This time last year, we published our 2015 social media predictions. It seems those predictions were proven accurate, so we thought we’d do the same for 2016.
Not to blow our own trumpet, but our main 2015 social media predictions were spot on. We predicted huge growth in video and paid posts. Just take a look at your newsfeed compared to last year. We also predicted a massive increase in access to big data. We can see this in things like the success of Facebook’s Dark Posts and Facebook’s incredibly detailed targeting options for advertisers.
These social media trends are now well underway and set to continue. But what about 2016? What can we expect to see in the coming 12 months?
More Real-Time Updates
Periscope and Meerkat both launched in Spring 2015. This introduced a new level of immediacy to social media. These apps rode on the wave of real-time updates from Instagram and Snapchat, in contrast to the more after-the-event posts we’d usually find on Facebook.
These were the first, reliable live-streaming apps that managed to create a buzz around the whole idea. Before then, we had things like Ustream and Twitch, but they didn’t capture general users’ imagination quite like Periscope (owned by Twitter) managed.
Since Spring, these apps have grown enormously. Evidently, 40 years of live footage is watched on Periscope each day.
By being able to capture a moment and share it instantly, the social aspect of social media is multiplied. You used to write about a hilarious goof at work when you got home. Now you can stream it live. You used to submit a question to a celeb via a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). Now you can ask them in real-time.
Social media users love this in-the-moment content. It’s more personal, and less edited. Social platforms love it too. If a user knows they can always be accessing live glimpses into friends’ lives, and chatting live with online personalities, their Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) increases. This forces them to spend even more time on social media.
Whether this is positive or negative doesn’t matter here. What matters is that the use of live streaming and in-the-moment content is only set to increase. Hopefully the brands using this tech will offer us something fun and creative with it.
Social Platforms to Content Platforms
We can see from the excitement and uproar from the announcement of Facebook’s Instant Articles that this is something to watch out for.
Instant Articles is a sure sign that Facebook is aiming to become more of a content-based platform, not just a social media platform. In short, the more time you spend on Facebook, the better for Facebook. If Facebook can therefore get you to read full-length articles on Facebook, it’s on to a winner. This is exactly what it’s aiming for.
Already, huge publishers like The Guardian, The Washington Post, and National Geographic have signed up to have full articles published directly onto Facebook. For this to take off, it’s going to take more than a year. But expect to see Facebook pushing this hard during 2016.
That may not mean you’ll see tons of full articles in your newsfeed (that’ll probably happen in 2017), but you’ll notice lots of new and cool ways to view and interact with that content. Facebook needs to do this to ensure users enjoy reading content within the mobile app, rather than being redirected to an external website. They also need to keep publishers happy and confident that users are enjoying their content.
Twitter’s response, it seems, is to consider upping its 140 character limit, which wouldn’t be a bad idea (in fact, it’s already possible with some third-party apps). Some even predict Twitter will allow long-form content to be published, though we doubt anything that extreme will come to fruition.
Growth of One-Click Purchasing
Social media, with the leadership of Facebook, is aiming to become a true one-stop-shop for everything online. If reading, interacting, and discovering can all be done on a single platform, why can’t shopping be added to the mix?
It took Amazon years to get its patented one-click mechanisms working correctly. Once nailed, they made a killing. In 2014 they had sales of almost $90bn. 2016 is set to be the year that the aforementioned social platforms start to make their killing.
Every day, there are hundreds of millions of social media users seeing products they’d love to buy. Up to now, they had to leave the app, and scour the net to find that product, sign up for new accounts, and input credit card details. This is set to become a whole lot easier.
As these social platforms increase the use of these Buy Now buttons, they receive a share of the cash. These features have been lying dormant for too long for these sites (especially Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram) to ignore any longer. Especially given the disruption going on in the personal banking sector. This disruption means social platforms could help save merchants billions on banking fees by missing out the middle-man.
Expect to see these buttons popping up everywhere. Expect to fall victim to them, and make more impulse purchases than ever before. And expect to see more and more products you fall in love with, thanks to the big data that’s available about you.
Looking to The Future
These are the three major shifts we see happening in the social media sphere during 2016. The common thread is more time on social media.
By creating apps that users neither want to leave, nor need to leave, this opens huge new opportunities to these companies. Provided these changes keep the end user the priority, rather than monetization, these changes should aim to make our lives somewhat easier. More valuable interaction. Less waiting for external websites to load. Easier purchasing.
We just have to be careful we’re not convinced to consume and purchase in even larger excesses than we already do.
What other social media predictions do you have for 2016? Is there anything we’ve missed? Or is there something here you think we’ve got completely wrong? Tell us!