In 2010, Mashable declared June 30th as "Social Media Day". The event was created to recognize the evolution of social media and its impact on global communications. In honor of #SMDay 2016, we’re going to take a look at the top four social trends that are sweeping the industry:
1. Go Live or Go Home
You may have read our social media week blog where we talked about how social video is here to stay. In the few short months since that post, Facebook announced a set of features to make Live streaming and discovery easier for the masses, Youtube built live sharing into their mobile app, Periscope surpassed 200 million streams, and Meerkat threw in the towel in the face of the other live streaming behemoths.
What’s all the buzz around live streaming? Social media is all about engagement. Live video streaming mimics a real-time conversation in a way that static video can’t. During Facebook’s 2016 earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “From initial data, we’ve seen that people comment more than 10 times more on Facebook Live videos than on regular videos.”
The recent use of Facebook Live and Periscope by politicians during an overnight protest after C-SPAN cameras were turned off is a great example of the power of live streaming. Following the broadcasts, Zuckerberg said that broadcasts from the sit-in were watched over 19 million times. Twitter executives also made a statement, saying that over 1 million people saw the tweets sent by two Congressmen using Periscope.
2. Social Commerce Cashes In
Facebook Messenger made a big splash during F8, their annual developer conference, in announcing the launch of "bots" in Messenger. Instead of casting a wide net of targeted ads to consumers’ News Feeds, select partners could now interact with people directly in a Messenger thread using bots. This may seem like a revolutionary development, but bots in messaging apps have been around for a while.
WeChat (known natively as Weixin) is China’s most popular messaging app and has a user base of 706.7 million as of March 2016, according to eMarketer. The messaging app has become ingrained in the daily lives of its users, with 61% of them accessing the app between 11-50 times per day. WeChat goes beyond messaging with features like “Red Pocket” for sending and receiving money (think Venmo), mobile payments, and gaming - just to name a few. As of March 2016, 33% of WeChat users are sending or receiving money, 32.5% are using it for mobile payments, and 6.4% use WeChat for social commerce. Users can do everything from ordering a taxi, sending money to relatives, booking a doctor’s appointment, to actually sending a message.
The list of messaging apps is long and growing. Players like Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger dominate and a rising number of strong competitors are inching at their heels (Skype, LINE, KakaoTalk, Kik, etc). In fact, the top four messaging apps have actually surpassed the top four social apps in monthly active users.
3. Pay-to-Play is Not Going Away
Social media managers across the globe sigh when they think back to the days of old where organic reach could be in the millions. Now, a post that doesn’t have any dollars behind it may not see the light of day. What caused the shift? The social platforms have gotten smarter, and their algorithms more sophisticated. Content that is more likely to be popular and sponsored posts are prioritized in a user’s feed. Social media platforms walk the fine line between keeping active users engaged with relevant content and simultaneously leveraging ad revenue. Because of this paradox, the KPIs of 2012 now require a much higher budget to hit.
Today, it’s a whole new ball game. Social media ad revenues are predicted to hit upwards of $29 billion in 2016, and the global share of mobile users continues to grow. In 2016, 1.88 billion people will access social media on their mobile device. This number is up 12.8% from 2015. As a result, marketing budgets have been funneling more spend into paid social. In 2009, only 5.6% of the average marketing budget was spent on social. That number is expected to grow to 20.9% in the next 5 years. With that kind of shift in budget, the pressure to prove social ROI (a historically difficult task) is definitely on.
What channels are receiving the most ad spend? Facebook is still the big winner, but Instagram is rapidly rising and recently surpassed Twitter.
Here’s a look at a few rising stars in the social media space to keep an eye on (notice a pattern? Messaging apps are taking over):
Kik – A messaging app that lets people chat with friends and more recently, bots. Kik has 300M total users in 230 countries.
KakaoTalk – Another messaging app that started in South Korea and has gained global traction.
LINE – Mainstream messaging & voice app in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan. LINE can also process mobile payments.
Badoo – Messaging app that uses your location to show you people who you have bumped into before near you (300 million registered).
Musical.ly – A social lip-syncing app that has captured the interest of 70 million “Musers.” Musers, as they’re called, can share 15-second clips of their lip-syncing talents and fellow Musers can react in real-time. Think karaoke meets Periscope.
Happy #SMDay 2016! We can wait to see what the next year brings.