The Story Wars Continue: Trends We Saw on Social this Week

Over the last week, we’ve seen nonstop updates on social. Why so many at the same time? Why now? One thing is obvious, the competition for our attention is getting real.

It’s wartime with the big players in social media. Over the last week, the news has been peppered (more than we’re used to) with different changes and upgrades on our most-used social media platforms.

Here’s a list of the updates we’ve seen on social just this week:

Why now?

Why are we seeing so many new updates at the same time? For the past five to ten years, social media has been in a constant growth phase. It’s obviously widely accepted in the market. And now as it starts to mature, competition gets even more fierce. This is the natural part of any product life cycle.

But let’s look at what we’ve seen trend in the last few months. With rollouts of a few new big features, people are excited and talking about which platform they prefer — and platforms are paying attention to our activity. Snapchat had us in the beginning of the year. Instagram stories came and kicked the game into high gear. We also saw Facebook rollout Live (which made us forget about Periscope). And then, Snapchat came out with a stealth-like marketing machine for Spectacles.

We know that each platform has been building rapidly in their attempt to compete against each other. And maybe they have a few snitches who share launch timelines, which is why we’re seeing them all at the same time.

Still, rapid changes mean that no one platform can slow down. The challenge is bringing us new features that we actually want — because too many extras and you’ll likely annoy us, maybe even loose us.

So why does it even matter?

Because if you pay attention, there are major trends happening in social media right now.

— Live video streaming: There’s a huge drive for real-time, unedited content, especially now that we’re comfortable with it. We’re talking about live video. We first saw it with things like Periscope, Meerkat (remember them), and Facebook Live. Now it’s almost everywhere with Instagram Live Stories, Twitter’s live capabilities, and even Twitch.

— AR: People are adopting the idea of augmented reality. Snapchat face filters paved the way, and now other platforms are joining in — like Facebook with the recent launch of “Location frames” and filters. PS: Remember Pokemon Go? That was AR.

— A push for even more user engagement: You can now reply to comments on Instagram, group chat with friends on Snapchat, and even interact with your audience through live video. It almost feels like we’re actually talking to each other again instead of our selfies.

— Invisibility: Let’s be real. We look at other people’s profiles, sometimes we screenshot, sometimes we send in a direct message to our friends. One of the biggest ways to increase user engagement and conversations is to let us continue what we do, but in the way we want to do it: on the low.

— The all in one: Ok, this might be obvious but these platforms are competing to be our one and only. We’re not mad about it. They want us to be able to capture photo and video, edit and filter, live stream, play with AR, share what we see, save what we like for ourselves, and actually engage with our friends.

Side note: Instagram’s latest ‘Save’ feature feels a bit like it’s coming after Pinterest too. You think?

— More content, more money: Expanding marketing real estate has been a huge theme lately. Yes, we’re talking about advertising. There’s a direct correlation between the amount of content being generated and the amount of paid advertising that a platform can get away with. We see what they’re doing.

So, what do you think? Are you noticing trends we didn’t mention?

Remember, this game isn’t about who does it first but who does it better.

Lauren Willey is Social Media Coordinator at Level, a purpose-driven digital design firm. Follow us on twitter to continue the conversation.