Social Media | 11.20.14
It’s that time of the year again. The end of the year is always the time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished throughout this year and where we’re headed in the next. For social media, we’ll see some major changes and trends that will affect the way we market and communicate to our customers through social media. While social media can be unpredictable from month to month, these are the most predicted top trends to consider for the next year:
1. Facebook’s Not Dead
While a report released back by Global Web Index in January of this year showed that Facebook was losing its teen user base and rumored to be soon “dead an buried.” Surprisingly, the social media giant is actually rounding the year out quite nicely. The company has earned $2.96 billion in ad revenue in Q3, up 64% from the same time last year. It even added more than 100 million active users in the last 12 months. Expect to keep seeing Facebook around for some time, at least for the next year.
2. Social Networks and Your Wallet
The mobile payment space will be widening, thanks to major social networks dueling it out to handle customer transactions in 2015. The most eager player of them all will be Facebook, which has already displayed a hidden payment feature within its Messenger app released in October. This could allow 200 million users to send money each other by entering in their debit card information, free of charge, even though users already have several mobile payment options to choose from through other players like Apple with Apple Pay, Square, Stripe, Google Wallet, and good ‘ole PayPal.
The “free of charge” part will likely turn into a “pay to play” once Facebook gains momentum. While the point of all of this isn’t clear, some sources say that Facebook may leverage the customer purchasing data it collects to lure more advertisers. The point is, we’ll see more tug-of-war between these hot shots on who can offer the best online transaction tools.
3. Shopping on Social Media
With better ways to make online transactions come more shopping transactions online and social media sites are on it! Earlier this year, Facebook and Twitter both started testing “Buy Now” buttons that appear alongside tweets and posts. This allows users to make purchases without ever leaving the social network, a concept that will continue to build itself out in the next year. Expect e-commerce to be bigger and better as this approach will eliminate a key problem for many merchants – getting customers to go on their website and make purchases. By bypassing that step in the buying process, merchants are able to produce more conversions and gather customer data from those sites to make better business decisions. What’s more, fleeting trends and last minute sales and deals are perfect for promoting on real-time social media sites.
4. New “Niche” Social Media Networks
This year saw a rise of niche social networks that offer an alternative way to be social without all the “big boy social media” problems like lack of privacy, collecting demographic and psychological data, and annoying advertising. Ello, which launched in March, promises to never sell user data; Yik Yak allows users to anonymously exchange posts with other users who happen to be nearby. Tsu, which strongly supports quality content and ownership will even share ad revenue with users based on popularity of their posts.
Will these types of social sites last? While these sites tend to replicate the Facebook experience with fewer ads and more privacy, it may be a challenge for these sites to gain a following and a user base (Exhibit A: Google+). On the other hand, many social sites that cater to niche communities or interests are thriving under the radar.
5. Growing Concern for Privacy
Not surprisingly, thanks to the growing concern over user privacy, 2014 saw the rise of ephemeral social networks such as Snapchat, Secret, and Yik Yak; sites that allow users to, sometimes anonymously, publish temporary posts. This, along with Facebook’s Messenger privacy debacle, shows that savvy users are becoming increasingly aware or privacy issues involving social media and the amount of information they share to be collected later on by government agencies. However, the real problem with these “private” networks lack of ability for these sites to keep up what they promise. Just last month, Snapchat was hacked and thousands of users’ photos were displayed all over the Internet, showing that it’s nearly impossible for these types of sites to deliver on true privacy. 2015 marks a year where users will be ever more cautious on what they share and where they go to share that information, whether it is a social post or a credit card number.
6. An Image-Based Web World
The digital marketing world will only continue to evolve to be more image-based, thanks to sites like Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest, that have seen tremendous growth over the last few years. A network of just about 200 million users, Instagram has become THE place to share images and short videos. In the next year, Instagram will continue to build out its micro-video space, competing and, we believe, even surpassing Vine in the next year. Plus, Instagram has been conscientiously testing out their advertising initiative, ensuring that marketers’ ads do not intrude user experience while adding extra options to accommodate marketers.
As images become increasingly important to capture the attention of on-the-go mobile users, video on web and on social media will become the top marketing tactic to quickly and effectively provide information to the customer, driving demand and conversions for businesses.