The 5 Biggest Social Media Trends of 2017

April 4, 2017 8:19 am

Written by Anthony Rawlins, Managing Director, Digital Visitor .

You’re probably not sad to see the back of 2016. But it does mean that 2017 is here and with it will come a whole raft of developments in social media. At Digital Visitor we’re always looking into the future of social media (it’s what we do).

Growth of Live Video
2015 saw the birth of live video content on social media with Periscope and the, now defunct, Meerkat. But it made an even bigger splash in 2016, with the launch of Facebook Live, before Snapchat and Instagram got on the scene with their own video capture and live video functions. To say it was a “huge gamble” is, perhaps, a bit of a stretch, but live video has certainly delivered a host of experimental new content ideas many of us did not see coming.

Having said that, live video on social media is still in its relative infancy, and 2017 is likely to see much stronger creative and financial investment in the technology. Simply put, it has so much potential for development over the next 12 months and brands will find better and more compelling ways to engage their audiences using live video.

We’re certainly excited to see the innovation that mass market uptake will bring live streaming on social media. Even now, it’s difficult to miss the live competitions regularly held by the likes of ASOS and live feeds broadcast by global news outlets. By the end of 2017 this trend will be only more apparent.

Don’t Forget: Non-live video is also huge on social media right now. We haven’t mentioned it here, but don’t expect video content to slow down any time soon.

Unsurprisingly, brands have always been transfixed by the celebrity influencers. Those with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers. But now they’re starting to realise that bigger doesn’t always mean better. And while celebrity influencers command huge fees and deliver big numbers, the engagement they attract may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

It’s a drum we’ve been beating for quite some time, preferring to work with a host of smaller influencers with followers numbering in the thousands, not hundreds of thousands. The reason? Smaller communities are easier to engage and pay more attention to what you have to say than larger ones.

This trend toward the smaller influencer will gain steam in 2017 as brands realise that working with micro-influencer has the potential to deliver a better ROI than the larger, traditional influencers.

Chatbots and Automation
2016 was a big year for artificial intelligence, with driverless cars taking huge leaps forwards, and Google’s AI comprehensively beating ‘Go’ Superstar Lee Sedol (an achievement many didn’t see coming). But for social media, the major news was the release of chatbots on Facebook.

In 2017, the rise of chatbots – and other marketing automations – certainly won’t slow down. More brands will start taking advantage of the relatively cheap and simple tools available to them.

WhatsApp, in particular, and the launch of businesses on the platform will likely be the most visible of these changes. By the end of 2017, we’ll likely all be receiving personalised marketing messages, order updates and reminders straight to our phones through the Facebook-owned service.

Virtual Reality Won’t Live Up to the Hype
Every Tom, Dick and Harry is predicting that AR/VR will be the headline development of 2017. But we just don’t see it. Year after year, it’s predicted that virtual reality will make it to the mass market and have a huge impact on the way we interact with brands and customers. And while the technology is exciting and incredible, it simply won’t happen in 2017.

To be fair, AR in the form of stickers on the likes of Instagram and Snapchat are doing well, with brands continuing to get in on the act. But virtual reality will remain a mass-market pipe dream held back by financial barriers.

Sure, you’ve got cheap alternatives to PSVR and Occulus Rift, but even Google Cardboard is still proprietary hardware that most won’t go out of their way to purchase. Mark our words that this time in 12 months experts will be predicting the same for VR in 2018 as they are now.

Serious About Social Media
It may seem strange to some, but only now is social media becoming a serious consideration for many brands. By that, we don’t mean uptake of social media – which is almost universal – but rather the allocation of serious spend on social channels across the board.

2017 will be the year all brand managers at least strongly consider large-scale social media campaigns. And this is a claim supported by reports that social media spend is to account for 20% of budgets by 2020. Social media will become a concrete aspect of all marketing strategies, and not just something “we should probably be doing”.

Final Thoughts
Obviously, the above are just predictions for social media based on current trends. But given recent developments, we don’t think that any of them are far off the mark. Of course, we could be completely wrong – that’s all part of the fun. Just don’t hold it against us if we are…