) move advantage available.

4 Micro-influencers

The days of brands being able to distribute content and engage with existing and potential customers for free through social channels have gone. At the same time, digital advertising (like most forms of advertising) is delivering less and less value as audiences find new ways to avoid being ‘talked at’. So what is the answer?

One way brands can remedy this, is by working with micro-influencers. Micro influencers are bloggers, YouTubers and social media super-users with highly engaged audiences. The people these influencers reach are hooked on the authentic content they create. And the social channels do not choke-off the reach of the influencers’ content – in fact the opposite is true. Micro-influencers are highly creative and likely to be using social channels to their fullest potential, so the content they upload is distributed even more widely by the social channels than posts by regular users.

Micro Influencers - 5 Social Media Trends That Sports Brands Need To Think About In 2017What this means for you

If you want to engage with existing and potential customers through social channels, you need to think about working with micro-influencers. There are many benefits including at the very least;

  • being part of really genuine engagements between the influencers and their audience;
  • being able to reuse the content the influencers create to fill your social outlets;
  • having the chance to be part of live video that the influencers are creating

If you want to find out more about influencer marketing, read our post here or drop us a line.

5 Mobile First (Finally)

Last year mobile web traffic volumes finally overtook desktop. That is globally. According to the United Nations, there were 7.476 billion people on the planet at the end of 2016. Of them, 34% were active mobile social media users. And that number increased by 30% between January and December 2016.

This trend is so pronounced that Google is now working on a new mobile-first web index to take into account all the mobile traffic being generated.

Mobile - 5 Social Media Trends That Sports Brands Need To Think About In 2017
What this means for you

The move from desktop to mobile has been coming for a while now. But it can no longer continue to sit as a footnote in a business’ digital strategy. Social messaging, chatbots, live video and effective digital advertising all need to recognise the shift towards mobile. Get this right, quickly, and you can steal a march on the competition still trying to work out how to set up and use their social channels.


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