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The holidays are here, and that can only mean one thing: the first predictions for 2017 are already starting to appear on the Internet. It’s been an amazing year for social media already in 2016, but how will this space continue to grow and develop over the next 12 months? Here are a few predictions for 2017:
Prediction #1: Social video becomes even bigger
Just 12 months ago, when people thought of social video, it was primarily through the prism of YouTube or Snapchat. But now just about every major social media platform is re-inventing itself for video. Instagram, for example, has positioned itself a new Snapchat competitor, and Snapchat continues to build momentum for its version of brief, 10-second video clips.
But most impressively, the biggest social media platforms are investing in “live” social video. The most obvious example is Facebook, which just re-launched its Facebook Live experience for consumers. Social media marketers have already seen how images and video out-perform text-only posts on social platforms, so it’s only natural to expect that brands will find new ways to experiment with live social video in 2017.
Prediction #2: Facebook brings social experiences to virtual reality
Ever since its mega-acquisition of Oculus, Facebook has been looking for ways to integrate virtual reality into the social network. We’ve already seen some signs and highlights from the most recent Oculus developer conference, where Facebook unveiled more examples of what it calls social virtual reality. As one example, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg conducted a live VR chat with his wife via Facebook Messenger.
And the big wildcard in all this is Apple. While not known as a social media company, Apple is rumored to be bringing a virtual reality platform to market in 2017. That could radically change how we think about our mobile devices – they will become not only communication devices, but also potentially social ways to experience virtual reality with friends.
Prediction #3: Artificial intelligence and social media merge in new ways
In 2016, we already saw how the biggest Silicon Valley companies – such as Facebook and Google –are reinvigorating their efforts to combine social media and artificial intelligence in new ways. What started with very basic AI – being able to recognize user faces in Facebook photos and making the Facebook newsfeed algorithm “smarter” – is now becoming very sophisticated.
Facebook, for example, is now looking for ways to integrate AI into the Messenger experience. That’s because personalized, interactive chatbots are all the rage right now. And Google is also starting to embed artificial intelligence into new products, including the new Google Home device. That’s opening up entirely new opportunities and possibilities for social. In much the same way that families once gathered around the TV for shared social experiences, they could begin to gather around intelligent devices like Google Home or Amazon Echo.
Some of these trends are, admittedly, really big ideas. But they challenge the conventional wisdom that social media is just going to keep getting bigger and better, while evolving in new ways. It’s the reason why companies like Facebook are among the most innovative in Silicon Valley – they’re not afraid to be ahead, rather then behind, of trends before they ever go mainstream.