There are over 2.5 billion active social media users worldwide and the number is growing at a rate of 9% a year. The advertising spend is rising even faster. According to Advertising Age, social media spend grew 55% to $10.9 billion, up from the previous year’s $7 billion.

 

1. Live Video

Although there have been strides in the streaming space (FB Live, YouTube Live, Periscope Pro) we are still in the infant stages. A new study by market research firms Focus Vision and Zanthus found that a whopping 41% of pay TV subscribers (cable, satellite, etc.) are planning to either cut back on or sever completely their subscriptions in the near future. Those viewers are moving from TV to social/digital. Networks and content providers will have no choice but to move to where the eyeballs are. According to David Brickley, CEO and cofounder of STN Digital, “You better have a FB Live strategy or you’ll be left behind. If you already have a great following on Instagram, and you don’t have an Instagram Stories strategy, its time to pounce while its hot.”

 

2. Messaging Apps

Chad Martin, North American Director, Social and Emerging Media at VML, states that, “The idea of being able to engage with a customer in a one on one way is huge. The hurdle will be figuring out how to develop relevant content to so many. Developing bots that provide relevant content and learn from the customer’s behavior is expensive at this point but the cost savings, especially around customer service, validate them quickly.”

 

3. Social Commerce

Social commerce is huge around the world with WeChat and will soon take off in the U.S. Chad Martin says that, “We have been able to send money through Google and Messenger for some time but this was a peer to peer exchange. Pinterest and Twitter are allowing for purchases and that will help with mainstream adoption for brands.”

 

4. Virtual Reality

We didn’t see much VR in 2016, although we certainly heard a lot about it. Most of the content came in the form of 360 VR Videos, uploaded on YouTube and FB. David Brickley states that, “It’s definitely the future. It’s not convenient enough for consumers yet, and wearing a huge headset in your living room daily won’t scale. However, it’s the future and a space that will only continue to grow.”

 

5. Social Channels Will Continue To Evolve

Snapchat continues to rise, but it will have to make it easier to organically find fun and interesting accounts. David Brickley says, “I would love to follow Kevin Hart or Mark Cuban on Snapchat, but Snapchat makes me work by searching on Google to find their handle or by guessing their username. Instagram has done two amazing things recently with Instagram Stories and the Explore tab. The Instagram Explore tab’s algorithm works incredibly well, and you can get lost (much like with YouTube) in clicking videos for hours.” The more time that users spend on Instagram equals success.

 

The biggest trend of 2017 is fairly obvious. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms have become such a part of our life, it’s hard to imagine how we lived without them. As people come up with more innovative types of content and ways to distribute them, social media will only get bigger.