With more than 50 million small businesses using social media pages to interact with customers this past year, social platforms have become a necessary part of the customer interaction ecosystem. 2017 brought about quite a few significant changes in the way users interact with brands using social media. These changes will have significant impacts on the way businesses use social media to interact with customers in 2018. The Sprout Social Q4 2017 Index found that 1 in 3 consumers will mention brands while sharing personal accomplishments on social media. In fact, 41% of millennials include brands in life milestone posts just to say thanks. People love sharing their personal accomplishments on social media, and they involve brands to get a personal response. Another trend that emerged this year is the use of chatbots. On Facebook Messenger alone, there are more than 100,000 chatbots being used to obtain information, give product advice, and take orders. Astonishingly, chatbots on Facebook Messenger are said to increase organizational productivity by up to 3.5 times. Chatbots allow brands to manage the hundreds or thousands of social media interactions they receive daily. Because of tools like chatbots, customers are growing to expect brands to interact with them. Increased interaction on social media has also led users to expect relationship building activities from brands instead of blatant advertising. One way brands have been successfully communicating this year is through Instagram stories. Instagram added the stories feature to their platform in 2017 to compete with Snapchat’s story feature. Since the launch, the average time spent on Instagram per day grew from 15 to 28 minutes daily. Already, 1 in 5 organic Instagram stories from brands have been proven to prompt at least one direct message from a consumer. That’s an incredibly high engagement rate. Another trend to gain traction that's expected to gain traction in 2018 is live video. Around 80% of consumers would rather watch a live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video to written social media updates. All in all, 2017 was a huge year for social media. The ramifications of the changes made by social platforms impact every brand that's savvy enough to make the most of the upcoming year. It will be interesting to see what changes 2018 will hold.