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With one month left until 2018, it’s time to start paying attention to the new trends that are starting to bubble up in social media. While it’s safe to say that there likely won’t be a new social media platform appearing out of nowhere to challenge Facebook, that doesn’t mean that the ways people are using social platforms like Facebook aren’t changing markedly.
Augmented reality finally hits it big in 2018
If you buy into the argument that a trend really isn’t a trend until Apple buys into it, then get ready for an explosion of interest around augmented reality in 2018. The big catalyst, of course, will be the release of the new iPhone X at the end of 2017. Tech experts are already calling this the first mainstream consumer device that’s made for augmented reality.
Already, we’ve started to see some buzz about new AR apps that developers are starting to create. AR measuring apps are likely going to be big because the new iPhone will come with the “TrueDepth” camera system. Also, we’re already starting to see new retail products specifically made for AR, such as Parker, the AR Teddy Bear.
Artificial intelligence goes mainstream across social media
You may not realize it, but Facebook is one of the biggest investors in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, using it for everything from recognizing faces in photos to deciding what to show you in your newsfeed. And, by all indications, the whole AI trend is going to really go into overdrive in 2018.
For example, there’s a new AI-powered tool for marketers (Einstein Vision), which enables marketers to search for images related to brands that are appearing on social media. So, for example, a marketer might be able to find “all images using Coca-Cola” – and then discover how fans are interacting with the brand.
And, of course, the whole social bots trends will get a lift from AI. It means that they will be able to answer more questions, interact more intelligently, and become smarter about what their human masters want. In fact, Gartner now predicts that 30% of all social media conversations in 2018 will be aided, assisted or carried out by these social bots.
Twitter reinvents itself (again)
Ok, this is more of a prediction than a trend, but you can’t help but be fascinated by the new momentum around #Twitter280. As part of a beta test launch, Twitter made it possible for some elite Twitter users to start sending out 280-character tweets instead of 140-character tweets. This comes against the backdrop of Twitter constantly looking for ways to help users avoid the dreaded 140-character limit.
Twitter might not reinvent itself as a long-form storytelling medium, but it’s clear that doubling the character count from 140 to 280 might lead to new uses for Twitter. At the very least, it might help some older Twitter users take it seriously again. After all, over the past 12 months, Twitter has turned into a raging dumpster fire of stupid hashtags, even stupider emojis, and lots of rapid-fire hot takes. Maybe #Twitter280 will bring some of the sanity back.
A lot will likely change in 2018, especially if Apple is able to establish itself as more of a player in the social media space. And, if Twitter is unable to reinvent itself next year, that would create an opening for other social media platforms to woo away Twitter users with new offerings. So keep an eye on what’s happening at the big social media companies, and how they are embracing new trends like AR and artificial intelligence.