In 2016, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram played a major role in the Presidential election, bringing heavily charged political conversations to the public in an unprecedented, one-to-one forum. The widely reported analytics post-election illustrate the extraordinary power of earned social media. With seemingly never-ending applications and cutting-edge interactive platforms that facilitate instantaneous communication, social media is the undisputed champion of the digital landscape. It is ever evolving and hyper responsive to adaptive technologies across devices, constantly exceeding user expectations (Forbes). Social media is quite simply the conversational norm, and it is our job as marketers to stay ahead of the curve as we leverage this tool to connect with our audiences.
2017 will continue to advance the social media landscape, bringing updates that allow for increased consumer connectivity. The year will also showcase modifications to mobile applications that augment the user experience. Anticipated overall trends point to advanced ‘snack-able’ content, improved focus on user created/shared live videos and enhanced connectivity to local news in real-time (Buffer Social). Video will remain a staple for most platforms, and will continue to evolve as live story enhancements emerge. This ‘live’ aspect of social will be reinforced through an increased emphasis on authentic, shareable moments that allows for personal engagement with brands (PR Newswire). Added concentration on livestreaming may also lead to the rise of more micro-influencers, shifting the trend towards platform engagement metrics. Social media use of micro-influencers proved beneficial in 2016, providing accessibility to smaller, loyal and highly engaged niche audiences at lower costs. These brand ambassadors were also more relatable to the general population and boasted a higher success rate in converting customers to brand users (Chronicle).
Platform updates in 2017 will also include widely concentrated efforts on education, VR/AR and social media as a means to satisfy customer service (CNBC). The rise of VR and AR is one specific game-changing watch-out, with major impacts on consumer brand interaction. Artificial intelligence is now extending into ‘chat-bots,’ enabled to provide a human-like conversational experience to facilitate customer service, online ordering and information sharing online (Social Times).
On a platform specific basis, there are a variety of expected updates over the course of the year:
- Increased focus on video content
- Addition of augmented reality lenses and filters for use on mobile app
- Release of “Business Tools” to help businesses stand out, gain consumer insights and find new customers. This will also permit businesses to create ads from posts directly within Instagram.
- Building from the release of ‘stories’, Instagram will follow in Facebook’s footsteps with the release of a ‘Live Video’ feature test in 2017
- Spectacles will continue to evolve in 2017, becoming more widely available to the public
- An improved advertising platform will enable enhanced analytics, geo-filters and sponsorship creation based on geo-targeted locations
- A circle video format, with a 115-degree field of view will be released as part of the Spectacle enhancement
- The adoption of Periscope will advance Twitter videos and live streams to enable enhanced broadcast partnerships and real-time conversations or event streaming on the platform
- Security on the platform will be addressed to curb harassment with the adaptation of a ‘mute’ product, added policy updates, advanced filters and a “hateful content” reporting option (Buffer Social)