Social media is an integral part of almost every organisation. Currently, more than 1.5 billion people are using Facebook, and 99% of the biggest global brands have a social media presence. Truly, social media has changed the way marketing and advertising works.
So what’s new in 2016? I’d love to have a crystal ball to have a peek, because then I’d be the most valuable employee and I’d probably have more friends. But I don’t, so here’s a look into the future of social media, based on some indicative developments from way back in 2015.
1. The one-stop shop.
Haven’t noticed the exponential increase in ads on your social media feeds? That means they’re working. It’s predicted that by 2017, social media ads may account for 16% of all digital ad spend globally, which is huge, considering in 2012 it was 0. Facebook led the pack this year by introducing a ‘buy now’ button for ads, Instagram followed soon after and Pinterest are getting there – the ‘buy it’ button will be introduced early this year.
Still, customers need to click out of social channels to purchase products, which interferes with the opportunity to engage the audience further. So, social media giants are kicking the middle man to the curb. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram want to enable in-app engagement to lessen the opportunity for customers to drop off, cut back on multiple purchasing steps, and while they’re at it, put an end to all those annoying broken links, slow loading times, and plenty of other factors that can lead to abandoned transactions. There’s also talk of Facebook trialing direct debit transfers via Facebook Messenger. I get giddy just thinking about it.
Platforms to watch: Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram
2. All-in-one social media
The long term vision for Facebook is to become an all-in-one social media outlet. This means all of our online experiences are aggregated into a single channel. Facebook will do this by partnering with big news sites like The Guardian, The Washington Post, and National Geographic (to name a few) in 2016. All three news sites now receive more visitors from Facebook than any other website, including Google. It’s a safe move.
Facebook’s got nothing on Periscope and Snapchat when it comes to ‘in the moment’ social content at your fingertips. Sure Facebook Live is out there, but the kids aren’t really into it. Facebook has to differentiate themselves.
In 2016 you won’t see an inundation of full articles in your newsfeed (maybe in 2017) rather, new and exciting ways to view and interact with content within Facebook. ‘Instant Articles’ launched last year to kick start this shift, and the ambition to dominate continues with the recent revamp to the Notes section on Facebook.
Allowing users to blog within the platform will finally allow Facebook to crown itself ‘the hub of all content’ on the Internet. Which means brands need to jump on the bandwagon and buy in early to get ahead. In other news, Twitter is considering breaking the rules and upping their 140 character limit to make room for meatier stories next year. Controversial?
Platforms to watch: Facebook’s ‘Instant Articles’ and Twitter’s ‘Project Lightening
3. Privacy concerns will reach a high
2015 was a year of high profile security breaches over the internet. We won’t forget the Ashley Madison saga anytime soon. Poor guy was just trying make some hard earned dosh when hackers leaked millions of cheater profiles revealing names and some other questionable details.
Social media users are even more on edge. Who could forget the universal feeling of uneasiness when everyone found out you could screen shot a Snapchat. Devo.
Ultimately, user data is more vulnerable than ever, and social media giants know it. In 2016 Facebook will introduce more privacy awareness tools, so users can breathe a sigh of relief. Other platforms that fail to prove they have a solid security and privacy structure in place will not survive, and for advertisers, it might mean backing off the intrusive get-to-know-you’s.
Platforms to watch: Facebook and Snapchat
4. Blink and you’ll miss it
In-the-moment or ‘real time’ video is the closest thing to teleportation. These ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ opportunities are both real in time capture and real in authenticity.
From a brand standpoint, leading the pack are fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. They give their followers a front row experience, behind the scenes action at fashion shoots with celebs and if you’re lucky, Anna Wintour having a bitch fit (it’s true, I’ve seen it). And who could forget Valentino’s Snapchat story of Derek and Hansel blue steeling the hell out of the runway in Paris, in front of a room full of fashion’s greatest social influencers snap snap snapping away? There’s no doubt Snapchat is still a pretty big deal, but I think 2016 will be Periscope’s year.
Twitter bought Periscope for a small sum of $130 million in 2015, and the app is set to become gigantic – think 20 million users by the end of 2016. After 4 months, Periscope acquired over 10 million registered users worldwide, which means it’s the fastest growing social platform ever. Big deal. In 2016 we should see Periscope and Snapchat introduce a landscape option, fast-forward in replays, and reduce spam and abuse.
Platforms to watch: Periscope, Snapchat, Facebook Live and Meerkat
So there you have it in a nutshell.
Holly Ovenden is a Social Media Specialist at BCM