To the joy of many, 2016 is coming to a close, and with that comes a barrage of prediction posts. And since our 2015 and 2016 social media predictions turned out to be pretty accurate, we thought we’d do the same for 2017.
The social media industry seems to be maturing. Social feeds have been dominating our lives for a few years now. With that comes a strange sense that social media is now simply a part of our lives. It’s becoming steadily more intertwined with the people we meet and the companies we interact with.
Yet although we’re not seeing too many huge, rapid changes in social any more, there are still some trends that we’ll probably see in 2017. These are shifts that suggest social media will soon have its fingers in even more areas of our lives. This will all prove to be fun in the short term, but revolutionary in the long term.
1. Video Video Video
Only five years ago we were talking about how images were the future of social media. But now, approaching 2017, there’s no underestimating how important video is becoming. By 2020, Mark Zuckerberg predicts that most of the content shared on Facebook will be video. Most of your friends will be posting video updates more often than text updates. Your feed will be even more stuffed with videos than it is now.
That explains why video takes up so much of your stream. And why brands are reaching far more people when they post video versus other kinds of content. Expect that trend to continue.
This isn’t just Facebook’s way of fighting off growing rivals like Snapchat. It’s a way of staying competitive in a world that’s first-and-foremost ruled by the camera.
2. Especially Live Video
Based on the growing popularity of apps like Periscope, last year we predicted that live video would explode. And when Facebook later unrolled Facebook Live Videos to the masses, that prediction was proven correct.
Between May and October 2016, Facebook Live streaming increased by over 400 percent, with interaction on live videos many times higher than on non-live video content.
While individuals have taken to live streaming gigs and views from holiday balconies, brands have also jumped on board with gusto. We’ve been offered behind-the scenes looks at events such as Tough Mudder, and live streams of professionally-produced chat shows. But we should be prepared for so much more. Live streaming is still extremely new, after all.
What’s more, this is only a stepping stone for what’s to come. Over the next few years, as the technology for live streaming improves (including on Periscope and YouTube), expect content producers to strike huge deals with social media platforms. This will see their shows broadcast directly on these platforms.
This could completely change TV as we know it. Twitter already has plenty of apps that enable you to watch live streams on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, etc. And to help make this even more streamlined, 2017 will probably see Twitter integrate Periscope into the main Twitter app.
Along with this, Facebook recently filed a patent for what looks to be a dongle to better integrate Facebook with your TV. This would see social platforms becoming your first screen, rather than second screen when watching live events.
3. Increase in Quality
It makes me so happy to say that during 2017 we should expect to see some much higher quality content on our social feeds. As more and more brands publish on social media, it becomes more difficult to stand out. Mixed with a real fatigue around clickbait titles, brands are feeling pressured into creating content that truly shines.
That’s why the respected agency VaynerMedia has just teamed with Vimeo. The aim is to help “connect brands with Vimeo’s top filmmakers to create digital content”. Even though VaynerMedia has its own team of video creators, it’s recognizing the importance of working with highly creative artists like those hand-picked by Vimeo.
Expect to see more brands teaming up with truly talented creators. This will lead to some astonishing text, image, and video based content that’ll rival what you can find anywhere else.
4. The Rise of the Chatbot
A chatbot is a computer program designed to mimic a conversation with a human. Arguably, the better a chatbot is, the less likely you are to realize it’s not a human (think Siri, Alexa, and Cortana).
There are a good number of chatbots already live. Some are robot lawyers. Some recommend things to buy (see above). Some are customer service agents. And some are Dinosaurs brought back from the dead to talk to kids on Messenger. It’s still early days though, with some chatbots still regularly making fools of themselves.
— Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian) March 23, 2016
Despite plenty of blunders like these, chatbots are still likely to explode in popularity. The main social platform in China, WeChat, already allows users to use chat-functions to buy movie tickets, order a taxi, track your fitness, and much more. Facebook recently started copying this approach, launching an API for brands to create their own chatbots on Messenger.
This is the start of something big that we’re going to see accelerate in 2017. Many of the large tech companies (Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google) are working on “Master Bots”. These are bots that will be able to communicate with other bots to open up a new world of opportunity. As explained on VentureBeat, you could “tell Siri what you want, Siri will find it and give you a few great options, and you will be able to order and pay seamlessly. Siri will command other bots.”
True, chatbots won’t transform the world in 2017. But we’ll still see them becoming a large part of how we interact on social (especially on Messenger, WhatsApp, and Twitter). Expect some exciting use cases to pop up in the next 12 months!
5. More Expiring Content
It was Snapchat’s expiring content that helped the app become hugely popular, very quickly. Users could post an unpolished, terribly composed image or video, and know it was going to be deleted 24 hours later.
This was a refreshing change from the alternative on all other social platforms, where everything published would be online forever.
In 2016, Instagram jumped on this bandwagon too, completely ripping off Snapchat’s features. It was instantly popular. Instagram was an app known for beautifully shot, edited images. Allowing users to share less beautiful parts of their day was a welcome addition.
And we should expect more of this. Not only are users craving the option to share things without potential repercussion years down the line. They also want to be able to share the silly and mundane without being judged for it, and without the pressure to always make it look exciting and stunning. And that’s what expiring content enables.
In 2017, we’ll probably be seeing a surge in popularity in expiring content. That could be through Instagram stories, Snapchat stories, Facebook Live videos that are unavailable after-the-event, or something else.
What Else Should We Expect?
Features come and go in social media. But we’re clearly on a path toward ever more interactive content, integration into the world around us, and the beginning of social media as a major competitor to TV.
I expect that we’ll see some major progress in all of these areas in 2017. Maybe there won’t be any seismic shifts, but the trajectory will certainly be there. For better or worse paving the way for a far more connected world, with even more of an abundance of content to choose from.
Over to you. What are your social media predictions for 2017? What new features will we see? How will Twitter stay relevant? And who will Facebook copy next?