There is no denying that the ubiquity of social media in consumers’ lives has dramatically shifted the way advertisers think about the medium. The early promise of social media for advertisers was the democratization of communication, one-to-one connection and direct access. But as the consumer’s role in social media has moved well beyond the curated self, and into areas like broadcasting, commerce, and daily news—the rules of engagement are changing. And, while social likely remains a relatively unpredictable moving target for years to come, here are my five 2017 predictions that will impact the social landscape in a big way.
A Rise in Social Intimacy and Directness
Gen Z will continue changing up the social game by caring less about the “curated self” and “broadcasted self” and more about in-the-moment experiences. Live social networks, like YouNow, Music.ly, Watch Me Work, and Live.ly will continue to grow with younger users by connecting them to people, places and things in real time. Think studying, jamming on instruments, debating politics or being a fly on the wall. For them, it’s less about the ability to broadcast live, and more about the ability to utilize live media to connect with others around moments.
Influencers Fight for a Seat at the Table
Twitter killed Vine. Snapchat killed auto play. And YouTube’s latest algorithm update is allegedly impacting some of its major players, like PewDiePie. Until now, these changes have been taking place without warning. As a result, influencers aren’t happy—many threatening to cancel or move their accounts elsewhere. These overnight drops in followers, video views (and loss of entire platforms!) are most negatively impacting the very people who draw millions to the platforms each day. As a result, 2017 will see top influencers banding together to secure a seat at the table to inform decisions that are being made. Because it’s not just their reputations—but their livelihoods—on the line.
A Push for Social Platform Governance
Thanks to alleged election shenanigans, like Russians posing as Americans, bots posing as humans, and a disproportionate amount of news in our feeds coming from fake news sources, politicians, media watchdogs and Internet governance groups will spend 2017 pushing for rules that will go into effect in 2018. Algorithms will need to be more democratic, bots will no longer be able to pose as real people, influencer relationships will require even greater transparency and social platforms will be held to media outlet standards.
A New Era of Data Accountability
2017 headlines like referrer spam, exaggerated ad data, and miscalculated metrics rocked digital media giants like Google and Facebook. And, while they were quick to take full responsibility—even going directly to the press on several occasions—the ability for these giants to have greater third party oversight is now an industry-wide topic of conversation. Josanne Ryan, CEO of the AAMA, believes all digital media companies should abide by the standards of independent verification and auditing that more traditional media players have signed up to for decades in order to assure advertisers of their media investments. And this perspective is now shared by many in the advertising industry, who will continue pushing for transparent, open, audited, third-party, impartial measurement of online advertising.
Bots Reach Far Beyond Entertainment
A recent Digitas study revealed that one in three Americans would be willing to make purchases via chat bots. And nearly half of millennials have or would be willing to receive recommendations from a chat bot. Surprisingly, only a tiny fraction of bots currently play a meaningful role in ecommerce. And those that do are limited to customer service activities. Facebook currently has 30K bots, most of which help users to bide their time. But industry innovators, like Sephora, are already seeing the benefit of “bot as personal assistant” with younger users on Kik, where interacting with chatbots comes second nature. And Nordstrom and Mall of America took a bet on bots to increase holiday sales this year. With consumers now more open to a commerce-by-bot experience, expect to see bots playing a greater commerce role in 2017.