In 2015, the world of social media continued it’s rapid evolution, keeping us all on our toes. It bought us Snapchat lenses, Instagram ads, Facebook 360 video and much much more.
Looking ahead to 2016 it seems the pace will not be slowing down a bit. Here are some of our predictions to look out for.
As always, Facebook will lead the pack with changes (unfortunately, an increase in your organic reach is not one of them….) a tactic that has seen them stay ahead of the social media pack for both people and businesses over the years, despite the fact it can be hard for businesses to keep up...
In 2016 we expect to see:
1) Increased focus on messaging – Global use of messaging apps grew over 30% in 2015, and Facebook owns the two global powerhouses Messenger and Whatsapp. In 2016 they’ll explore how messaging can connect customers and businesses even further –e.g./we might see automated messages for tracking deliveries, purchase and pay over messenger, and customer history stored within messenger.
Expect to see ads launch in both messaging apps in 2016 also.
2) Improved pages on mobile – Expect to see a pages redesign to make them much easier to find and navigate on mobile.
As the world moves to mobile first, businesses are finding it harder to convert customers as searching and typing in your credit card on mobile feels clunky and hard. Facebook wants to help solve this by evolving pages into mobile stores that are easy to navigate and include catalogues and one-click purchasing.
3) Video – the war on YouTube will continue with new ways to watch and discover videos, improvements to pages video libraries and video continuing to be given more reach in the algorithm.
4) Live Streaming: In 2015 FB launched it’s live streaming product for celebrities – Mentions. 2015 should see this open up to businesses and people in a move that would compete with Meerkat and Twitter-owned Periscope. Given FB's user base it should easily surpass it's competitors and become a really useful tool for businesses to engage their customers.
5) All about advertising – Instagram will continue to merge with the Facebook advertising platform and more formats will become available along with enhanced measurement.
6) Insights: Instagram has an insight product which is currently only available to it’s largest advertisers – 2016 should see this rolled out to all business large and small. About time, we say.
7) Account switching – yay, yay and thank the gods! For anyone who currently uses Instagram for personal and businesses, this will Change. Your. Life.
8) A share button? Currently re-posting or direct messaging is the only way to share posts and we really hate the text overlay that is associated with 3rd party re-gramming apps so this is less of a prediction and more of a wish.
9) Apps: Instagram will continue to roll out and test content creation apps such as its 2015 efforts boomerang, layout and Hyperlapse.
10) Growth: Snapchat will potentially eclipse Twitter in monthly user numbers this year as Twitters growth stalls and Snapchat continues it’s explosive trajectory.
11) Advertising: A rumoured IPO in the middle of the year will see Snapchat expand its advertising options considerably. While it has had several video ad options available in the US since 2014, we expect these to roll out internationally although there is no telling when little old NZ will be able to partake. Snapchats ads are currently sold through a sales team rather than the preferred self-service option of the other social networks, and if this continues it seems NZ will have to wait some time before all business can access this young audience.
12) Content: It will also beef up its original content section in Discover section, giving it more options to sell sponsorship. Over New Year it launched a music channel sponsored by Spotify, and it’s only a matter of time before sports and more entertainment follow.
Twitter – turns 10! It’s founder, Jack Dorsey, is back at the helm and he has a big job to do in trying to turn around Twitters stalling user numbers. While still huge at 300Million active users – growth has slowed right down so this year we’ll see a focus on:
13) Visuals: Photos + Videos – the social world has become more visual (in alignment with our reduced attention spans?) and twitter still relies on text. We expect to see video and photo bought more to the fore in 2016.
14) Curated content: Following Snapchats lead, Twitter launched Moments in the US in 2015, a curated storyboard of what’s happening right now of interest in the world. This will roll out globally and more curated content it bound to follow.
15) Ads to logged out users: One of Twitters issues is that it has 500Million people monthly viewing it’s content but only 300M of them ever log in meaning 200M people who it cannot monetize. In 2016 Twitter will start to serve ads to logged-out users to increase reach of your campaigns, and of course Twitters revenue. This is made even more interesting by the increasing number of Twitter results we see in Google searches after their 2015 partnership, which should mean even more logged out eyeballs.
16) Reach: Hopefully they will fix my pet peeve with Twitter ads reporting – the lack of a reach number. Twitter tells you how many times your ad was served but not to how many people – technically then, an ad with 50,000 impressions could only reach 5,000 people 10 times. They have the technology to provide reach numbers and I suspect the reason they don’t is that they have something to hide.
17) Men: Will continue to have strong growth in 2016 and the % of male users will grow.
18) Promoted Pins: its another social network which will beef up it’s advertising in 2016 as the days of a free social media lunch are heading into the past. The US already has access to buyable pins, and sponsored posts and we’re hoping (really hoping) these become available to NZ advertisers this year as they would be an absolute boon for retail and lifestyle advertisers and even tradies.
19) Content: Will continue its evolution into a leading business content hub with user experience developments in its recent acquisitions Lynda.com, Slideshare & Pulse.
20) Advertising: We really hope it’s ad offering evolves, which is currently expensive, limited and hard to measure although still useful for B2B marketing so we haven't completely written it off. Stay tuned for the results of our upcoming test.