Shifts in the world of technology happen at a blistering pace. The same is doubly true for the world of social media. Only a decade ago, social media was taking its first steps into the mainstream. Now, it is a true juggernaut, one which businesses have need to capitalize on to keep up with their target audiences. As social media has grown in popularity, businesses looking to leverage it have needed to stay ahead of the trends, even going so far as to predict what will be big in the near future. It’s really the only way to be the most effective at social media. While social media can provide a big boost for business, the trends likely to explode in 2016 show that there’s even more at stake than simply having a larger follower count.
Get Ready for Live Streaming
Video isn’t new to the social media realm. After all, YouTube has been popular for years. But the use of video will take off to unprecedented heights in 2016, specifically through the rise of live streaming video. Social media has always been about connecting with people, and few ways are as effective at communicating as streaming video of live offline events. Live streaming has gotten a fair bit of attention recently through apps like Meerkat and Periscope, and brands have only begun to recognize the potential surrounding it. This level of real time engagement is difficult to duplicate anywhere else, and social media marketers will likely use it to their advantage as a way to promote their companies in new and exciting ways.
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More Ways to Use Video
Live streaming video might become popular, but it won’t be the only video that sees some major changes in 2016. Starting last year, Facebook and Twitter began to use their own native video platforms, and the success seen from that push has been impressive so far. Expect that trend to continue this year as social media networks compete with each other for views. Facebook in particular has provided the platform for marketers to take full advantage of posting videos easily without annoying potential customers. Beyond that, 360 video could become a major trend in 2016, which could result in an intense competition between Facebook and YouTube as businesses figure out how best to use it to draw in more eyeballs.
Buy Buttons Everywhere
In 2015, Pinterest experimented with the concept of buyable pins — basically pins that featured a product that a Pinterest user could then buy through the simple press of a button. The potential here to sell directly to customers is staggering, so expect a lot of other social media networks to follow suit with buy buttons of their own. We could soon see ads on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram each featuring easy to use buy buttons as they push products. Social media could soon turn into a way to convert customers rather than just grabbing their attention. It would become a new form of social commerce, though it remains to be seen how regular social media users would react to even more advertising on their favorite platforms.
New Ways to Publish
Publishing original content is a key component for businesses looking to leverage social media, and many social media platforms are changing up the way this can be done. Facebook has launched its Instant Articles feature, allowing brands to publish full-length articles directly through the site, a departure from simply posting a link to the brand’s site. This means faster load times and more interactivity as customers engage with a brand’s content. But Facebook isn’t the only one doing something like this. Twitter, for example, has Project Lightning, which is a similar concept to Instant Articles. It’s all about presenting new and dynamic ways to reach out to users, which could catch fire this year.
A Maturing Landscape
Social media could reach a new level of maturity in 2016 and companies become more comfortable with the various platforms’ capabilities. As a result, social media marketing will come under more scrutiny, similar to what traditional marketing teams deal with. More investment will result, but only if the value of social media can be proven. Marketing teams may wish to use big data to more effectively utilize social media, another sign of maturation. That could result in greater use of big data solutions or more in-house infrastructure investments. If more money is spent on pursuing in-house solutions, then there will probably be a greater emphasis on converged technologies and software defined storage. Whichever strategy is chosen, social media marketing will mature to a larger degree in 2016 as businesses realize how valuable it can be.