Design, Color and Social Trends for 2018

Holy smokes. What was that? 2017 came in like a wrecking ball and literally went out in flames. This has been a very interesting year, to say the least. From the polarizing election leading to the rise of fake news, to devastating hurricanes across Texas, Florida and the Caribbean, and deadly fires in California, 2017 really took us for a spin. The aftermath of 2017 will most certainly be felt in the social arena in 2018.

But 2017 wasn’t all doom and gloom, especially for social media. We were obsessed the miracle birth of Fiona the hippo, and watched her adorable progress online. April the Giraffe finally gave birth to Tajiri, live on social media for the world to see. We bonded with co-workers, neighbors and strangers during the first visible eclipse since 1979 and the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire contiguous U.S. since 1918. But perhaps best of all, women marched, stood up and spoke up while we watched the #metoo movement sweep across America – creating one of the most effective, moving, and popular hashtag campaigns ever.

You could say I’m happy to see 2017 in the rearview mirror. And very curious to see what 2018 brings. Here are some of the trends we can look forward to.

Color Trends

Empowering & Bold

Perhaps inspired by the eclipse, or maybe Elon Musk’s first successful launch and landing of a recycled rocket (by a super sci-fi unmanned drone barge, no less), Pantone has announced Ultra Violet as its 2018 Color of the Year. This empowering color will make a cosmic impact in the world of graphic and package design, fashion and home decor in 2018, and its powerful vibe will no doubt be incorporated further into women’s rights campaigns.

Font Trends

Wide & Fat

In 2018, we are expecting to see a revival of fat, chunky and extended San Serif typefaces with wide letters, reminiscent of the grotesque styles from the 1950s. Also, thanks to the popularity of Netflix’s Stranger Things, bold modern Serifs will also be a hot trend, paying homage to the golden era of print advertising.

Design Trends

In my opinion, you’ll see two design trends for 2018 that actually are two very different looks.

Moody & Flat

The first style offers a moody, flat look with an organic, under-produced vibe. These images and videos have unsaturated blacks and desaturated colors. This relaxed look is super hip and trendy and I anticipate that you’ll start to see it adopted by more conservative brands in the upcoming months.

#CSUSocial welcomed students back from winter break this year with this cool video, created by our talented new intern, Wisdom Senolos.

Distressed & Duotones

The second design trend I expect to see more of in 2018 is a gritty, grungy, distressed, glitchy design style that uses bright duotones and a lot of CMYK.

The athletics graphics team at the University of Nebraska was one of the first to jump on this early trend, creating some super cool GIFS for their football team, like the one below. I expect many other universities and brands will follow.


Social Media Trends 

Instagram Over Snapchat

Yeah, yeah… we’ve all spent endless hours of time and energy building up our Snapchat following (of which we aren’t even allowed accurate analytics to know follower counts). And we’ve banged our heads brainstorming creative options for content and takeovers that speak to younger audiences. But I have a feeling that’s all about to change.

Daily viewers of Instagram Stories surpassed daily Snapchat viewers just one year after launch, and Instagram’s impressive growth is not slowing down. With the ability to include web links in stories, Instagram is making it easier and easier for brands to connect with fans. We’re not sure exactly how exactly #CSUSocial’s strategy will evolve in telling “stories” but we’re expecting to use Instagram stories more and Snapchat stories less. Snapchat continues to disappoint with their lack of analytics and transparency, while Instagram has made it very easy to track analytics. Check out Chase’s blog for reasons why we’re considering a big shift to Instagram.

Social Is The New Customer Service

Hi, you’ve contacted CSU Social. How can we help you? The connection between brands and consumers is more important than ever. Big brands are finally realizing the importance of creating and maintaining relationships with followers, instead of just using social media as a soapbox for self-promotion. Consumers view social media as a direct line of communication to brands and expect brands to respond when they share their experiences, good or bad. This means that businesses absolutely need to invest in beefing up their social media departments because our roles as social media professionals will include more customer service. To sum it up, brands must be more accessible on social media.

More Live Streaming

Did you know that 80% of consumers would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% would prefer live video to written social media updates? Now that live video is less of a novelty and more of an expectation, we will definitely see live-streaming rise in popularity and this practice should be integrated into your social media content planning on a regular basis.

Comments Will Be King on Facebook

So you’ve probably heard the big news… Facebook is breaking up with news. And brands.

Thanks to the influx of fake news, the growing concern of negative mental health effects on kids, and research that shows that passively scrolling through streams of posts makes people feel bad, Facebook is rethinking the way users are served content in their news feeds. Mark Zuckerberg describes upcoming changes to the Facebook News Feed are designed to change the news feed algorithm to surface relevant content that facilitates meaningful social interactions among your friends and family. This social trend is expected to create more meaningful conversations on Facebook.

This means comments will be the new social gold. Shares have always been viewed as the coveted reaction on Facebook, but now comments and meaningful conversations will be more important than ever.

The effects of Facebook’s strategy shift is hard to know for certain – Zuckerberg and company frequently shake up Facebook’s algorithm which affects what users see in our news feeds, but this change is likely to make Facebook a much different landscape than the one it is today.

Take a look at Ashley’s blog, she offers more information on what’s new and how brands can work with these new changes. Kimberly also writes about how CSU Social plans to tackle this new social hurdle.

Your Turn

Did I miss any major trends that are on your radar? Tweet to me at @jensmith7  – let’s share ideas and talk about what’s the next best trend in social media for higher education 👍