If you're reading this, you made it through 2016. Congratulations.
Welcome to our inaugural social and digital predictions. In this first part, we'll look at trends we're witnessing within the tech/social industry. In the next part, we'll look at school-specific predictions.
Firstly, let's revisit 2016... Gulp.
Our 2016 predictions - how did we do?
- More Twitter characters [CORRECT]
- Moving further away from television [CORRECT]
- Periscope inside Twitter, and the real launch of live streaming [CORRECT]
- 360° videos and 360°live streaming [CORRECT]
- One-click purchasing on social media [INCORRECT]
- Snapchat to be sold [INCORRECT]
- Battle for news [CORRECT]
- Vertical video [CORRECT]
- Messaging apps = The new OS [CORRECT]
To read more about last year's predictions, and an analysis of each, take a look at our recap of 2016.
What does 2017 have in store for us?
 (More) Live Streaming
We called it last year, and it’s becoming clearer that live video on social platforms is the trend for 2017. We’ll start to see live-streaming move way beyond just early-adopters and into the hands of the mainstream users.
How many Facebook ads have you ever seen on TV, billboards, etc.? None, unless you remember the awkward TV advert back in 2012, when Facebook said ‘Chairs are like Facebook’. Yes, that really happened.
Yet, we’re constantly seeing the new Facebook Live adverts. Why? Well, Facebook know how important it is to win the live-streaming battle.
The question 6 years ago was ‘should we have an app?’, but fast-forward to 2016 and the questions currently are around chatbots.
What are chatbots?
A chatbot is a program that is designed to simulate conversation with humans, using artificial intelligence.
Chatbots are being built into current messaging products (Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc.).
When we look at the state of social, it’s clear that the dominating platforms are messaging apps. In 2015, the number of active users surpassed that of social networks.
- WhatsApp rapidly became the biggest messaging app, with more than a billion users
- Messenger (FB) also reached the 1 billion user mark in 2016
Chinese social media giant, Tencent, enables 600 million people each month to book taxis, check in for flights, play games, buy cinema tickets, manage banking, reserve doctors' appointments, donate to charity and video-conference all without leaving the app - according to Wired.
We've gone from wanting a website, to an app, to chatbots.
Marketing / Admissions
‘What are the school fees?’
‘How can I get a scholarship?’
‘When are the next open days?’
These are questions people have when they visit your website. To get the answer, people navigate the site structure to find the content. Eventually, people can open your school’s chatbot on Facebook Messenger, and ask it questions.
Chatbots are going to be used more in education to help teach people.
Duolingo have launched their own chatbots to help people learn a new language. Talk to 'Chef Roberto’ - a legendary pizza maker.
IBM’s Watson is being used to power a Teaching Assistant bot.
Maybe the future teacher’s aren’t robots, but chatbots?
 A Video First World
We're in a video-first marketing era. In 2017, video content is the #1 focus for many marketers. Whether it be on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, video is playing a big part in reaching new audiences, and engaging with current fans.
Fifty-five percent of the world’s mobile traffic is now video.
Traditional video formats will be abolished, as we know it. We used to create content purely for horizontal viewing - but we no longer consume content in a singular way.
How are we consuming video?
The most popular ways of consuming content are through the following devices:
- Virtual Reality
Which allows us to view content in a number of orientations:
On social, we consume a lot of landscape, portrait, and square content. Snapchat is currently leading the way with circular video - with the release of its Spectacles hardware.
Creating video has never been easier. We have access to high quality hardware that enables to capture professional footages, on a budget. Everybody with a smartphone has the ability to be a filmmaker.
The variable is the story you’re telling. You don’t need expensive equipment to tell an inspiring story, but a great hardware won’t save an uninspiring story.
 Farewell, Google+?
Will we finally see the end of Google+?
It’s been 5 years since the initial launch, but the platform hasn’t evolved or seen the usage Google had hoped for. We haven’t seen that ‘killer’ feature yet.
Yes, people do use it - it’s particularly popular for niche communities - but is that enough for Google to continue investing.
We expect to see the platform continue to stagnate, or perhaps be quietly shut down.
 Ads for Snapchat
With a valuation of $25 billion, and the rumours of its looming IPO, it’s time for Snapchat to make some serious cash.
Snapchat has allowed companies to advertise on its platform before, but it’s been limited to those with a very very large marketing budget.
Companies have used promoted lenses, and advertised in Stories, and Snapchat’s Discover section.
However, to justify their valuation, Snapchat will need to come up with an advertising product that is affordable to the masses, and that works.
We’ve seen the valuation of Twitter plummet, as their advertising products suffer. Snapchat will want to take a chunk of this market share.
 Voice OS
We’ll start to see the growth of the ‘Voice OS’. Our two key operating systems sit within desktops (Windows vs Mac), and mobile (Android vs iOS).
Amazon has seen the opportunity for an ecosystem based around your voice. Amazon’s Alexa is a voice-based personal assistant within your home - able to control your lights, heating etc.
They're not the first to do this, Apple has Siri, Google has Google Assistant, and Microsoft has Cortana.
The difference is Amazon have a stand-alone voice-activated device (Echo). Other voice-controlled services are built through your phone, or desktop.
Google have released Google Home too. We expect to see these devices to be the centre-piece of many homes.
And we’ll start to see more apps being built for voice control.
"What time is my daughter's hockey match today?"
 Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality
2017 is a big year for virtual reality (VR). We've already had exciting hardware releases, with Playstation VR and Samsung Gear.
Facebook is betting big on VR. Zuckerberg believes VR will be the future of the platform.
We'll also see AR to continue its growth into the mainstream. Everybody was talking about Pokémon Go last summer, and made everyone aware of AR - and they have been the common buzzwords since.
The technology and behaviour around VR and AR will evolve over the next 12 months, and further. We're at the very early stages - similar to when computers where invented. Everything was bulky, but tech will continue to improve.
Next week, we’re going to focus on school-specific predictions. We'll look further at live-streaming, 360 videos, virtual reality, vlogging, web apps, and more!
What should your marketing team be thinking about? How will technology be used in 2017? What should parents be aware of?
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