Every year, Mark Zuckerberg's sets himself a challenge to push boundaries and set personal limits both socially and professionally. It only seems fitting that the Facebook guru has assigned himself the following challenge for 2016: to build an Artificial Intelligence assistant within his home to respond to his every need and whim. A lofty ambition or a sign of the times? If anyone is up for this particular challenge, it would seem that the Facebook founder and CEO could achieve it, and then take it forward to sell to the rest of us.
Personal challenges aside, what are the predictions for Facebook this year and how will they affect the social media landscape? With acceleration of the media industry continuously reaching new speeds, we are in for some growth and increased revenues within an already booming business.
Carat predicts digital ad spend will account for 51% of all UK ad spend in 2016, the first time digital advertising will make up the majority of the market (source: Campaign). Thus is as a result of four main trends: mobile technology, speedy broadband, high quality live videos and social media sharing.
But before we look at what's on the horizon in 2016, let's look at what we've seen in the past year during the developmentmental stages of new and innovative technologies.
What we saw in 2015
Brands have continuously been trying to break through the noise and be seen above the competition. They have attempted to achieve this through high level moderation and quick customer service response times.
The decline of organic reach continued without paid media spend. This is no longer a myth or a tall tale, it's reality and everyone now knows the deal and has had to accept it. Incorporating this into marketing strategies and budgeting plans was key to maintaining organic reach in 2015 and then building upon its successes.
Brands took corporate responsibility and impressed their audiences by being adaptable to the real-time collective voice that was continuously judging them. Social media's powerful presence could not be ignored and 2015 was the year where this was accepted as the status quo.
Introduction and uptake of live streaming on other networks pre-empted Facebook to get moving on their own app.
Instagram growth continued, as well as fast growing network Snapchat. Facebook was no rival for the younger generation of social media users, with 71% of users under 34 years old making up Snapchat's audience (Source: Omnicore).
What's to come in 2016?
New technologies will open doors and pave the way for the social media of the future. The phase of Facebook's planning and testing of innovations seems to over; new products, apps and setups will be ready for release in 2016, as announced by Zuckerberg in early January. Some of the truly futuristic advances are yet to be implemented, but this is what we here at agency:2 foresee taking off in 2016:
- 360 Video is all set to be the next.big.thing. (But remember, so was Google Glass.) Facebook has introduced Oculus Rift, the virtual reality technology to make up this computing platform. The Oculus Rift headset has officially been released for pre-ordering, which will definitely up the stakes when it comes what comes into our newsfeeds. Zuckerberg has claimed Oculus to be the "best virtual reality experience in the world" - a bold claim, yes. An impossibility to achieve success, we think no.
- Messenger (which now has 800 million monthly users!) is on its way to becoming more than just a messaging app, it is being heavily developed as a standalone app with features in abundance such as Send and Receive Money and Virtual Business cards. Could this be Facebook's more successful sister app that grows and develops at its own rate? We anticipate huge growth with Messenger but will wait and see what the uptake of these new services results in.
- Social shopping is becoming more integral to the commercial interests of Facebook. Payment preferences rely on convenience and accessibility; Facebook wants to keep you on the network rather than have you leave and make your purchases elsewhere. This is currently in development and testing, but we anticipate the network gaining traction in this realm as it aims to be a one-stop-shop for its users.
- Facebook Live as a rival to current live streaming apps such as Periscope. Can it take off and make its mark? We are not sure it can gain traction over existing apps quick enough to make its mark.
- Facebook is hoping to insert itself as a popular business tool when it releases Facebook at Work, a social network for the workplace to improve collaboration and communication Source: CNET). Yet another way for Facebook to take over our lives beyond the personal realm.
2016 looks to be an exciting year for Facebook; we wouldn't expect anything less. Would you?