As the last month of 2015 dawns in a flurry of gift-wrapping and cocoa-drinking, prediction lists start their steady creep across the internet, with every technology prognosticator, online marketing expert, and social media blogger clamoring to forecast the potential state of our digital world in 2016.
They might be right; they might be wrong – only time will tell. So, what’s in store for us on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest next year? Let’s learn what the fortune-tellers at SocialMediaToday anticipate:
We used to star tweets we like. Now we “heart them.” Soon we’ll be able to express a full range of (cartoon) emotions. Twitter is experimenting with an emoji reactions tool. Why? Emoji are incredibly popular the world over, and are more likely to hook a younger crowd than traditional icons. Expect this feature to become widespread in the first half of 2016.
Twitter has always skewed young. To retain this vital demographic and ensure its continued growth, Twitter will roll out more interactive features. In addition to emoji, Twitter will further develop its poll feature and branded event emoji, the latter of which has already been used by Coke, Star Wars, Taylor Swift, and Starbucks.
A significant amount of customers turn to brands on Twitter to answer customer service queries. In fact, many bigger players have hired employees dedicated solely to social media to meet this need. Twitter has evolved to make it easier for businesses to interact with their customers by removing direct message character limits (previously limited to 140) and instituting quote tweets, which allow users to track relevant conversations. The next step? A streamlined platform catering to customer service, possibly even a form of artificial intelligence-driven assistant service. Earlier this year, Twitter acquired AI provider Whetlab, so clearly something is in the works.
Facebook is making a big push to keep its users on its site, rather than following links to other sites. Its newest features include Instant Articles – posts uploaded directly to Facebook (reducing load time and giving creators access to new tools like in-post video) – and on-platform blogging with its revamped Notes. With a new focus on aesthetics and customization, the new Notes (screenshot above) is a big improvement over the bare-bones style of the previous version.
Last year, Facebook made headlines with its $2 billion purchase of virtual reality startup Oculus VR. While the first Oculus headsets will soon be available, virtual reality will take time to become truly transformative technology. In 2016, we’ll likely see VR take its first baby steps on Facebook with more 360-degree videos and the rise of VR gaming. We’ll probably witness a greater impact from VR in 2017.
Advanced Search Tools
Pinterest launched a very clever search tool this month (apparently simply called “our crazy-fun new visual search tool“): You can search a visual element within a pin. Say you’re redecorating and spy a lamp you like in a pin showing someone’s kitchen. Now, you can highlight the lamp and Pinterest will bring up visually similar items, so you’ll know where to find the it. Pinterest will look to further improve the functionality of its search tools to make them more personal – and useful – than ever, potentially resulting in an uptick in ecommerce transactions.
Speaking of ecommerce, this year saw the launch of “Buyable Pins” allowing pinners to buy featured products. As ecommerce and search options expand and become more valuable, Pinterest may develop better algorithms to predict what pinners will want and offer a more streamlined on-platform buying system.
What are your predictions for 2016?
International Space Station (ISS) astronaut Karen Nyberg is taking Pinterest to another level: outer space.
While astronauts have established popular accounts on other social media platforms – Chris Hadfield and Soichi Noguchi, among some notable users – this is the first time anyone has pinned from the ISS. What’s more, her use of the female-dominated Pinterest has the potential to inspire a lot of young women to reach for the stars. Read more below from the Daily Dot. – SS
When Nyberg was first asked in May about whether she’d follow in the footsteps of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who became well-known tweeting from space, she piqued the interests of many by mentioning her use of Pinterest. While Instagram, Twitter, and Google+ have all been popular among intergalactic travelers, Pinterest remained untouched—until Nyberg arrived and pinned plenty of updates revealing the daily life of an ISS astronaut.
“I was honestly hoping to draw in a group of people and share my excitement of space with people who maybe hadn’t thought about it before,” Nyberg tells the Daily Dot.
She’d been a Pinterest user for a couple of years before her time on the space station put her profile in the spotlight. Like most pinners, Nyberg likes the collection visuals, the easy search function, and that oh-so-popular infinite scroll and the plethora of ideas it reveals—all of this making it an ideal way to show those of us stuck at the ground her amazing view of the world… literally.
“When in space I was mostly pinning my own pictures. It was neat to see the comments and see that people were noticing them and interested in them. It was definitely a good feeling to get that positive feedback from folks,” she said.
Some of Nyberg’s photos received hundreds of re-pins from enthusiastic and excited followers. Her very last pin from space received 30 comments praising her efforts.
“Thank you for allowing me to experience a little space travel through your photos—You have no idea how much it means!” wrote Pinterest user Christa Crews.
While giving us all plenty of universal landscapes to pine over, Nyberg also took the opportunity to continue pinning one of her (and the rest of Pinterest’s) favorite hobbies: crafting. She shared a photo of herself sewing in space, as well as her projects. Case in point, the dinosaur she created for her son out of fabric from Russian food containers. She also created a Texas flag for her husband made of cut up T-shirt pieces stitched to a Russian food container liner.
Nyberg’s Pinterest use may have set her apart from the rest of her social astronauts comrades, but she also turned to Twitter and NASA’s YouTube channels to share her crafting—and even details like how to take care of your hair while living in space. Clearly, Nyberg is on board the social media-ization of our world, and everything outside of it.
“Some [astronauts] don’t enjoy it as much and so some might not be interested in doing it as much as others, but it’s good to reach out and share. Share the view more than anything!” she said.
NASA has been one of the most capable federal agencies to attack the social Web. The NASA Social team is a many-bodied, vast structure within the organization connecting ordinary citizens to its intense, amazing journeys. Its recent Twitter contest giving applicants to chance to connect with Internet-famous astronaut Rick Mastracchio, the flight engineer for the next space-station mission.
But while it’s easy for you and me to send a tweet, or post a status update, the logistics of doing that from space are more complicated. Nyberg said it’s a multiple step process to pin or tweet from the space station; if she wanted to share an image, she first had to remove the camera card and go to a computer with a local area network on the space station to turn it into a jpeg. Then she’d email it from her NASA on-board email to a personal email account and go to another computer and log in remotely to an Earth computer for an Internet connection. From there she could open the email, get the picture, and put it on her social media accounts.
Despite the challenge, Nyberg pinned and tweeted to keep her followers involved.
Will Nyberg inspire more astronauts to pin their explorations? That remains to be seen—but for now, she says her board will return to the stuff we’re all used to seeing circulate the network. You can expect to see some holiday decorating tips filling up her boards for a bit.
Photos via Karen Nyberg/Pinterest
Bored? Turn to boards. Online boards, that is. Four Seasons just established a Pinterest presence to help you plan your next vacation.
With the new trip-planning service, Pin.Pack.Go, travelers create Pinterest boards and invite their preferred Four Seasons hotel to chime in on recommendations of things to do and places to visit on their vacation.
The result? A custom-planned vacation from those who know the area best. It’s a great example of a brand reaching out to its consumers in the burgeoning social marketplace and we should expect to see other hotel chains following suit shortly.
Have you ever tried something unorthodox to appeal to a different audience for your business?
The creative minds over at Buick did just that: they wanted to target a younger demographic, so they came up with a Pinterest contest to design the interior and exterior of the company’s 2013 Encore luxury car.
How would this target younger consumers? Seventy-one percent of Pinterest’s nearly 25 million users are under the age of 45 and 50% are 25-44. Pretty clever, Buick.
The car company approached a number of influential design, fashion, and food bloggers with a clarion call for the perfect Pinterest board. The winning entry came from bed and breakfast owner Michael Wurm, Jr., an influential Pinner with more than 3.6 million followers.
His “Day at the Beach”-inspired Pinterest board relied on shades of aqua and sand for the Buick’s concept car.
Other companies, including Country Living, General Electric, and HP, have run successful Pinterest contests in the past.
How can you leverage this social media platform for your own business?
Check out Buick’s video about Michael’s entry below:
Can you ever remember a time without Pinterest? How, oh how, did we find ideas for hand-dipped Madagascar vanilla candle wedding centerpieces and photos of fancy overstuffed purple chairs that we’re definitely going to buy for our dream house? Magazines? How positively quaint. Magazines.
Well, if you a) like Pinterest, and b) want an app for that, I’ve got some good news for you. Pinterest announced at a summer party (Summer party! Who does Pinterest think it is, the Great Gatsby?) at its San Fran headquarters that it’s rolling out an Android and iPad app, available now at Google Play or the App Store.
Pinners, rejoice. Finally… the perfect papaya salad at your fingertips. How did we get so lucky?