Social media networks are ever-changing, and rightly so. Each platform is trying to come up with a new way of keeping existing users engaged with their channel as well as enticing people to create accounts, whether that be personal or for business purposes.
We are beginning to see new themes and trends across the board, and if we took a step back only a few years we would see some significant changes in our social media and how we use them. There’s always a way to make an experience better for a user, and social media top dogs are aware of this, hence their constant efforts to stay fresh.
So what does the future have in store for the social media users of 2017, you ask? What’s likely to change now the New Year is upon us? Here are 4 of the big major switch-ups users are likely to see coming out of various social media platforms during 2017:
Advertising through social networks has evolved into a huge thing (it was only a matter of time) and this is because of the opportunity for more than feasible financial gains in terms of revenue, to put it simply. While it’s true that people get frustrated by the ads on their social media they provide an important element that ultimately helps the social media channel to progress and offer us an improved experience.
It’s possible to use ad blockers on your devices, but in August of last year, Facebook went ahead and altered its desktop website to get the ads seen by the user on their news feed despite the fact they may have had ad block plugins running. How? Well, they did it by changing the way their ads were displayed. If you are on Facebook a lot then you will have more than likely seen that their ads were made to look more like regular posts, and were given a small “sponsored” label on the top of them. This witty move out-foxed the ad blocking software and let the ads through to be viewed by users.
There was counteraction from Ad-block Plus, to which Facebook fired back, and counteracted their script updates. However, Facebook called that Adblocker Plus was ruining the experience for its users by inadvertently blocking out non-ad related posts. The battle of wits continues, but we have a feeling there will only be one winner in the end.
Social media networks revolve around their ability to show relevant content to users. If a user keeps being shown content, they don’t want to see or are not interested in it will lower interaction overall. By providing more relevant content that a user wants to see it will encourage them to like, share, comment and use the network more.
This year alone there have already been 2 major changes to social media algorithms which have completely changed the way content is shown to users. Take Instagram for example, ever since the app was first launched the feed has been fairly simple to understand. All content is shown in chronological order meaning the latest posts are shown at the top of the app and then older ones are shown as you scroll down.
The birth of all the social media networks saw them come out as slow, requiring manual refreshing so that the user could view new data. Fast-forward to today and plenty of the social networks offer real-time push updates, allowing people to enjoy automatic refreshes which appear thought mobile or desktop without the need to refresh constantly. The benefits of this are that it makes the channels increasingly more interactive and engaging too – precisely what social media is based on!
LinkedIn and Twitter offer the regular push updates for their users, while the likes of Facebook and Instagram haven’t totally integrated real-time updates, therefore requiring a manual refresh, which isn’t all bad.
Facebook also have their trending list feature that gives users a visual sidebar of the top news events for each category from around the world, on a constant update to present users with the most up to date trending real-time content.
Twitter’s moment’s feature offers a similar service to that of the trending list on Facebook. It seeks to organise all the top and trending tweets and other trending tweets in real time for users to get a glimpse of without having to scroll through their whole timeline. The convenience of this feature means that the Twitter users can easily see what’s trending, what’s popular at the time and who/what everyone is talking about all through an extra service via a click of a button.
If we were to look into our crystal ball here at Media Lounge, our eCommerce website aficionados foresee all social media networks taking on board the real-time update feature in some capacity in the future with it being one that doesn’t require any user interaction to update. The result? Constant, latest real-time updates being fed to users who will then not miss a moment. This is, without a doubt a feature that will be being utilised by the eCommerce world in some capacity, in the not so distant future.
This is a key element for the social media platforms. Categorising content on social networks is valued as it assists in users being able to find the things they want to see.
Twitter took the crown for being the first platform to overcome the issue via the use of their hashtagging. Following the success Twitter had, the other networks sat up and took notice, and consequently followed suit to piggyback on the success of the hashtag, which was invented by Chris Messina (who now works for Uber).
We’re pretty sure most people on the planet who have access to the world-wide-web know, but just in case… hashtags allow users to categorise their posts into categories, which can be found simply, by anyone looking for a specific topic. We’re sure to see some new ideas coming to the fore in the future, even though the hashtag is a simple, clean and effective way of accomplishing what it was set out to achieve.
Facebook is currently trialling a new topic feature that allows users to post and comment around certain topics or themes, making it easier to find desirable content, and by doing so allows Facebook to show users increased levels of what they want to see on certain topics, while reducing the number of things they aren’t so keen to see.
The overall objective is to improve user experiences and increase interaction. Facebook is most likely to be the front-runners when it comes to ringing the changes, so expect to see something emerge from them, but in the meantime, many will stick with the ever-strong hashtag.