Given the seemingly exponential growth in Snapchat’s popularity, it is not unusual for pre-existing social media platforms to replicate its more successful features. Namely, in recent years social media users (90-96% adults aged under 35) have seen an increase in the story function in their social platforms and messaging apps alike.
Most platforms have failed to emulate the popularity of Snapchat’s success with this function, except for Instagram.
Instagram has infused its essential core purpose – to showcase the aesthetic – with the aspect of Snapchat that makes it so successful – which is its immediacy – in order to curate its story feature. Instagram stories offer filters, stickers and an array of pen strokes in varying colours, hues and width, so that the fleeting can now appear as exquisite as the coordinated posts on the timeline. This particular feature has over 200 million daily users, which far surpasses Snapchat’s daily user amount.
This is a conscious step towards the Instagram that users should expect to see more of in 2018, which is an Instagram that utilises AI technology to determine who’s stories you see first (Users might have noticed that their friends’ stories appear first, because they engage with them more frequently), in collaboration with the choices you make about the content that you’re interested in, which can be gaged by your choice to follow a hashtag and exclude certain results from your feed.
IoT (Internet of Things) technology is another driving force that will be catalytic for the trends in modern Social media as your feed becomes more tailored to the things that you are interested in, thus creating knock-on effect of increased engagement. As our day to day lives become increasingly saturated by modern technology such as watches that track our every movement, cars that know where we are going and where we have been, and phones that know the answers to every query – and remember the question, our information is being shared between devices that contribute to an informed profile of your personality that allows social media to tailor your experience to your preferences.
AIs like Alexa are becoming a popularised household item that are capable of listening and speaking, whilst other AIs are capable of facial recognition, social media analysis, and affective computing meaning it is able to gauge your emotions.
It can seem disconcerting that this information is being shared so freely with social media platforms, however, engineers behind social media platforms have vocalised their commitment to creating safe online spaces.
A spokesperson from Facebook said, “we’ve done a lot of work and research with outside experts and academics to understand the affects of our service in well-being, and we’re using it to inform our product development. We are also making significant investments more in people, technology and processes.”
Furthermore, social media platforms are unanimously gathering information in order to prioritise community, collaboration and engagement.
An example of this is the live feature that can be found on Facebook and Instagram. This allows a profile to connect with it’s followers in the minute, and promotes fast and large-scale engagement. Push notifications are sent to smartphones, notifying the public that an account is live streaming, and on Instagram it is even possible to request to join another person’s live broadcast.
These are all movements towards prioritising the here and now, as followers are naturally more inclined to watch something that they only have access too in the minute.
And, significantly, shoppable Instagram posts will become popular in 2018. This feature is currently only used on posts by selected U.S. based Business accounts with Shopify integration, but Instagram tends to test out its features on sample users before releasing them fully (initially, the ability to add a link t your story was only granted to verified accounts, whereas now business accounts with a certain number of followers can also access the feature). Shoppable content is becoming more prolific in the world of e-commerce, and there is undeniably a huge demand from everyday users to be able to shop the products that bloggers and influencers advertise on their accounts. This will also enable brands to monetize from influencer collaborations more easily.
Instagram have given users the ability to archive posts, so that they are removed from the feed but not deleted, as well as the ability to pin stories to their profile permanently, which demonstrates how fluidity is being introduced to incite users to post more and decide later whether a post works for their own personal brand. As a result, posts are not only more frequent but also more time relevant. To synthesise, these factors combine to paint the social landscape of 2018, which is forecast to be focused around immediacy, raw, undoctored posts and a wealth of more attuned connections who are willing to engage and work collaboratively.
Words: Amy Cully Steele