There is no denying that 2016 has been an eventful year in social media.
We have witnessed Snapchat ascend and Instagram Stories become direct competition. We have seen the struggles of Twitter and the death of Vine; RIP. We have observed Facebook charge a fee for its services with the launch of Workplace and watched the rise of video continue to steal the show.
Facebook has fallen under very close watch in the last weeks. Recently, Facebook outed that they have been miscalculating how well certain content, including ads and articles, have been performing on the site. The Menlo Park-based company faced similar issues when they had to out that they overestimated the amount of time users spend watching video. Oops.
They say they are looking into fixes and plan on bringing in third-party teams as well. Faceboook is also dealing with a lot of heat after the 2016 presidential election. There are talks of fake news stories actually outperforming legitimate news stories shared by some of the most well-known media companies. While many media companies are citing numbers and statistics about fake stories gaining more likes, shares and engagement, Facebook has yet to confirm any details.
Shifting away from the hot seat, let’s look at some numbers and what they have meant for social media in 2016.
Microsoft purchased LinkedIn to the tune of $26.6 billion.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest and most valuable professional network, which makes the move for Microsoft clear as they work to increase their position in social networks and customer relationship management systems. There are more than 40 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn. LinkedIn says they are their fastest-growing demographic.
Since the purchase, LinkedIn has slowly been changing. Redesigned company pages and data collection are among the changes. While this professional data has been a part of LinkedIn for a while, Microsoft is optimizing the value they see in it with tools like salary comparison.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp reached the one-billion-user milestone this year.
This means Facebook now has two separate messaging services with incomprehensible user numbers of one billion each. Facebook Messenger is the other. WhatsApp’s primary use is as a messenger application, but Facebook has been integrating Snapchat-like features (hint: drawing on pictures, front facing camera flash) as well as experimenting with sharing user data between WhatsApp and Facebook. These actions make it noticeable that they likely see bigger plans for WhatsApp than just messaging.
Twitter relaxed its 140-character count.
Twitter has sort of been throwing paint at the wall in hopes of something sticking to counter their lack of growth. The character count change was welcomed. Photos, videos, quote tweets and polls no longer count towards the limit. This allows tweets to be a little longer and include multimedia, (remember the whole video trend?), which is improving engagement. Other changes Twitter rolled out included changes to the @ mention system and your ability to retweet yourself. Real changes for Twitter still loom, but 2017 may tell all if it is too little, too late for the little blue bird.
Earlier this year, Snapchat announced they were over 150 million daily users. It took Facebook five years to reach that number; Snapchat did it in four. This number also symbolized their passing of Twitter in daily usage. The copying of Snapchat functions by Facebook-owned companies (Instagram, WhatsApp) might be an indicator of the threat Snapchat presents and another social media platform listed under “in favor of video.”
Snapchat’s parent company, Snapchat Inc., filed paperwork for an initial public offering at as much as $25 billion. There are talks that this could be one of the highest-profile stock debuts in recent years. That is a big jump from the $3 billion takeover bid Facebook once offered. While there are still discrepancies over the value of Snapchat Inc., the IPO is expected as early as March 2017.
Instagram’s average user session is 21 minutes.
Instagram hit 300 million active daily users and 500 million monthly users over summer. Combining these numbers with 21-minute-long session times indicates users are invested in the application of Instagram putting it in a position to maintain its growth.
Pinterest, Google+ and more still compete for a slice of the social media pie, but as we watch some of the other giants’ numbers grow, 2017 may require moves and changes if they want to compete on the big scale.
Brook Bentley is the digital content manager for the Northern Nevada Business Weekly.
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