2016 Social Media Trends – My Winners & Losers

We live in a very exciting time in 2016, but I admit even with my constant desire for change, the social media landscape is one hell of a challenge.

In this post, I’m going to let you know my thoughts on the 2016 social media trends and run through my winners and losers. I’d love to know what you think in the comments at the end. 

Winners

Snapchat

Snapchat is at the top of the tree for me right now (follow me here please!!). The point of social media platforms is to allow you to tell your story and directly engage in a meaningful way with your community. A great platform let’s you get engagement, build trust and do it with low friction and zero spam. This for me, is where Snapchat is at right now.

Snapchat has really nailed it in the way that they cluster their stories under a username and make it super easy for users to skip a long video or image if they desire. Shorter content is the key to engagement on mobile these days, but it’s easier to build trust and deliver real value with longer content.

My thoughts on social media platforms and what is working often come back to this point. Snapchat makes it very easy to add short content (low friction) unlike say Periscope. But snapchat also make it easy to add longer content (doing multiple videos that are consumed one after the other unlike Twitter).

Add in an effective notification system which has you notified for direct messages (which you want) but not for everything else (which you don’t want), and you have a platform that has you constantly returning and engaging. It’s no surprise that Snapchat has become the second most used social network in the US, far outpacing Instagram and Twitter.

Related: 5 Snapchat statistics that prove it’s power

If you are keen to give Snapchat a go, follow me @thedannorris and send me a snap. I’ll reply and say hi.

 

Facebook Live

I think that Facebook Live is becoming a real game changer for Facebook. I think the live streaming thing is a bit niche. The friction is high and for the most part I don’t think people want to watch stuff live (with some obvious event-based exceptions). However the real win with Facebook Live is how easy it is as a platform for getting video content onto Facebook. Yes it’s cool to be live and engaging directly with your community (like you can do on Periscope), but what about adding on top of that, a video that ranks high in the Facebook algorithm and gains ongoing attention and engagement for days after. The latter is not something periscope can offer, and for that reason, Facebook Live is looming as a Periscope killer.

I had some initial reservations about Facebook Live due to the fact that not everyone has ‘push’ notifications enabled, so how will your audience know when you’re actually going out live with video content? But I missed the second part of the equation. It probably doesn’t matter how many people tune in live. What matters is how many people see it and engage with it, and more people are going to do that on Facebook.

If I’m putting any live video content up on Periscope (@thedannorris) I’m pretty much relying on people seeing it there and then, and because of the notification issue that’s fewer and fewer people.

I will be using Facebook Live on my Facebook page, you can like it here.

Facebook Instant Articles

While Instant Articles aren’t available to me, or the majority of users just yet, when they come online in April they will be a game changer. I’ve noticed online influencers like James Altucher posting their blog posts word for word directly to Facebook in the past, obviously realizing that people don’t want to click away from Facebook when they are in the app.

Instant articles will let you post your content on your own site, but push it to the Instant Articles service using a WordPress plugin. This allays any fears about ‘owning’ your content but gives you the full benefit of people being able to consume your content directly via the Facebook app virtually instantly. There are some big publishers using this already and I can tell you once you get used to consuming content in this way, you will never want to click off Facebook again.

Again once released, I’ll be publishing via my Facebook page.

Long Shot – Anchor

At the bleeding edge range of the spectrum there’s Anchor, a new player in the social media marketplace. Anchor is audio only, and while other people obsess over the big numbers of some of the other networks, I’m going deep on engagement. Whether Anchor is the platform I don’t know, but I do know that the closer you can get to having real conversations with people, the more trust you will build and the better return you will get from your social media content long term. Anchor is exactly that. Having conversations with people.

I also like audio. I’m finding more and more, audio is becoming an important part of my social life.  

I’m seeing this in the behaviour of other people right now too. When I’m out and about I see people walking around holding their phones up to their ears and faces while listening to audio on loudspeaker (pizza slice style). I know from personal experience that my own behaviour has changed a lot, and only recently. I would never have done that before, but I’m doing it more and more now, particularly with apps like Whatsapp and iMessage becoming my go-to place for staying in contact with people.

Anchor is very early and there are some obvious limitations, for instance the two-minute audio file limit and the amount of time it takes to consume audio (quick to create, slow to consume), the inability to add longer content (in a snapchat-like way) etc. We’ll mark this one down as one to watch.

I am @thedannorris on Anchor if you are keen to check it out.

Instagram – for now

Good old Instagram (follow me @thedannorris) is still one of the big players in the social media realm without a doubt. There are many examples of people building huge followings and using their audience to build great companies (see Foundr Magazine, and Frank Body). However while it was a young platform, it was relatively easy to hack together a big following, much like Twitter was early on. But as platforms mature, those followers become less valuable and it becomes harder to reach people. Also the early loopholes (like auto following and underground paid posts etc), become harder to exploit. I saw this with Twitter, and Google and now Instagram. 

With the recent Algorithm change, Instagram marketers have been put on notice. Long term, Instagram will go the way of Facebook. The number of followers won’t be as valuable, the growth hacking techniques won’t work and we will be back to creating great content or “pay to play” or both.

I think there’s still time to build a following on Instagram and I’m still pushing pretty hard there, but I think the window is closing.

Related: Delegate your Instagram marketing strategy for $30 per week

Losers

Moving on now to those platforms that I tend to give a wide berth.

LinkedIn has become an epic spam fest. The platform is buggy and ugly, hard to use and 90% of every message or friend request I get on there is spam. Unless you are looking for a job, I can’t see why you would use it. I worry long term for LinkedIn, their share price has taken a beating and I think if Facebook wanted to, they could replace what they do fairly easily.

I won’t put my LinkedIn URL in here, because I don’t want any more friend requests. I’m not sure what to do with the current 300.

Seriously look at this website. What year is it?

Google+

Google+ is a poor attempt at copying an existing network, by a company that seems to have no clue how to build modern social applications (thank god for email hey Google?). There are a few good lessons learned from Google+. Firstly Google+’s core innovation was the ability for people to group people in Circles. Turns out people don’t want to ‘work’ and they expect the network to do this for them. That’s why we don’t group search results, and we don’t group Facebook posts. Timelines don’t work and user generated content delivery is very hard (not impossible, see Reddit but very very difficult). Algorithms work which is why I think every social network will eventually have one (Instagram just announced one, Twitter will be next, then Snapchat).

The other lesson is not to pay attention to big numbers and focus more on engagement. Google+ never really felt right, but people kept using it because Google boasted how many people were ‘using’ it. In reality no one ‘uses it’, they just have an account. So focus where you are actually getting engagement from real people, not the place that has the big numbers.

Not putting my G+ in here cause I do not care.

Periscope

I’ve touched a bit on Periscope already. It was purchased by Twitter in 2015, which is big in my book, as I think it does need to be part of a bigger platform and not function as a standalone live streaming app where you’re constantly getting spammed with notification updates. Perhaps Twitter will finally move towards becoming a bit more like Facebook by incorporating Periscope into their primary platform and introducing an algorithm. As a stand alone app it’s hard for me seeing Periscope winning the live streaming war. I think Facebook beats periscope and Snapchat will too when they release live streaming (can already do it via DM).

I’m @thedannorris on Periscope, but I’m really not sure if I will use it again.

Twitter

While not a dead set loss, I’m putting Twitter in the ‘no cigar’ category due to their rigidness and lack of progress up until now. A timeline of auto-fed posts does not a good social network make and I’m not one for boosting my profile via auto follow. I find myself using Twitter less and less and engagement across the board has evaporated.

I think they should (and will) remove the 140 character limit (read more buttons work guys), and introduce an algorithm so people don’t have to wade through a chronological timeline filled with auto-fed shite. However they are well behind on video, images, filters, messaging and audio and I think the ship might have sailed.

The only thing that is saving them right now is a huge history of being “The” platform that people use in the mainstream media to identify themselves. But guess what. Snapchat has @handles too, and they have snapcodes which are 10X better. Facebook didn’t do a good job of copying this “identity” feature from Twitter nor its relevance for live events, but Snapchat will (handles, snap codes, geo filters and local stories).

My gut feel is that the platform as a whole is starting to feel a lot less relevant in the year 2016, and it might be the beginning of the end.

I’m @thedannorris on Twitter, follow me if you like, I don’t mind either way.

The rise…and rise…of messaging apps

Whilst not strictly social networks in their own right, messaging apps are also a great way to push out content and engage with influencers and your community. To my mind there have been some recent groundbreaking developments within this space. Take Facebook Messenger for instance. Pulling it out of Facebook and aggressively pushing it out into it’s own standalone app was a pretty ballsy move as far as I’m concerned! As usual Mark Zuckerberg had his finger on the pulse…messaging is a crucial and ever growing part of the social media experience and it needs to be in a separate app with a different notification regime or else it doesn’t get used in the same way. Facebook Messenger gets a definite thumbs up from me!

And just in case it doesn’t, we have Whatsapp, also owned by Facebook! I find that I’m sending a lot of audio files now simply for the ease and convenience factor. I’m using Whatsapp now for personal messages as well as for my team in business (until Slack gets better at managing multiple teams and supports audio messages).

There are plenty of other messaging apps that are either well established or on the rise (WeChat, Kik, Viber, Line to name a few) and as we’ve seen with Snapchat, all these guys need to do is add a timeline and you have a social network! I wouldn’t be surprised if the next big social network comes from one of these messaging apps. Here’s an idea for Apple. Rather than turning iTunes into a social network (Ping), why not do it with iMessage?

Again a gigantic missed opportunity by the major tech companies. Skype should be #1 in mobile messaging, instead they are miles behind the big players like Whatsapp. Hangouts (or whatever Google could have released) should be second with the staggering growth of Android but they aren’t even close.

So there you have it, this is my social media truth as it stands. Let me know what you think in the comments below. 

 

19 Comments

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  • Reply

    philcharles

    Cant agree with you about LinkedIn – very much depends on your market sector and objectives.

    In my case I am targeting technical professionals for profession development courses in a specific sector and LinkedIn is the most appropriate platform for me to target then.

    Phil, Brisbane

  • Reply

    Markita @SweshFit

    Completely agree on Snap…especially in comparison to Periscope. However we have yet to see them really go after monetization…it’s still in its younger, fun stage. I think will either be successful at that and be a better version of IG or will become more of a niche like Reddit.

    I don’t understand FB Live at all so cant really take it seriously yet.

    I’m sad that IG kind of sucks now. Just a year ago it was my favorite platform by far. Now I barely use it. It definitely feels more spammy and less interactive.

    • Reply

      Dan Norris

      yeah I tend to agree, it’s not as fun, once marketers got involved it becomes less fun (guilty of course). Twitter was the same. Snapchat is designed in a better way so it’s harder for marketers to lock it out I think.

  • Reply

    Brad Beer

    Dan great summary-thank you

  • Reply

    Tom

    This is a great summary – always appreciate your insights Dan.

    What are your thoughts on Blab? I really enjoyed our Authority Super Summit event – engagement on the platform is great if you can get people on live…but as you mentioned, “live” can be difficult…Anyway, I’ve been thinking about doubling down on Blab and just curious what your thoughts are on it, pros / cons.

    • Reply

      Dan Norris

      I think it’s cool I’m not sure I’d class it as a consumer grade social media platform. It’s more of a webinar app with some social aspects. It could definitely evolve into something more like snapchat / Facebook I guess but as it is right now, it seems like more of a tool for running live webinars.

  • Reply

    Rudiano

    Excellent write up. I don’t have to try them all now👍

  • Reply

    Denise Beecroft

    Doesn’t your choice of media depend on where your clients are? Like Phil, I still find lots of services professionals hardly use social media and certainly don’t go near platforms like Facebook (let alone Snapchat) where they operate in a B2B environment. Maybe it’s an age thing (of the decision-makers)… or maybe in Australia we’re lagging behind on the use of some of these platforms??? LinkedIn seemed to be that space, but I see how it’s looking a bit old hat.

    • Reply

      Dan Norris

      I can’t imagine that is true. Facebook has over 1 billion users which means pretty much every service professional does use it. I think people make assumptions about who uses what without testing it. Everyone is doing that with Snapchat now saying it’s for kids and their people aren’t on there etc. I think most of they time they are wrong.

  • Reply

    Rob Cubbon

    Definitely agree with you on everything. I haven’t used LinkedIn in ages. Twitter could be the next big loser and the next big winner will come from instant text/audio/image/video messaging with an accent on social. You can see that by the way Line is so huge in Asia.

    • Reply

      Dan Norris

      Yeah there are a lot of big messaging apps in Asia like Line, WeChat, Viber etc.

  • Reply

    Lucas

    Gotta disagree with the Facebook Instant articles, as it suggests the end of the open web. Facebook is trying to become a self-contained world wide web and it’s having a Walmart like effect on it’s users like Walmart had on communities and employees. Google is working with publishers to combat this by creating Google AMP pages which help pages load faster and allow publishers and bloggers to benefit from the SEO and keep people on their OWNED media instead of building home on rented land. No ones call to action buttons are on Facebook. There are some great opinions expressed on this on the PNR: This Old Marketing Podcast from the Content Marketing Institute. This article here is useful as well.
    http://www.cjr.org/analysis/facebook_and_media.php

  • Reply

    Andy Willis

    Great round up Dan, it seems all roads are leading to Snapchat as the platform to get traction on while it’s still relatively new and before the spammers find their way in.
    I’ve signed up for Snapchat but have yet to get my head around it. I like that you feel it is “A great platform let’s you get engagement, build trust and do it with low friction and zero spam”
    It’s easy to get caught up in the vanity metric of big number of “followers” on all the various platforms but engagement and quality followers add far more value to your business than the numbers. That being said you do need the numbers to find the quality, weeding out the non value followers is problem.
    I much prefer to build real relationships with fewer numbers, have real conversations rather than random likes and hollow comments.
    The problem we all face is where to concentrate our energy to get the best ROI, the other biggie is, just when we get to crushing what was the social media platform of the moment the next best thing appears. That of course is the world we live in and doesn’t look like changing anytime soon, or should I say it will always be changing.
    Anyway thanks for the round up Dan, looks like it’s time to start using that Snapchat account.
    Feeling there is a big opportunity for someone to create a Snapchat mentoring program, just sayin’

    • Reply

      Dan Norris

      Yeah I tend to agree re Snapchat in terms of it being the place to get in now before marketers get too much control of it. At WP Curve we are about to release a big guide on Snapchat so that should help.

      Totally agree about the second point too, it sucks to build up a big following somewhere and have it be worth nothing a few years down the track but that’s the world we are living in right now. I guess building your own assets that you can control is some hedge against that but also just being open to jump on new platforms and test them out when they are new so you don’t miss the n ext opportunity.

  • Reply

    Robert Jennings

    LinkedIn really needs to update their design and their level of spam. Business people/ management won’t put up with that level of spam long-term.

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