Social Media Trends expected to drive the most engagement in 2016


Social Media trends in 2016

We are living in a world ever increasingly dominated by social media. From following the US party political Presidential debates on Twitter, to using Instagram as a daily photo diary, 2015 has set the scene for what will be the biggest social media trends in 2016.

Over the past year, the number of social media users has increased by 176 million, making up around 30% of the global population. Facebook alone adds half a million new users every day, and nearly 2 billion users utilize their smartphones strictly for social media purposes.

Social media dominated our daily lives in 2015, chronicling the best and the worst events of a turbulent year. The 2016 US Presidential election was the number one discussed social media topic in the United States, with 76 million people posting, commenting, liking or sharing content on Facebook more than 1.5 billion times. Across the globe we saw users unite with France in the wake of the terrorist attacks using the hashtags #JeSuisCharlie and #PrayforParis to show their support. #BlackLivesMatter was one of the top trending hashtags in the US, with users demonstrating their belief in the civil rights movement. We also saw content like #TheDress go viral, with many of us getting into heated online debates over if the dress was white and gold or blue and black.

Despite the fun of social media, platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn all serve individual serious purposes. Connecting us with individuals across the globe, social media breaks down barriers, creating an inclusive and increasingly connected community that enriches all of our daily lives.

With 12 new active mobile social media users added every second, and two million smartphones sold every day, there’s no sign of social media losing its momentum.

Hundreds of individuals will have signed up to a new social media platform since you started reading this article. What will be the big social media trends that we will all be testing out in 2016?

Live video: many social media users tried out live video in 2015. The explosion in popularity of platforms such as Periscope, Meerkat and Blab enabled ‘real people’ to use this new feature to record live video of our daily lives or watch exclusive content broadcast from our favorite personalities and brands.

Facebook Live Stream is one of the most interesting social media trends of 2016 to keep an eye on. Following its launch in August 2015, celebrities were able to broadcast live video to their fans, watching comments overlaid in real time and make the recording permanently available for viewing. Celebrities such as Serena Williams and The Rock were the first to use the service, and with a wider reach than many other social networks, Facebook Live Stream enables celebrities to reach an even larger audience. One of the positives of Facebook Live Stream is that videos don’t disappear- in fact 53% of the video views come from re-shares, most likely after a broadcast ends.

There’s no question that live video will continue to dominate the social media landscape during 2016. Another platform to keep an eye on is YouNow. Popular with teens, this platform has no ads, and sees users broadcast their everyday movements from dancing to singing, eating to sleeping. It seems to be compelling many, with an estimated 100 million user sessions a month and 150,000 live broadcasts a day. Online publishers including The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and Refinery 29 are using the app to communicate with younger readers, broadcasting weekly shows with YouTube stars as a way to draw teens and millennials to their sites.

Live video streaming is a social media trend that we will all be persuaded to try in 2016. From celebrities to the girl next door, producing worthwhile content that users actually want to watch is a work in progress.

New technology: get set to head into a virtual world in 2016! With Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR, virtual reality will soon become a standard and accepted feature of our shopping, sports, gaming and travel experiences. The launch of 360 degree video on the social media platform in September 2015 has provided a new way for content creators to share immersive stories and events with their fans, exposing them to experience a story from multiple different angles on both web and mobile.

The first 360 degree video from Facebook provided a teaser of the new Star Wars film, with users able to drag the video with a mouse on their desktop or move their smartphone or tablet to change the view. Brands including AT&T, Samsung and Walt Disney World have all embraced this new technology, with immersive and emotive stories already filling up many of our news feeds. Facebook is also working with many camera brands including Theta and IC Real Tech, meaning that ordinary users will soon be able to create their own 360 degree videos to share with the world in 2016.

Businesses and communication: effective internal communication with employees can be a big dilemma for many businesses. The rollout of Facebook for Work will be a social media trend that we’ll be closely watching in 2016. There is a general acceptance by big businesses that their staff communication needs to be improved, and social media provides many innovative avenues to increase productivity, morale and teambuilding amongst the workforce.

The launch of Facebook for Work sees users able to seamlessly connect to both a work facing Facebook profile and a personal profile at the same time. Large institutions like the Royal Bank of Scotland have been reported as using Facebook for Work, encouraging their employees to communicate through the platform in place of email and telephone. The app combines messaging, groups and the news feed, enabling users to follow their co-workers and opt into relevant discussion threads. With 90% of Royal Bank of Scotland employees reportedly actively using the software on a monthly basis, this is one social media trend in 2016 that could be soon headed to your workplace.

Social shopping: shopping is no longer a solitary experience, with the social media trend for 2016 firmly headed in an immersive direction. Thanks to the popularity of platforms like Pinterest, there is now a real push for users to purchase items directly on social media. Currently only available for US users, the buyable pin function is making ‘social selling’ an easy way for customers to purchase a pair of shoes or photo frame direct from a retailer’s Pinterest page. A pin with a blue price indicates that the product can be purchased, and with a secure checkout developed for mobile users, Pinterest is keen to push this new way of reaching consumers and their impulse shopping habits.

The publication of rich content that provides additional useful information for the consumer is a successful way of increasing engagement and shareability on social media. Combined with buyable functions, social shopping is one social media trend in 2016 that will transform the way in which we purchase items online.

Visual content: the old saying ‘an image is worth a thousand words’ certainly rings true when it comes to sharing engaging content. 63% of all social media is made up of images, with nearly 66% of updates on social media platforms containing visual content of some kind.

Tap into this growing social media trend in 2016 by embracing the power of GIFs, auto play video, infographics, data visualization and memes. Give users an insight into you and your brand in bite size chunks, and don’t be afraid to try new a new visual strategy and direction when it comes to updating your social media profiles. Make your visual content stand out by experimenting with filters and collage images, all of which can be easily created on free sites such as Canva and PicMonkey.

Increase of ads/sponsored posts: there’s no getting away from the reality that some of the content you create will need to be boosted by a sponsored post or digital advertisements. Over the past year, spending on social media ads has increased 33.5% to nearly $24 billion. Platforms like Instagram have seen a large increase in the number of sponsored posts, with brands like Burt’s Bees, Capital One and Qantas using sponsored posts to reach new audiences, rekindle emotional connections and run photo and video campaigns to take their business to the next level.

Twitter is still proving to be a good platform to invest in promoted tweets. Increase your exposure by purchasing promoted tweets and use lead generation cards to grow your contact database. If you want to reach the right people, targeted tweets are an effective methodology to use.

This year will see an increase in brands and organizations using sponsored posts across all networks. This is one social media trend in 2016 you’ll have to embrace if you want to reach new audiences.

Dominance of Instagram: Instagram is perhaps the social media network that is at the top of everyone’s target list. With 400 million users and a particular favorite with millennials, this image driven platform is a key social media location for brands, media personalities and social influencers. Instagram’s newly launched search and explore function has transformed the user experience, making it easier to keep users within the app and push them towards trending and real life events, segmented by tags, people and places.

By using Instagram integrated apps like Boomerang and Layout, users can create fun, bitesize content to increase engagement and followers. Adding hashtags to images and geo tagging their location is also an effective way of ensuring a wider audience sees your images. With 85% of brands using Instagram as part of their digital strategy, Instagram is set to dominate the social media trends in 2016.

Visual search: keep an eye out for an increase of visual search across social media networks in 2016. With platforms like Pinterest enabling users to locate a specific item from within an image, this interactive function will cut out the hassle of trying to locate a specific product that shoppers may want to buy. The sight driven tool will undoubtedly help to grow brand presence, with Pinterest soon to be a shopping destination that we will all be visiting. This is one social media trends in 2016 that other social media companies will be following, and potentially rolling out very soon!

Social publishing: with a greater focus placed on content marketing, many of us now see ourselves as ‘content creators.’ 2015 has seen the dominance of publishing platforms such as LinkedIn Pulse and Medium, with individuals, brands and organizations seeking to create content exclusively for followers on these networks. Even government institutions are embracing this trend, with the White House using Medium to communicate with the American public and share an intimate look behind the scenes at the Obama Administration. During 2015, Medium was used to highlight the President’s historic trip to Alaska and also used to share photos from a state visit by the President of China. Targeted digital publishing like this helps to break down the ‘us and them’ barrier, making social media a truly inclusive way to communicate with the world around us.

Facebook Instant Articles is the latest addition to this mix, enabling users to publish long-form content for their followers. This function is only currently available for publications or organizations, but we predict this could soon be available for all Facebook users in the near future.

Social goes IPO: valued at roughly $16 billion, many experts are predicting that Snapchat will file an IPO in 2016. With 100 million active daily users and 6 billion daily video views in November 2015 alone, the expectation is that Snapchat will double its revenue next year. An IPO will push Snapchat into exciting new territory, and generate new buzz for this relatively new social media platform. Watch this space!


Which social media trends in 2016 do you think will be the most popular? Which will you be taking part in? We’d love to know your thoughts!