Three Social Media Predictions for 2016

Published on Jan 5th, 2016

by Tania Yuki

It was a huge year for social media in 2015. Brands crafted nearly 43 million posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, up 19% compared to 2014, resulting in 35% growth in consumer engagement and interactions.

As the page turns on 2015, I wanted to look ahead to 2016 and some of the biggest themes I believe will come into play in the year ahead:

The Rise of Cross-Platform: Strategy and Insights

As the proliferation of social media platforms continues, and as they enable deeper and richer experiences (think Facebook Instant Articles and live video, Instagram live video, Twitter Moments, Periscope, etc.), marketers will need to think holistically about their strategies. Cross-platform visibility is more important than ever.

This means placing people, not platforms, at the heart of content and advertising strategy. We’ll need to understand not only the kinds of people a brand can uniquely reach on each platform, but also how those people may behave or express themselves differently depending on where and how brands reach them.

Aggregate (that is, additive) metrics won’t be enough. Cross-platform insights will require understanding a person’s path to purchase, unified across multiple disassociated touch-points, in order to truly make a meaningful connection. Research is about to get even more inventive, messy, exciting and real.

Data Begins to be (Truly) Integrated Into the Content Process

I don’t just mean data-driven optimization, although that’s a part of it.  2016 is the year in which marketers will begin to truly make consumer data part of the content creation process. There is more data about the consumer than ever before, but using it is a challenge. That changes this year. Big data is messy, but there is still loads to be learned from its scary imperfection if you’re willing to go where no one has gone before, and act.

This requires not only bravery and creativity, but a breaking down of internal siloes (where data lives in the organization and who owns it). A new reliance not only on first-party data, but on third-party sources can help shed light on the people who are not currently in your customer database, about whom massively rich data already exists, and it’s waiting for you. Yes, marketers are already swimming in data, but in 2016, the floodgates stay open. More actionable and better insights will begin to flow into the content creation process, reaping great rewards for the courageous.

Direct Monetization of Social Rises or Falls, Depending on Who You Are

If you’re a brand advertiser, you’ve probably spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about social media monetization, and maybe cried about it. How many likes do I need to move a case of beer? How many clicks on my post sell a tube of lipstick? Is a share worth more than a comment at the cash register? The list goes on.

If 2015 was all about linking social media posts to sales (via clicks and other kinds of direct-response methods), in 2016, brands will place a greater premium on social media for brand building, attitudinal lift, and co-branded/native opportunities with publishers who already have the audiences that brands want to communicate with and influence. The so-called social networks are the platforms we now use consume media and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Smart brands recognize that these walled gardens remain the single biggest opportunity to capture new audiences and remain relevant as the world outside changes.

If you’re a publisher and if you’ve already engaged in the slog of building an audience and social traffic amidst highly competitive news feeds and fickle fans, then 2016 is the year you will aggressively move to monetize what you’ve built. You’ll not only find inventory you can sell, but you’ll also use social data in creative ways to shed light on the strengths and quality of your uniquely active audiences. Doing so will help you sell traditional ad formats as well as inventive social ones to the brands who value what you’ve crafted, seeded and nurtured in the past years.

Tania Yuki is Shareablee's founder and CEO.

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