5 Strange Ways Social Media Is Changing This Year


Social Media Week

If you can get ahead of your competition by embracing these changes and adjusting your strategies accordingly, you’ll reap the rewards in new followers and engagements.

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Social media never stands still for very long. It’s an evolving creature, driven by technological advancements, corporate competition, expanding horizons of technological features, and the demands of users.

As a business, you’ve likely already reaped some benefits of a social media strategy, but how you fare in the future will depend almost entirely on how well you’re able to adapt to the trends on the immediate horizon.

Evolution on Two Fronts
There are two main ways in which the social media world is evolving. The first is through app development; social media platforms are responding to user preferences, acknowledging new forms of technology and devices, and of course, are competing with each other to bring new changes to the scene. The second is through user interaction; users are engaging with brands (and each other) in new, dynamic ways.

Changes on the Immediate Horizon
With those evolutionary fronts in mind, let’s explore some of the strange new ways social media is evolving this year (and beyond):

1. Algorithms are getting reconsidered

Twitter and Instagram have both rolled out a similar algorithm that shapes the way their users consume content from their News Feeds.

Previously, both platforms were well-known for their relatively straightforward way of providing content; when you accessed your newsfeed, you’d see the posts of your followed accounts in strict chronological order.

Now, posts are organized and arranged based on their perceived relevance to the main user. This marks a new leap forward in user interaction and relevance. Expect to see more forms of customizability and user relevance prioritization in the future.

2. Users are able to categorize more

Hashtags went a long way in categorizing images and posts, but Facebook and other platforms are starting to take these grouping and categorizing features to a new level.

For example, Facebook recently rolled out a “topics” feature, which allows users to group their interactions around a certain focal point. Twitter is also adding a way for users to add images to photos, increasing the customizability factor of the platform.

3. The diversity of available advertising is rising

Advertising is how social media platforms make their money, so it’s no surprise that the advertising options for brands are improving and diversifying. Pinterest, which made headlines last year by offering a social and E-commerce hybrid option called “buyable pins,” recently came out with a new assortment of tools for advertisers to earn even more from the platform. Expect to see new options across the board here, with more diverse user engagement experiences stemming from the changes.

4. Real-time updates are becoming demanded

Social media users have been pushing for more real-time updates for a while now, but it’s only recently become more of a demand. Thanks in part to projects like Twitter’s Moments and platforms like Periscope and Meerkat, users are beginning to grow accustomed to immediate, real-time updates being the norm.

These scheduled-in-advance updates that many companies have relied on will slowly start to become obsolete, so start adjusting your strategy now to compensate for the difference.

5. Local engagement is increasing

Even though the reach of social media is expanding outward to new audience segments and international locations, the trend of interaction is drifting toward local communities. Part of this stems from a broader trend of citizens striving for more local producers and consumption options, such as how the restaurant industry is shifting toward more local food and sustainable options.

If your business wants to remain relevant and increase popularity on social media, you’d do well to cater more strongly toward your local audience—start showing more about how you’re giving back to your community and engaging with the local population.

These changes, manifesting as app development and consumer trends, are about to drive social media forward in 2016. Some of them are already in effect. The biggest winners in social media aren’t the ones best adapted to the present or recent past—they’re the ones adapting for the near future.

If you can get ahead of your competition by embracing these changes and adjusting your strategies accordingly, you’ll reap the rewards in new followers and engagements.

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Larry Alton

Writer, Freelancer

Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.



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