New social media trends appear at a rate that seems capable of outpacing even the speed of trending topics on Twitter. Making year-end predictions in such a fast-paced environment is daunting. The only constant is that every passing year opens up new frontiers, making viewing, sharing and creating social content faster, better and easier.
What highlights should you watch out for in this ever-evolving space? Here are five things that I perceive will define the onward progress of social media in 2016.
1. Social news
In 2016, more and more news will be created and published on social media. Twitter’s new tab called “Moments” will see news unfolding on Twitter in real time. Facebook just introduced “Instant Articles” in 2015 and revolutionized publishing, giving news publishers the power to instantly push full-length articles to readers without leaving the app. And with notifications becoming one of the primary ways people access news, Facebook users will get their feed through a new news delivery service called “Notify.”
2. Social live streaming
Just one year after Twitter acquired Periscope in January 2015, the mobile live-streaming scene is hotter than ever. In 2016, social live streaming will go mainstream with products like “Facebook Live,” a new way to connect and interact with public figures on and through live videos, as they talk with their fans while fans comment on, like or share the video even as they watch a live broadcast. In-the-moment live-streaming apps like Blab and Snapchat may become the new hangout for live interviews, casual chats, debates, discussions, and live workshops.
3. Social commerce
Social media is poised to take the top spot in e-commerce referrals as the “buy” button becomes more ubiquitous than ever on mobile apps, ushering in a new age of “touch” commerce. Facebook is already the top social commerce platform today, driving more than two-thirds of mobile e-commerce traffic and boosting social media’s quickly growing share of e-commerce web traffic, according to a BusinessInsider report. Pinterest, which recently announced a new visual search tool, which allows users to zoom in on an object in a Pin and search for similar objects, may also see an increase in its share of social commerce.
4. Social video
As videos takes center stage by capturing the lion’s share of all social traffic, advertisers will increase their digital video budgets manifold. Videos are estimated to provide over 60% more engagement than photos and, with Facebook recently announcing that it sees an average of eight billion views a day, 2016 is going to be the year of social videos. YouTube’s new 360Video, optimized for Google Cardboard, is a new kind of virtual reality video that gives you a sense of depth in every direction so viewers feel like they’re actually there.
5. Social storytelling
Stories will continue to dominate among the top differentiators or USPs for brands that marketers can share on social media as a more authentic alternative to advertising. And this will be more and more visual in the coming year with Cinemagraphs, GIFs and GIF-like tiny videos that you can easily create using new apps. Boomerang, recently launched by Instagram, lets you turn everyday moments into something fun and unexpected.
As you can see, with the advent of new types of videos, 2016 is going to see the social media landscape bloom visually in a way it hasn’t yet–making it more attractive, interactive and animated than ever–with a promise to bring brands, products and services closer to their consumers, users and buyers. One thing that will define the overall social media experience in the unfolding year is “in-the-moment” content, here and now. As communicators, our biggest challenge will be to keep up with the flow of feeds. But don’t let fear of missing out take over your creativity; quality content will continue to be king.