As we begin a new year on social media I’ve been looking ahead at what trends there will be for churches and non-profits. Have you seen any trends? What social media tactics should/are you adopting in response? If there is one thing that never changes on social media is that there are always changes and new features! 

Lets take a look at seven trends I think will emerge or grow in 2015.

1. Social Video

Video is on the rapid rise. Twitter is rumoured to be introducing a native video format in 2015. According to Comscore, Facebook’s native video format took off last year and surpassed for the first time YouTube on desktop devices. Now many of you will have read my post late last year ‘How To Increase Your Reach On Facebook‘ which explains how churches especially can maximise the reach of video on Facebook. Have you started using video yet?

2. Instagram

Now owned by Facebook, Instagram is the star performer of social media in terms of engagement. The younger generation are moving to it and using it as their primary social platform (Read this teenagers insight on the different social media platforms, very interesting reading). Instagram also has video and many churches are already maximising their 15 seconds of video on Instagram. Instagram rolled out advertising in the second half of 2014. For churches and non-profits, if Instagram got their act together on scheduling, cross-linking from official Instagram feeds to Facebook pages they would see a massive migration to the platform. Instagram have purposely kept a very narrow feature set on the app. I think we will see an improvement on how you can find your audience on Instagram in 2015 for churches and non-profits. (Did you know that you can now schedule your Instagram posts? Read more here)

3. Social commerce

Like online giving, SMS mobile giving (which is still growing at a massive rate and in its infancy), social commerce is really yet to kick-start. Twitter is introducing ‘buy now’ buttons through its advertising. Facebook’s Messenger App had some code that was spotted by a techie that suggested commerce is coming. (Josh Burns sends his friends money on SnapChat).  It will be interesting to see how commerce is integrated into social. For churches and non-profits this represents another huge opportunity to help fund their cause.It will be only a matter of time before ‘donate now’ buttons become available. They key to success is creating compelling storytelling around the donation. While the tools to enable giving are important, it’s still all about having a story worth sharing.

4. Think Mobile First

Mobile is now reaching maturity. Is your social media strategy taking into account that your audience is skimming down a small interface? Are you asking them to do too much so they skip you by? You have 3 seconds to hold their attention and act, or keep on skimming. How engaging is your social strategy? (Think whole of digital, not just social media… does your church or non-profit have the right kind of website to take advantage of this?)

5. Interest Based Social

This is really interesting. There are a few niche social networks out there based around interests. I use Strava which is for running and cycling, when I started I only thought it was for performance but as it evolved it has become a social network based around performance with people encouraging and commenting around the interest. I think narrower interest based social networks will emerge. They won’t be about quantity of users, but around the interests of those users. Haley Veturis also predicts that niche networking communities will emerge that protect the user from advertising and focus solely on community experience.

I hate to say it, but maybe, just maybe, the time may be right for something like a Faithbook to re-emerge. I also think there is a great opportunity for a social network to evolve around helping others that causes could leverage.

6. Paid Amplification

I wrote about the seismic change in social media last year. You have to pay to play. If you want to be seen and reach people, then just like any other advertising and marketing strategy you now need to budget around your social strategy. The good news is that Twitter made their paid advertising spend more realistic for smaller marketers and advertisers. I think Instagram will be another one in the next 2 years.

7. Competition

This trend is one you won’t see on most 2015 lists going around the internet. By competition I don’t mean competition between churches, what I mean is that there is a competition for your audience’s attention. And we now have to work even harder to create compelling engaging content that your audience wants to engage with. The trend I see that is emerging is that the quality and production is rising which will make it harder for less inspiring, creative social media to be seen. Those posts will get lost in the noise of the feed.

Your turn

What trends do you think will emerge in 2015? Have you seen any new social media trends that emerged to become tactics that really work (Like this one). Or you may just have some questions, comment below.