As we reach the twilight of the year it's instructive to look back and see how far we've come. Here are ten social media changes that took place in in 2015. Please leave a comment to let us know whether you agree or disagree, and what else stood out in your social media efforts this year.
1. Video is the new must-have.
Periscope and Meerkat burst onto the scene in the spring, giving rise to a whole new form of video engagement on Twitter. Periscope, which allows users to stream live video, has gone on to sign up 10 million users. Could your audience benefit from real-time video engagement? We now have the tools to find out.
2. Brevity is no longer a virtue.
Twitter's once-firm 140 character rule no longer applies in direct messages. Other networks are promoting long-form publishing. Be strategic about what your audience wants and needs from you and then construct your message. Longer form content may be precisely what they're hoping to see.
3. The demographic divide has widened.
Teens and adults differ sharply when it comes to the social networks they use and what they use them for. Snapchat is immensely popular among teens, for example. Facebook is a staple for older users aiming to connect with family from around the country. Keep these differences in mind as you engage online.
4. Image networks are online shopping malls.
Both Instagram and Pinterest have seen their user bases double since 2012. Both have also added extra functions for shoppers. Use images as frequently as is appropriate if you aim to use social media to sell more.
5. Niche networks are becoming more common.
Industries and hobbies that generally give rise to networking groups are finding digital outposts in the form of niche social networks. From Player.Me for gamers to Zerply for entertainment creatives, there is growing interest among the like-minded in finding ways to gather online.
6. Advertising is becoming more engaging.
Recognising that younger audiences are less interested in being pitched, TV networks now encourage stars to get on social media during broadcast hours to engage with fans. Improved viewership helps make the case for pricey network ad buys that are otherwise losing their appeal. Be aware of this if your marketing plan calls for any form of broadcast advertising.
7. Messages beat replies.
Younger users are taking to messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Viber as fast or faster than they are traditional social media platforms. They've also proven more likely to use social platforms that have a heavy messaging component, such as Snapchat. Factor this into your marketing or face losing a key demographic.
8. Broad platforms are losing sway.
While the big social networks are still important, they're not growing as fast as they used to. Twitter went so far as to remove long-time CEO Dick Costolo and replace him with co-founder Jack Dorsey. Don't limit your engagement efforts to the big platforms.
9. Communities are easier to find and create.
Chat rooms and discussion boards go back to the earliest days of the public Internet. Now, services such as Google+ and LinkedIn are making it even easier to form online communities by attaching them to everyday social networks. Adding hashtags and search allows for exploring themes and threads.
10. Publishing tops commenting.
Socially-connected platforms such as LinkedIn and Medium have become content hubs, while Facebook has made it easier to publish news to feeds. The message? If you want to influence, you'll need to publish.
Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions. Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau's employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.