What’s more fun than looking back at social media trends from 2015?

Asking experts to do a spot of future-gazing and give us their predictions for social trends in 2016!

It’s always difficult to cast your mind’s eye forward over the next 12 months, so many thanks to everyone who agreed to participate in this article.

These are the folks who offered up their opinions:

Now, here's what they had to say...

1. Live-streaming

Matthew Marley:

The obsession with live-streaming/video will continue in 2016, especially as popular apps such as Periscope, Meerkat and Blab add new features. 

Facebook has also announced that it will open up its Facebook Live feature to allow users to live-stream directly from the app to their newsfeed.

Merinda Peppard:

2016 will be the make-or-break year for mobile live-streaming, as Meerkat and Periscope seek mainstream consumer use cases.

Michelle Goodall:

Periscope has all but won its battle with Meerkat but will have to continue to innovate, as multi-way broadcast platforms, such as Blab, gain popularity.

Multi-way broadcasting platforms enable consumers to co-chat via video with messaging and Twitter connectivity. 

Brands have been quick off the mark to multi-curate fans or celebrity/influencer interviews – this will be a significant trend in early 2016.

I’d also expect plays in this area from other big platforms including Google - which will continue to evolve Hangouts - Snapchat and Facebook.

2. New social publishing formats

Michelle Goodall

Snapchat Discover, Twitter Moments and Facebook Instant Articles heralded a focus on the more innovative editorial features of social media platforms in 2015.

Social platforms are becoming increasingly competitive about keeping users in-app for as long as possible. 

This is to ensure ad engagement, healthy revenue splits for publishers and gathering consumer insights and data.

We've only just seen the start of social platforms shaping what the editorial web will look like. 

3. Twitter… oh Twitter…

Michelle Goodall

It’s tough to say this as a massive Twitter fan and early adopter, but 2016 will be the year that Twitter either remains in the hands of super-users or rises like a Phoenix on steroids. 

To do this, it is going to have to do something completely different to create mass appeal and regular use.

There have been many thoughtful articles this year from analysts on the slow decay of Twitter.

But I'm convinced that the fight back will start in earnest next year. Will it be powered by Google?

4. Focus on listening

Davina Rapaport

As marketers we’re so focused on the ‘talking’ side of communication and often ‘listening’ falls by the wayside. 

The insights gained from social media listening can often be just as valuable as the revenue generated from social media and certainly more valuable than a flippant ‘like’ from a passive follower.

5. The rise of affiliate/performance based social marketing

Michelle Goodall

This will lead to brands working more closely with social media influencers on performance-based influencer marketing campaigns and relationships.  

This is going to be an exciting space for marketers. It’s the intersection of PR, advertising, affiliate and SEO.

Expect this to be a massive, hard fought and bloody battleground for agencies.

6. Lots more video innovation

Matthew Marley

With the launch of 360 video on Facebook we expect to see a lot more creative video content in 2016. 

Brands such as Mountain Dew, AT&T, Nestle, Mondelez, Coca Cola and Samsung, among others have been given early access to the new virtual reality style ads which have allowed the brands to be very creative. 

These new content formats are just the beginning of what Facebook could potentially have in store for us with the Oculus Rift VR headset that it has developed with Samsung.

We can see a number of industries taking advantage of this technology. 

For example, the travel and hospitality industries could utilise this video format to promote their hotels and locations giving users a new virtual way to sample their next holiday destination before booking.

Merinda Peppard

In 2016, the battle between video superpowers Facebook and YouTube will heat up and newcomers like Snapchat will contribute to overall growth in the time we devote to video content on social media.

7. Retargeting backlash

Michelle Goodall

We’ll see a backlash against retargeting in social as more advertisers jump on board and conduct shoddy social advertising campaigns.

As consumers start to tire of social retargeting and advertisers continue to focus on targeting people who have already purchased versus focusing on smarter pre-targeting, we’ll see media reports on the worst aspects of programmatic advertising and could see some high profile legal cases.

8. The even bigger rise of the buy button

Michelle Goodall

When the buyable pins on Pinterest fully take hold in 2016 and more brands utilise Facebook, Twitter and YouTube’s buy buttons, we'll see more social campaigns specifically aimed at the convert phase of the customer journey.

The key question is, which month in 2016 will consumers get ‘buy button fatigue’?

9. Social ad spend

Merinda Peppard

The way brands advertise will change and become much more social as new mobile formats and social media products offer advertisers efficiency and promise relevance for consumers.

Matthew Marley

We expect Facebook and other popular social platforms to continue to tweak their news feed algorithms making it harder for businesses to reach their target audience organically. 

I also predict a surge in social ad spend due to increased use of ad-blocking software

According to a recent report from PageFair the use of ad-blocking in the UK grew 82% in the last 12 months and is expected to cost publishers nearly $22bn in 2015 alone. 

As a result many advertisers are now turning to social media and native ads as the primary way to reach consumers online. 

10. Priority on privacy

Merinda Peppard

Privacy continues to be a big challenge for social platforms as teenagers become savvier at avoiding overly commercial platforms. 

This will give way to the rise of private platforms such as Telegram, a heavily encrypted messaging app challenging rival WhatsApp for the younger market.

11. Social customer care (and livechat) is the new branding

Michelle Goodall

Brands that are still refusing to use social for customer care will really start to look foolish in 2016.

Those who have been laying the foundations of getting social customer service/experience right, including Direct Line and many other service organisations, will reap the benefits – but only as long as they continue to improve servicing by working on internal blockers to the very best possible customer experiences.

I’d love to believe that 2016 is the year that brands and organisations really get their shit together, focus on the customer, the customer experience and core principles of trust, value and transparency.

Something us social media types have been banging on about for well over a decade.

David Moth

Published 15 December, 2015 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (3)


Bartosz Zerebecki, Product Manager at SALESmanago

Great article David! I enjoy following these trends and I am excited to see how video features will affect marketing, especially in relation to Marketing Automation and CRM. Perhaps Social Media would become somehow like a support center for customers. I also saw a great compiled list that speaks only about social media and marketing in 2016, please check it out here and let me know what you think: http://bit.ly/1PQuyQD

about 2 years ago

Luke Brynley-Jones

Luke Brynley-Jones, Founder at Our Social Times

This is a useful list - though on the final point, the fact is, most brands are trying to shift from social media back to a private messaging model - aided and abetted by Facebook - so the great dream of transparent customer service is under threat once again.

(Nice to see we aren't the only ones to get Sales Mango spam too).

about 2 years ago


Jacqui Miholos, Social Media at Marketing Sweet

It's interesting to see now that we are in 2016, the implementation of these social media trends. A large trend that I have participated in is the use of influencers to promote one of my Client's beauty brands. The use of influencers is a great way to interact with a broader audience organically and is very effective at spreading a message.

almost 2 years ago

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