What We'll Be Talking About In 2017

Sources from different social-media arenas give us their takes on what developments we’ll be seeing in the coming year:

Mobile Messaging As The New OS
If you had told marketers 10 years ago that Facebook and Twitter would become a premium platform to reach consumers, they would have laughed. It might have sounded good in theory, but applying the concept and marketing dollars was more difficult.

As 2017 approaches, the conversation is shifting again. Social media isn’t going away, but more people are talking about expanded functionality in mobile messaging. And when you consider the combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than that of the top four social networks, it’s easy to understand why. Chat apps have intricate ecosystems with unique APIs and developers.

Look to mobile messaging to become the new operating system, giving marketers the ability to create personalized experiences via branded content — emojis, GIFs, bots. —Evan Wray, VP and co-founder, Swyft Media

Hyper–Advocacy Is Here To Stay
No matter your politics or ideology, your digital platforms are on fire right now. 

The heightened emotions and highly politicized climate that crescendoed during the 2016 presidential election played out “bigly” on social media. Facebook and Twitter became primary communications vehicles for sharing “news,” and for self-expression about candidates and policy.

The rise of social platforms as advocacy tools will continue, because passions run deep and we’ve crossed the Rubicon of social’s role. Social’s not just the place to post pet videos; it’s the place to be heard. Disruptor-elect, Donald Trump propelled the legitimizing of Twitter as a media outlet. For those awaiting his first post-election press conference: His tweets are his press conferences. That’s how he’ll advance his agenda. Just as the president advocates, so will everyone else. —Anne Zeiser, founder & CEO, Azure Media

The Rise Of Moment-Based Advertising
In 2016 we saw every major social platform adopt live video-streaming capabilities. We also saw live video-streaming platforms such as Twitch gain enormous popularity, and new products like Snapchat Spectacles pop up to further enable the technology.

Live video-streaming gives us an unparalleled opportunity to capitalize on a moment in time in a consumer’s life. Marketers have been obsessed with real-time interactions for years and have gotten more and more creative with their campaigning, incorporating environmental, social and political factors into strategies — think #OreoEclipse.

Now in 2017, if we are able to harness the incredible data users are offering us through live video and exploit the right technologies, 2017 should be the year we see true moment-based, real-time advertising come to life. —Jon Elvekrog, managing director, 140 Proof, an AcuityAds company 

Can It Be More Than An Awareness Driver?
The rapid pace of innovation in 2016 has continued to make social platforms difficult for brands to crack. Changes to Instagram’s algorithm have begun to reduce organic engagement, while evidence of ad fatigue exists on Facebook. Brands continue to struggle with content creation for new platforms like Snapchat and Instagram Stories, while even newer platforms like Facebook Live and Messenger seem poised to add even more complexity to social advertising. 

Underlying all this frantic activity, the key question for 2017 is whether or not social can extend its role beyond that of an awareness driver to impact consumers at all points along the customer purchase funnel. 2017 will reward brands that continually iterate their social-platform strategy and leverage different platforms depending on their objective. China’s unique proliferation of messaging, live streaming, and social commerce also highlights social practices that could have significant impact in Western markets in the near future. —Evan Neufeld, VP of intelligence at L2

Trends Will Go Mainstream
2017 in social media will be about bringing the emerging trends from the past couple of years more mainstream. VR and expiring content (a la Snapchat and Instagram Stories) certainly isn’t new news for a social- and trend-savvy crowd, but they will be a newly discovered trend among a diverse and mainstream audience. 

Along the same vein is the idea of "going live” on social. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube initially offered live streaming to celebrities, media and influencers, and have since opened it up for wide use. Everyday users will start to embrace the trend (similar to how we evolved from simple text posts to photos a few years ago) and will use live features to broadcast their more everyday, personal events. —Jen Handley, co-creator and co-president at Fizziology

Courts Weighing In On Liability
Perhaps the biggest surprise in 2016 with respect to social media law was the string of court decisions reining in the historically broad scope of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law the creates immunity against liability for Web site operators and bloggers hosting defamatory and other false information or content provided by their user community. 

This is a key safe harbor from legal liability that has helped to fuel the remarkable success of U.S. social media providers such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, essentially immunizing these companies from certain legal claims arising from their hosting of user-generated content. My sense is that, with the increased media focus on “fake news” and online trolling, we will see even more court decisions in the coming year.

Also, we all know that privacy laws become more restrictive over time -- but in 2017, I’m predicting that we’re going to see a significant increase in new and burdensome privacy regulations relating to subjects such as interest-based advertising on mobile devices, cross-device tracking and geolocation tracking. —John Delaney, partner in Morrison & Foerster’s New York office and a founder and editor of Socially Aware.

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