20 Top Social & Digital Trends Impacting 2016

Posted on by Stacy DeBroff

With 2016 under way, we expect to see dramatic trends reshape the social media and digital marketing landscape this year. Here are 20 to keep an eye on:

  1. Visual Continues its Ascendancy

Marketing TrendsFrom pictures to videos to emojis – visual content will dominate in 2016, as we see the continued rise of consumer preference of visuals over text. A new era of emoji language has emerged with the Oxford Dictionaries naming the emoji of a happy crying face as its Word of the Year. In 2016, watch for branded emojis and ones embedded within hashtags and GIFs.

  1. Paid Social Becomes Always Entwined in Amplification of Earned/Owned

As Facebook increasingly gates organic content’s reach, expect other platforms to follow suit in order to grow advertising revenue. Couple that with the advent of “Content Shock” (the overwhelming volume of content being produced exceeding the human capacity to consume it) and the result will be paid amplification becoming the new table stakes. Earned/owned marketing campaigns across platforms will weave in paid social to get a seat at the table. Merely producing and publishing great content no longer suffices. Brands must also be willing to invest in the distribution of their content.

  1. Millennials Muddy the Marketing Waters

Millennial consumers will continue to throw marketers for a loop, as distinct differences emerge between moms and non-moms—even in the same Millennial cohort. Our research revealed 86% of Millennial moms use social media to be an influencer versus 13% of non-moms, and 72% of Millennial moms use social to give advice—compared to just 25% of non-moms.

  1. Influencer Marketing will Gain even More Traction Given Ad Blocking

Brands will increasingly turn to influencers for help with sponsored content and seek influencers with platform-specific reach to advocate and promote their services and products—from YouTubers to Lifestylers on Instragram and Snapchat.

  1. E-commerce Rules

In 2016, e-commerce will rule shopping in ever-growing percentages as research shows that 92% of women consumers cite online reviews as extremely/very important, and 85% say they always/most of the time seek them out for specific products they may want to buy.

  1. Increasing Online Personalization: Smart or Scary?

After consumers dive in to conduct an online search or mention a product on social media, we all know what comes next—online ads and sponsored posts tied to our search. While it may be super-useful to encounter new choices, increasingly it also feels super-creepy, and resentment will continue to mount.

  1. Platform versus Artisan Influencer Engagements

In today’s progressively digital marketing realm, it can be tempting to automate influencer engagements. Yet pitfalls quickly emerge for brands when they move to scale on “cafeteria plays.” For influencer programs to be most effective, nothing beats custom engagements to ensure genuine brand advocacy and predictability.

  1. Retailers Increasing Intersection with Social Platforms

We predict this year we’ll see the continued rise and dominance of not just “Buy” buttons such as ones on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as “Buyable Pins” on Pinterest. Also, don’t be surprised when 2016 ushers in one-click purchase buttons on social and the development of a shopping cart on social platforms.

  1. Mobile Takes Consumer Online Reviews to the Shelves

2016 may be the year online reviews become even further entrenched in-store as research reveals that a full 95% of women consumers say they’re more important than help from a salesperson. And 63% say they typically check online reviews from their phones while in-store.

  1. Social Media Immediacy

With the rise of Periscope, Meerkat and Blab, the instant sharing abilities of Instagram and Snapchat, and Facebook’s Livestream, the immediacy of social media platforms will compete with scheduled posts. As consumers want less edited and more social posts, we’ll see a move toward instant social engagement in 2016.

  1. Shopper Marketing Shifts for Brick & Mortar

Throughout the year, we predict that online recommendations will transform the shopper marketing landscape—reshaping the overwhelming influence for consumers from in-store sales prompts to recommendations that consumers bring with them upon entering brick-&-mortar stores.

  1. Instagram & Snapchat Traction Deepens

Marketers will spend this year tuning more deeply into Instagram and Snapchat as they figure out how to best reach consumers on these platforms, which attract younger demographics. Our prediction? Snapchat Stories will become the next branding vehicle.

  1. Social Platforms Work to Strengthen Stickiness

With so many social channels available—and marketers endlessly eyeing the best avenues for consumer engagement—a key focus for platforms in 2016 centers around keeping people contained in their own ecosystems as long as possible.

  1. Acquisition Instead of Endless New Social Media Plays

Unlike the continuous unveiling of social platforms of years past, 2016 becomes the year of acquisition. We predict once a social media platform or innovation gains traction, it will be snapped up by one of the dominant social players.

  1. Social will Play up Content with New Publishing Vehicles

As content continues to be king, we’ll see more and more avenues available on social. From Instant (full-length) Articles on Facebook to Snapchat Stories and Discover to Twitter Moments, we’ll see social opening up to more publishers in the coming year.

  1. Rise of Performance-based Influencer Marketing

You heard it here first—2016 will become the year performance surpasses impressions. Brands increasingly want campaigns tied to KPIs, and as a result, look for ways to track engagement to sales and continue to finesse the tech side of attribution modeling. This will become a make-or-break component of Snapchat’s maturation and sustainability as an influencer-marketing platform. Snapchat must offer brands access to analytics and reporting tools in 2016 in order to sustain its popularity in the influencer space.

  1. Social Media Search Soars

We’ve arrived at the year where social search will start outpacing search engine search. This year will see Facebook launching its own search engine, and Pinterest debuting a visual search feature that allows you to select an object in a Pin and search for similar items.

  1. Shining a Marketing List on the Dark Social of Messaging

In 2016, we’ll see social messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Kik, WeChat, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger explore marketing and e-commerce offerings, serving up analytics and insights to marketers looking to crack the social messaging marketing code and set up in-app advertising.

  1. Personalization of Content gets Refined with Access to Reams of Personal Data

From suggestions of what else to buy to dynamic websites that offer up content most likely to appeal to a particular person, Internet algorithms will hone in on relevancy, and online experiences will become highly personalized.

  1. Rise of Cinemograph

Now for my favorite trend—just check out this cool site: http://cinemagraphs.com/lifestyle/

Stacy DeBroff is CEO of Influence-Central. She can be reached at stacy@influence-central.com.

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