We’re closing in on the halfway mark of 2016, and we’ve already seen some interesting shifts in social media dynamics, from Instagram’s major newsfeed algorithm shuffle to Snapchat influencing vertical videos in mainstream advertising. There’s still a lot of 2016 left to play out, and social media marketers are wondering exactly how it’s going to unroll.
At the end of 2015, many ambitious predictors were forecasting the emergence and rapid spread of virtual reality (VR) as a new social media integration, and more conservative predictors weren’t predicting much at all. I don’t think we’re going to see any major upsets as we start closing out the year, but there is plenty of room for a few shakeups.
These seven predictions explain how I see social media shaping up by the end of the year:
1. More private messaging options will appear.
First, I think that more private messaging options are going to appear. Snapchat saw massive growth during its first few years of existence in part because of user concerns over privacy. Messages last only temporarily on the platform, and even though the rules have loosened up (some messages can be retrieved from the digital graveyard), it’s still seen as one of the more private social apps available. As concerns over user privacy increase, both in social apps and in broader contexts (see: Google antitrust charges), apps will scramble to help reassure their users that their information is being used responsibly.
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2. Platforms will begin to adopt unique visual content formats.
Instagram’s massive rise in popularity should be a good indication of where the average user’s desires and intentions lie: visual content. Images and videos have surged in popularity, to the point where written content and written messages are sagging. But it isn’t enough to merely offer an outlet for visual content; literally every social app does this, and most of them have identical features like live-streaming video and filters to boot. Users will be looking for differentiators, who can offer unique visual content formats, and apps will be looking for the best way to provide this.