You love social media and you love doing it well, but the only downside is that it keeps changing. One minute you think you are on top of your game, the next a new update arrives. Worse, a new platform arrives, and you’re left scratching your head on where to go next.
2016 is already shaping up to be a bumper year for social media, as brands across the globe realise its true potential. At the same time, there are plenty of changes (some of them huge) happening in the social media landscape. If you’re not aware of them, they could trip your brand up. Let’s take a look.
1. The growth of disposable content
If you’re going to get precious about the content your brand creates, you might want to look away. Snapchat has changed the social media landscape for good. The speed at which it is changing itself means that more and more companies are looking for ways to get involved.
But Snapchat doesn’t really hold onto content. It’s not like YouTube or even email, where you can create great content that makes people feel inspired, and then expect that content to linger on hard drives for evermore. With Snapchat, you have one shot and you’re done. It disappears.
If you’re looking to get a handle on the platform (and the close to a million other apps and platforms that will surely follow in its wake), you need to get going with content that you know will not last. It will have to be so good and so compelling that people will notice in a world where nothing lasts forever anymore (or even for a few minutes).
It’s about disposable content. Your brand needs to start creating it and embracing this brand new way of reaching an audience.
The one good piece of news (for now) is that this new disposable social media culture generally has an audience that is young. If your customers are not in this age bracket, keep on creating that evergreen stuff that is meant to stick around.
2. VR is on the way
We know virtual reality is already here, but it is actually quite possible that it will form part of a new way of creating social media content. This is exciting in a way. In many other ways it’s frightening.
Remember Google Glass? How those ads showed marketing happening while people walked around wearing those things? Imagine virtual reality sets like Oculus Rift and playing a VR game. At some point in that game an article pops up, or a link to a video. It’s possible.
Oh, and it’s kind of here.
We reckon that brands will see the potential of VR by the end of 2016. It may not blow up in 2016, but it will definitely start to develop. It isn’t that hard to imagine the seeds of a huge explosion in VR content (that’s right, content as in marketing) in 2017.
Think about it this way. When someone is using VR, they are literally locked out of reality for a while. And while they are out of reality, the headsets will present them with a different world, an immersive experience. The perfect place for a Twitter feed?
3. Live streaming
Yes, disposable is a definite theme. If we’re going to focus on one thing this year as brands, it has to be live streaming. Stuff that gets sent out there, enjoyed, and then discarded. Periscope is the key example here. A company can now live stream quickly and easily. And when you start to think about the uses here, it does get a little exciting.
Next time you have a product launch, live stream it. Or how about a quick message from your office? Better yet, take Periscope with you as you head out on a company retreat and show people how ‘fun’ you are. The possibilities for soft branding are endless. And the fact it is all live makes it much more fun and a breeze to do.
Do we think live streaming will be a major part of 2016? Yes, a firm and resounding positive on that one. Watch it get even bigger as we move towards the end of the year, and head into 2017. Brands are going to realise just how powerful it is to let an audience into a live event.
4. Ads are simply getting better
You may have thought that ads on social were going away. They have seemed less obtrusive over the last few months but that isn’t because they are disappearing. Companies are looking to spend even more on social media ads because they know that they are not as disruptive as they used to be.
Advertisers can now classify their ad spend right down to tiny variables, such as company role and interests, which means that ads are becoming smarter (even on Facebook). This means more brands will use ads effectively
5. Direct purchasing
This is a major thing for social media. It has shown signs of being realised as a concept all over the place in recent months. Social media is becoming a place where customers can buy items that don’t require having to click elsewhere.
This means that there is more purchasing power available to customers and it is ten times more practical.
Pinterest is offering buyable pins in the US. This will surely roll out to other countries soon enough, allowing customers to find what they want on the platform, choose colours and styles, and pay without leaving the Pinterest interface.
Expect to see more platforms trying this (and Facebook is having another crack at it after Gifts) over the next few months. We reckon Facebook will hit Europe with something shortly (they’ve been testing Buy buttons on US accounts for months).
6. The general spread into every element and aspect of your daily life
We’re not kidding. Twitter is no longer what it used to be. With video sharing and its messaging service it is becoming a transformed and much more user-friendly beast. It has changed into something that does much more than just enable communication.
Facebook is soon to become a place where you can shop more readily, as well as share video quickly and beautifully. It’s even becoming a tool for productivity at work (last year it trialled a Facebook at Work feature that effectively created an intranet social network that reduced time-wasting on the ‘full version’).
What does all this mean? As a brand you can either just watch the major social media platforms roll out millions of features, wait and see what happens or you can get involved. Video is easier to manage with smartphones and apps like Vine. So you can create video easily. Get that video up on Snapchat and the Vine approach costs you exactly zero.
Focus on embracing virtual reality when it arrives. Because it will only get bigger. Embrace the massive ease of use of social ads and their increased effectiveness by spending smarter, not just spending more.
Above all, get used to the fact that social is becoming quicker, more disposable, and just everywhere in 2016.
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