My good friend Nils Smith is at it again putting his predictions out there about the future of social media. And he has challenged me to do the same for 2017.
So here goes:
1) SnapChat will survive and win. They are innovators and their culture inside the company has a bias for action and a default for breaking the rules. They will need to evolve further quicker towards HouseParty-esque multi-person live video chat experiences or acquire and integrate HouseParty itself (which already has collected 1 Million+ users overnight!). SnapChat’s fundamental core gets it right vs Instagram. And that is people need peer to peer messaging. That’s what SnapChat is at the core. Texting with snaps + fun additions back and forth. Both with each other and in groups. They just need to get the live video + groups down right this year.
2) Instagram will always play catch up. Partly because they are part of the behemoth called Facebook. When you are big, you have more to loose and decisions are slower. Risks are smaller. And speed is never a competitive weapon. Insta will win the Facebook audience of today — Aging millenials and the generation right above it.Facebook has become middle school for 40 year olds Click To Tweet
And that demo will move further into Insta land this year as Stories and Live become more popular and used by the demo *for social purposes* – the fact that Live is NOT recorded keeps that function social vs a broadcasting function which brings with it the need to be picture perfect as Facebook Live induces. And that means less “normal people of the Interwebs using it vs InstaLive which will be used more. This year, Insta will need to work more on peer-to-peer messaging though. One issue is that they are being canabalized by Facebook’s efforts to make Messenger central to user experience this year.
3) That is a great segue into Facebook. Facebook Live was a blockbuster start in 2016 and we will continue to see move FB Live in 2017. But it also has and will evolve in a subtlety different direction, because it has so far been taken over by early adopters of publishers and media. Not a bad thing overall. But just different than what a social network really does. It is one to many. The commenting lag is too big for real meaningful sustained conversation between live subject and audience chat participants. So Facebook has become the television broadcast of today. People are not posting real personal stuff on Facebook anymore either or at least not st the frequency or percentage share of posts as it used to be in the beginning. And you also see Instagram posts getting longer and longer with the latest trend in posts over there — people are getting personal and microblogging their lives on Instagram with longer and longer posts. Not on Facebook. And to help that trajectory even further opening up Facebook live broadcast of the desktop will continue to bring more publishers, webinars, professional media to use it as a platform to reach the masses. Marketer ruin everything.
Lately it seems Facebook is smartly understanding that the cornerstone of social is person to person communications. And the latest moves to make Messenger central to the user experience is a good thing for the platform.
FB will continue to win ad dollars because it is the mass market medium that television was.
One of my predictions: Facebook will launch a Netflix or Hulu or perhaps even buy a smaller one to keep people watching on FB. (DirecTV feed anyone?!) Getting people to watch more, and perhaps more together is a win.
4) Twitter, my favorite, is in trouble. I agree with Nils that they have about 18 months. But I don’t think they’re going to be able to implement the drastic changes that you think they will have. Due in large part because of the reported internal culture which is set up against flows of innovation and early adoption. Periscope was a good thing, but other players now or taking over because they can’t make the decisions to move forward. And one big big issue: They really need to figure out how to get rid of all the spam on the platform. The other major problem is that some astronomical percentage of Twitter content is actually not consumed on Twitter itself. Meaning, you see tweet content being published on TV screens, by newspapers, blog post, magazines, etc. Because the platform doesn’t own the consumption experience, Twitter is positioned to become not irrelevant, but rather illogical in terms of business model. That’s why someone might buy them and morph it into a complimentary offering.
IF and that’s a big IF, there can be a dramatic systemic shake up in product development leadership, then there is a chance of it becoming much more relevant to tweens, teens and twenties which is where you need to start for any tipping point to happen with social and digital. Something beyond Instagram. Something that SnapChat doesn’t offer in its slant towards privacy in communication. Twitter needs to become the CB radio of the next generation, and quick.
5) Nils didn’t mention YouTube, but YouTube Live has a shot in 2017 of leveraging all that it has going for itself. Massive audience. Massive library. Ease of use. A part of so many people’s daily entertainment and media consumption routine. And the already existing integration of Hangouts which is HouseParty, but in ultra manual mode. It also is wasting the opportunity to becoming relevant as the platform of choice for what Facebook Live is doing to become the television of today. YouTube has been making some pushes very recently like broadcasting the Grammy’s live. They need to think Netflix too. It’s a no brainer. Plus all smartTV’s and AppleTV’s come with YouTube baked in today. You’ll see MORE live broadcasts of mass market events. Sports games even (although ESPN SHOULD have that market for games locked up, but has lost out). For example, why was the SuperBowl available on the Fox Sports app on my AppleTV live? Not on YouTube Live? YouTube should be what it is now – aggregator of video content. We shouldn’t be seeking out and using specific channel apps anymore. YouTube has time to pivot and take over in 2017.
Here’s the video version of my predictions epilogue:
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