As we enter this exciting new year, it’s time to reflect on what worked in 2016 and what might work in 2017.  The digital revolution isn’t over, it’s simply evolving, and mobile and the increasing importance of apps in the workplace are ringing in some especially impressive changes.

We’re going to take a look at what worked in 2016, and what 2017 is about to usher in.  Feel free to comment on what you enjoyed most in social media over the past year, and what you’re most looking forward to!

2016 Highlights

Some serious innovation took place in 2016! Social media went wild with augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine intelligence (MI).  But it didn’t end there. Social media marketing is exploding, and perhaps most importantly—established social media companies have entered the enterprise realm in exciting new ways.

AR

Virtual reality, which dominated the online gaming realm as the most intriguing (and finally satisfying!) new trend of the year eclipsed AR—at first. But augmented reality turned out to be one of the year’s hottest trends in tech period, and in social media particular.

Snapchat lenses remained just as popular as they were in 2015 (if  not more so), with timely additions to the app becoming one of its most used features.

But the AR star of 2016 came seemingly out of the blue and mobilized millions: Pokemon Go. Niantic has since received some criticism for their handling of the game, but its phenomenal launch has proven that the public really wants games that work as a liaison between fantasy and reality.

AI/MI

Teaching manmade objects to learn has been a goal since the very dawn of mankind’s ability to make tools—and 2016 saw some huge gains in this department. Many have compared it to the excitement over the internet in the late 1990’s. Artificial/machine intelligence was fueled in part by the amazing advances in data collection and analytics—and those fueled some other improvements we’ll get to momentarily.

From Google’s Deep Learning to Microsoft’s (hilariously failed) AI Twitter personality, Tay, we saw AI/MI reaching new zeniths in 2016. 

Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing didn’t have changes that were so outwardly noticeable, but they were just as important. Improvements in analytics have allowed organizations to make much better use of their data, which has led to impressive improvements in personalized marketing.

And it turns out that social media users love personalized marketing. As users become more accustomed to the instant gratification this trend promises, they expect faster, more relevant results—and social media marketers are all too happy to supply them!

Social Media Goes Enterprise

Services like Slack and Jabber brought social media to the workplace, but this past autumn, we saw a social media giant bring the workplace to them. Workplace for Facebook is leveraging the popularity of Facebook clones and other enterprise collaboration tools—by going enterprise itself. And actually, it’s doing more than that.  While many other tools focus only on white collar applications, Facebook’s Workplace platform has major pros for every level of every organization.

LinkedIn bloggers like Rob Castaneda from Service Rocket are praising the new platform for its flexibility and appeal to a broader audience.  As for LinkedIn itself, it’s become a great way to offer colleagues and potential employers a more in-depth view into your experience—but actually applying it as a communication tool is fading.

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2017 Predictions

Let’s be real:

We’re not going to figure out everything 2017 will have to offer, because tech is still improving at exponential rates, and we have yet to reach the peak of social media. But we can make a few solid predictions based on what we’ve already observed. (We’re also as excited as you are to see the surprises this year might have in store!)

In With Apps, Out With Mobile Browsers

Mobile browsers are still important, but as apps get better (and programmers become more devoted to creating them!) we may be seeing a serious decline in their importance in 2017.  Millennials are increasingly frustrated by mobile browsers that aren’t keeping up with their flagship phones’ capabilities—and they’ve cut their teeth on apps that delivered what they wanted and when. As they mature, we’re bound to see a serious transition away from mobile browsers and toward apps.

Personal Assistants Get Smarter (and Smarter… and Smarter…)

From saying “Hi Google,” to asking Siri for directions, to chatting with Alexa about knock knock jokes—personal digital assistants became not only more effective but more relatable in 2016… and people loved it. With the Internet of Things poised to expand, and the era of the smart-home upon us, we can expect companies to be pouring more and more resources into these features.

Going Live

Live streaming wasn’t brand new in 2016—just ask Twitch gamers and television stations. But 2016 made it easier, and more personal, than ever to live stream. Facebook Live put live streaming in your pocket without having to download anything additional. We’re going to see way more of this in the year to come.

Business and Social Media

We mentioned the launch of Workplace for Facebook in 2016.  Established platforms are taking note of their indie competitors’ success in the business and B2B (business to business) realm.  Instagram users are increasingly using Insta as a shopping app—and WhatsApp as a payment app.  Whatsapp has also finally officially opened itself up as a corporate communication tool.

And, of course, Workplace for Facebook promises to become the company-wide communication tool for 2017.

Conclusion

2016 was a stellar year for tech and social media lovers. Some people might have thought social media’s potential had already been reached, but the past year demonstrated just how much it still has to offer.

We expect 2017 to not only fulfill the promises made by 2016, but to introduce plenty of innovations of its own! We’re excited to see what this new year has to offer, and we expect you are as well!