It’s hard to believe that Facebook has been around for 15 years already. While the company lost over $100 billion in value since the Cambridge-Analytica privacy issue, it remains among the top 10 largest companies (by market cap) in the world. There has been much dialogue about the relevance of Facebook and social media, in general, but rest assured that these channels will not disappear in the near future. Based on current marketplace trends, here’s what we can expect from social media one year from now.
There will be more ecommerce tools available on social media
Advertising keeps social media running. Executives at every major social media platform, including Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook), Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest, would like to diversify revenue streams. Facebook has toyed with the idea of charging a fee to users for an advertising-free experience but the company has been slow to move in that direction as the sheer volume of users is what keeps advertisers coming. LinkedIn has several premium features that allow companies and users to pay for the experience they would like to have. But, today revenue largely depends on advertising and that’s not likely to change in the near future.
In the past, advertisers have been satisfied with building their brands through social media. Some have developed attribution models to understand how brand building through social impacts sales. However, more and more brands have expressed a need to explicitly understand how their social media efforts affect sales. Such demands have resulted in more ecommerce features and tools available on social media. Retargeting, lead generation and social media marketplaces help brands drive sales through ecommerce. Expect to see expanded adoption of these tools in the coming year.
Users will gravitate to their favorite social media and abandon others
Social media fatigue is real. Users are getting exhausted by social media and many have disconnected from multiple sites to focus on their favorite. This is precisely why teens congregate on Snapchat. Yes, even Generation Z is tired of the social media scene. They tend toward sites where they have a network—that is, where their peers are.
“Abandoning” a social media can take many forms. Some users will delete their accounts altogether. Generation Y left Facebook for Instagram in droves in 2017 and 2018. Some users will spend less time on less significant sites. Some users will just walk away from their social pages. Twitter counts among its user base a number of users who have not posted on the social site in five or more. (By the way, this is why the MAU (monthly average users) metric is more important than overall user count.)
Expect even more users to move toward a presence on fewer social accounts in the next year.
Regulation will impact how user data gets used
Regulators across the globe continue to question social media executives about how user privacy is guarded. They are pushing for more disclosure and more user choice. The companies would like to self-police privacy efforts but UK regulators and others are pushing for third party oversight in light of recent security breaches and mishandling of data. This may lead to users opting-out of sharing their data. Fewer eyeballs could mean lower ad spends, which, in turn, could turn up the pressure on publicly-traded social media companies to find other means of generating revenue, including revisiting plans to charge subscription fees. Stay tuned.