As we begin our intrepid journey into 2016 we can expect big things in the world of digital marketing and more specifically, social media marketing. Last year saw social media continue to consolidate itself in our everyday lives and some big changes occurred. Instagram crushed Twitter in their ability to attract new users, Facebook video became the most engaging content on the platform and a war broke out in the background as social networks looked to introduce social commerce. So what can we expect from social media in 2016 and what effect will this have on those planning and executing social media marketing strategies?
Social will be one of the highest growth/adoption areas in digital marketing
Digital marketing as a whole is still on the up. We will continue to see businesses allocate more and more budget to their digital marketing and as a by product reducing their spend on more traditional avenues. However, out of all of the digital marketing departments we predict that social media will be the highest growth area, followed by video creation….videos which will then be posted to social media. We hope to see Ofcom confirm this in 12 months time as faith grows in social’s ability to provide tangible ROI. This will no doubt be fuelled by updated advertising platforms and the exciting potential of social commerce.
Pinterest and Instagram will be real contenders
Pinterest and Instagram had some major wins in 2015. Instagram gained over 100 million new users over the course of 9 months, taking them to 400+ million users. Significantly this is 100 million more than Twitter and a hell of a lot more new users than Twitter managed to gain in 2015! Pinterest unveiled their buyable pins and also launched a piece of price tracking functionality allowing users to be notified when one of their pins is reduced in price.
Instagram and Pinterest are both platforms to look out for in 2015. Both are openly monetizing their content, allowing retailers and other businesses to access their user base for a fee. What will be interesting will be how they monitor this and ensure that users are not bombarded with poor quality content. After all, both networks have grown in popularity due to the quality of their content rather than any other social gimmick. Retaining this quality therefore is critical to their continued success.
Whatever the outcome, Pinterest and Instagram will become a staple part of social media marketing strategies in 2016, most notably for retailers.
It is make or break for Twitter
Twitter had a tough 2015, very few would deny that. Dick Costolo stepped down as CEO, Chris Sacca published a concerning diatribe against Twitter’s lack of innovation and key growth targets were missed. Twitter HQ was in dire straits, all the time whilst having to watch Instagram outgrow them and Facebook video sky rocket.
Let’s get one thing straight. Twitter will not collapse in 2016. They have a near fanatical user base and remain the best social network for up to date news. Furthermore, their revitalised relationship with Google and the inclusion of tweets within Google’s search results is incredibly positive for the platform. However, in the light of of what happened in 2015 and with Jack Dorsey considering expanding tweets passed 140 characters there is a palpable identity crisis occurring over at their San Francisco HQ and it will be fascinating to see how they adapt to the changing requirements of social media in 2016. We foresee changes such as #beyond140 fundamentally changing how both users and marketers use the platform, changes that will have a significant impact on Twitter’s long term future. If Twitter do raise their character limit to 10,000 expect news feeds to be flooded with mediocre quality articles from content marketers which will only serve to muddy the waters of what to read and what to ignore.
Pocket will be purchased
If you love consuming content and haven’t looked into an app called Pocket you should investigate immediately. Pocket is a community based around the recommendations of article based content and whilst not necessarily a new app has been growing in popularity throughout 2015. If they manage to integrate a form of content searching we would expect them to be purchased – maybe not by one of the larger social networks but by an investor looking to access the content marketing world.
Businesses will focus on what works
And so they should. In our social media training sessions we always advise our clients to identify which platforms are most applicable to their target market. Yes creative campaigns will give you more leeway in marketing across multiple platforms, but there are some businesses that are simply not suited to Facebook and Twitter – yet they invest time and money into running campaigns on these platforms just because they are the most well known. We believe that 2016 will see businesses move away from this model and look to focus their efforts on the most relevant network(s) for them. Hopefully this will mean that social feeds will become more engaging due to more focussed content. Maybe this is a pipe dream, but it would certainly cut out a lot of the background noise on social feeds!
Social Advertising will increase in price
As more businesses fight for the attention of social media users more and more of these businesses will assign budget to social media advertising. As demand for reach increases, so will the price. Expect social advertising on the major platforms to increase in price significantly over the course of 2016, especially if social commerce fulfils its long awaited potential.
So there we have it, our predictions for social media in 2016. It will be an interesting year for social media marketers as the networks both expand and contract, whilst businesses and marketers alike continue to jostle for position in user’s news feeds. Expect the platforms to continue to increase in complexity, offering more targeted marketing. As a result, although prices for social advertising will increase, so will the potential of their platforms for marketers to solicit more bespoke content to different audiences.