Social media trends to watch

Livestreaming on social media

Real-time streaming is one of the biggest trends hitting social media this year. Companies as diverse as VISA and Spotify are using livestreaming applications like Meerkat and Periscope to drive deeper engagement with their customers who continue to crave intimacy and immediacy.

Social phone example ()

And the cost of entry remains low because livestreaming apps turn a phone’s camera into a live-streaming device, broadcasting everything it sees to a user’s Twitter followers with the tap of a button. In January, Twitter-owned Periscope took livestreaming one step further by integrating with GoPro to let its 10 million users broadcast to their followers from an action camera connected to an iPhone.

Paul Ronzheimer, a journalist from German publication Bild, used Periscope to help Syrian refugees tell their stories to the publication’s readers. ‘Periscope’s features include the ability for viewers to comment during the broadcasts, which in this case often included questions that the refugees could answer live and unmediated,’ he said.

On a lighter note, BuzzFeed recently used Meerkat to live-stream the ‘vigil’ for Zayn Malik—a teen-driven, reaction to the pop singer leaving the group One Direction.

Facebook has also joined the livestream party with Facebook Live. According to Facebook Live team members Vadim Lavrusik and Dave Capra, on average people watch a video more than three times longer when it is live compared to when it is not. To share a live video, users simply tap ‘What’s on your mind?’ at the top of their News Feed and select the Live Video icon. With 1.5 billion users, Facebook is sure to be a driving force behind the adoption of livestreaming on social platforms this year.

Social commerce

In 2016, consumers will be making more and more purchases from social media platforms. Building on major developments last year, including the addition of Buy buttons by Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well as Instagram’s expanded ad program, retailers will continue to use social platforms to drive awareness of their products and convert that awareness into cash.

Social commerce means big business. According eMarketer,  in 2015, social commerce revenue peaked at $14 billion in the U.S. and $30 billion worldwide. Some experts expect this number to triple by 2020.

Millennials are a driving force behind the growth of social commerce. A recent study by the University of Dartmouth reveals that of this group of 76 million people in the US alone, 48 per cent use smart phones to make purchases online, 21 per cent use tablets and 35 per cent are likely to use a ‘buy’ button on Facebook.

Polyvore ()

In addition to mainstream social media sites, social transactions will also be driven by curated shopping sites like AHAlife, a self-described ‘curated destination for discovering 2,700+ designers & artisans in 45+ countries.’ Competitor, Polyvore is the fastest-growing social platform and is currently the largest online style community. The power of the site is clear considering that its 20 million members spend on average US$383 on each shopping cart and the 150 brands who advertise on earn a return on advertising spend that’s six to one.

Pinterest phone example ()

Rich social media search

As the social web becomes more visual, new discovery tools are emerging. At the end of last year, Pinterest announced the availability of a new visual search tool which helps users find similar images on the site.

When the user finds an image in a Pin that is of interest, all they need to do is tap the search tool on the image to see other Pins just like it. Users can even filter their visual search results by topic to find exactly what they are looking for.

 ‘There are dozens of interesting items within a Pin’s image; we want to give Pinners a tool to learn more about these items,’ said Andrew Zhai, software engineer on Pinterest’s visual discovery team.

Finding images is not the only challenge when it comes to discovering rich social media content. With 800 million hours of video being watched every day, Facebook is working to make it easier for its 1.59 billion monthly users to find exactly the video they want to see. The plan is to provide separate channels for videos shared by friends, pages you like, trending videos on Facebook, videos you’ve saved, or videos you’ve previously viewed.

Social transformation marches on

With the number of worldwide social media users projected to grow from 2.1 billion last year to 2.5 billion by 2018, social media is clearly here to stay. Every day, new innovations are transforming the very core of what social media is by creating new user experiences. This year, social media is becoming more visual and more commercial. Who knows what 2017 will bring.

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