If there's one constant in social media, it's that nothing is constant. Social media is an ever-shifting landscape with new platforms popping up and competing for your attention. Established social media platforms must adapt to serve their audience while emerging platforms have to offer something amazing & revolutionary to stand out.
In 2016, Snapchat introduced Spectacles; Twitter swapped stars for hearts; Instagram created Stories and went head-to-head with Snapchat; Vine got axed (but then it just became Vine Camera); LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft.
Is your head spinning yet? Because mine has been.
As Senior Manager of social media for Salesforce, it's my job to stay on top of these trends and make sure our brand stays connected with our audience, wherever they are. So whether my team is out Snapchatting from around the world or showcasing our events on Facebook Live, we have to be ready to pivot.
And as 2016 comes to a close, I've started to wonder: What mind-spinning changes does 2017 have in store for social media? Here's my short, unscientific set of predictions:
“Oh right, Google+...I forgot about Google+,” is probably what you thought when you read that line. Right? (See how good I am at predictions?!) Since its initial launch five years ago, Google+ hasn't really had any major platform updates or new features. It's stagnant, and even the most savvy social media users often don't realize they have a G+ page (you automatically get one if you have a Gmail or YouTube account). If Google wants to keep the platform, then it will need to invest in some king of major overhaul or mind-blowing announcement. More likely, Google will quietly stop supporting that platform until it ceases to exist.
The rumors of Twitter's death have been greatly exaggerated. But here's my guess: It's not going away any time soon. Twitter is a social media legacy, and while it has struggled with declining users, it will take a lot more than that to bring down a giant. The most promising sign? Twitter knows it needs to make some really strategic moves to stray relevant: selling off Vine, modifying its long-standing character limit, tackling trolling culture head-on are big, bold bets for the future of the company.
Whether or not it extends its lifetime by 10 years is a big question mark. But Twitter will survive 2017. Expect to see more features to entice new members, especially around live streaming, multi-screen experiences, and real-time news.
For many, Snapchat and Instagram have been viewed as fun, visual playgrounds. To date, advertising on these platforms has been minimal, and any presence of brands & corporations has been very strategic —so as to maintain a sense of authenticity and trust with their users. But as of late, both of these channels have embraced advertisers.
2017 will be crucial for both Instagram and Snapchat. They must maintain the trust they've established with an audience that's become savvy and more resistant to direct promotion. But they also must take steps to monetize the platform without alienating the audience. For example, Instagram now offers an option to click on items in a photo and immediately purchase them. A brilliant marketing option that, if successful for Instagram, will be picked up by other platforms in a hurry.
Much like the short-lived Peach and Ello, I predict a new social media platform will pop up and try to shake things up in 2017. In general, social media seems to be moving away from broadcasting publicly to the whole world, and is focusing more on smaller, more insular groups. I predict this platform will focus on 1:1 communication, much like Line or Snapchat. As smartphones improve the quality and ability to capture videos and photos, I also think this platform will focus on visual mediums. Maybe it'll be a VR social media platform, where you can get small groups of friends in a virtual room at the same time?
What do you think? Are my predictions completely crazy, or spot on? There's only one way to find out. We'll see in a year how I did.