What is the future of social media and how will it affect you or your business? Based on current trends we have made strong predictions to serve as guidance for the future. Take a brief moment to soak up this ever-evolving list because it will help inform early decisions for you to think ahead of the competition. Bookmark the page to return later for updates!
Direct shopping on social
Over the last few years, Facebook has been pushing eCommerce more on its platform, most noticeably with the Facebook marketplace. The marketplace is reminiscent of classified ads such as Gumtree, where people advertise items they are selling. The marketplace was a great success and since then Instagram has pushed its own direct shopping options. The end goal appears to be heading towards directly making purchases, but for now, products mainly link back to websites. The implications of this are huge because direct shopping on social is convenient and prompts impulse buying.
Personal branding and nano-influencers
In 2020, many big-name brands paused advertising on Facebook because of the atmosphere of ‘hate speech’. This ‘Stop Hate For Profit’ boycott campaign hasn’t yet extended to Twitter, despite its notoriety for stirring up trouble. As politics moves to the forefront of public conversation, there is heightened sensitivity between businesses and social media users. This may cause brands to increase the use of influencers, ambassadors, and employees to indirectly promote the merits of their products and services.
On Linkedin, there is already a much higher level of engagement on personal accounts than company ones. Instagram is littered with influencer marketing, which has proved effective over the years. Businesses are now moving towards nano-influencers who have a lot of engagement but a small social media following.
Social media ‘stories’
A few years ago, brands were still sceptical about the future of formats like Instagram Stories and Facebook Live. Since then, we’ve seen an overall decline in static social media post engagement. This problem has only exacerbated as Instagram continues to hide likes (Facebook may follow). The saving grace for getting high engagement has come from stories and Live. This is the evolution of social media as they fight to keep users hooked on their platforms. Augmented reality is now being rolled out, which also feeds into the stories format.
This is a blessing in disguise for many brands as it will encourage more storytelling marketing, transparency, creativity and closer connections. The long-term result will have a far greater impact than just daily static posts.
One trend you can rely on to deliver great results is video. We saw it with Youtube. Next came Instagram Stories and Twitch, and now TikTok, a short music and comedy video site, is dominating the landscape with 800+ million users since 2016. A 19% increase in time spent watching online videos is predicted for 2021 compared to 2019. That’s 100 minutes a day!
The high ROI video offers will excite you! Consumers spend more time interacting with your content, and it will be shared much more than text. Videos can be used for adverts, information, entertainment and branding. But it’s not just B2C. Many B2B businesses are taking full advantage of Instagram Stories, animations, collaborations with social media influencers, vlogs and podcasts. Cost has always been the main hurdle for marketers, which is why our videographer has explained how to shoot a promotional video on a budget.
Focus on data privacy
Social media platforms have faced fierce criticism since the 2016 US elections in part because Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy, used up to 5000 data points from users to help influence the election. Major networks such as Twitter have now banned political advertising.
This is important because there is a growing concern among those on social media about the use of their data. Tech giants like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are in the business of advertising and selling data and this poses a problem with balancing interests between consumers’ data security and profitability. They are now taking steps to improve privacy options but this may not be enough with the rise of new social media platforms like WigWaum.
Wigwaum is a social media site which protects and deletes the users’ data in exchange for a small fee each month. We may see the future of social media heading towards this kind of paid-model if security concerns continue to escalate.
Consolidation of social media channels
Whatsapp and Instagram are both owned by Facebook and they have been pushing to integrate them behind the scenes. While keeping these separate, Facebook realised there was overlap between platforms and now wants to bridge some of the gaps between them. But all the major networks seem to be diluting themselves with extra features to win new audiences and bolster declining engagement.
Instagram has introduced Reels, which seeks to copy TikTok’s format. Facebook is trying to capture Youtube’s video audience, as is Instagram with IGTV. All of them have live video features. Users may feel like they can use fewer platforms to enjoy everything they need. Instead of spreading your focus across several networks, your business may benefit more from focusing growth on the few platforms that are working the best for you. With that said, experimenting on new platforms is always welcome.
Growth in the average time spent on social media stunted in 2019 at 2h 22m per day. The typical user juggles 9 different platforms, exacerbating mental health issues caused by using them. People have also been pushed to use it more due to COVID-19 and there will likely be a growing fatigue in the future. Many users will counter this by cutting some off.
Note: If you’re personally becoming disengaged with all the different social channels out there, try out all-in-one platforms like Wigwaum, which includes social, business, dating and wellbeing in one ecosystem. For business, though, it’s not an option because it is free from advertising.
Niche social media sites
While some are combining social channels, others are flocking to niche sites which best serve their interests. Facebook’s size allows it to dominate the space of ‘groups’ or pages where communities discuss topics. Many businesses aren’t paying attention to the niche competitors getting a substantial cut of the pie right now. For example, there is a knitting social media company called Ravelry, which has 8 million users. These smaller sites are flourishing and can offer a greater return on investment when advertising due to less competition. Targeting niche social media sites occupying like-minded people who fit your target audience will be an effective strategy in the future.
Do you want to know the most popular social media platforms, how to use them, and which are best for your business?