Biggest Social Trends of 2016

Published on Jan 3rd, 2017

From the U.S. presidential election and Brexit to the summer Olympics and Zika outbreak, 2016 was a wild ride. There were also some major developments in social media – most notably the popularity of live video, Instagram stories and emojis. Let's take a look at the features that dominated social media this year.

Live Video

The most notable growth of the year took place in video, where actions taken on content spiked 62%. Video engagement was up 90% on Facebook, a whopping 140% on Twitter and 34% on Instagram. Both branded and live videos resonate with audiences. This year Facebook introduced its own streaming platform with Facebook Live , which has seen a real upswing in engagement, especially comments. Of the 5,000 most popular Facebook Live videos for TV networks, 46% of the actions were comments compared to only 8% for non-live video. Live video has the ability to drive larger audiences than ever before.

Instagram Stories

Storytelling on social is nothing new. In fact, Snapchat stories or snaps have been around since the app's launch. This year Instagram introduced their own version of stories, where users can post short videos or altered images with stickers and text. From 2015 to 2016, Instagram's engagement increased 4%, which is in part due to stories. Brands leveraging stories have seen promising results since it's a way to paint a bigger picture.


Emojis have been on the rise for a while, but they became especially close to our hearts this year. In fact, the red heart was the most popular with 58 million uses, followed by the heart-eyed smiley face with 51 million. Facebook introduced emoji reactions to supplement the like button, allowing users to show a broader range of emotions. Emojis continue to drive social success across brands because it's a great way to connect with the audience.

What have we learned it 2016? Video is here to stay as audiences are highly engaged with it, especially in the live format. Using social media as a way of storytelling is more popular than ever, as demonstrated by the success of Instagram stories. Users heart emojis, which have become an integral part of the conversation on social.

Check out this blog post for a Window Into the Future of Social Video 

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