Social media is an ever-changing landscape with a lot of major players who are constantly upping the ante and altering their mode of operations to keep up with the times. On top of all this, user behavioural trends and new entrants are always coming and going. This is why, if you’re not careful, the rug can get pulled right from under you. Luckily, we’ve put together the biggest social media predictions every marketer needs to keep in mind this year.
TikTok & The Growth of Ephemeral Content
With some of the older platforms fearing they’ll go the way of the dinosaurs (or MySpace), there are new entrants like TikTok that are stealing their thunder. Rapidly becoming the new favourite among the Gen-Z demographic, it is proving to be an enduring platform with a lot of clout. It was the 3rd most downloaded app in Q1 2019 and is only poised to increase its user-base. From kick-starting blockbuster music careers to paving the way for new memes, it is fostering the new online lingua franca of the younger generations. This is why any marketing team worth its salt should be on the TikTok train.
Another social media prediction to keep in mind is that there is a wider trend towards “ephemeral content”. Ephemeral content is something that is available only for a short duration and disappears afterwards. Instagram and Snapchat Stories are perfect examples of this type of content. This has been noted as a general shift towards rapid videos and low attention span content in the social media sphere.
The growth in Instagram can be seen in the chart above, with major year-on-year increases since 2016. This may continue to accelerate for a while or it might slow down, but there appears to be little sign that it will decline.
Social Media Predictions For Niche Platforms
Other new entrants are also coming along, providing more focused experiences. These offer some more niche styles of user expression on social media and, while some may be considered novelties, others have become major players. As mentioned earlier, TikTok has a very specific style of content and a video niche. B2B companies are still very deeply implementing LinkedIn for their social media initiatives, while gamers are taking to Twitch.
These platforms are now being divided into the distinct purposes they serve and the demographics they cater towards. This is in contrast to Facebook and Twitter’s old strategy of constantly expanding features. This focused style can be great for online marketers as it makes segmentation easier, having in-built demographics with particular ages and interests. However it may also lead to the decline of the all-encompassing style of social media platforms that tend to try to attract everyone, which made it easier to have a general audience in one place. Another possibility is that, as these niche platforms appear to hit a ceiling on their growth, they may try to branch out and build a bigger tent in the same way as Facebook or Twitter.
Only time will tell.
Socially Conscious Social Media?
Instagram and Facebook are experimenting with a bold new direction by getting rid of one their defining features: Likes. Though not set in stone, the social media giants are both considering whether or not to display the number of likes on posts. The reasoning goes: likes often become a marker of social value and attaching a number to these things can be detrimental to one’s mental health. So both platforms are looking to take up this initiative to see if they can curb some of the perceived stigmas of social media.
This is part of a wider trends pointing to the change in perception of social media over the past couple of years. From political scandals and fake news to data theft to online extremism, there is a major push for these companies to be more accountable in terms of how they interact with the user-base. This has led to a lot of companies readjusting and making changes to their operations to fix their image.
Some of the push is also coming from state, international and legislative bodies. The EU has implemented some stricter controls over how the Internet is used in recent years and other institutions are urging further action. This is leading to a push among social media companies to appear more socially conscious. It wouldn’t be too unexpected if companies continue implementing policies that give them a bit more social capital among users.
This has implications for what things one can market online. Twitter has already banned political ads from their platform and other companies are applying more restrictions.
The Switch to Video Content Will Continue
Another set of social media predictions pertains to prominent content types. Video is set to continue its rise and text is only going to get smaller. This is natural as visual data is getting easier to transmit and has always been a quick, easy way to convey a lot of information in a digestible manner.
We already touched on this a bit earlier, with the massive rise of Instagram Stories. Social media videos and advertising may also get shorter if this trend coincides with other trends. Every major site needs to be creating video content to be seen as a major player. Certain studies have even indicated that the majority of social media marketing content will be video content by 2022 (81% of businesses already use video as a marketing tool, up from 63% over the last year). Though this estimate seems extreme, it does contain some truth within it, especially pertaining to the ease with which video content is to create and upload.
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