Social Media: The myths, truths and predictions from this year and next

Blog | 20 Dec, 2016

Written by Alice Reeves, Jack Catford, Sarah Wadmore and Shawn Smith

2016 was a progressive year for social, with chatbots and VR both hitting and missing the mark, and the live video and disappearing content booms! There’s a lot to reflect on as we make next year’s predictions.


We’ve got the best of the best to take a look back at the myths, truths and what’s hot to look out for in 2017.


Myths – what was predicted last year?

Many predicted a rise in self-help customer service, however, this hasn’t blown up just yet and is something to keep a close eye on.

Twitter, for example, has only recently introduced welcome messages and quick replies.

Customer service does continue to evolve, however, in the form of real-time exchanges such as Twitter complaints and expecting a response within the hour – a potentially costly resource.

Unbounce recently shared that top brands like Starbucks and Visa, perhaps recognizing this, choose not to respond to tweets at all.


Truths – what were we all right about?

Following on from social customer service, we’ve seen a slight shift in the way consumers are contacting brands on social in general, moving from one-to-many channels to one-to-one channels like Facebook Messenger, DMs or even chat clients such as WhatsApp.

True to anticipation virtual reality has continued to grow in popularity thanks to the meteoric rise of Pokémon Go. Live video also took off, following Periscope and YouTube’s lead. It was most widely advertised by Facebook in 2016.

Another expected technology was that of Messenger Bots. Facebook, among others, has automated customer services with the launch of bots in April 2016, and these have gone down with varying levels of success.

More personalization has been littered through campaigns. We loved the Airbnb pets campaign, designed to promote properties on Airbnb that were pet-friendly so people could vacation with their pets.

This was a winning formula because it identified something really important to a segment of their audience (pet owners), asked them to do something they love doing anyway (sharing photos of their pets), and at the same time promoted a huge number of their properties around the world. What a winning, personal and emotive formula!


What didn’t we see coming?

Social turned more personal this year with the wonder that is disappearing content – an alternative to storage of every single message and picture you dare share.

The disappearing content boom encourages users to share more freely. Plus, there’s a sense with Facebook that the more you invest, the more history you rack up with the platform – so you end up being committed to it. With Snapchat, it’s gone almost immediately. There’s something liberating about that.

Surprisingly, podcasts we didn't see coming. Over 17% of American adults listened to a podcast in November almost 15 years after they first appeared. “Serial” was the fastest podcast to ever reach 5 million downloads.

In marketing alone, there are hundreds of web directories.

There’s now more room for mid-size influencers to create podcasts that not only expand their visibility but also drive revenue for other ventures. Marc Maron, John August, even pro wrestler Colt Cabana, have stepped out from the fringes and in front of mainstream audiences because of their podcast’s success.

Using comedians, celebrities and beyond, allows brands to move the roadblocks of creativity, and for marketers, repurposing content is as easy as using audio treatments of written thought pieces.


What do we think we should look out for next year?

We would love to see the complete and total death of click bait. We’re over-saturated now and everyone is getting fed up with it, and most importantly, it doesn’t do brand integrity any favors.

Customer service has been trialed on Snapchat, but has not yet been widely adopted; however, we feel that as the users of the platform get older they too will be contacting brands they follow to solve customer queries.

We would like to see more brands using their customer data to build more personalized, meaningful campaigns geared towards specific target audiences rather than trying to hit as many people as possible.

Spending time building smaller audiences of highly engaged advocates is infinitely more valuable than attracting thousands of people to a site who then bounce off and don’t engage with you again.

It’s also time to extend campaigns beyond prospecting and pay more attention to keeping those people within the loyalty loop engaged through creative remarketing campaigns.


To read more of our 2016 round-ups and predictions on what 2017 may hold, head back to our News and Views page. 

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