Top 5 Social Media Trends for 2016

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Trend watchers like nothing better than to review the previous year’s predictions for accuracy. Following that trend, here are the top 5 social media trends for 2016 based on the opinions of experts. The trends include:

Private Messaging

Snapchat got a lot of attention when Gary Vaynerchuk, an online entrepreneur, began using the app to track his every move during the Consumer Electronics Show in 2016. While entrepreneurial followers may not yet be using this app, Vaynerchuk’s over-the-top enthusiasm and prediction that within 12-18 months the masses will be on this bandwagon is driving many to open accounts if only for squatter’s rights.

Snapchat is a messaging app, beloved by teens, but private groups and messaging apps are no longer confined to youth. According to Michael Stelzner, “We are pushing ever closer to a new kind of social media: one that happens on these public and for-profit channels and networks, but one where the best (and possibly most valuable) content can only be seen by those who are granted permission to see it… or by a small group of people.” Certainly Facebook private and closed groups seem to support this.

Influencer Marketing

Brand messaging campaigns will be led by Influencers and their communities. Those who work as content creators and influencers have seen demand for their work rise. Neal Schaffer of “Maximize Your Social” predicts brands will be led by influencers and their communities rather than by the brand’s marketing message. This trend, according to Schaffer, is something called “adaptive social.” He reminds us that social media was made for people, not brands. And he suggests that “for businesses to remain relevant, they’ll truly need to adapt to these foreign communities of people we call social media users.” While this is obvious to influencers, it may be news to brands and may mean the brand message may look different from one social network to another.

#SocialMedia was made for people, not brands, a trend not so new to #influencers. Click To Tweet

Live Video

360° video was introduced by YouTube in March 2015. Now all videos made with this technology can be viewed on YouTube, but few companies or influencers are using this new technology. Influencers are just beginning to integrate Blab, Periscope, and Meerkat into the work they do for brands. Michael Stelzner predicts this area will grow. The fact that Facebook has made it available will bolster this trend’s growth. Think about it another way. Facebook is said to have 8 billion video views daily. Snapchat reportedly has 7 billion video views each day with only 100 million registrants on Snapchat. This could very well mean live video is here for the present bringing back the 1:1 connection.

Content Marketing

Influencers would tend to agree with Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute’s prediction expressing what influencers have known for some time: follower counts and likes do not tell a full story when it comes to engagement. The reality is that influencers do not have control over what is seen on platforms where they post. Pulizzi makes a great point in saying, “Brands will leverage these platforms, …with a firm goal of building their own audience of email subscribers as opposed to that of the influencers.”

There is more to #ContentMarketing than likes and follows. #SocialMedia builds engagement. Click To Tweet


Interestingly, the one trend that may be considered old-school publishing is now demonstrating it can increase engagement with original content on Medium. In 2013 two of Twitter’s founders created this publication, by invite only, to expand on the Twitter’s 140 character restraints. Today Medium is well respected as a source of great content drawn from interesting thought leaders and regular people. “What makes Medium special is the engaged network of readers and writers who are using the platform to push conversations and ideas forward by reacting and responding to them.” Expect influencers and brands to use the platform more for this reason.

Patricia A. Patton is a consultant and trainer on lifelong learning helping women think about what’s next as they age creatively. She is a Personal Development Coach, creator of the Dream Yourself Awake Retreat and founder of the DYA Travel and Adventure Club. Visit her website at or tweet or Instagram her at @BoomerWiz.

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