Breakthroughs in social media in 2016
What changes did 2016 bring to social media? Krzysztof Majkowski, head of the Gemius consulting department answers this question.
This year I have decided to take a somewhat different approach to my social media summary. Of course there were events great and small, but it seems worthwhile to me to look at social media from the perspective of time and in its wider context.
A question which might be worth asking aside is: what is social media, really, and how do we define it in the second half of the 20th century? Is WhatsApp social media? And what about Messages on Apple devices or Google Hangouts? And what’s the story with Slack? After all, social media is a set of solutions which facilitate the exchange of user-generated content. What I am getting at is that it is much more than Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and the like. The picture of the market is becoming more confused with the ever-growing number of solutions.
In my mind, there are a multitude of questions and unknowns associated with the commercial exploitation of information shared by users on the broader spectrum of social media. This is particularly true of the not-new (but ever-increasing) ability to log on to various websites using our Facebook or Google account. On one hand, it is incredibly convenient, but on the other, we are sharing ever more data for commercial exploitation. This is neither good nor bad, but it is worth being aware of.
With this in mind, the list of key events of 2016 in the broader context of social media is:
The event and, as the same time, the failure of the year
In equal measure, Facebook’s problems with errors in the reporting of results, which only goes to show how independent auditing is key; the scandal around Facebook’s promotion of fake news during the US presidential campaign; and Microsoft’s failure with the Tay chatbot.
The success of the year
The first successful attempts, by KLM for example, to introduce chatbots.
The person of the year
This time it is not a person, and that may be a sad reflection, but in my opinion artificial intelligence and chatbots are the collective hero of 2016 as they try – often clumsily still, I grant you – to simplify our lives (at least in theory).
The trend of the year
In light of the quantitative growth of information, and as time remains a fixed commodity, the time that internet users devote to focusing on content continues to be squeezed. That’s why it is harder, on one hand, to fight for their attention, while on the other, it is so important to have a presence in the places where we look for users – on Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook Messenger.
Forecast for 2017
I fear that, as in previous years, social media will continue to move towards a shorter content lifespan, and lots of “recycling” and “reheating and rehashing” of old content, video or images. On the technology front, some of today’s big deals are certain to be forgotten next year – maybe it will be the bots. And we will continue to talk about how mobile is important ;). Regarding market transparency, interesting times are on the horizon for Facebook and Google, as our willingness to take them at their word ebbs ever further away. For that reason, we will also be on the lookout for independent companies able to monitor what is going on in those closed ecosystems. My number one question, however, is how Snapchat will fare.