Since the launch of SixDegrees.com in 1997, social media has evolved from simple communication forums like MySpace to multifunctional applications capable of 360° video and curated newsfeed content like Facebook. The rise of social media trends are attributed to its universal usability for everyone, manifesting different purposes for individual users.
To sum up social media trends in the first half of 2016, live video, personalization and in-app-functionality features have populated the digital space. While none of these features are technically new, their primacy has exploded in 2016, and Katana has interpreted 2016’s trends for you below.
- Quality Over Quantity – Algorithm-Based Newsfeeds
Whether users wanted this change or not, social media introduced customized algorithms that compute which perceived relevant content will appear on your newsfeed. The social space has seen Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all introduce algorithms that assess (and constantly update) how often users interact with a certain type of post, taking into account content engagement and performance.
Algorithm-driven newsfeeds intend to deliver the most meaningful content, consequently disordering chronological format and curating newsfeeds with no logical endpoint. Instagram, for example, rolled out their new algorithm last month despite unenthusiastic reactions from users. With over 400 million active users who post an average of 80 million photos and videos per day, users don’t see 70 percent of posts. Algorithmically optimized newsfeeds strive to rectify clutter by integrating quality personalization.
For businesses, this tautened visibility and caused a chain reaction that influenced social media giants to introduce paid advertisements. With algorithms crippling content distribution, some businesses have capitalized on this opportunity to beat out competition by using advanced targeting strategies to reach their audience.
2. Real-Time Engagement – Live and 360° Video
Constant communication and instant gratification trends have facilitated live video’s popularity among social media platforms. In the latest push for social media video, Instagram released Stories and Facebook introduced Facebook Live for pages (and users in India). Both features function as an opportunity for individuals to share an immersive live video experience with their audience.
Facebook has enhanced Live with an array of new features, including Snapchat-like face manipulation filters, full screen and landscape mode, and increased broadcast time from two to four hours. Likewise, Instagram noted the nearly 150 percent increase in video usage and announced in June that the platform would now host a video-focused Explore channel similar to Snapchat’s “Story Explorer.”
In order to accelerate revenue, Pinterest will introduce a beta version of video advertisements in response to the 60 percent year-over-year increase in users’ video usage. Pinterest’s sponsored video ads will begin playing as users scroll down the page and will stop playing as soon as users are done scrolling. The social media giant intends for video ads to remain native to their platform and will offer marketing partners the option of including “featured pins” below the ad to emphasize supplemental content.
3. Increased In-App Functionality
In-app experiences have enjoyed monumental growth with the introduction of sophisticated hybrid features like digital assistants, buy buttons for social commerce and video integration. Social media platforms alike have adopted similar features to their counterparts, essentially consolidating functions to just one application.
Although each social media platform offers a niche function, we have seen cross-pollination in trend adoption across each channel – and some are doing it better than others.