digital media team 2016 facebook preview and predictions

What We’re Expecting, Hoping For And Dreading From Facebook In 2016

digital media team 2016 facebook preview and predictionsIn the run up to the New Year, we’re previewing and predicting what each of the major social networks have planned for 2016. Companies with Facebook pages (which should be everyone) need to look forward. Whether you’re a content marketer, a small boutique store or an events company, you need to know what’s going on with Facebook.

It’s easy to look at what was popular in the last 12 months and try to use the same techniques, but will it be effective? Your content will be so 2015. It’s far more useful to understand what the top networks have in the pipeline and how you can plan around those changes. Here’s our predictions for Facebook, complete with a best and worst case scenario.

What we’re expecting:

Facebook takes on news

Facebook are trying to corner the online news market. Their current news section is an interesting feature, it collects together articles on trending topics, allowing users to click on a story then find a post from a news outlet that they trust. Bizarrely, Trending was always late. The news stories weren’t new, they were from the day before. Often, my personal Trending sidebar would say something along the lines of “Wolfsburg vs Manchester United. The Red Devils prepare for a crucial Champions League fixture in Germany,” but it’d be the morning after the match. Why would I click a link to match previews if the game already happened?

The collected articles feature is great, it provides a perfect cross section of each outlet’s reaction to the current top story, but it clearly needs tweaking. The strength of internet news is its immediacy. Facebook will look to improve its current Trending system, hoping to challenge Twitter’s up-to-date information.

facebook trending topics

Facebook’s Trending sidebar. That lecture sounds good…

Facebook have already made further forays into the world of news with Notify, an app (currently it’s only on iOS) that allows users to select topics they want to hear about and outlets they want to hear from. Zuckerberg’s dream for Facebook is to collect everything you like and put it all in one place. No need for twenty bookmarks on your internet browser, it’ll all be on Facebook. They started by centralising your social life, now news is top of the hit list, with ecommerce and mcommerce set to follow.

Trending changes lead to News Feed changes

Okay, so news will improve, but how does this affect your business? In the current state, Facebook doesn’t lend itself to viral marketing. In their comprehensive guide to content marketing, Priceonomics explain that “Things go viral on Facebook only after a critical mass of people have seen it.” If the trending algorithms are changed to accommodate more up-to-date stories, viral potential will be a lot stronger. It’ll be a trickle-down effect, Facebook will look to get great stories on your timeline before you’ve seen them on Twitter or Reddit. This means a higher turn around on stories, but a much higher chance on lesser known content getting noticed. Perfect for all you content marketers.

facebook news notify

Action shots of Notify. Exciting!

Most of this comes under the remit of improving the News Feed. Your News Feed is your Facebook experience. It’s the feature that keeps millions of users logging on each day. The problem is, the current News Feed hasn’t adapted to the influx of new users that created accounts in the past two years. We all have a few Facebook friends that seem to dominate our timeline. Facebook will continue to adjust their News Feed algorithm to provide users with the posts that they actually want to see, rather than another baby picture from someone you barely knew in school.

What we’re hoping for:

Mcommerce integration

As mentioned earlier, Facebook is looking at mcommerce. They’ve already trialled call to action buttons on certain business pages and on Instagram.

We’re also seeing a report every week from Facebook IQ, their business blog, detailing the strength of mobile commerce. So they’re already trialling mcommerce, and Facebook are running study after study on the potential revenue it can generate? We think it’s fairly safe to say we’ll see further steps towards some form of mcommerce platform from Facebook in 2016.

Facebook and mcommerce are such a perfect match. Amazon makes recommendations based on your purchase history. Facebook can make recommendations based on your entire life. Buzzword o’clock, this is big data in action. With more information to work with, Facebook can provide a far more accurate mcommerce platform. More accurate means more useful, more useful means more users.

big data with facebook

This is what Big Data looks like (according to Shutterstock)

Everyone already has the Facebook app. The store can slot in as another tab on the Facebook smartphone app, potentially becoming its own entity one day, just like Messenger.

We’re hoping for this change because of the potential it offers to small businesses. Not every business needs a flashy, expensive website. Instead, you’d be able to run your online operations through Facebook. Expect location to play a huge role in the suggested services/products, leading to local businesses receiving much more online traffic and, most importantly, more conversions.

Problem is, a large scale mcommerce platform is a huge undertaking. We’ll see baby steps, not a big announcement. The process has already started, as seen with their call to action buttons. Now is the time to set up your company’s business page, ready for the improved online shopping options.

What we’re dreading:

Zuckerberg over-prioritises

Other priorities. Facebook have their fingers in a lot of pies right now, with and solar powered drones looking like their favoured pet projects. It makes sense that Zuckerberg and co. are interested in providing as many people around the world with internet (read Facebook) access. It’s a way of continuing their upward growth.

facebook solar powered drone

Facebook’s solar powered internet drone. That’s a 42 metre wingspan

Problem is, this could see them neglect issues that current users face. New users may join, but current users may leave. A lot of us believe that it’s impossible to leave Facebook, but daily user figures will start to fall if the current News Feed algorithm does not improve. Improved news and shopping options will make it impossible to leave the social network. It’ll be too important to our day to day life.

This post is part of our 2016 preview season. You can read our Twitter preview here and our Instagram and Snapchat preview here. To stay up to date with the latest posts from the Digital Media Team blog, like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. You can also join the discussion, letting us know about your predictions for Facebook in 2016 by getting in touch through Twitter and Facebook.

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