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Social Media trends for 2016

1. In-the-moment updates will dominate.

Social media is already “in-the-moment” by nature, but there are some posts that are more “in-the-moment” than others. For example, take Periscope, which was recently acquired by Twitter—it allows users to give a live video broadcast of some stretch of their lives. Instagram and Snapchat also support on-the-go, in-the-moment updates as opposed to late-game retrospectives, and could collectively herald in a new era of immediacy in social media. If it catches on, you can forget about scheduling all your company’s social media posts in media trends

2. Buy buttons will take over.

Facebook and Pinterest are just two of the platforms that gained attention this year by introducing new “buy” features for their advertisers and users. Mobile users of Facebook and Pinterest who see a product they like in a sponsored post can now use one click to purchase it, without ever leaving the app. Instagram isn’t far behind on the trend. By the end of 2016, most major social media brands will feature some kind of buy button naturally as an element of their social media trends.

3. In-app functionality will diversify and media trends

Facebook is the king of adding new functionality. In the past year, they’ve introduced Instant Articles (a new form of publishing), an in-post search engine (to find articles you’re referencing), and videos that play instantly when scrolling. Now, they’re developing their own digital assistant (though it’s technically a digital/human hybrid assistant). Other platforms are working similarly, with Twitter, Instagram, and others trying to expand their platforms to a similar degree, preventing users from ever leaving the app. Expect this trend to continue well into 2016, giving marketers ever more opportunities to engage with their audiences on one platform.

4. New publication options will be a huge part of social media trends.

Facebook’s Instant Articles are only the beginning. Publishers on board with the program can publish full-length articles to Facebook users, without having to link to an external source. Twitter’s upcoming Project Lightning puts publication in the hands of its users, but it still represents a dynamic way to present material to the public.

5. User privacy concerns will hit an all-time high.

After another year full of high-profile security breaches (like the one with Ashley Madison), user concerns over privacy are going to hit an all-time high. Snapchat’s explosive popularity is, in part, due to user demand for a more private, secure method of communication and engagement. Facebook is introducing more privacy awareness tools for its users, and it’s smart to do so, because as tension continues to rise, only platforms which offer a degree of privacy and security will continue to thrive. For advertisers, that might mean backing off of sometimes-intrusive forms of advertising.

6. Competition for organic visibility will increase.

Finally, as the ROI of social media marketing becomes more established and social marketing itself becomes more accessible for a wider range of businesses, there will be a greater level of competition for organic visibility. Already, Facebook is throttling organic visibility to force people to buy advertising, and as more businesses emerge in the market, that throttle will only increase, and among more social media channels. The cost of advertising, too, is set to rise over the course of the next year.

7. Fewer small platforms will emerge.

For the last several years, we’ve seen at least a few dozen new social media platforms rise up and either blink out of existence just as quickly or settle in as a middle-of-the-road platform that never gets more attention but never really dies out. This past year, the trend has changed—platforms have tended to skyrocket in popularity to stand on their own, get enough attention to be acquired by one of the big three (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), or die a quick death.

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