Social Media in 2017: What’s in Store for Politics & Advocacy?

After a long post-election slumber, Epolitics.com is back! Let’s get back in the fray with a post from Beth Becker, in which she peers into a crystal ball and reports from The Future. Check out her author page for past years’ predictions and more.

It’s that time of the year again! Like many of you, I’m very glad 2016 is over. But as we think about social media and the work ahead, what could 2017 hold in store in the political and advocacy worlds?

In no particular order:

Platforms still want to be the new Facebook, while Facebook continues its quest to be the one platform to rule them all.

Move over Twitter: the new king of platform imitation is Facebook. It would take me thousands of words to just list all of the ways in which the various platforms changed themselves to keep up with the others, but without a doubt Facebook’s changes were the most noticeable. From the Snapchat-ish filters for Messenger images to ephemeral messages on Messenger it is clear that Facebook now considers Snapchat its biggest competitor.

But regardless of the platforms’ various attempts to imitate each other, at the end of the day it’s still up to us – as the strategists and content creators – to identify each platform’s strengths and core audiences and use the ones that best help us accomplish our goals.

A shift from audience-centric content creation to moment-centric content creation.

Live …live…live. It’s all about what’s happening RIGHT NOW! Regardless of the platform, data is showing us clearly that people want to know what IS happening, not what DID happen. This of course creates a challenge for organizations trying to make a case for change, since those cases often involve having to illustrate the past to help paint a picture of the – aspirational – future.

The key to success in 2017 is going to be to show our community the effects their actions are having right now- supporter stories are still the best way to engage people in the work we do. Share the stories of people and demonstrate in real time how your organization’s work is impacting people’s lives right now. [Ed. note: a good opportunity for Facebook Live?]

Forget vanity metrics like follower counts. The real metric for 2017 will be relationship strength.

How long has the person been connected with you? How deep is their engagement? It’s not just about the number of times they’ve taken actions, but in what ways? How do we move someone along our ladder or loop of engagement in a logical way that not only gets them to do things, but develops both our organization and the community.

This highlights two other trends coming to the fore in 2017:

Peer-to-Peer Communication vs Organization-to-Audience

2016 was the year of peer-to-peer communication tools like Hustle, and I think 2017 is going to take them to the next level. Platforms like Facebook Messenger will allow our champions to own their even more by shepherding relationships with less engaged folks. I.e., one-to-one relationship building.

Meet our new best friend: the chatbot.

Corporate social media was overrun with chatbots this year, but it wasn’t until the height of election season that I and some others began experimenting with them for the political work we do. While it’s true that chatbots will never, nor should they ever, replace one-to-one conversation, they do provide a handy assist. For instance, they can help channel folks to the right person in the organization or answer questions that come up again and again.

One great analogy would be to think of chatbots as the social media twin to the virtual receptionist, collecting basic information to allow you to: A) provide needed information in real time with minimal staff time investment, and B) collect data that can be used to segment and target future communications. [Ed. note: let’s hope they don’t turn out to be as frustrating as Automated Voice Response systems, which make me want to throw my phone against a wall.]

Social platforms investigate the untapped frontier of social audio.

Facebook recently announced Live Audio for newsfeeds, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see other platforms follow suit. Combine Live Audio with Marketplace and now you have Facebook going head-to-head with non-social companies like Apple, so 2017 could also be the opening of another front in the tech wars in general.

What do you see coming our way?

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