Crystal Ball

Visits from the Ghosts of Social Media Trends – Past & Future

2016 was a challenging year. Most of us are thankful to wave it goodbye. There were some bright spots scattered around its months. For instance, who will ever forget Super Bowl 50? Peyton Manning’s final game going out on TOP? We won’t discuss this year’s playoffs. Instead, we will focus on social media trends.

The social media landscape of this year was much like its political and cultural landscapes. There were many peaks and an AWFUL lot of valleys. Let’s look back at some of the good stuff and a bit of the not so good, while also gazing into the crystal ball social media trends for 2017.

Live Video & Storytelling

Live video streaming was not new in 2016 but it did begin to come into its Renaissance. Facebook introduced its very own streaming platform, Facebook Live, giving everyone the ability to produce their own live broadcasts to the world.

video equipmentData shows that organic posts with video reach up to 135% more users than posts with static images. Video posts engage viewers to spend a lot more time looking at the post, as well as providing increased engagement and interaction of 10%.  Live video performs even better, as viewers spend up to 3x longer watching a live video.

It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns in the social media video-sphere however, as we all learned that we will soon be saying goodbye to our six second friend, Vine. Vine is saying sayonara to the world, but users will be able to preserve their six second masterpieces and keep their followers via Twitter. Another social media slip-up occurred when Facebook was dinged for exaggerating the average time viewers spent watching videos.

Snapchat continued to grow in a big way. There are over 10 BILLION, with a B, daily video views on the platform. Instagram didn’t want to be left behind in the storytelling realm and introduced Stories. Even Twitter came to this content composition party and just a couple of months ago, when Twitter Moments hit the scene. Instagram and Snapchat are both pushing the idea of limited time access to content. If you have the time and ability to create these temporary masterpieces, why not give it a try? Show your audience a glimpse of things they might not ever see with glimpses behind the scenes or exclusive previews.

Spend Your Money Here! Pay To Play On Social Media

social media trends2016 saw Facebook adjust its algorithm in a move that seemed aimed at returning the social media platform to its roots. Posts on your newsfeed from friends and family increased in importance over posts from content sites and business pages. This change is making it increasingly difficult to get your organic posts shown in your followers’ newsfeeds. This year also saw the growth of what is often referred to as the Facebook Echo Chamber. More and more it seems that we get to live in our secure bubbles of interest and concern as we like things we like, and then only see things similar to what we like.

It seems likely that some of these changes could have led to the explosion of fake news as we have all been hearing about, as trending and highly clicked on posts also received preferential treatment in the newsfeeds.

The main gist of these changes simply demonstrates that Facebook wants you to pay money to get your company’s promotion or information post seen by more than just a few eyeballs.

eMarketer predicted two years ago, that marketers will spend upwards of $36 BILLION in 2017 advertising on Social Media. It’s likely that that number will be far exceeded next year.

Facebook advertising is reaching critical mass. It seems likely that 2017 could see an increase in costs associated with advertising on the platform along with the possibility of Facebook eventually running out of ad space. Seeking out alternative platforms upon which to advertise should be on everyone’s resolution list.

Make it Mobile. Keep it Mobile.

Google is putting its foot down on mobile. Google is now indexing mobile sites separately and penalizing sites and pages that don’t perform well on mobile. This is forcing businesses to make sure that their website is not just mobile friendly, but that it is also is up to snuff on page speed, and doesn’t have any of that dreaded interstitial (aka pop-ups) ads (Google has a BIG hate for those.)

Even if you have the perfectly optimized mobile website, you need to think of mobile beyond your URL. Make sure that ALL emails you send are mobile friendly and LOOK good on mobile devices. Be cognizant of mobile for all your social posting as well.

The Virtual World Moves in Real Time

2016 showed us that the imminent death of Twitter was, in fact, greatly exaggerated. Twitter became THE place for political figures to communicate directly with voters. Twitter seems to be continuing with that trend, as the President Elect’s transition team recently announced that the President WILL continue communicating through his Twitter account. Twitter also started broadcasting NFL games on Thursday Nights and it appears this trend of live broadcasting will grow.

In addition to capitalizing on breaking news and information, Twitter is quickly becoming the place where consumers will go to seek out a brand’s customer service. Twitter has released several features for brands to use to help them communicate directly with their consumers and solve problems and issues in real time.

It is important for businesses to capitalize on real time trends. With changing algorithms across every platform, capitalizing on hot content while it’s hot may be the only way to get seen by your followers and friends.

Buy Here Buy Now

Selling your cash register drawerbrand on social media has been around for a while. Selling your product directly ON social media is becoming the hot new trend in eCommerce. While still not a perfect vehicle to sell directly to consumers, Pinterest and Instagram have made great strides in selling wares directly from their platforms. According to Business Insider, referrals for eCommerce from social media increased nearly 200% between 2014-2015, with Facebook accounting for over 50% of social referrals and 64% of all social revenue.

Pinterest’s Promoted Pins are now available for businesses and brands of all sizes. There is data suggesting that 75% of Pinterest’s users have bought a product or service they have seen on the platform. Pinterest announced in October that it has 150 million users worldwide every month with 75 BILLION ideas for them to seek out.

Don’t forget about YouTube. The market for branded content is increasing and YouTube offers opportunities for marketing such as product placement, sponsorship and promotions. YouTube continues to grow as a search tool, and don’t forget, it’s part of the Google-verse.

Microsoft Gets LinkedIn

With Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn earlier this year, many are expecting to see LinkedIn integration into the company’s Office Suite including the Outlook platform. Think this deal’s not a big deal? LinkedIn has over 400 million users, with 25% of all adult internet users using the platform. 40% of users check LinkedIn daily and 76% of top level executives do the same. If you want to reach educated, high end consumers, LinkedIn has plenty of them.

Is This Real?

2016 was touted as THE year of Virtual Reality. While there was definitely growth in the production of VR and accessibility, it didn’t quite take off the way it was predicted. This leaves opportunity for 2017 to take that virtual ball and run with it. The HUGE success of the Pokémon Go app is likely to lead to many copycats. Although still clunky, VR headsets are becoming more available and brands are finding ways to produce virtual content.

Expect to hear a lot about 360 video in 2017.

2017 Isn’t 2016

Looking back at 2016, the one constant in social media was change. Social media trends in 2017 will be much the same. Expect Snapchat to continue to grow and eventually figure out a way to make monetization more of a priority. Twitter will likely stick around, but perhaps someone will finally buy it or it may morph into a different type of platform. Live video is only going to grow in prominence and influence. Now is the time to jump on that movable feast before you get priced out or qualitied out.

There is so much noise out there it’s going to be increasingly important to give your brand a voice, a personality and a humanizing touch that will make it stand out. Millennials, in particular, seem to want to have an actual relationship with brands and are interested in more than just their products.

We did survive an attack by the Internet of Things in 2016. Even with the vulnerabilities of having smart devices exposed, Amazon just reported HUGE sales of its Echo and Echo Dot devices for Christmas. We are all becoming more reliant on virtual assistance to function in our new world.

2016 also showed us that Social Media is not simply a place to find news that might be relevant or interesting, but it really became THE place where news is broken first and even made. Being “anti” social is going to become increasingly difficult as our offline lives become more intertwined with these platforms.

2017 will be a good time to figure out your place in this landscape. Plant a flag and start building. Expect to hear the term Omnichannel as the social experience continues to merge with the offline experience of consumers.  There is still a wild west mentality out there and you can experiment and have some fun along the way.

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