For social media managers, 2016 brought big and exciting changes to social. We saw Instagram prove imitation is the highest form of flattery by adding a Snapchat-like story feature. We’ve seen Twitter experience tough times in revenue due to increasing competition from younger networks like Snapchat and Instagram. And we’ve experienced (arguably) the ugliest presidential election in history and learned the pros and cons social media can play in our democracy.
The new year is already promising even more exciting changes that are sure to shake up the entire industry. Networks are going big or going home––Snapchat will expand to the East Coast and Vine will sign off this year (#RIP)––Facebook is waging a war on “Fake News.” Networks are filing paperwork for IPOs, and tech executives like Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, are playing a larger role in lobbying public policy and government. But those are just a few.
There are four specific trends that will affect how we use social media in tangible ways. Let’s dive in:
In an April 2016 Facebook post, Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Facebook Live for every user; before, the feature was only available to public figures and brands. While this feature has given smaller brands, public pages, and regular users a chance to break through the clutter, we’ve seen just how powerful live video can be. In July 2016, an unarmed black man by the name of Philando Castile was shot by a Minnesota police officer during a routine traffic stop. Castile’s wife was seated next to him in the driver’s seat and used Facebook Live to film the entire confrontation. The video sparked nationwide protests and has given rise to citizen journalism. The live video feature also played a major role during the 2016 Presidential Election with Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton using the feature to film her rallies. As we approach one year since the launch of live video on Facebook, expect the feature to be utilized more by growing brands, socialites, and most importantly, government officials as we see a major political shift in the federal government.
The impending war of two social media titans
This year we’ll see a major showdown on social––and I’m not talking about the next episode to #KimExposedTaylorParty. Instead, expect the competition between Instagram and Snapchat to heat up (quite literally). We’ve already seen moves being made on Instagram’s part with a fresh new logo and the incorporation of Snapchat features like disappearing photos, videos, and stories. More specifically, this showdown symbolizes the future of social media with the more experienced Facebook Inc. fighting to stay at the top of the social game with Instagram against the new kid on the block, Snap Inc. (Snapchat’s parent company). But to be perfectly honest, we should have all seen this coming last year. According to TechCrunch, Instagram and Snapchat make up two of the top three social networks among millennials, with Instagram taking #2 and Snapchat taking the #3 spot. With Instagram recently rolling out live stories, many people are wondering what’s coming next. Grab some popcorn folks, things are just getting started.
The thirst is real…for influencers
In October, a report surfaced that Vine’s top 50 creators gathered in Los Angeles with network executives to stage a last-ditch effort to save the video looping app. The Vine stars wanted millions of dollars to create and curate more than 12 pieces of content every month to help boost Vine’s engagement or else they’d leave for other platforms. The report surfaced shortly after Twitter Inc––Vine’s parent company––announced plans to shut down Vine. The meeting failed, obviously. As a result, there has been intense speculation that Twitter is playing hard for these influencers to help boost its own engagement and traffic, but Twitter’s future itself is still a big question mark. This year, expect a rat race between the biggest networks competing for the most popular influencers like Lele Pons, Marcus John and Logan Paul.
Intersection of mobile technology and reality
In July 2016, Pokemon Go revolutionized mobile technology and gaming by mixing digital technology with reality. People from all over the country bolted outdoors to catch Pokemon in their neighborhoods and shared their experiences simultaneously. The app has reached more than 3 million downloads to date and brought some creative marriage proposals, while also displaying some truly terrible parenting. Additionally, Snap Inc. launched its highly anticipated Spectacles, the lightweight sunglasses that capture video.
The start-up hopes to learn from the mistakes of Google Glass, the most recent attempt at eyewear technology. Despite intense public interest, we won’t have a good idea how Spectacles are doing until March, which is rumored to be when Snap Inc. will announce its IPO. Nevertheless, expect some amazingly cool digital innovations this year.
So there you have it––2017 promises to be an exciting year in terms of techonology and social media. Looking forward to anything in particular? Sound off in the comments below!