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What does the future look like for social media? That is a question the world is regularly discussing and one we are all unsure about. However, there are some clues out there as to what the future in 2017, and beyond, may look like.
The standardisation of platforms – Before we jump into each platform individually, I first want to touch on something that has been a trend throughout the year. 2016 has been a period of consolidation for many of the biggest social media platforms out there. It seems that most products launch in a niche, with a unique perspective or angle, and then once they begin to hit critical mass, they start to blend into one another.
So, here’s a brief explanation of this if you don’t understand it. Until the launch of memories, Snapchat had always been about unpolished, in the moment content. Instagram was always the place for us to share only our best images and videos until they opened up stories and encouraged users to share more Snapchat like content.
The blur between Snapchat and Instagram isn’t the only case of platform consolidation we have seen before, and I am sure it won’t be the last. Here are just a few examples:
YouTube is testing community features allowing creators to share text and image based posts, sound familiar? That is because a little known social media platform by the name of Facebook does the exact same thing.
Facebook is becoming the go-to place for news and trending stories, aka the next Twitter
Not only that but Facebook is also testing disappearing messages, again sound familiar? Of course, it does! It is basically Snapchat!
Starting in 2017, I believe we are going to see this start to happen more and more, with every major platform battling it out to become the go-to place for short, snackable and in the moment content. And by the end of 2017, we will likely see most of the major social media platforms enable users to do these certain things:
Create and share video content
Create and share live video content
Discover news and what is going on around them
So anyways enough about the similarities of these social media platforms what exactly is coming next for them? Well, sit back as I talk you through the 15 trends to watch out for from these social media platforms.
In 2016, we saw some fairly huge changes to the biggest social media platforms out there, and below I will break down the year’s biggest feature releases and acquisitions for 2016 and provide three predictions on what trends to watch out for in 2017.
Facebook – 2016 was yet another record-setting for Facebook. In their latest earnings report, the Menlo park based company shared that it earned $7.01 billion in revenue during quarter 3 of 2016 and now has 1.79 billion monthly users a 16% increase from quarter 3 of 2015
So, let’s look at some of Facebook’s highlights for 2016.
Marketplace: A convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community
Reactions: Facebook Reactions enable you to express yourself with five additional emojis, alongside a like
Instant Articles: Fast, interactive articles on Facebook. Instant Articles load up to 10 times faster than the mobile web
Facebook Live: Live is like having a TV camera in your pocket. Anyone with a phone now has the power to broadcast to anyone in the world.
Masquerade: Masquerade allows users to record video selfie animations, change the way you look and send it to friends via your favourite messengers and social networks.
Facebook has already begun testing a MSQRD integration within the news feed. Similar to Snapchat’s selfie lenses – that was tested during the Rio 2016 Olympics.D integration within the news feed. Similar to Snapchat’s selfie lenses – that was tested during the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Two Big Ears Ltd.: Two Big Ears is a Scottish company specialising in creating efficient toolkits for game and virtual reality developers.
Eyegroove: Eyegroove is the social network for music video and a technological platform that, for the first time, effortlessly brings together all the elements of great video: music, editing, and effects.
3 Facebook trends to watch in 20017 and beyond
1.Video climbing towards the peak – Facebook bet huge on video in 2016 and my hunch is that trend will only continue to grow throughout 2017 before we hit the peak and video becomes less effective on Facebook.
This trend appears to be on many marketer’s minds, too, with 30% of respondents in our state of social media survey saying Facebook video is the #1 channel they are looking to add their efforts in the next 12 months. Eighty-three percent of marketers also said they would like to create more video content if they didn’t have restraints such as time and resources.
2.AR, Lenses and Filters – Pokémon Go and Snapchat selfie lenses brought augmented reality to the forefront of global attention this year, and in 2017, we will likely see Facebook becoming a major player and leader in the AR space. In their quarter 2 earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg shared some thoughts on augmented reality, here they are:
“I like everyone else am enjoying Pokémon Go. The biggest thing that I think we can take away from this as we invest in augmented reality in addition to virtual reality is that the phone is probably going to become the mainstream consumer platform where a lot of these augmented reality features first become mainstream, rather than a glasses form factor that people will wear on their face.
I think we are seeing this in a number of places, whether it’s location through Pokémon or some of the face filter activity, I referenced the masquerade app that we acquired earlier in my remarks. That’s kind of a fun way to augment social experiences that you are having with someone. I think there is a big opportunity to build out that platform and a lot more functionality around that.And one of the big themes that we are talking about here is becoming video first.
And as people look for richer and richer ways to express themselves, just like people in the past have shared a lot of text and photos on Facebook, we think in the future more of that is going to be video, and more of these augmented reality tools I think are going to be an important part of delivering that experience and making that fun to use and expressive as it can be.”
From that quote alone, it is clear that Mark Zuckerberg believes the device to help scale augmented reality is likely to be the smartphone – a device widely used – rather than an augmented reality headset or glasses.
This theory is proven by people’s eagerness to experiment with Snapchat filters and Pokémon Go on their smartphones.Their acquisition of Masquerade could very well play a key role in this, and Facebook have already begun experimenting with lenses and masks in Facebook Live – enabling users to try on a variety of different masks when sharing live video.
3.Growth of Search – In Facebook’s quarter 2 earnings report, Mark Zuckerberg revealed to the world that Facebook now sees a staggering 2 billion searches per day, up from 1.5 billion a year ago (yes 500 million more searches in a year).
However, Google does still lead the way (no surprises there) in terms of searches, with 3.5 billion searches per day. But with Facebook showing strong growth in this area, it may not be too long before we see Facebook pursuing the ad dollars reserves for Google.Search could also prove to become a key part of increasing your reach on Facebook and driving attention to the content you post on the platform. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and it definitely feels like a topic to discuss over the next few months.
So, that was part 1 of this 3 part blog on the future of Social Media, join me next time when I talk about the future of both Instagram and Snapchat, and how visual content is going to take over social media.