November 8, 2016
In 2016 we saw a ton of new features rolled out across our beloved social platforms: Snapchat introduced public stories, Instagram brought us a slew of new ways to share (all of them looking a whole lot like Snapchat), Facebook introduced Live video, Twitter partnered with Bloomberg and the NFL to bring us events and further encourage cord-cutting. We also welcomed a few new things like Pokémon Go — an entirely different type of social networking — and Musical.ly, which my ten-year-old has forbade me from joining.
The coming year is sure to bring new and interesting opportunities for us to share stories, entertain our friends and spread news, and here are a few key things I’m expecting to see in 2017.
Live Video Will Continue Its Rise
With videos, gifs and cinemagraphs, we’ve seen that moving images can be more engaging than still images on most social platforms. Now publishers and brands are figuring out how to engage consumers through live video. It’s tough territory for many legal departments — it is live, after all — but for those who can figure it out, like Tough Mudder, BuzzFeed and a handful of bloggers, it’s creating great engagement with their audiences.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Will Become More Accessible
VR and AR have been hot topics in 2016, and I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. As VR technology and content becomes cheaper and easier to develop, more brands are sure to jump on board, and VR experiences will become an integral part of live and experiential marketing in the coming year.
AR is a more likely exploration for most brands and publishers, with a lower cost of entry and potential partnership opportunities with platforms like Snapchat and Pokémon Go. In the last year we’ve seen Instagram borrow a few ideas from Snapchat, and AR seems like a potential next step for the Facebook-owned platform. Both AR and VR technology are sure to advance considerably in 2017, and social platforms will undoubtedly figure out how to play in the space.
Platforms Must Innovate to Differentiate
Over the past few years, we’ve seen Instagram kill Vine and take some pretty major creative inspiration from Snapchat, Snapchat went from a direct messaging platform to offering public stories, Twitter began using a Facebook-like algorithm, and Facebook introduced hashtags.
Snapchat’s AR and Facebook Live video aside, it was a slow year for true innovation in the space. With all of our favorite social platforms meshing to offer similar features, they may be leaving room for some brand new up-and-comers.
Chatbots Shouldn’t Replace Real Customer Service
2016 was the year of chatbots; we saw brands like Mattel and Fandango jump on board with great executions. For brands and publishers with the right tactics and strategy in place, chatbots can be a great way to encourage 1-to-1 engagement. One watch-out for brands, as learned with automated phone systems, is that a bot cannot replace human interaction when it comes to customer care.
The most important thing for brands and publishers to remember in 2017, as has always been true, is that a solid strategy and reason for being are the key to a good social presence. Where consumers can join a social platform, play around for a few months and quit, that’s typically not a great brand strategy.