Between instant articles, the rise of Snapchat and Periscope, it’s been a big year for 2015. The biggest shift we’ve seen is that social isn’t just a tool to distribute content, but people are now consuming more content on the social platform they are on. People expect a good native experience, and most social media platforms are eager to deliver that.
So what will 2016 bring for the big social media platforms? Here are my predictions:
- Instant articles. When the tool rolled out in May, publishers were hesitant to give their content over to Facebook, but the social media platform argued that instant articles make the content load faster. After months of tweaking and rolling out on mobile, Facebook has also allowed publishers to add more ad positions to monetize it more, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal this week.
What will happen next year? Look for more tweaking for Facebook, and more and more publishers participating. Facebook is to big of an audience and the experience of instant articles is too good for publishers to walk away from.
- Will Twitter go beyond 140 characters, or test a filtered timeline? With Jack Dorsey back at the helm, Twitter has been rolling out a ton of new features in the past month. There has long been speculation about lifting the character limit and it surfaced again recently. Twitter is also testing a timeline that isn’t in reverse chronological order.
Will those changes happen in Q1? Possibly, and I also expect Twitter to add more tools to increase engagement. Hearts have been successful and Twitter released polls as well. Twitter needs to move beyond news to bring in more users, and finding more interactive things to keep them on the platform such as polls will help.
- Could Instagram add links? The only way to get a link on Instagram is to post a link to your profile, which some savvy publishers started doing this year to get people to see more content. But Instagram also released advertising this year, and I expect advertisers will push for this functionality to be added.
Instagram’s success and huge growth (it surpassed 400 million users this year) this year has mostly been driven by its self-contained experience and images. But with an audience that size, there will be more need to link out.
- A more video-driven social app. Sure, you could argue that Snapchat and Facebook have great video experiences, but neither of those platforms are completely driven by video. I wonder if there’s going to be a platform that takes the immediacy of live streaming and matches it with a few editing tools for a more complete video experience. Using discovery tools like Twitter’s moments and Facebook’s signal exclusively for video content would certainly find an audience as well.