2016 was a big year for obvious reasons, many of which either were discussed on social media or involved social media in some facet. Personally, I’m obsessed with keeping up with social media trends, and at MP&F we want to make sure we are always one step ahead of the trends so we can guide our clients in the right direction when it comes to digital strategy. Here are the main social media trends I was intrigued by in 2016.

1.) The rise of Instagram

  • Here’s the deal: Facebook is still the reigning king with 79 percent of online adults’ using the platform. However, Instagram has been on a fast upswing since its birth in 2010, and in the last year the platform saw the second-highest use by online adults, according to the Pew Research Center. This is more than Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter – sites that have been around for much longer.
  • Perhaps Instagram’s popularity can be attributed to the several updates it launched this year, including:
    • The stories feature, which is similar to Snapchat, with a few differences.
    • Building off of stories, the platform recently announced live video (something that its parent company, Facebook, is pushing).
    • Zoom capabilities – no more accidentally liking a pic while trying to get a closer look!
    • Business page setup, analytics, increased video length, increased ad capabilities, ability to like comments, new news feed algorithm and more!
    • In our office, we have seen an increase in Instagram bloggers who work with brands to promote products to their followers.

2.) The continued decline of Twitter use by the masses

  • With the exception of the usage surge during the election, especially by the president-elect, it seems that Twitter couldn’t get it together in 2016 to compete with Facebook and the youngsters, Instagram and Snapchat.
  • This may be attributed to Twitter’s inability to control trolls and spamming as well as the publicity its 8 percent employee cut received, which made it clear to the public that it is struggling.
  • Visually appealing and interactive posts are what digital users want – i.e., stories, disappearing messaging, Facebook Live, Facebook 360 and more. Twitter is based on 140 characters of text with media as an attachment. It has built-in limitations – whereas its competitors have opportunities to grow and transform with user demand.

3.) Fake news (ugh)

  • As PR professionals, fake news is a nightmare! Have you read the story about how easily it spreads?
  • This was a huge trend in 2016, although it isn’t new. I’m sure it’s been an issue since the inception of social media; however, the election certainly highlighted it this year.
  • Fake news was a way to make money off of ads and in many ways was simply sensationalized click bait, which many people didn’t bother to fact-check before sharing to their networks. Not good!

Now the question is – what does 2017 have in store for us as digital marketers and digital consumers? Stay tuned for Part 2 to find out.