10 Bold Social Media Predictions for 2017
As of 18 minutes ago, we are 95% finished with 2016. Social media played a huge role in the year, and its presence in our daily lives is only growing as time passes. The way we consume information, communicate with one another, and even the U.S. Presidential election–these were all heavily influenced by social media in 2016. Next year is likely to be more of the same, and by the same, I mean further change.
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) December 15, 2016
As an owner of a digital marketing agency and contributor to many of the major social media publications (Adweek, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today), I stay obsessively up-to-date with the state of social. Given the huge changes we saw in 2016, it seemed fitting to offer a prediction piece on some of the probable changes that could lie ahead. Here are my 10 predictions for the social world in 2017.
1. Disappearing Content Becomes Mainstream
When Snapchat first launched, social networks held the same general view on content: it was built to last. What was published on social media was meant to be seen by as many friends as possible, at any time.
Enter Snapchat, where the core belief is that ephemeral content is the new cool. This belief quickly resonated with a younger audience, who did not want parts of their social circle to view their content.
Snapchat quickly became the de facto social network for users looking for a more private, selective form of social media. With the platform crossing 150 million daily active users this year, the competition is gearing up to challenge Snapchat in a big way. We’ve already seen Instagram incorporate disappearing messages, and it’s only a matter of time before other players follow suit. Facebook is said to be working on stories for its Messenger platform, and it’s likely that a push into disappearing messages is next. Corporate competition has already evolved into apps including Confide and Cyber Dust, and LinkedIn could also make a push into the space.
Snapchat was the first mover in this space, and they have the advantage, but 2017 should see a huge rise in imitators.
2. Live and Staged Video Will Dominate
Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube — all of the major players have made investments in improving their live video offerings.
We saw the usage of live videos increase dramatically in 2016, with even Facebook giving top priority to live video posts. This encouraged users to post and jump the algorithm, getting in front of a larger viewership than would be expected with a traditional post. As 2017 rolls in, and video continues to outperform other types of content, I’d expect to see more brands, businesses, and individuals getting in on the action.
One of the main benefits of live video is that it can enhance other types of content without much more effort. Podcasts such as the Joe Rogan Experience can set up a camera and go live on YouTube, and staged videos such as our own In The Cave can record Facebook Live or Periscope content simultaneously with shooting. All it takes is an extra set of hands, and you’ll be reaching a whole new audience. Expect to see more creative types of content on live video as the mode of communication grows larger.
3. Twitter Will Sell
This might be my boldest prediction on the list, but I’m sticking with it. Twitter struggled this past year and faced a wide array of issues. Profitability challenges were abundant, leadership was often questioned, and 8% of its workforce was laid off in an effort to address the issues. After openly suggesting selling the company, potential buyers including Salesforce, Google, and Disney all passed on the opportunity — at least as it sits today. The company’s continuing struggles could force it into a position to sell, leaving someone with the difficult task of turning tweets into profits. With other digital ad platforms growing steadily, the pressure is on.
4. Businesses Will Adopt WhatsApp/Messenger
Around the world, WhatsApp is used by businesses as a form of communication with their customers. In North America, the trend has yet to be adopted, but 2017 will change that. Social will be used as a form of customer service by many more companies over the next 12 months, as users get more accustomed to asking questions via the platform.
Messenger and WhatsApp are both great tools for communication, and the implementation of Facebook Bots can help speed up the process within the app. It’s all leading to a world where phone calls and emails are used less and less, while messaging becomes the norm.
5. Facebook Will Dominate More than Ever
If two of the above predictions become true (#2 and #4), Facebook will be setting itself up to dominate social more than ever. The platform has invested heavily in live video and business messaging, and that’s before we mention their great ad platform and Instagram improvements. Ad dollars continue to flow into Facebook for several reasons:
- Their platform is extremely easy to use
- Their audience is large and active
- Their versatility allows brands to advertise whichever form of content suits them best
Instagram, on the other hand, has made improvements that make it a direct competitor for Snapchat. Disappearing messages, Instagram Stories, and easy-to-use discover options give the company a solid alternative to Snap’s core product. As the year progresses, expect to see revenues continue to grow from the leader in social media.
6. Product and Service Reviews Will Move Towards Social
To be clear, I’m not arguing that TripAdvisor and Yelp reviews will cease to exist in 2017. I am, however, arguing that reviews and evaluations will grow on social media in a big way. As users increasingly interact with businesses via Messaging platforms (see #4), the evaluation process of businesses will change in the minds of the general public. The path of Yelp to Messenger to purchase completion can be made simpler with the use of reviews on social, eliminating one step in the buying process. Facebook reviews are already trusted by a majority of consumers, and businesses are placing more efforts into improving their standing on the platform.
When all of this is coupled with the targeting options provided to businesses on the Facebook ad network, it points towards a grand consolidation of evaluation, messaging, and advertising.
7. Mobile Advertising Costs Will Increase
Mobile usage has already gone through the roof, and the sky’s the limit. To say that mobile usage will increase would be a boring prediction, so instead, I’m going to deliver some bad news.
When we first started using Google Adwords, reaching desktop users was relatively affordable. Bidding on terms for our clients and optimizing click-through rates was hard work, but it was highly profitable. Keyword phrases such as “Trips to London” could be secured for $0.20 or less just a decade ago. Now, that same phrase has seen a 500% increase, as other advertisers look to secure traffic for their own ventures.
Facebook ads, on the other hand, have remained relatively affordable. Reaching a large audience on Facebook for a small dollar amount is still attainable, but I fear that we’re in for a rude awakening. As more and more marketers use the platform, costs are certain to rise. Mobile advertising in particular is seeing a huge increase in dollars spent. Brands need to dive in now and get ahead of the competition while they still can.
8. Video Filters Will Become Mainstream
When you think of video filters, Snapchat comes to mind. Their quirky, life-like, highly engaging filters offer users the chance to transform themselves into Rocky Balboa, Hillary Clinton, or a taco (sponsored by Taco Bell, of course). This form of communication is extremely easy and fun to use.
Facebook’s acquisition of MSQRD all but confirms this prediction will come true, as I’ve been preaching since the takeover. The MSQRD app allowed users to create video filters that were as stimulating as Snapchat’s filters, and it’s highly likely that Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram are all working to incorporate the features into their platforms. If this prediction actualizes, 2017 could be the year of fun on social media.
9. 2017 Will Be the Year of the Camera
Snapchat Spectacles launched in an unprecedented fashion. They announced the product, showed its capabilities in highly engaging destinations like the Grand Canyon, and proceeded to limit the product’s release in order to gain demand. They’re currently going for outrageous prices on Ebay, and they could be a precursor to a larger shift towards hardware for other social networks.
Facebook Live, for example, could use a wearable camera for more adventurous videographers. As video continues to dominate, the hardware used to shoot it on will need improvements, and the big players will likely come up with new toys in the coming months.
10. Pinterest Will Go Public
This is another of my boldest predictions, but the hiring of their first-ever CFO has me (and many others in the industry) intrigued. Todd Morgenfeld was announced as the CFO in October, after serving as a VP of Finance at Twitter. In the world of Silicon Valley, the hiring of a high caliber finance expert is often the sign that a company is getting its house in order before going public, and we could be witnessing just that. Pinterest’s revenues are continuing to grow, and if the company is even coming close to its $2.8 billion revenue projection for 2018, going public could definitely be a possibility.
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