12 things 2016 has taught us about Social Media

It's hard to believe December is here and what a year it's been in the world of social media and communications. Here are 12 words that sum up the past year of social media for us. Real time - 2016 saw Instagram and Facebook introduce live features that either cured FOMO (fear of missing out) or encouraged it. Either way, it's now not enough to simply describe your surroundings to your followers, they want to experience it too. Could this be the end of filtered content and the beginning of fresh, unedited documenting? 2017 will tell! Visual - While blogging is still a major element of communications, the phrase 'a picture speaks a thousand words' has never been more fitting. Instagram now has over 500 million active users and with an unlimited caption character allowance, readers can get all the information they need just from one image. Not to mention the increased number of social platforms introducing GIFs, because nothing says 'well done!' better than a moving image of Beyonce clapping at Wimbledon, right? Speed - Speed has never been more important. With the continued growth of Snapchat or Snap (now reaching 10 billion views daily) and with Instagram stories on the rise, this is proof that ten seconds of content is now ample to grab the attention of social media users. So essentially, cut out the 'fluff' and simply share key info. Fast.   ten-seconds-of-quality-content-is-now-ample-to-grab-the-attention-of-social-media-users   Sponsored - Organic content, especially on Facebook, is becoming all but extinct. Thanks to ever-changing algorithms, if you're a brand chances are in 2016 you have had to flash your credit card to ensure your Facebook fans are actually seeing what you post. However, organic content can still gain traction if it is topical, informative and of real interest to your fans. Loyalty - Influencers, mavens, whatever word you'd prefer to use, the rise of these connoisseurs in various fields from fashion and beauty to food and drink has never been more notable than in 2016. The key learning point for us on these individuals it is the loyalty their followers show. Whether it's defending them from social media backlash or buying their latest product to the point of sell out the devotion of their fans is incredible and brands cannot ignore this power. Expiration - The feature of expiration introduced by Snap was initially hard to digest, now it's almost expected. When discussing content that we have viewed on social media we assume others have tuned in during those key 24 hours. Content with an expiration, in many ways, demands viewing, so we don't miss out and after all, no one wants to be the last one to know. Desktop decrease - Unsurprisingly, 2016 saw a drop in the amount of social media users who access networks via desktops. Almost 80% of all time spent on social media is now via phones. Personalisation - Whether it's personalised products, generic company emails with your name included or Facebook saying 'good morning, and the weather predicted for your location', 2016 has seen brands hone in on personalisation when communicating. TV RIP? - Thanks to media players, Netflix and social media we no longer need to be tuned in at 9pm on the dot to see the latest episode of our favourite TV show. Now we can get minute by minute updates by searching the show's hashtag or alternatively, watch at our leisure at a later date. Conversation - Social media is now used as an outlet for brands to show their 'persona' and to converse with other brands and consumers alike. 2016 saw a huge rise in B2B and B2C conversations via social media and we for one are huge fans. Facebook's revival  -  Many marketers and social media gurus actually predicted Facebook would fall dramatically in 2016 however, Mark Zuckerberg's site has proved there's life in the old dog yet. Facebook is still a go-to social network for many (1.79 billion to be precise) however, it's the way in which we're now using it that has changed over the 12 months. Rather than sharing personal stories, it's third party content that has become more 'shareable'. Word of mouth - A brand is not what we tell the consumer it is, it's what consumers tell each other it is. If you can create an experience with your brand, consumers will become ambassadors for your brand via social media. And there you have it, the past year of social media in a nutshell.