In an earlier interview, we wrote that:

Social media is the in-vogue digital marketing channel. It’s a dynamic industry, with little staying static for longer than what feels like a few weeks. 2016, for instance, saw the emergence of live video, chatbots and swathes of smaller changes to advertising and targeting capabilities. Like with influencer marketing, last year was a maturation year for social media with marketing managers coming on-board like never before. And one thing’s for certain; social media isn’t going to sit still in 2017 either…

Mere months later the sentiment of that paragraph still holds true and it will for some time to come. And to reinforce the points Keri made in her interview we’ve gone in search of our famed social media executive, Chloe Hodson, for her take on social media in 2017.

Firstly, could you give us a little insight about yourself and what you do at Digital Visitor?

I joined the Digital Visitor team just over 12 months ago, after a couple of years working in content, digital and integrated marketing, both client and agency side. I’ve worked with clients across a variety of industries, from health and beauty to government organisations, but travel and tourism is definitely where my heart lies.

As a social media executive I create content for, and manage the communities engaging with, our clients’ social channels as well as produce email campaigns to generate brand awareness, engagement and sales.

Over the past year I have been lucky enough to work closely with the rest of the delivery team, our PR manager and account managers across a number of our clients, including Catalunya, ANA, AccorHotels and Mauritius Tourism.

As an executive, you’re at the front line of social. Have you noticed any trend emerging in the types of content audiences are engaging with?

I think with the rise and rise of platforms like Instagram Stories and Facebook Live, it’s clear to see that audiences are enjoying the more realistic and unique, ‘behind the scenes’ element of content.

Obviously, working within the travel and tourism industry, photos of beautiful beaches and stunning sunsets generate great engagement but I think gone are the days of over-photoshopped images.

Social Media is now, more than ever, an engagement and conversational tool for brands and users to interact on a much more personal level than before.

We’ve seen user generated content excel with greater reason recently and, aside from Facebook’s algorithm, I think it’s because the audience is able to see a more attainable goal that in turn creates a much stronger sense of ‘wanderlust.’

It’s worth mentioning that the way people are engaging is also changing in line with these content changes. Social Media is now, more than ever, an engagement and conversational tool for brands and users to interact on a much more personal level than before.

We’ve seen the use of messenger apps and chatbots surpass social networking apps in recent months so this is definitely the way it’s heading.

Looking at the flipside. Is there a social media format that’s currently struggling, or one you can see struggling in the near future?

The authentic and unique content that has been doing so well recently across social applies to both static and video formats, especially live video. All of the big social networking sites have been trying to make live streaming work for them over the past 12 months, and it’s been a success.

Live video is dominating our channels at the moment, with big brands and influencers all trying their hand at it, giving their audiences the chance to not only view content, but to become a part of it.

Live video is dominating our channels at the moment, with big brands and influencers all trying their hand at it…

I fear this could mean bad news for standard video. If the content isn’t in real time and therefore isn’t as interactive, will it end up being overshadowed and just getting lost in the noise somewhere far down our newsfeeds?

On a separate note, we’ve seen a crackdown on fake news in the last few months by Facebook especially; obviously this is great but it has changed how creative we can be with link or carousel formats. As you can no longer edit the metadata, brands will need to edit the information coming directly from their website links, otherwise creativity with these post formats is on hold.

What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most, and why?

Having travelled fairly extensively in recent years, travel and tourism is a big area of interest for me, so to be able to work with some of the biggest airlines, hotels and tourism boards on a daily basis is something I love – even though it is a nightmare for my wanderlust!

But the social element of my job is definitely one of the best things about it – in all senses of the word. Social media is critical to modern life, it’s the go-to place for people to get anything from the latest news to holiday inspiration, making it an essential part of modern marketing.

Social media is critical to modern life, it’s the go-to place for people to get anything from the latest news to holiday inspiration, making it an essential part of modern marketing.

The world of social is fast-paced and always evolving, so staying up to date with the latest trends is not only an essential part of my job but a fun one, as there is always new formats to test and new ideas to try.

Where do you think social media will be this time in 12 months?

Given the changes we’ve seen over the past year, and knowing the speed at which the biggest sites are evolving, it’s tough to know which direction social media will go in the next 12 months.

It’s no secret that social sites are becoming overloaded with advertising, with brands now shouting above each other, through the noise to be heard by their audiences.That’s why we’ve seen users switch off from this and instead turn to the more personal, more one-of-a-kind content like stories and chatbots.

Maybe it’s time for brands to stop posting anything and everything and instead put more effort into being reactive and always-on. I think there’s a need for them to shift their focus to make more valuable, more personal connections with their audiences…

As technology progresses, inevitably so will social media so I think we’ll see these existing formats, and the still fairly new ones like virtual reality, continue to blossom.

But at some point, even these trends may fade. The phrases less is more, and quality over quantity have never been truer. Maybe it’s time for brands to stop posting anything and everything and instead put more effort into being reactive and always-on. I think there’s a need for them to shift their focus to make more valuable, more personal connections with their audiences to build awareness and relationships; taking social media back to where it started.

That’s what I’d like to see at least.