Social Media in Future: Where do We Go from Here?Andrei Klubnikin
Back in 2004 (that’s when Facebook was launched) no one probably expected that in just 13 years our lives will revolve around status updates, Instagram selfies and Donald Trump’s tweets (#covfefe says hi). By the end of 2017, the total number of social media users will top 2.5 billion. 20% of user digital media time and 90% of mobile time is now spent on social networks. Thanks to social media, forward-thinking companies generate high-quality leads and keep customers engaged. It is Facebook and other social networking websites that made the Arab spring possible. In other words, social media dominate. The question is, what does the future of social media technology look like?
Top 4 social media future trends
- Ultimate user experience. Social media have always been an invaluable source of data – and that’s the primary reason why only 7% of companies plan to reduce their SMM expenses through 2017. However, the amount of content produced by social network users has already reached the tolerable limit (4 million Facebook likes/shares per minute). According to Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s VP of Products for News Feed, “users now got more and more information to consume every day, and only so much time they have in which they can do it”. In order to increase engagement rates, major social media platforms are likely to introduce new personalization options in the near future. These will probably include new AI algorithms filtering fake news and low-quality content and numerous newsfeed filters. This will of course result in the further decline of social media organic reach, forcing brands to thoroughly study their target audience and craft killer content;
- Commercialization of social media. With highly personalized content and dominant Artificial Intelligence, users have nothing to worry about. Companies, on the contrary, are having a hard time since social networks prioritize content coming from individual users rather than brands. As a result, we’ll see further commercialization of social networks; advertising fees (high as they are!) will skyrocket. Here are some stats to support the statement. Between 2015 and 2016, FB’s ad revenue grew by 50% and topped $ 5 billion. Last year, their YOY growth was 52%, while the ad revenue reached a whopping $ 7.86 billion. Snapchat now charges up to $ 750 million for a dedicated lens campaign. Although Instagram does not disclose their pricing data, insiders claim companies pay anything between $ 350 thousand and $ 1 million in monthly Instagram ad fees. In order to increase SM visibility, brands will have to spend more. And more. Is the game actually worth the candle?
- Monopoly of Social Media behemoths. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter make billions – and they surely can write their own ticket. With chatbots, Instant Articles and messaging applications that will soon have more active users than popular social networking websites, social media do everything to keep both companies and users at their mercy (and we’ll deal with it). IT experts even say social media will replace business websites in the future; considering the fact that some Chinese businesses which make $ 10 million a year operate through WeChat bots only, it doesn’t really seem impossible. Smaller social networks, however, won’t disappear off users’ radar. If you have plans to advertise products that appeal to a small audience or want to build a social networking website, you should go niche, focus on certain types of content and provide novelty experience; success will follow!
- Growing importance of video content. Through 2017, 83% of companies want to create more video content for social network channels – and there are multiple reasons for this. First, there are Instagram stories, Facebook Live videos and other tools enabling companies to create videos at a reasonable price. Second, it is users who crave for video content; recent studies prove consumers are four times more likely to watch an explainer video than read a well-written article about a product. Finally, video ads have a 600% higher engagement rate than static banners! The future of social media video technology, however, lies in Augmented and Virtual reality. The incredible popularity of face swap apps like MSQRD and Snapchat proves that users are totally ready for new SM experience. Having said that, the evolution of video content largely depends on brands’ willingness to invest in 3D graphics and innovative software development. According to Pavel Shylenok, CTO at R-Style Lab, the primary reason why Virtual Reality hasn’t taken off yet is the complete lack of 3D content, new UIs and control options enabling users to interact with virtual objects in real time.
Despite the immaturity of Artificial Intelligence algorithms (namely, their inability to fight fake news which do lead to real-world outcomes like Trump’s victory), sky-high advertising costs and obvious impact on users’ mental health, social media are here to stay. Provided brands analyze their target markets, craft appealing content and keep up with social media current and future trends, they’re doomed to success.