The key to predicting future results is to analyze the actions and outcomes from the past. So what can we learn from social network acquisitions in 2016? And in the light of these acquisitions, what are the main lines of the future that are emerging?
Pinterest is set to Rock your World
Will discreet little Pinterest finally go big in 2017? If so, it could signal a major strategy shift.
Pinterest has begun to show its teeth a bit more this year. In less than 12 months, it's worked below the radar to broker six company acquisitions. Pinterest has always been about sales, but if social commerce keeps gaining momentum, Pinterest stands to make tremendous progress in the near future - which is why it landed a prime spot on our 10 Big Trends for 2017.
Research firm Millward Brown reported that 93% of visitors to Pinterest used the site to plan for a purchase, and that 87% actually made a purchase after seeing something they liked, making Pinterest's ability to convert sales a key differentiator for their platform.
This year, Pinterest rolled out many new features to accommodate each stage of the customer purchase cycle. These include an updated recommendation engine, buyable pins, enriched pins, a shopping bag, and more.
In short: Keep your eye on Pinterest in 2017. It may seem like a quaint and unassuming little company (bravo to their marketing), but it just might become the new go-to platform for social commerce. Why? Because at their core, most social platforms like Facebook are focused primarily on connecting people not on generating sales. Pinterest, however, is focused on helping people discover new products and plan for future purchases.
Facebook and Snapchat evolving into conglomerates
Facebook - never to be out-hustled - continues to press its position at the head of the curve. It's effectively evolved its function as a social network to include hardware, with projects like the solar-powered Aquila drone and the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, as well as the acquiaition of Nascent Objects.
Snapchat's following a course similar to Facebook's, starting with the launch of its rebrand as Snap Inc. in September. CEO Evan Spiegel has also made it clear that his company plans to transform its three core features (chat, images, and Discover) into independent, revenue-producing businesses.
Meanwhile, Linkedin is firing the latest salvoes of the growing battle to control your office. It's pushing to raise the standard of its content feed and expand the functionalities of its Sales Navigator solution. To facilitate the process, they made two key acquisitions, Point Drive and Connectifier - the first is a sales-oriented application that helps improve content sharing, and the latter makes it easier for HRs to discover and engage top talent.
On a nearby battlefield, competition is heating-up for Microsoft's Professional Network. With the launch of Facebook Workplace in October 2016, Zuckerberg's firm is angling to control the last part of your life he doesn't already own... your job. Workplace incorporates Facebook Live, Skype, Instant messaging, and Facebook features such as groups, walls, and profiles.
Linkedin may have a fight on its hands if Facebook's all-in-one package gets a foothold.
Twitter in search of a fresh boost
And what about Twitter? It's worth watching the micro-blog giant in 2017 because no one seems to know what they're doing. The company has faced all sorts of challenges this year, and none of them, as yet, have been resolved. Given this, their acquisition of employee feedback tool and Peer is quite puzzling to say the least.
But the new year does bring hope for Twitter in the form of TV, including 'first-run' programming. Also, their past acquisitions from big data analysis companies may help them extract more value from their network and highlight wide-scale behavior trends and shifts.
Just look at Spotify - they enjoy tremendous success with their blog by gathering and crunching data about member platform usage.
As for the rest of Twitter's decisions... we'll have to wait and see.
The new year promises to be another exciting and dynamic year for social networks.