A whopping 44 million UK adults are on social media now, of which 66% use it daily. While last year we saw social media being used to present a united front to those targeting democracy, this year it has been used not only for entertainment, but to encourage debate surrounding political campaigns and current affairs.

It’s been an exciting year in social media which has seen marketers evolving their strategies to keep up with the constantly evolving platforms. So Big Cat has weighed in on some of their favourite social media highlights from 2016.

Platform of the Year

While it was a difficult decision, Big Cat has awarded this to Snapchat! The newest feature entitled ‘Discover’ has enabled people across the world to view user generated content. This was recently used during the US Election showing the rawest footage of real time reactions as the results came in and Donald Trump was announced as the victor.

Emerging Trend of 2016

This year has seen a massive increase in the usage of gifs by social media users to express their feelings. With the most recent Apple update and apps such as ‘Giphy’, smart phone users now have complete access to a whole host of gifs that they are able to send to their contacts as a way of expressing emotion through typing.

This falls hand in hand with the new found love of short form video amongst millennials in 2016. Micro-video is no longer limited for use of entertainment purposes; micro-video has paved its way into being the favourite way amongst social media users to consume information and express emotions while on the go.

Emoji of the Year

Well, it would be rude of us not to include emoji’s into this blog – after all they have been classed as the fastest growing language. As the small yellow pictograms soared in popularity last year, we are now seeing the evolution of the emoji which are being used in new and entertaining ways. 2016 saw the launch of the aubergine!  Instagram tried to ban the infamous emoji from being used as a hashtag because of its somewhat outrageous connotations earlier this year, which led to the hashtag #freetheaubergine which pledged its allegiance to the #freethenipple campaign.

In March, a website with the domain name ‘eggplantmail.com’ was created. The site offered real personalised aubergines for £6.99. In a matter of days, the site was sold off due to the large amount of requests put in for personalised aubergines. The emoji has gone from being associated with suggestive messaging to the source of inspiration behind the choice of colour for  interior, fashion and beauty over the last year.

Social Media Fail of the Year

The social media fail of the year has to be the Click-bait articles that misinform readers or, have no purpose in their messaging, e.g. quizzes that suggest “We know when you’ll get married depending on which beer you drink”.

Click-bait articles or more recently referred to as ‘fake news’; have been unsurprisingly clamped down by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, with many even suggesting that Trumps win in the American Election was aided by the vast amount of click-bait articles misinforming his supporters.

The Power of Short Form Video

Short form video has become an increasingly popular way for consumers to take in the news.

This development has been adapted by news outlets such as The BBC and The Guardian who have dedicated webpages to reaching out to audiences through short form video. In the summer of 2016, short form video was used by the BBC’s Media Action to reach out to social media users and show them the plight of the refugee. A video was published by the BBC that simulated ‘takeover’ of a smart phone by a refugee travelling by boat to Europe. On Facebook alone the video received 913,000 views.

One to look out for in 2017

As the popularity of short form video content has spiked, this year also saw the demand for ‘live’ video streaming allowing consumers to feel more accessible to their favourite brands and influencers than ever before. Facebook saw a huge increase in the use of Facebook Live, while Instagram launched their ‘story’ feature allowing consumers and brands to take advantage of this tool, both creating feeds and viewing them.

Live video streaming has become a key marketing and communication tool which, for brands, comes with many benefits as it’s cheap, highly engaging and easy to pull off. For this reason we believe that live video streaming is only going to get bigger and better, with brands becoming more innovative and exploring new creative ways to film and capture audiences through this social tool.

Social Campaign of 2016

We could not possibly narrow this down to one winner, especially when the two finalists were the ‘Brexit’ and Trump campaigns.  Both of these campaigns, although filled with a continuous need to fact check, proved to be unexpectedly successful.

Oxford dictionary’s 2016 word of the year: ‘Post-Truth’ is fitting in both explaining the results of both the US Election and the EU Referendum. Objective truths and political correctness have taken a backseat in both of these elections and has allowed emotion and opinion to triumph.

So after an inspiring year in social, brands should be ready to move into 2017 by supercharging their social strategies ready to connect with consumers with far more scale and impact, to tell richer brand stories.

Posted by: Rakhee Rathod on