2016 has come and is almost gone. It has been quite the year. We have seen some crazy things happen in 2016 from the wild US Election and the Cubs winning the World Series, to the many changes in technology and modes of communication, 2016 was a memorable year. To look at everything that happened would take more time than you have to read this. So since this is a digital communications site, let’s look at a few of the highlights that 2016 brought to the digital world.
You may be thinking that Snapchat has been around since 2011, as yes you are correct, 2016 saw some of the biggest changes to the social platform and company in general. These changes truly catapulted Snapchat into one of the biggest social platforms around – especially for the 30 and under crowd.
Check out some of the significant changes made to Snapchat in 2016:
- On-Demand Geo-Filters. On-Demand Geofilters let you create and publish a Geofilter for your business or event. It’s a fun way to help others decorate their Snaps and share with their friends and family where they are.
- Chat 2.0. With Chat 2.0 you can start by sending a few chats, and when your friend shows up, start talking or video chatting instantly.
- Memories. Before memories was introduced the pictures people would take disappeared, gone forever unless a screen shot was taken. Then Snapchat introduced memories which saved Snaps and Stories on Snapchat.
- Snap, Inc. Snapchat officially changed their name to Snap, Inc. as they wanted to head in a broader range of technologies not just a social platform.
- Spectacles. Spectacles are sunglasses with an integrated video camera that makes it easy to create Memories. Snaps can be sent directly from Spectacles so that your friends will never miss a moment of what you are doing – and they can see it from your viewpoint. Pretty fun.
- Groups. Introduced towards the end of the year, groups is a way to communicate with up to 16 friends on Snapchat. Think Facebook Groups, only for Snapchat … well kind of. ?
Snapchat continues to improve their brand and 2017 is looking good for them.
The Instagram Updates
Instagram continued to improve in 2016, they also gained a bunch of new users and now have 500 million daily active users. 2016 saw many updates to Instagram Digital Communicators were thrilled to see. Let’s check out a few of the more notable updates.
- Multiple Accounts: Instagram finally gave users the ability to switch between multiple accounts. If you heard Digital Communicators singing the Hallelujah Chorus this was probably the reason. The ability to switch accounts without logging off, then back is caused many to rejoice. This is such a beautiful experience
- Business Accounts: This gave organizations the feel of having a business page with more tools and analytics, much like that of Facebook. Users can advertise, create a call to action, etc.
- News Feed: Instagram changed their news feed from chronological to more what an algorithm believes the user wants to see first. Good or bad, this is the new norm across the board with social channels.
- Instagram Stories: This by far was the biggest update for Instagram of 2016. If this sounds vaguely familiar don’t worry, Instagram openly admitted to stealing ideas from Snapchat. Oscar Wilde did say that, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery …” Instagram Stories opened up a new and revived world to Instagram who was losing a little ground with the rise of Snapchat. Huge win for all involved, well maybe not so much for Snapchat. Instagram Stories allow the user to add text, drawings, emojis, short videos and now Live Streaming. All the stories disappear after 24 hours, but posted content on the timeline remains for eternity.
Facebook seems to change constantly, but their update which allows users to Live Stream from the App was a huge change.
- Anyone with a Facebook account and a mobile device can allow the world to see a glimpse of their life – for better or worse.
- Facebook Live was not really making huge waves until Candace Payne decided to share with the world a little joy she found in a Chewbacca mask. After her giggling had been seen by millions of people, the world took notice to the power of Facebook Live.
- By June 2016 business were streaming six times the amount of live video than they were in January.
- Need some ideas on what to do when you go Live on Facebook? You can check out the Facebook Live Map which gives you a real-time glimpse into what people are doing, or you can check out one of my previous articles on Facebook Live.
Whatever you decided to do, you should go Live on Facebook and share with others what is happening in your world.
Twitter’s Continued Mediocrity
This is good and not-so-good. The good of Twitter’s mediocrity is that they are not dead, nor are they really dying. In fact, Twitter made some moves late in 2016 that could help them in 2017 and beyond if they keep moving forward.
A few things that twitter did to help revive them, ever so slightly:
- Removal of character counts of images, links and @mentions.
- Linking of Periscope so that users can Live Stream straight from Twitter.
- Change made to how a user can experience twitter with filters and notifications.
- Partnership with the NFL to stream all Thursday Night NFL Games.
- Partnership with Apple TV to take the experience from mobile and desktop to the television in your home. Users can tweet straight from the Apple TV, as well as watch streamed content. Signifiant moves for Twitter.
The question is will these moves help in the long run? It is too early to tell, and I do not believe Twitter is going anywhere, it is too much engrained into the mainstream media culture – as well as a source of real-time news information.
However, the not-so-good of Twitter’s mediocrity is that they have an uphill battle. Twitter needs to find something to make them standout even more from Facebook, IG and Snapchat. From where we stand in 2016 I would say Twitter is in a good place to make a move, it just needs to be the right one.
Virtual Reality was the hype for 2016 and it was set to take off with the release of Oculus Rift and Vive. Companies were trying to figure out how to cash in on the VR craze. All in all 2016 was not exactly the year of VR, but more of the start of VR. Virtual Reality will more than likely improve and continue to make an impact for years to come.
So you may be wondering what happened to Virtual Reality in 2016? Well two words: Augmented Reality. “Augmented reality is the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.”
With Augmented Reality came a little known app called Pokemon Go.
The world was introduced to Pokemon Go’s augmented reality video game. Released in July 2016 Pokemon Go saw instant success. In fact it had some of the best growth and engagement rates for a video game app of its kind. There have been over 500 million Pokemon Go downloads with an estimated revenue of $2 million a day. For more statistics about Pokemon Go see Craig Smith’s blog.
For about a solid 1-3 Months Pokemon Go consumed the time and batteries of many around the globe. Businesses and churches alike were doing anything and everything to attract Pokemon Players to their Gym or PokeStop. It was a sight to see people from all walks of life out hunting for one goal – to find that Picachu, Mewtwo and get those PokeBalls. The craze has died down a bit, but Niantic just released a new update for Pokemon Go that includes Apple Watch integration and new Pokemon. May the hunting continue.
We won’t look at this one long, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Smartphones in my highlights of 2016.
- Apple release the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Both of which have incredible cameras, more storage, and a whole host of other fancies – and one glaring 3mm headphone jack missing.
- Google released its first phone ever, the Pixel and has gotten rave reviews from it.
- Samsung was on fire this year, no literally, their Samsung Galaxy Note 7 actually caught fire and was recalled. Fortunately for Samsung the Galaxy Note 7 was not their only product as they have a whole list of great smartphone options.
You can check out a list of the best smartphones of 2016 for all the ones I did not mention above.
These certainly were not all the highlights from the digital world that happened in 2016, in fact I doubt I even scratched the surface.