Social Media Trends from 2016 to Watch in 2017

Social Media Best Practices Things we notice

Staying on top of current social media trends in technology and social media is invaluable to our success as marketers. Success means we must think one step ahead of emerging trends.

Whether you shed a few tears when Instagram rolled out its new enhanced algorithm, or you missed your bus to work while collecting Pokémon, it’s safe to say this year was full of surprises.

Let’s take a deeper look at the top social media trends from 2016 and how they’ll impact the landscape in 2017.

Video is still King

Remember in 2013 when seeing a video in your newsfeed was a pretty rare thing? We’ve come a long way since then. In 2016, video use has skyrocketed and landed inside our inboxes, text messages, and news feeds.

According to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, one minute of video is equal to approximately 1.8 million words. That’s a robust message!

Top brands know that video remains their best weapon for gaining traction in audiences’ newsfeeds, and social media platforms are reacting promptly with video ads and enhanced automatic play. In 2016, Instagram quadrupled its time limit for videos from 15 to 60 seconds and added public video views. Meanwhile, on Twitter, video tweets have increased by over 50% since the beginning of 2016.

social media trends

Watch is the new call-to-action, and it’s even more powerful when used with content that expires after one view. Like Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are also utilizing ephemeral stories to broadcast real-time events.

Implications for 2017:

It’s more important than ever for marketers to think not only in video form but fleeting video moments. Apps like Instagram and WhatsApp are already following Snapchat’s trend of allowing brands and users to capture stories with expiring moments through video content. Keep a close eye on Snapchat’s Discover platform, which opened its advertising gates to large name brands this year.

Whether you’re “Vlogging” or adding an integrated Snapchat strategy into the mix this year, a video is still your best avenue toward top-notch engagement. You know the drill: Lights, camera, action!

Instant is the New Fresh

Thanks to our handy smartphones, video distribution has become ubiquitous, forever changing the way we engage with social media. The gap between website content and social media content is growing smaller by the second.

Enter: Live video streaming. Channels like Twitter’s Periscope, YouTube Live Stream, Live on Instagram and Facebook Live have allowed businesses to broadcast their work in faster and more efficient ways than ever before. It’s no longer enough to craft a before-and-after video campaign for your marketing plans; you have to act and produce in real-time.

“It’s no longer sufficient to craft a before-and-after video campaign for your marketing plans; you have to act and produce in real-time.”

Implications for 2017:

Everyone is a broadcaster. More platforms are designing their newsfeeds to create communities that share instant video streaming. Businesses must encourage brand advocates through user-generated content campaigns.

Similar to Facebook Live, LinkedIn recently launched LinkedIn Record, which lets influencers answer questions in short video snippets.This feature will provide great opportunities for brands to answer customers’ questions directly from their LinkedIn feeds. Instagram did the same thing launching Live Video on Instagram.

Your live-streaming options are everywhere, but be sure to meet your audience where they’re at, whether that’s Periscope, Facebook Streaming, or YouTube Live.

Immersive Reality for All

If you feel like the terms “VR and AR” have entered everyone’s vernacular, you’re not alone. As social media marketers, we’re always looking for more intimate ways to connect with our audience, so it’s no wonder technology is growing parallel to this trend, too.

Right now, for a mere three dollars, you can purchase a Google Cardboard and enter an alternate reality. Businesses across all industries, from e-commerce to e-biz, are creating more innovative solutions for their customers’ experience via virtual reality and augmented reality.

Missed out on Coachella last year? Not to fret. You can step inside of the experience through YouTube’s VR 360 highlight video. Or take a look at Facebook and YouTube’s 360 Ads, which big brands like Mercedes-Benz are already testing.

Social Media Trends

As virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) become more mainstream, social media platforms continue to advance their channels’ capabilities to allow advertisers to use 360-degree video and enter immersive worlds.

Implications for 2017:

Who says all five senses aren’t felt in digital space? With virtual reality and augmented reality, brands can create more meaningful user experiences. Look at AltspaceVR, who’s creating hang out spaces via “Social VR,” allowing people to meet one another in virtual spaces, including dance clubs or watching a movie.

“Completely immersive experiences are the future, and social media platforms are already thinking of ways to integrate emerging technologies into their channels.”

Completely immersive experiences are the future, and social media platforms are already thinking of ways to integrate emerging technologies into their channels. Just as Facebook group pages and live Twitter chats create meeting spaces now, we’re not too far out from being able to integrate these worlds into our worlds within headsets.

A Message in a Bot

Have you talked to a bot recently? You may have noticed that chatbots are dominating not only websites but social media as well. Chatbots aim to replicate human conversation on the internet and help organizations communicate with their customers via real-time assistance.

Companies like Taco Bell are already building specialized bots through platforms like Slack to help customers get what they want faster and more efficiently. Facebook is also leading the way within its Messenger app, partnering with third-parties to build enhanced bots for their users.

Implications for 2017:

Social listening and the internet of things (IoT) are quickly becoming BFFs. Bots inside social media messenger applications are the perfect way for businesses to communicate with their customers without having them download a new app or software.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly reaching every social media platform. With Facebook integration, chat bots can offer a far more personalized experience utilizing in-platform historical knowledge of users’ online habits, locations, hobbies, and preferences.

Bots versus humans, here we go.

Social Media Trends

Social media messenger bots are increasing in popularity, allowing brands to create a more personalized experience for customer support. The bots are coming, and they’ll affect every marketer’s bottom line.

Pretty Little Metrics

As new technologies allow us to communicate your brand’s messages in far more captivating and intimate ways, we face larger-than-life possibilities for the future. Understanding your data to make better decisions for your business isn’t a trend – it’s a must-do.

Implications for 2017:

Capturing granular data and growth metrics is pertinent to decision-making as social media platforms continue to reinvent engagement.

With social media advertising options and resources becoming more and more diverse, tapping into in-depth data on what competing markets are getting right, and what they’re getting wrong will help you act faster and better in real-time.
Understanding the ins and outs of the social landscape your audience is connected to is no longer enough. The future of social media marketing includes attentive listening and getting real up close and personal to you and your competitions’ user-generated data.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi Thalenberg is a savvy content marketer who thrives in the digital storytelling realm. When she's not hiking around the Pacific Northwest's mountains, she's working on her Masters of Communication at the University of Washington and creating content strategy plans for global organizations.

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