December 21, 2017
From Brexit to US elections, this year social media platforms were hit again and again by fake news. This led to some serious questions about potential Russian meddling in western politics. To combat this, we saw Twitter and Facebook introduce more practices to monitor and verify news content.
And Twitter lashed out against not only fakers, but bullies too, with new abuse guidelines and easier-to-use reporting features. Although the micro-blogging platform couldn’t control the abuse that happened in the real world, it did make a stand against this behaviour in the Twitter-sphere.
Visual platforms Instagram and Snapchat, however, were more focused on waging war between themselves, deploying a slew of fun new features in the battle for users’ attention. But with the new #potential of Instagram Stories, plus the specs-tacular fail of Snap Spectacles, Insta definitely had the edge this year.
The one thing that united all social platforms this year was the quest for global domination. Twitter gained ground in developing countries with a low-data version of their app, whereas Instagram became more polyglot and connected with Arabic-speaking users. And with Facebook’s London office expanding in 2018, it’s clear that platforms are looking to tailor their services more for international audiences.
The rising star of 2017 was LinkedIn, the platform for professionals. Developments in its analytics offering have made it an indispensable tool for B2B brands in lead generation. It also became more ‘in the moment’, with geofilters that allow users to engage with events on the platform.
But Snapchat remains king of geofilters, which now include AR objects which brands can create for users to interact with. However, every feature of Snapchat has an Instagram counterpart to compete with, leaving users spoilt for choice. Now that Instagram has become more interest-led with hashtags, it has the potential to be more explorative than Snapchat.
Facebook and Twitter also invested in visual content in a big way this year – especially in their live-streaming and on-demand video offerings. Facebook even created its own Watch tab which featured original scripted video content, while Twitter focused on gaining streaming rights to live sporting events and news broadcasts.
But the biggest change to Twitter this year was of course the controversial doubling of the character limit to 280. Along with the formal feature for creating threads, these changes allow users to express themselves more fully. Defying the old adage, more was more when it came to technical developments on social in 2017.
From Barack Obama to Beyoncé, the most popular social media posts in 2017 all about uplifting and inspiring life events. And of course, we have infinite respect for the man who got a year’s worth of chicken nuggets from fast-food chain Wendy’s by getting a record-breaking 18 million retweets. #NuggsForCarter
What the biggest social media fails of this year have in common is context. Well, a lack of it. From congratulating Boston Marathon winners for ‘surviving’ to Trump sharing misleading content (‘alternative facts’), social media managers weren’t always on their toes this year. Lessons for 2018? Proof, proof, and proof again.