Predicting what will happen in social media is about as hard as predicting what the next viral post will be. 

However, at least as marketers, we can read and engage with each other and in turn string a few ideas as to the direction we think social media might take.

Firstly, in 2015 we saw the rise of live streaming apps, the likes of Periscope, Meerkat and We saw Facebook change their algorithm which meant paid advertising became more of a necessity than a luxury and we witnessed Twitter adjust their platform to user demand – including 10,000 character direct messages and removing the cropping filter on images and video uploads.

We also saw increasing use of Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp…all private messaging apps that businesses are attempting to leverage.

Personal Engagement

I have read a number of articles with expert accounts of where they see social in 2016 and a number of them focus on personal engagement with their target audience instead of trying to create a viral post that reaches every follower.

The strategy here is to create a unique and personal experience and only provide content to those who have given you permission to deliver that content – without being intrusive!

\”The most valuable social media interactions will happen in private, controlled spaces\”Mitch Joel, President of Mirum

These live-video streaming apps that have occurred are a step to hosting conversations in a private space, be it a conference call, webinar or user group. Key influencers find the most value out of these as they can reach their audience with basically any content within their industry whereas others need to be slightly more strategic in marketing these videos to their audience.

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The fact is that social media continues to follow us and although we are more accepting of it, it can still be intrusive, so in 2016 personal engagement enjoyed more often by the consumer is definitely one area I expect to see development.

Social Advertising

The competition for your social posts to reach your target audience continues to increase.

Fast Company notes that \”Companies ramped up social media advertising in 2015, with spending increasing 33.5% to nearly $24 billion -a figure that\’s all the more impressive, because just a few years ago that number was $0,\”

What does this tell you? It tells you that social is no longer the free avenue for businesses to gain additional revenue – if you want the business then you need to pay for it.

Businesses using Facebook for example now have to pay to boost each post if they want it to be seen. Instagram now has more sponsored posts, Twitter is reinventing their advertising with Twitter Card Polls…yes, all to increase engagement with the consumer.

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Expect more social channels for businesses to become paid media avenues in 2016. With social technology and integration increasing, social marketers can now justify ROI to their CMOs and the old thinking of paying for \”social\” being a waste of the marketing budget is an afterthought.

However, your advertising will not remain the same, Oracle Social Cloud for instance will look to implement image or visual listening within their offering.

If you are unaware, image listening scans images across multiple sites and channels and can pull out specific words or features within the image e.g. a company logo, or an object within an image. Expect more companies to add logos to their images to increase their reach.

Social Integration – Bold Prediction

Wishful thinking or bold predictions for the year but I\’d love to see Facebook and Instagram finally release their API to the marketing tech giants e.g. Oracle, Salesforce, Marketo & Hubspot. At present, publishing capabilities from these social tools are still limited and so partial integration has to be completed through 3rd party apps rather then through the social platform.

By opening up this API, there will be a competitive battle as to who offers the complete SaaS package.

On this point, I\’d expect social to be more prominent across B2B companies with their integration into Marketing Automation platforms.

Digital Body Language is a key to email deliverability and social channels can provide leads through automated campaigns. If integrated into these automation platforms, social can enable smarter segmentation and provide another avenue to target your prospects.

In conclusion, these are all just a few areas social can head. The important point to take from this is that social has increased its recognition within businesses for its ability to gain leads through a personalised approach. Fast Company note that \”nearly 80% of businesses have a dedicated social team,\” and I\’d expect these teams to increase in size over the next few years.

If you\’d like to learn more about Oracle Social Cloud and Oracle Marketing Cloud you can download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Social Marketing here.