2016 is behind us, but this year we saw a lot happen in digital and social media marketing. The effects are significant, and they’re going to be dictating how marketers approach channels, reach consumers and shift their strategic focuses in 2017 and beyond.
From Facebook vs. Twitter to Facebook vs. Snapchat
Remember when Facebook added hashtags and did whatever it could to offer services inspired by Twitter? Well, that was then. Today, Facebook has a new focus—Snapchat. The social network has been rolling out feature after feature inspired by Snapchat across its social platforms, particularly Instagram with Instagram Stories and Messenger with selfie lenses and other image enhancements.
For its part, Snapchat has been working quickly to evolve its advertising offering with stronger analytics, an ads API and a focus on delivering on key business objectives such as app installs—all efforts from Facebook’s proven track record as an advertising platform. Facebook’s trying to clone Snapchat features, while Snapchat’s trying to clone Facebook’s revenue model.
The rivalry between these two is only going to increase with Snap Inc. expected to go public this year. That will mean an influx of cash. The good news is Facebook has grown incredibly powerful with competition primarily coming from Google. A third party like Snapchat could benefit advertisers as well as users as the two continue to push each other and fuel competition in the space.
Twitter Finds Itself or Doesn’t
Twitter did not have the year it hoped. Users left. Leadership had several shakeups. Its value decreased. It wasn’t even able to find a buyer after actively courting potential acquisitions. Still, Twitter’s influence can’t be ignored. It played a pivotal role, for better or for worse, in the U.S. Presidential Election, and it continues to be a primary channel for distributing news content. Beyond that, it’s evolved its live video offerings with more streaming partnerships, notably being led by a partnership with the NFL.
2017 is Twitter’s year to change direction. The momentum is against it, but the value is there. Whether or not Twitter can harness that value will be the thing to watch for in 2017. One thing is for sure, the Twitter at the end of 2017 won’t look like the one we have today.
Bots, Bots, Bots
Chatbots have not taken the world by storm, but their potential to has. Systems are in place to allow marketers to add speed and scale to their customer service and marketing efforts through bots. And bots have one big thing going for them, Facebook, which sees bots as one critical aspect of monetizing Facebook Messenger and making it a viable platform for brands to reach, interact with and create value for consumers.
Long Live, Live
There may be nothing that shifted more in 2016 than that of live video. 2015 was about platforms getting into video. 2016 was about making that video content live. Every platform from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram has been encouraging users to live stream their lives, creating competition with YouTube. Live video is certainly here to stay, and new tools in 2017 will make it more valuable and attractive for brands.
The Tension in Fake News Grows
2016 certainly had a dark side, and one thing that was zeroed in on was the pervasiveness and virality of fake news. The effects of this content is up for debate, but the concern is not. Even Facebook, after arguing it was not an issue, has changed its stance to start to do more to fact-check content being shared on its platform through third parties. This will have both cultural and technical effects in 2017 as it became the year more people stopped trusting what is shared online or just became more entrenched in deciding to believe fake news.
2016 was quite a year on many different levels, and much of what came about in 2016 is part of a dramatic shift to how marketers should think about their approaches to social and digital marketing to most effectively leverage the channels. Here’s to 2017!