Social media is an almost constantly evolving tool that can be used to inform you about your audience, develop a marketing strategy or help your engage with your consumers. However, because it is an area that can so quickly change, it’s important that you stay on top of the latest trends and emerging platforms.

Here are some of the things you should watch out for in 2017 as they could have a heavy impact on your social media success:

Augmented reality

It seems to be the emerging trend that has never quite emerged, but 2017 could be the year for augmented reality. The unprecedented popularity and commercial success of Pokemon Go showed everyone that virtual reality apps can have mass appeal, if they are executed properly. Although it’s unlikely that it will dominate social media in the way that video did, it’s likely that bigger brands will experiment with it in the next 12 months, pushing it more into the mainstream.

Live streaming

At the start of the year, thousands of people were watching a puddle in the north-east of England, as #DrummondPuddleWatch became a national talking point. It may sound crazy but live streaming has come to the forefront of social media this year and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. Facebook has launched its live service, and soon YouTube is expected to add a similar feature, meaning that there will be a lot more focus on how this can be used for marketing purposes.

Mobile-first index

Google has announced that it will be starting experiments on how to introduce mobile-first indexing, which ultimately means that pages will be judged on their mobile-optimised versions rather than their desktop ones. Although this isn’t directly linked to social media, it could significantly change how Google ranks webpages and will see the focus shift clearly towards mobile. This will see many marketing strategies change to heavily rely on mobile pages, which social media will be a significant part of.

Employees become brand ambassadors

With the likes of Google priding itself on how it treats its employees, a brand’s reputation can be heavily influenced by what its workers think of it. This will see more businesses turn to their employees to advocate their brand on social media. It’s likely that this could see a growth in best practice guides and training to ensure that people are able to make the most out of social media, without embarrassing the company they work for.

Brands using social for customer support

The State of Social report from Buffer found that only a fifth (21 per cent) of businesses are using social media for customer service. Companies are mainly using the platform for increasing brand awareness (85 per cent) but consumers are using social media more often as a way to ask questions or air grievances. Although it may seem a daunting prospect, talking to your clients online can bring a wave of potential for brands.