Social media evolves daily, and it can be a challenge to predict the next turn it will take; but I’m willing to make a few predictions based on what we saw in 2016. Here are my predictions for the state of social media in 2017.

1.) Virtual reality will expand from gaming industry into social media blog pic

  • After watching this Ted Talk by Chris Milk, I am convinced that VR will have the ability to humanize social media and create a whole new experience – one that will make someone far away seem quite close.
  • In 2014, Facebook purchased the main producer of commercial VR devices, Oculus. I believe Mark Zuckerberg has something up his sleeve that will connect the social network to VR in a way that will advance the way we connect.

2.) Snapchat’s evolving role in the digital landscape

  • The company now known as Snap Inc. has gone public at one of the highest IPO’s in recent years which is pretty bold for the social platform, but it does say the company is confident about its growth.
  • Instagram has been playing cat and mouse with Snapchat, copying many of its functions, and imitation is the ultimate form of flattery. If the second most popular platform of 2016, Instagram, is copying this channel, I think it’s one to watch for 2017.
  • It is extremely popular with young millennials and Generation X, a large target market for advertisers, and has already upped its ad game, which brings me to …

3.) Digital ad opportunities will boom

  • In 2016, digital ad revenue went up 20 percent, while newspaper revenue went down 8 percent. We saw major ad revenue for Facebook and a sharp increase in ad revenue for Instagram. My prediction is this will only increase as new social trends emerge in 2017. Let’s look at the numbers:
    • Facebook’s projected ad revenue 2017: $33.76 billion.
    • Instagram is set to top $2 billion.
    • Snapchat is predicted to jump from the $366.69 million that it hit in 2016 to $935.46 million in 2017.

Overall, we can assume that Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (and who knows, maybe Twitter too) will continue to evolve and become integrated even more seamlessly into our daily lives.

This post originally appeared in the March 3, 2017 print edition of the Nashville Business Journal.