6 Social Media Predictions for 2016

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2015 was a big year for social media.

Who could forget Dressgate–even though they’ve tried to wipe it from memory countless times?

The twelve month period ushered in 365 days worth of digital innovations, including but not limited to: Pinterest and Instagram ads for all; increased DM access on Twitter; and most importantly, the meteoric rise of DJ Khaled (a.k.a. the human meme)’s Snapchat superstardom.

But let’s leave the past in the past, shall we? Prepare for another year of digital marketing ingenuity with our social media predictions for 2016.

Videos Will Remain #1

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. And in social media, when it comes to video content, that word count jumps astronomically. It may seem like a lifetime ago, but Facebook only introduced original videos to the social platform in Q3 of 2014. Since then, videos have led the charge as the most effective post type when it comes to organic reach–raking in more than double the reach of photo posts.

In 2016, keep an eye out for sustained preferential treatment of videos in news feeds. Facebook’s algorithm may be many things; ever-changing, headache inducing and infuriating to name a few. But I’m willing to wager that Facebook and other social media site’s algorithms will continue to favor video content for the foreseeable future. So get filming!

Social Media Predictions 2016

Image Source: Social Bakers

Pay-to-Play Will Increase

Social media has been kind to advertisers looking to connect with audiences online. Many social networks opened their doors to brands big and small in the past few years–allowing them to disrupt their consumers’ internet activities with well placed calls to action.

This is great news for brands and businesses seeking to grow their online presence and make sales, but comes at a literal cost. The increase in access to advertising–and its resultant saturation of newsfeeds–is encouraging a pay-to-play economy online. Many brands are putting exorbitant amounts of ads dollars behind social posts to ensure the reach of their content.

Social Media Predictions 2016

As competition grows increasingly stiff amongst retailers, expect to see a continued reliance on promoted content as well as the introduction of tiered pricing options for advertisers.

Real Time Video Content

Ever since the creation of YouTube in 2004, video has been an integral and inescapable facet of our online lives. For years, people have been sharing their worlds with a growing community of IRL and URL friends.

Partnered with social media’s love for immediacy, apps that give users the tools to create and respond to real time video content (like Snapchat, Meerkat and Periscope) have been able to capitalize on social media user’s penchant for self-documentation. If the launch of Facebook Live is any indication, our social media predictions is that live video and streaming will continue to dominate and shift the social space in 2016.

Heightened Customization

Increased customization is the way of the future.This isn’t as much of a social media prediction as it is a guaranteed certainty.

As social media users continue to merge their online identities with their offline counterparts, social networks are providing them with additional ways to showcase their unique personalities and stories.

Think Twitter’s new birthday section and Facebook’s Harry Potter-esque moving profile pictures. People are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves from others and stand out from the pack–online and off. More creative customization features will undoubtedly roll out in 2016; allowing users to better define themselves and providing marketers with more refined audiences to send tailored messages.

More In-App Purchases

According to the Wall Street Journal, 52% of active Pinterest users surveyed agreed that Pinterest helps them find the items they ultimately purchase. This comes as no surprise as the majority of modern-day window shopping occurs from the convenience of our smartphones and computer screens.

In an attempt to help brands meet their audiences where they’re at–online– Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram all launched “buy buttons” letting people purchase products directly from a business without having to leave the social network. These integrated payment services allow for seamless and secure transactions over social media.

Be on the lookout for other apps to release similar purchasing options over the next year.

In-Channel Content Marketing

Things are getting super meta on Facebook and LinkedIn.

LinkedIn publishing and the return of a newly revamped Facebook notes section are features bringing long form writing to social media sites.

These two additions to the social media landscape are giving users the space to write and disseminate longer form content without having to rely upon external blogging outlets like Medium, Tumblr or their own website. We predict other networks will follow suit with their own blogging alternatives as a means of preventing users bouncing away from the social networks.

Are there any other social media predictions that you think we should be on the lookout for in 2016? Let us know in the comments section!

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Coming to Lightspan Digital with an arts and entertainment background, Ana has a proven knack for connecting, sustaining, and engaging communities online and off with show-stopping content creation. As a graduate of DePaul University’s Media and Cinema Studies program, Ana is adept at deciphering which images can best communicate a brand’s goals in a mediated setting; and keenly aware of the ways in which a brand can generate original content and function as its own media outlet.
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