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The social media developments to watch in 2017
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The social media developments to watch in 2017

The social media landscape is always shifting, but we try to pin down the big changes that we think you'll see this year.

Twelve months is a long time in social media. 2016 saw the death of live-streaming app Meerkat - Twitter’s Periscope doing the dirty work before Facebook Live and ‘Chewbacca Mom’ delivered the final blow – Vine was placed on life-support (although Twitter have hesitated to pull the plug completely), and Instagram muscled in on Snapchat’s territory with their own ‘Stories’.

So while some social media predictions are pretty much a given - President Trump will go on another Twitter rant. Kanye West will go on another Twitter rant – other developments can be harder to predict. Nevertheless, our Social Media Manager, Ben Waterhouse, has decided to dust off his crystal ball #crystalball and predict some of the big social media developments and new features we can expect to see over the next year.

Your inbox is no longer a safe haven

LinkedIn has already expanded its sponsored InMails to all advertisers and Facebook is taking steps to offer similar forms of advertising. While these are great ways to make sure your content is actually seen by the people you want to see it, we’re not convinced how effective they’ll be, especially on Facebook.
Initially people are likely to be fairly receptive to them, but once they realise advertisers and brands are paying to invade their inbox, they won’t feel quite so special and expect to see those open rates drop.

Businesses get a leg up

Sure, most networks are pretty much pay-to-play now, but the major platforms are all rolling out some neat new features that businesses of all sizes can take advantage of.
On Twitter, accounts will be able to mark themselves as providing ‘support’ to customers, as well as listing support hours (no more customers kicking off because they tweeted a complaint at 1am and you haven’t responded because, well, you’re in bed) and even setting up automated welcome messages.

Instagram rolled out business profiles last year and will continue to explore ways to make the platform shoppable, while Facebook is really stepping things up for businesses in Messenger by adding various flagging and reporting tools to your inbox – perfect for businesses that field a lot of enquiries and messages.

Twitter to tackle the trolls

Whether it’s through AI/machine learning or simply a new set of tools, Twitter needs to do something to combat the toxic nature of many of the conversations that take place on the channel. With Twitter struggling to attract new users to the platform amidst rumours of a sale, cleaning up its act is crucial. They’ve recently given users the ability to filter out certain phrases and keywords from the mentions, but news that they're retraining support staff on how they handle harassment cases suggest they’re going to be doing even more to clean up the network in 2017.

Rise of the Chatbots

Full disclosure: I message the Domino’s Pizza Facebook Chatbot more than I message my friends and family. Last year saw a massive increase in Chatbots and how businesses and brands used them, and with Facebook’s continuing emphasis on Messenger – along with WhatsApp for Business in 2017 –they’re going to become an even bigger part of everyday life in 2017. Great news for lonely souls like me!

Live 360 Videos

From Star Wars to The Body Coach via Sydney Opera House, 360 videos were big news in 2016 and anyone who had access to the technology was giving them a go. Now Facebook has upped the ante with its announcement of Live 360, which will be rolling out to all pages and profile over the course of 2017.

A more immersive experience than regular videos, whereas Live has always been about giving the people the chance to experience moments as they happen, Live 360 puts them in that moment.
As Facebook’s algorithm continues to reduce the reach of short-form video content  (in fact, the shift towards longer, original content could have made this list as a trend in its own right), pages and business will need to get to grips with innovations such as Live 360 to make sure their content continues to their audiences.

If you’d like help with any aspect of your social strategy – from advertising to content creation – feel free to get in touch.

Posted 30 January 2017 by Ben Waterhouse