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Posted on Mon 4th Jan, 2016 in: Advice, Culture, Industry Comment, Influence, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media by Christian Dente

  With more smartphones on the market than ever before, and increased speeds in mobile internet and home broadband, social media platforms have dominated 2015, completely changing the way mainstream users consume media and engage with brands. Even when it comes to breaking news, sometimes Google just isn't fast enough. We've seen more and more users, and media hubs, take to social media for the latest news and answers. So what's next for social media in 2016? Well, good news, we've dusted off the Aberfield crystal ball, and have had a look at what we think will be some of the biggest trends in social media this year: 1. Snapchat will dominate Snapchat was the fastest-growing social media platform in 2014, and we believe that 2016 will be the year that Snapchat becomes mainstream, and a standard marketing platform, mentioned alongside the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, to create a big four. The key to keeping the younger generation of consumers engaged is by offering them exclusive, disposable content. By producing unique content for Snapchat, brands can cut-through the social media noise and create a meaningful brand experience for users. We believe that brands should invest heavily in Snapchat as the platform will become crucial for any integrated campaign in 2016. Snapchat_Logo 2. Video Like we said last year, video content works really, really well, on social platforms and in 2015 it became 'the norm' for brands to create fresh video content, especially to promote their social channels. Social media users have an insatiable appetite for video content on social media. So if your brand isn't producing visual content in 2016, you have a strong chance of being left in the dark and risk losing customers to your competitors, who are establishing a relationship with them via video. So what can we expect in 2016? Firstly, expect brands to create more innovative content, particularly with the launch of 360 video on Facebook. We've already seen Star Wars take advantage of this feature, allowing users immerse themselves in the Star Wars universe by creating a video that can rotate 360 degrees, allowing viewers to watch a scene from different angles. Combine the new 360 format with the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset that Facebook has developed with Samsung, and you can see why 2016 will be a very exciting year for video.
3. Live streaming One of the most popular aspects of social media channels is their real-time functionality. Missed who won X Factor, or the latest football score? Chances are you can find the information you require on Twitter in seconds. There are, however, some platforms that are more "in-the-moment"? than others, such as Periscope. The live streaming app will continue to go from strength to strength in 2016, and will continue to innovate. Periscope users collectively watch 40 years of live video each and every day. Now that is an impressive stat. The success of the live broadcast app led Mark Zuckerberg's social network to announce that it will open up its Facebook Live feature to allow users to live-stream directly from the app to their newsfeed, so expect this feature to grow in 2016. Brands have been quick off the mark to multi-curate fans' or celebrity/influencer interviews - this will be a significant trend in early 2016 and the new live stream craze could collectively herald in a new era of immediacy in social media. 4. Buy buttons will take over We've already started to see social media's first foray into making the social buying experience as flawless as possible, but 2016 will be the year that social buying becomes the norm. Consumers continue to demand faster access to products they are viewing on social, and to be able to click on a product image to enter the buying process. It's something that we've already seen Facebook and Pinterest lead the way on, offering sponsored posts that allows mobile users to use one click to purchase it, without ever leaving the app. We expect that by the end of 2016, most major social media channels will feature some kind of buy button naturally as an element of their advertising campaigns, with Instagram already developing its own. 5. Social SEO In 2016, social is going to become much more influential on search engine optimisation and search ranks. That's because of recent changes to Google's algorithms, which use Twitter's influence as an indicator in search rankings. Google takes into account how successful your social content is, and will rank your blog posts and website higher if it sees that you are a credible source. The changes have come due to the overuse of black-hat SEO techniques. Google has chosen to replace link-building with social shares in determining where your content should place in search rankings. Expect more emphasis on organic blog posts and an emphasis on social media content as savvy brands couple their social efforts with SEO efforts in 2016 to achieve maximum relevance.

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