Social media is no longer simply a place for scrolling past videos of kids, cats and food. In a recent webinar on social media trends, Cameron Uganec, senior director, Growth Marketing and Education, for HootSuite, says that 2017 is the year that social media catches up to search for discovery.

Social media usage isn’t slowing down. It’s accelerating, especially as a discovery tool consumers use to find and buy the products they want.

“Fish where the fish are biting,” Uganec says. “It’s one of the top marketing strategies whenever I’m selling. It’s a pretty major shift we’re seeing, and it’s not slowing down.”

According to GlobalWebIndex, 98 percent of digital consumers age 16 to 64 say they’ve used a social network within the last month. Digital consumers have an average of eight accounts, which has doubled since 2012. Facebook is the top service by membership, with 84 percent, but YouTube maintains a lead in visitors/users, according to GlobalWebIndex.

In Nursery Management’s own January 2017 readership study, 70 percent of respondents reported using at least one social media network as part of their communications program at work. Facebook took the lion’s share, with 51 percent of respondents using the social network as part of their marketing or communications program.

Consumers are going straight to social to talk to friends and brands.

Another part of this trend is the decline of traditional websites. Uganec says this revolution is driven by the advance in mobile technology. Several media companies are experimenting with publishing content directly to apps and social networks – completely skipping the prior Internet model of search engine and website. In 2017, there may no longer be a need to drive traffic back to your site.

“Consumers are going straight to social to talk to friends, brands,” Uganec says. “Companies may not need a website in the middle.”

Social is now just 6 percent behind search for discovering products or doing company research, Uganec says. It’s a legitimate trend, even for the older demographic that prefers the tried-and-true website. NM