Predicting the Five Biggest Changes in Social Media This Year

A look back at 2015 reveals memorable trends in social media: the birth of live social streaming, with Periscope and Meerkat winning over early adopters; the growth of Snapchat, with its more than 200 million active users; and video, with Facebook users logging about 8 billion video views a day (possibly even more than on YouTube). Looking ahead to 2016, it appears that new technologies will change how we interact with social media, creating new options for everything from shopping to sharing real-time experiences.

Medium unveiled its prediction for “five big changes coming to social media in 2016.” First is virtual reality. Facebook, which acquired Oculus in 2014, has begun incorporating Oculus technology into its 360 Video, rolling out on News Feeds and allowing users to experience scenes from different angles, thus creating a more immersive experience.

In 2016, “expect to see more immersive videos… as publishers and even brands catch up with the technology and begin creating more content.” The consumer version of the Oculus Rift will also be available in early 2016, and Oculus VR has released Oculus Social Alpha, a social app, for use with the Samsung Gear VR headset.

Social shopping will also take off in 2016. The biggest obstacle has been ease of use but, says Medium, in 2016, we’ll see a shift from networks providing referral traffic to becoming platforms where users can make direct purchases.

Facebook_Shopping_Feed

Live streaming will become mainstream in 2016, when Facebook rolls out Facebook Live, its mobile streaming functionality, which allows users to instantly share live video using the Facebook platform without downloading a special app or leaving Facebook. It’s already being beta-tested, in the U.S., among a small number of iOS users.

“If Facebook Live rolls out as expected, it’s likely to not only dominate other live streaming options but also to fundamentally change the way Facebook’s 1.5 billion users engage with the platform,” predicts Medium.

Also in the new year, the use of social media at work will go from being a no-no to a necessity, with such tools as Slack and, soon, Facebook at Work. To gain widespread use, says Medium, “expect to see social media training finally begin to make its way into the workplace in an effort to close this gap.”

Using social media as a customer service platform will also take off. “Why wait on the phone when you can tweet and get an answer immediately?” asks Medium. So far, however, social media customer service has a dire reputation, but that’s going to improve in 2016, due to new functionalities from both Twitter (with Direct Messages) and Facebook (Messenger Business).

But the biggest change, says Medium, is the continued evolution of networks into “everything” platforms. “Social media has become less a discrete thing that people do than a natural component of everything they do,” it concludes. “And that trend shows no signs of slowing.”