Nobody has a concrete answer to exactly where social media is heading this year, but there are some hints and clues that we have picked up on as to what the future may look like. So here we have some of social media’s biggest platforms and talk about where they’re heading to and what trends to look out for this year.
With Facebook continuing to grow and develop in 2016 with the launches of Marketplace, Reactions and Facebook Live, we know that this platform throughout 2017 will carry on keeping up to date with the major social media habits and developments.
3 Facebook trends to watch
- Search growth
Mark Zuckerberg revealed in a report that Facebook now sees a whopping 2 billion searches per day, a growth from 1.5 billion a year ago. With 3.5 billion searches per day, Google still leads the way, but with Facebook showing such a massive growth in this, we could soon see Facebook pursuing the ad dollars traditionally reserved for Google. Search could also drive attention to the content you post on Facebook, becoming a key part of increasing your reach on there.
- AR, filters and lenses
Snapchat and Pokemon Go lenses brought AR (augmented reality) great global attention in 2016, so this year we are bound to see Facebook becoming a major player in the AR space. Mark Zuckerberg recently shared some thoughts on this: “I like everyone else am enjoying Pokemon Go. The biggest thing that I think we can take away from this as we invest in augmented reality in addition to virtual reality is that the phone is probably going to be the mainstream consumer platform [where] a lot of these AR features first become mainstream, rather than a glasses form factor that people will wear on their face.”
You may have already noticed Facebook’s Masquerade feature – where people can use lenses and masks whilst sharing live video or having video chats.
- The peak of videos
We reckon that the trend of Facebook videos will continue to grow through the year before we hit the peak and videos become less effective on Facebook. Reports from a survey done by Buffer state that 30% of marketers say Facebook video is the top channel they are looking to add to their marketing tactics in the next year. 83% also said they would want to create more video content if they didn’t have time and resource restraints.
Twitter refocused in 2016. It’s transformed from being a social network to a news product. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey stated this: “People choose us for news because we’re the fastest. Fastest to get news, and fastest to share news with the whole world. Now let’s strive to be the first. The first place people check to see what’s happening… and the first place to break what’s happening.”
3 Twitter trends to watch
- Solving harassment issues
For a long time, Twitter has been plagued with harassment issues and with the release of new “mute” product and policy updates they have started to sort it out and clean it up. Twitter has enhanced it’s mute function by allowing users to filter specific phrases, hashtags and keywords. Buzzfeed explained this further: “Twitter’s new mute tool with allow users to mute entire conversation threads. This will allow users to stop receiving notifications from a specific Twitter thread without removing it from your timeline or blocking any users.”
Twitter is also looking into adding a new “hateful conduct” reporting option, changing its policy regarding how it deals with people who share abusive language.
This development may not be so much of a marketing trend, but it’s something worth knowing about to see how Twitter makes the platform a more inclusive and welcome place.
- Live content and broadcasting
So Twitter wants to be the home of what’s happening and what everyone is talking about globally. Through Periscope, we are likely to see Twitter focusing on more live streams and trending videos through 2017.
For business owners and marketers, this could mean a lot of conversation around the events Twitter broadcasts live, something that can open up opportunities for reactive content and adverts related to the events that are broadcasted.
- Greater customer service focus
Recently, Twitter had greatly focused on enhancing customer support for both brands and their customers, announcing new customer support features to make the process smoother. Providing the best support has become a priority for many businesses in the last few years, and we believe Twitter is looking to give its business users even more opportunities to improve the experience during this year.
2016 was an incredible year for Instagram. Now owned by Facebook, it has hit 500 million monthly users and had some key product launches, including Instagram Stories and Business Tools.
3 Instagram trends to watch
- Instagram stories
Instagram launched 24 hour Snapchat-style stories in August 2016. These have already evolved, as Instagrammers with varied accounts can now share links through Instagram stories using a new “See more” action which loads content in an Instagram browser. It is currently a test for verified Instagram accounts, but hopefully, this will grow into becoming a feature for all users in the coming months.
- Business tools
Although Business Tools hasn’t been one of Instagram’s biggest feature releases of 2016, it’s still definitely one to watch.
Instagram worked with lots of businesses to learn what was needed to improve their Instagram experience, and the key needs were standing out: get insights and find new customers. The release of Business Tools brought business profiles, analytics and the ability to create adverts from posts in the app.
This year we’re likely to see business profiles and tools continue to develop to make it easier for businesses to drive traffic from their Instagram profiles.
- Live video
Instagram wants to become the place “to capture and share the world’s moments,” so the release of stories has helped to encourage people to share more in-the-moment, Snapchat-style content to Instagram.
Facebook really went in on live video in 2016, so it’s no surprise that Instagram is currently testing live video too.
Snapchat is a platform that is constantly developing, including Snapchat Memories where users can share photos and videos captured outside the app, as well as more filters that relate to trending news.
3 Snapchat trends to watch
- Improved ad product
In 2016, Snapchat allowed businesses of all sizes and people to create and sponsor their own Snapchat filters in a chosen location. This year, we think Snapchat will enhance targeting and analytics for its advertisers.
Snapchat and Foursquare have already announced a deal to put more data into their filters so marketers can pinpoint where their ads are served – this means advertisers can be much more specific with where their filters will be available.
With the release of Spectacles, Snapchat have made tech-filled glasses cool, something that Google and other companies have failed. Spectacles are a fun product, mainly aimed at Snapchat’s core teenage audience. Because they’re scarcely available, it’s Snapchat’s own users and not the media who are spreading the word about Spectacles, making Snapchat users across the world want a pair.
It will be interesting to see throughout 2017 how Spectacles are used and how Snapchat looks to evolve this product.
- The rise of circular video
As well as Spectacles, Snapchat also announced a new circular video format.
Spectacles can record with a 115-degree field of view, similar to the human eye. On any device you’re viewing on, you can see the content full screen in any orientation. With circular video, the argument of whether video should be recorded and shared in landscape or portrait is solved. As more and more people consume videos on mobile devices, circular video could become the norm.
LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube
- LinkedIn acquired by Microsoft
Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in June 2016. Being the only professional-focused social network at a big scale, LinkedIn is a very unique asset for Microsoft. It’ll be interesting to see how LinkedIn evolves under Microsoft.
- Promoted Pins on Pinterest
In March 2016, Pinterest introduced Promoted Pins to all businesses. If you’re looking to put your business on Pinterest this year, Pinterest Ads and Promoted Pins could be an effective strategy. Data also shows that advertisers who use the Pinterest Ads Manager received an average of 20% more (free) clicks in the month after the start of a Promoted Pins campaign.
- Branded content on YouTube
In just 2016, the top 100 advertisers have increased their spend by 50% on YouTube video adverts. That statistic shows the power of video for marketers and advertisers.
There has also been an increase in brands teaming up with creators on branded content opportunities including promotions, sponsorships and product placement. Google acquired Famebit – a technology platform company that helps brands find and work with each other.
This year it’s likely that we’ll see creator and brand partnerships grow even more on YouTube and other networks.
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