Social Media Predictions 2016

I look to the future because thatโ€™s where Iโ€™m going to spend the rest of my life
— George Burns

Its 2016 ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰ Can you believe it? It's already a new year. Time goes by so fast. Time goes by even faster in the social world. 

2015 has been an eventual year in the social media calendar and has definitely thrown in one or two surprises to keep us all on our toes...

Never make predictions, especially about the future. So said Mark Twain, Yogi Berra or Niels Bohr โ€“ or possibly all three.

Who would have predicted Twitter replacing favourites with likes? With the ever changing social world it would be impossible to predict everything that is going to happen...

But hey, we are ambitious here at Interactive Schools! We have summoned of all our social knowledge and powers to predict the future of social media in 2016.

2015 Predictions

Firstly letโ€™s take a look at our 2015 predictions, and how they turned out.

  1. Filtered Twitter Feed - CORRECT 
  2. There will be a battle for Video - CORRECT 
  3. Better social analytics - CORRECT 
  4. Social Conversions - CORRECT 

Super! We didn't do too badly at all last year ;) 

Anyway, onwards and upwards it's time to look at 2016 ๐Ÿ˜€

[1.] More Twitter Characters



The return of Jack Dorsey as Twitter CEO has seen Twitter make wholesale changes. Twitter is slowly making wholesale changes and exciting changes at that. Abolishing favourites really make a statement about Dorsey's intent as Twitter CEO. 

For many years there has been debate wether or not Twitter will abandon it's trademark character limit. Is 140 enough characters? I think everyone has struggled at least once or twice to get their message across with the limited character count. 

We would never want Twitter to suddenly allow the world to write sonnets and go on 5000 word rants ๐Ÿ˜ซ However there is room for Twitter to manoeuvre on it's strict 140 character policy. 

We predict in 2016 that pictures and links will not be included in the 140 character count. Adding pictures should become a luxury instead of a difficult decision. Why does a picture take up text anyway? ๐Ÿ˜ค

Twitter will  make sweeping changes in 2016 and this should be the year when we finally get to say a little bit more on Twitter.

UPDATE: Wow, social is already changing! Rumours have it that Twitter will drop the 140 character limit...

Twitter exploded on the 6th January 2016 when rumours started circulating about a new 10,000 character limit ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

We think we may already be right!  Surely this will be the year when the character limit is extended? 

[2.] Moving further away from Television

Smart TV's and streaming software such as Chromecast and the Amazon FireStick has further bridged the gap between computers and television. Everything we watch on television is available online.  We can watch live television online. We are quickly moving to further and further away from our traditional television set. 

The BBC has recently announced that BBC3 is moving to a completely online television channel. This is a real first for a major (and popular) television channel moving to a completely online format. 

Television is quickly becoming "old media" by bringing television online it can be merged with social media.    

It will be interesting to see in particular how BBC3 structures it's online innovative television platform and how much user interaction and social media it incorporates into its revolutionary service.

We'll see Snapchat become the next-gen TV network. Really?! YES, absolutely. The way we consume media has changed forever, smartphones are the new TV. And Snapchat are already recognising this.

Anybody in the world can now have their own TV show. Your school is not different. Why not set up a channel on YouTube?

[3.] Periscope inside Twitter and the real launch of live streaming

Although live streaming has been around for a few years now it's never taken off to the extent that it should have and is yet to become a common phenomenon will social media users. Periscope has over 10 million users and over forty years of video is watched daily! 

Although this may sound like a lot of people, having the ability to live stream from your mobile device and capture amazing stories to share with the world is a fantastic power to have in your pocket. 

With the rise of the "autoplay" videos across all social media videos are much more accessible. Many statistics prove that tweets with pictures and videos are far more engaging than simple text tweets. 

We predict in 2016 that Twitter will allow you to tweet out the visual live stream instead of simply tweeting out a link to your Periscope. If this works it could see the real launch of live streaming. 

With 645 million Twitter users, Twitter hosts the perfect platform for Periscope to really take off and for users to be able to easily share their live streams with the world! 

Facebook have begun to get into the live-streaming game too, and with the improvements in broadband speed, and bandwidth, there is no reason why we cannot expect to see live-streaming right within our social feeds.

The question is... who will launch it first? Our money's on Twitter.

[4.] 360ยฐ videos and 360ยฐlive streaming


Back in March 2015 YouTube announced that it now supported 360ยฐ videos. This is a real cool feature of YouTube which has really slipped under the radar it allows users to experience video in a completely new and immersive way which has never been used. 

Isn't it better to be sitting in the front seat of a car being able to experience the race instead of watching the race? 

We predict that in 2016 video will become far more interactive on YouTube and users will be able to engage with videos in different ways than simply liking and commenting on the video. 

The 360ยฐ video is just a small step for YouTube. With social media becoming more and more engageable YouTube surely most add more features for user interaction. It would be very surprising that if in 2016 we didn't see more of these videos going viral and companies making the most of this YouTube feature. 

What would be really amazing is adding 360ยฐ video to YouTube's live streaming service. This would add a whole new dimension to live streaming. As amazing it is that you are able to see what someone else is seeing and being involved in live events as they happen, imagine being able to look round and fully experience a live event as if your were actually there!

Remember, Facebook own VR tech company Oculus Rift. Imagine putting on a VR headset and watching a video... or event better: a LIVE STREAM.

Instead of communicating via a smartphone, you can actually be in a 360 view of the room.

[5.] One-Click Purchasing on Social Media

Social media, with the leadership of Facebook, is aiming to become a true one-stop-shop for everything online. If reading, interacting, and discovering can all be done on a single platform, why canโ€™t shopping be added to the mix?

It took Amazon years to get its patented one-click mechanisms working correctly. Once nailed, they made a killing. In 2014 they had sales of almost $90bn.

As these social platforms increase the use of these Buy Now buttons, they receive a share of the cash. These features have been lying dormant for too long for these sites (especially Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram) to ignore any longer.

Expect to see these buttons popping up everywhere. Expect to fall victim to them, and make more impulse purchases than ever before.  

Expect to see more and more products you fall in love with, thanks to the big data thatโ€™s available about you. We upload a wealth of information to our social media profiles. Relationships, interests, dislikes even our dating preferences. Our social media profiles are goldmines for retailers! 

Expect 2016 to the real birth of the one-click buy button on social media.

The Bold (Risky/Unlikely) Prediction...

[6.] Snapchat to be sold

Facebook once famously tried to buy Snapchat for a staggering $3 billion back in 2013 and with the growing worth of Snapchat now estimated to be $19 billion it would not be a big surprise if Facebook tried to buy Snapchat again this year before it sores out of it's price range for good! 

In November it was announced that Facebook had begun testing Snapchat style messaging to integrate into it's messenger service. However since then we have really heard nothing of Facebook launching a rival app. 

Even if Facebook did launch a rival app it would be naive to think it would be able to combat Snapchat which is quickly becoming a giant of the social media world with over 100 million daily active users. 

Facebook is the world's biggest social media network with a staggering 1.4 billion monthly active users. We predict that in 2016 Facebook will once again try and buy Snapchat. Now that Snapchat is profitable and offers paid features it has the platform to one day rival Facebook and Twitter. 

Percentage of images uploaded daily on social media. 

Percentage of images uploaded daily on social media. 

If Facebook could acquire Snapchat it would dominate the photo sharing market. If Snapchat continues to grow at the current rate it will be a real danger to Facebook so it would be wise for Facebook to buy Snapchat before it is a giant that cannot be stopped! 

In all honesty, this is unlikely (but who knows with social!). Snapchat have a clear and bold plan to dominate the social video world. But it is a serious threat to many other larger companies - particularly Facebook. And they are clearly interested/scared.

Wild (Maybe Too Futuristic) Predictions

[7.] Battle for News

Apple (News), Facebook (Instant Articles), Twitter (Moments), Flipboard, Google (Newsstand), and don't forget the actual publishers: they're all in a battle for news.

A big part of social is sharing news, stories, and content. To make the UX faster and more enjoyable, the big guns are all creating 'native' publishing platforms in an attempt to move content to their applications.

It's possible that Twitter is looking to increase the character count of tweets in order to encourage people to publish news directly to Twitter, instead of linking to a 3rd party website or app.

With Moments, Twitter clearly feel news is a big part of their long-term strategy.

Think of how many links we share on social media. Now imaging there were no links, and the content actually resided within the native post/tweet. 

Not only would the experience be quicker, it would enable much more functionality.

Time is one of our most valuable commodities. Save us time, and we will be more likely to use your app.

Our prediction is that eventually, schools won't be publishing news to their website CMS in the traditional sense, but to multiple social channels as native news.

[8.] Vertical Video

When you think of video, you think of landscape, widescreen content. That's because since the existence of video, they have always been consumed on landscape devices.

This is beginning to change since the emergence of smartphones with video capabilities.

Smartphones have been designed to be used in portrait mode. However, we switch to landscape for video, because that's the way video has been designed.

But why does that have to be the case? We only tend to use a landscape orientation for video (and occasionally for gaming), when everything else is done in portrait.

Snapchat is one of the first (and certainly the biggest) adopters of vertical video. The majority of their video content is portrait, and all of their Discover channels use vertical video.

Periscope, and Meerkat both use vertical video too. They understand that smartphones are the new TV, and the future is in vertical video.

Our prediction is that other social channels (likely YouTube) will be fully supporting vertical video, and that vertical video will become more widely used.

Schools will be creating more vertical content, and perhaps we'll see the first vertical video film/TV series.

Our bet is on Netflix being the first to produce this.

[9.]Messaging Apps = The New OS

Now, the full transition will not happen in 2016. But we'll see the emergence of messaging platforms replacing the traditional operating systems this year.

What this means is that people will be developing apps for messaging platforms, as well as (or instead!) of iOS, Android etc.

People are spending more and more time with messaging apps, and the big messaging players know this. WhatsApp has sent as many as 64 billion messages in 1 single day. That's a lot of questions being asked, people communicating, decisions being made, collaborations occurring - why can't the messaging apps provide extra value with these actions.

If you're organising a holiday with your friends within a messaging app, why shouldn't the app facilitate the ability for you to book flights. Why do you need to leave the app, and open another one? 

WeChat (the dominating messenger in China) has already built a semi-open developer platform where people build their functionality/apps within the WeChat framework. People can read news, shop, order food/transportation, and more.

The popular Western messaging apps (Messenger, Whatsapp, Telegram, Snapchat) have all started to show signs that they will follow in the footsteps of their Asian counterparts. 

Facebook Messenger, for example, has partnered with Uber to enable people to order a taxi directly within the app. So instead of organising a meet-up with your friend and having to leave the Messenger environment, you can now do it within the app.

Building apps within a messaging platform creates a shortcut to meeting the needs of a user.

We would love hear your social media predictions for 2016 and how you think the social world will change in 2016!

Share your thoughts in the comments below...