NorbellaLabs: The Future of Social

July 08, 2016

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By Rachel Sarnie, Content Marketing Intern

This blog is part two in the NorbellaLabs: The Future of Digital Advertising series which discusses emerging trends and transformation in the advertising industry. Each post will investigate a channel and offer predictions about where that channel is heading. NorbellaLabs is a practice within Norbella which aims to promote and encourage the discussion, rapid testing, and adoption of new media innovation. 

Social media is simply everywhere. We use it everyday on auto-pilot, yet we rarely consider how rapidly these platforms change. Social media evolves as quickly as we consume it, with platforms constantly introducing new features and new ways to interact.

In the coming year, one of the largest changes in social media will be the rise of messaging. Instant messaging was once associated with outdated platforms such AIM, but with the introduction of messaging in major apps such as Snapchat, instant text communication is making a comeback in a creative way. Snapchat has implemented text and live video chat into its standard platform of sending captioned photos. Facebook has purchased WhatsApp after seeing potential in the platform, and, a few years ago, rolled out an app specifically for messaging (aptly named “Messenger”), rather than having users message within the Facebook app itself.


The big question is: how does this trend effect marketers in the future? We predict that messaging will become a key component to e-commerce in 2016. The app WeChat allows users to send not only text, photos, and videos, but also send voice recordings and payment over messaging. This payment can be sent to friends–similar to the model of apps such as Venmo or Square Cash–but also can be sent to businesses. This will revolutionize the way the users interact with brands they already love by creating a “one-on-one” feel between consumer and business.

Another big prediction for 2016 is the increase of usage in social video – and specifically, live video. The app Periscope is a great example of the way businesses and marketers are utilizing live video to replace more traditional forms of publication and advertisement. These live streams can be linked to companies’ major social channels such as Facebook and Twitter, allowing them to reach users on a live, personal level. Live video will contribute to the already rapid rise of video on social channels. In fact, Facebook is predicting that the end of the written word is near, and video will soon take over. Nicola Mendelsohn of Facebook recently predicted that in just 5 years, Facebook “will be definitely mobile, it will be probably all video.”


Also on the rise in social media is microcontent, such as gifs or infographics. As our attention spans decrease to that of a goldfish (really!), social media marketers are using short, fun content to grab the attention of users. Microcontent allows companies and individuals alike to brand themselves on social media using visuals, graphics, and colorful content.


Our last prediction for the future of social is the continuing rise of native advertising. These ads mimic the look and feel of the publishing site it lives on, and can be written content or video. The integration of advertising directly on a publishing site makes users more inclined to view the content, rather than just disregarding it as an unrelated ad. Therefore, native content also has higher possibility of being shared by users across their personal social channels.

Lastly, it should be noted how the uses of social media are shifting as a whole. Once simply a platform for connecting with peers, social media such as Facebook and Snapchat are now dividing into two “camps” – one to one messaging and content hubs. Gone are the days users would hold conversation on their friends’ Facebook walls. Now, social media is a place to go for articles, news, sponsored content, and brand awareness. With the separate but equal growths of content hubs and messaging, we are fundamentally changing the way we use social as users, businesses, and marketers.