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Heading into the New Year, here are three important social media trends worth keeping an eye on:
Trend #1: Live streaming video
If there’s one consensus social media winner of 2016, it was the expansion of live streaming video. It’s now possible to live stream video on Facebook and Instagram. If anything, the live streaming trend is only going to pick up momentum as Facebook Live expands beyond just the biggest influencers and celebrities to include regular people streaming live video of everyday events.
For brands thinking of dabbling in social video, this really ups the stakes. It means the old days of creating a brief two-minute video for YouTube are over. If you’re only thinking in terms of YouTube, you’re not thinking big enough. Almost any major event – think sporting events, presidential addresses, entertainment events such as concerts – is perfect for some kind of live streaming presence. Even a corporate trade show might be reason enough to embrace live streaming video.
Trend #2: The demise of the chronological news feed
Just as many brands “pay to play” on Google, where they buy paid ads to bolster organic search traffic to their sites, they are now being forced to confront a world in which organic social media traffic is on the wane. Put another way, it’s no longer enough to send out a lot of tweets and Facebook updates and expect that people are going to see that content. It’s now pay to play on Facebook, where even $5 can buy you additional exposure to thousands of people.
It’s basically a demand and supply problem, and right now, Facebook has an oversupply of content. There’s just not enough space to cram in every update from every person or brand, so the Facebook news feed algorithm has to rate posts on some factor. Right now, that factor is “virality” – posts that are popular and are getting a lot of engagement are going to do a lot better than posts that just kind of sit there and do nothing. Good bye, chronological news feed.
Trend #3: The Snapchat-ification of social media
If there was one social media platform that took off in 2016, it was Snapchat. The favorite social network of the millennial generation now has a reported daily user base of 150 million people. The company even got a funky name change, calling itself simply Snap. And the company is on pace for a reported $25 billion IPO in 2017.
As a result, other social networks quickly followed suit, embracing some of Snapchat’s innovations. Of these, Instagram has tried the hardest to emulate the look and feel of Snapchat, via new features like Instagram Stories.
Looking ahead, 2017 may be the year that we see a new owner for Twitter, which has been rumored to be on the sale block for a while now. As a result, it may be a year that’s bittersweet for social media fans. On the one hand, it could be a big year for Snapchat; on the other hand, it could mark the end of Twitter as we know it.