Social media is nothing new. It’s the norm, and as a brand, you should have an active presence on social. Facebook – the largest social media platform – was created back in 2004. Whilst extremely successful, its fate is perhaps telling of what is to come for other social sites in the future: a decline of younger users as the older generation become more active – 25.3% of all Facebook users are over 45, equating to 39.6 million people.
The use of social media has far progressed beyond the days of posting moody selfies and song lyric status updates on MySpace. Additionally, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are no longer the only social media sites on the scene. With new platforms constantly launching, current ones need to continuously up their game to ensure they stay relevant and fresh. As we head into 2016 with a firm focus on all-things digital, take a look at our predictions for what the New Year holds for social.
Everything will become ‘in-the-moment’
The long-running success of Snapchat and more recently Periscope (purchased by Twitter in early 2015), has catapulted live content into stardom, and this trend sees no sign of stopping in 2016.
To contend with their largest rival, Facebook has released their own live video function. Currently trialled by a small section of the US population, users have the option to share what they’re seeing in real time through a status update. During the broadcast, users can see the number of live viewers, the names of their friends watching and a stream of comments. The added benefit of Facebook Live is that the videos are saved to the user’s timeline, available to watch again, whereas on Periscope, videos vanish after 24 hours. As 53% of Facebook video views are through sharing, this allows for optimum engagement.
Users are also able to subscribe to friends’ live videos through the news feed, where they will receive a notification when they’re about to post something live.
Whilst Live product manager Vadim Lavrusik hasn’t disclosed a date when this will roll out to the mass market, he’s confirmed they’re looking for feedback from current users. If users like this feature, then 2016 could see it being rolled out to a wider audience, with brands able to post live videos that can be watched over and over again by their target market.
Snapchat will continue to work with brands
It’s no secret that Snapchat – if used correctly – is a great way to tap into the younger market. 71% of the channel’s 200 million monthly active followers are under 25. Realising this, Snapchat launched Discover in January 2015, available for a select 12 companies including Cosmo and CNN. These brands can post content on their own, easily-accessible channels.
Whilst Discover is highly selective, its started to open up: three new brands were given their own channel, although Yahoo were kicked off as its news-desk videos failed to resonate with the younger audience.
Following the release of ‘Spectre’ in October, Sony Pictures were featured on Snapchat Discover for the day, with videos of cast interviews and behind-the-scene shoots on location all available to view for 24 hours.
Whilst it’s unlikely Discover will open up to the masses any time soon, with 6 billion daily video views on Snapchat, 2016 is the year brands should utilise Snapchat. Taco Bell in particular has nailed their marketing on this channel, so they’re a good source of inspiration for ideas on how to use Snapchat effectively in the New Year.
Buy Now buttons will become the norm
Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have enabled users to purchase items through ‘Buy Now’ buttons for a while. Now, Instagram is the latest channel to launch a ‘Shop Now’ button, taking users to a mini browser within the app to purchase an item, before heading back to Instagram.
This is great news for e-commerce brands, as it provides them with an additional platform to facilitate sales. Instagram is well-known for its high engagement levels: users engage with brands 58 times more than on Facebook, and 120 times more than on Twitter. The key for brands in 2016 is to ensure that they don’t become too pushy in the pursuit for sales: continue to post eye-catching pictures, including a discreet ‘Shop Now’ button, and the sales should follow.
One thing’s for sure, social media will still be an integral part of marketing in 2016. In order to stay ahead of the competition, brands will need to ensure that they are aware of all new features on each social media channel, so they can utilise their online presence effectively and continuously connect with customers.