We closed out last year with a list of our predictions for the social media landscape in 2017. Now that we’re almost halfway through the year we want to provide you an update on some exciting new developments within the trends we forecast.
Virtual and augmented reality
Predictions that VR/AR would be an important ‘trend’ this year have already proven somewhat conservative: indeed, at its recent F8 conference, Facebook revealed its plan to change every aspect of your life with these nascent technologies. However, we won’t see this in 2017, because this is part of the social media behemoth’s long game. The grand plan is to develop the software in anticipation of the hardware we can hope to see in five to 15 years.
Did we mention this will operated by mind control?
In the meantime we will have to be content with Facebook Spaces and the Camera Effects platform. The first is a virtual chatroom, the second is actually a developers’ platform that enables people and businesses outside of Facebook to create and experiment with AR filters and experiences. This is not only a trend – it will be a huge enabler of trends to come.
Your VR/AR play in 2017 should keep this long game in mind. As widely available tech like Google Cardboard is at the novelty level, any big initiatives this year will be publicity stunts at best and roundly ignored at worst. Take some time to explore and conceptualize great things going forward.
More spending on paid ads
According to The State of Social Advertising Q1 2017 report by 4C Insights, media spend on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snapchat increased by 61.5% in Q1. The report also indicated that advertisers spent 138% more on paid Instagram posts. It appears Instagram’s integration with Facebook Ads are really paying off.
Interpublic Group’s Magna recently predicted global advertising to grow by 3.7% in 2017 and reach $511 billion. Magna also forecasts “social video ad sales to double again in 2017 to reach more than $4 billion dollars, or a third of total U.S. digital video ad sales, and 20% of total social media ad sales.”
The trend should not come as a surprise, even though the numbers are particularly massive. The early years of the social web offered plenty of free impressions for anyone with half-decent content. Those eyeballs have been effectively monetized, driving dollars into ads to get what was once free.
Video continues its meteoric rise in social media
In April, Instagram announced that Instagram Stories now attract over 200 million daily active users. This growth is more astounding considering Instagram reported 150 million users as recently as January. While this is great news for Instagram, their similar-looking predecessor and competitor Snapchat has 161 million daily active users.
Snapchat is far from being defeated by Instagram. The friendly ghost recently announced they signed deals with major broadcasting companies to create original shows for Snap TV.
Video is still time-consuming to produce. Consider whether you have the kind of brand that wants in on the Snapchat boom, or whether you want to direct your resources elsewhere. Though all three are ephemeral media, Twitter and Instagram are better places to place content to rack up views in the longer-term. You may even want to consider letting influencers drive your Snapchat strategy, rather than direct brand presence.
Emojis and bitmojis
Humanity started with pictograms, then switched over to letters for a few millennia. Now pictograms are back. Spotify recently analyzed the emojis used to describe artists and music. Of Spotify’s over two billion user created playlists, over 35 million have at least one emoji in their playlist titles. Drake holds the ? for being associated with the most emojis.
Google is also upping their emoji game by offering the ability to create custom emojis from a selfie using their Allo chat program. These illustrations are similar to Snapchat’s Bitmojis. Snapchat acquired and integrated Bitmoji into their platform last year. Their acquisition paid off as Bitmoji has seen meteoric growth. According to comScore, traffic from unique visitors over 18 to Bitmoji is up 5,210% since 2015.
Facebook, never to be left behind, recently introduced Facebook Spaces, a virtual chatroom for virtual avatar versions of you and your friends. Facebook’s avatars are in a way the next step in the digital evolutionary chart. In a short amount of time :) has turned into VR versions of ourselves.
Be careful of potential pitfalls here. Bitmoji and Emoji are a casual form of communication not fit for every brand. Sometimes, it’s best to lay off them entirely to stick with the boring old Roman alphabet. People point ? and laugh ? when brands try to be hip when they have no business doing so. If you make commercial-grade air filters or trade foreign currency, cut the ?..
2017 is shaping up to be another social trend setting year. Maybe next year we’ll write our blog posts by controlling keyboards with our minds. Probably not. Either way, if you’re not keeping apace with the ever changing social landscape you risk being left behind.