Where is Social Media Headed?

Find out the TOP 5 Social Media trends

By Grayson Kielhold, Trevv Colson, Kha Nguyen, Alex Theisen, Bowen Cui, and Zach Ekeren


Identifying past, current, and future trends of any industry can be vital to the survival of a company. When talking about social media specifically, it could be the difference between longevity of the platform and fading after the next thing hits the market. Here are 5 trends happening right now in social media that demand attention from the biggest social media players.


  1. Live Streaming

One of the big new trends on social media platforms such as Facebook, Meerkat, YouTube, Periscope, and Twitter is the ability to stream live video. Periscope, which is owned by Twitter, has around 10 million daily users, Meerkat has 2 million daily users, and Facebook has more than one billion daily users.¹ All of these companies have been rolling out live video capabilities and Facebook contributes a strong Q4 revenue to the addition of live video.² The ability to stream live video also has created new opportunities for marketers to continue to monetize social media and interact with consumers. Users are now able to express their own content at real time for friends and family to see. Advertisers can now live stream from various events to let customers know what is happening, the kind of turn out they are getting, and even provide real time promotions in certain cases. With a capability like this, grey areas do arise because no product is perfect, but we cannot deny that live streaming is perhaps the biggest and latest trend in social media.

  1. Memes

One of the more popular and humorous trends on social media platforms is the use of the internet meme. Although the word meme originally used to describe “gene-like infectious units of culture that spread from person to person” it has taken on a whole new definition as far as web users are concerned. Memes are still a relatively new phenomenon in the context of the current digital culture (Facebook, Twitter). Content-wise, a meme is mostly full of humorous catchphrases, images, audio, or video that can be pop culture references, historical and political events, and in extreme cases, even propaganda. A meme usually only contains a range of a few words up to 1 or 2 sentences, similar to a punchline of a joke. Due to the virality of the internet in general, the meme phenomenon might be a great way to incorporate marketing and advertising which would affect company’s revenue and sales. Advertising memes can temporarily boost the popularity of a certain product or service if it is used effectively and goes viral.sucess-kid-virgin-mobile-uk-resized-600
For instance, to the left is an example taken from a Virgin Media add using the “success kid” meme figure.8 
In addition to the business world, a meme can also greatly affect the political theater. A lot of Facebook/Twitter user express their political standpoint by using political memes to either support one party or attack the opposite party. This resonates with users and allows them to take blows at a certain party without getting too serious.

One of the biggest cons of internet meme is that it doesn’t last long, just like much of today’s internet content. A viral meme typically lasts for 1 – 2 months depending on its popularity before it fades away completely. This is a challenge social media platforms will need to consider for the effective life of their posts.

  1. Virtual Reality (VR)

Another direction that technology is headed in is the world of virtual reality (VR). This is a technology allowing social media to step into the world of entertainment that they choose to view and become a part of the experience. You may be asking, “How does social media fit into VR?” Well, in 2014 Facebook made a huge acquisition of a company named Oculus VR, who produced perhaps the most prominent tool to experience VR, People wear Samsung Gear VR devices as they attend the launching ceremony of new Samsung S7 and S7 edge smartphones during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelonathe Oculus Rift headset.5 This gives them a foot in the door because not only do they come up with the content on the Facebook platform to be compatible with VR headsets, but once they do, people already have the best tool in the business to put it to use, which is also now owned by Facebook. Compatibility will be a huge role for social media to play in the coming months and years as VR continues to develop and users want to experience their content in new ways. As of yet, VR headsets are really only targeted to certain people who have a device able to support the headset (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is the only phone that supports Samsung’s Gear VR headset) so you have to be a pretty specific consumer. But we wouldn’t suggest waiting until the headsets explode into the market to start getting content ready for the people who want to be a part of it.

  1. “Fake News”

A trend that has really started to pick up some steam and catch some eyes in social media is the creation and viewership of fake news. During this last political campaign is when people really started to take notice on the upcoming trend. Viewers everyday are clicking on “news stories” on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets that have been fabricated just for views. The big question with this growing movement is, “How do these social media sites control the viewing and exposure of these falsified stories?” About 32% of Americans say that they often see made up political news stories on social media sites. More so, 63% say that because of these fake stories, it causes “great confusion” amongst the public about what is going on with current events in the world.6 This should raise a cause for concern as a great number of people are starting to read their news stories from Facebook and other social media sites. Facebook has already begun taking steps to help reduce this rising problem. Facebook has revamped their trending topics section to try and help halt fake news. Trending stories will now no longer be just based on how many people are talking about the article, but will now include other various factors as well. Facebook will now take into account the breadth of the conversation. Articles trending will now take into account how many news articles have been published on the subject, along with the volume of the conversation that surrounds the news story. Facebook has also partnered with a third-party, fact checking organization to help reveal the credibility of the sources to help flag false information.7

  1. Purchases through Social Networking

In the past few years, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have all enabled or upgraded their purchase options within their apps. This function enables their users to purchase while they are reading information from their sites and apps. This became so popular because people tend to purchase items that are recommended or provided by their close friends that are relevant to them. Social Networking has integrated many functions of an e-commerce site. We are currently at a stage in which we are redirected to the merchant site to finish our purchase should we choose to buy. The upcoming trend is shifting to a method where all the shopping sites will be integrated to our social networking app as a function, and here we can finish our purchase in our social app using our social app login information. This can save a lot of time filling out our payment information and better manage our accounts all while allowing us to complete a full purchase process without leaving the original social platform. It can also save merchant’s money on traditional website advertisement. Convenience and accessibility are two hot spots for successful, upcoming trends that are certainly captured by social network purchasing.

With these 5 trends in mind, social media platforms will be able to push content and know what to look for when trying to actively engage customers through content and capabilities. However, in the technological environment things change faster than ever. Focussing too much on these trends and not looking forward to more that are upcoming could be a costly mistake. Keep your heads on a swivel, adapt to what you see currently and what you think is yet to come..the world of social media changes quickly.



  1. https://www.business.com/articles/why-live-streaming-is-the-future-of-social-media/
  2. https://techcrunch.com/2016/01/27/facebook-earnings-q4-2015/
  3. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcc4.12013/full
  4. http://www.aaai.org/ocs/index.php/ICWSM/ICWSM11/paper/viewFile/2757/3304
  5. http://virtualrealitytimes.com/2015/02/05/samsung-gear-vr-vs-microsoft-hololens-a-comparison/
  6. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/01/15/can-fake-news-trend-de-escalated/96537288/
  7. http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/25/technology/facebook-trending-topics-fake-news-update/
  8. https://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33197/10-Popular-Memes-Masquerading-as-Marketing-Campaigns.aspx#sm.000jqc2g918z1fs7wly2qf2ejerhx

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