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Social media trends for 2017: Three predictions

After a year of big changes in social media, our Director of Social, Ruth Clifford, looks ahead at what could be in store during 2017.

1. More Snapchat stealing

With Facebook’s recent introduction of frames and Instagram’s unashamed ‘stories’ launch, we’ve already seen the more mature social platforms begin to adopt Snapchat’s most compelling features. In 2017 we expect this low-level pick-pocketing to break into outright theft.

Let’s start with Facebook frames. They are personalised, user (or brand) generated frames that you can add to your photos a la Snapchat. Expect to see a mass rollout of this product and a location-based feature, meaning brands with physical locations can integrate social more seamlessly into in-store or at-site experiences.

Then there’s Facebook’s in-app camera, which is currently only being tested in Ireland. It mimics Snapchat with ‘reactive’ filters, selfie masks and overlaid graphics. In 2017 it’s likely to roll out across markets and directly compete with Snapchat’s goal to become THE camera.

This, coupled with an anticipated increase of the use of Instagram stories (and Snapchat itself), will make 2017 a year of increased customisation, both in terms of how people use social and the capabilities of the platforms themselves. Adding user doodles, frames and lenses will help content become much more personal and shareable.

It will allow brands to have a better, more intimate dialogue with their audience, while simultaneously showcasing more personality and authenticity.

The most interesting thing is the psyche of our 2017 social media audience. The ephemeral nature of Snapchat (which has dripped into the disappearing stories feature on Instagram), creates a sense of urgency and intensity when consuming content. You truly hold attention for those few seconds and that’s something brands should capitalise on more.

2. The proliferation of live

We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to live video. In 2017, expect Snapchat to make live broadcasting a primary feature and Facebook, Periscope and Instagram to add new capabilities.

For brands, live won’t be a cool thing to test and learn from, it’ll be integral to any video strategy and carving out a distinct viewpoint and role for live will be increasingly important.

Live video allows brands to truly become broadcasters in their own right — exclusively airing content to a waiting audience. But rather than meaning brands have to be more spontaneous and ad hoc, it’ll mean planning and scenario-mapping will become a greater priority.

3. 360 and AR will deepen brand experiences

Facebook recently announced its 360 degree camera and in 2017 the technology should become more mainstream and cheaper, meaning brands will be able to show their audience more. This will give another, exclusive angle to live events — something that we can watch play out on the just-announced 360 live video partnership between Facebook and National Geographic.

When Snapchat owner Snap Inc.’s spectacles take off, it will pave the way for augmented reality capabilities because of the circular way video content is captured through the specs. This, teamed with the fact that Snapchat reportedly acquired 3D-capture company Seen earlier this year, means Snap looks primed to once again lead the next revolution in social: augmented reality. Arguably, they already have, with their brilliant lenses product.

What is interesting is that, with Facebook’s in-app camera and Snapchat spectacles, we’re seeing a shift from platforms as the means of distribution to platforms as the means of production itself.

So that’s just three predictions. While none of them are guaranteed, it’s clear that 2017 is going be yet another exciting year in social media communications.

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