Putting mobile first: the state of social media in 2017

“Distracted from distraction by distraction” – TS Eliot, 1936

Social media is maturing far faster than anyone could have ever predicted. The brightest minds from the most-read outlets all told us that social media was the future, but its growth has astounded even them, as it becomes an all-encompassing aspect the modern world takes for granted.

Running parallel to this upward trend is perhaps the only other social revolution to exist on a similar scale since the invention of the personal computer: the mobile phone.

It is reasonable to assume that a symbiotic link exists between the rapid growth of social media and rise of the mobile device. Social media demands that its users are always active in order to get the most out of it, and mobile devices let you obey that instruction.

As mobile technologies flourish to become integral parts of our global cultures, social media becomes more comfortable in its own skin as pioneers of the instant news outlets they always dreamed of being.

Even 10 years ago, when the first iPhone was navigating its way though exciting and uncharted mobile waters, we could see that the world of online social activity had promise. Suddenly, ‘apps’ became part of day-to-day vocabulary.

Facebook et al scrambled to produce a suitable mobile version of their websites. Indeed, in 2017 you will very rarely encounter someone who at the very least hasn’t had some sort of interaction with either Facebook or the iPhone.

2017 is all about live video content

According to The World Bank’s own research, over a quarter of the world’s population (26.1% in 2015) is aged 14 or under. This statistic, while astonishing, means that the age of mobile and social dominance has been a part of roughly a quarter of the population since birth.

Social media is here to stay. Even the president of the free world lives half his life on Twitter, a farcry from how world leaders used to interact with the public. The more we embrace social media, the more closely knit we appear to become (the irony of an increased digitally social world creating a decreased physically social world isn’t lost).

But with Facebook having just entered its teenage years, and as Twitter approaches its 11th birthday in March this year, today we have the benefit of over a decade’s worth of data to make projections based on where social networking might end up heading. Hint: 2017 is all about live video content.

Yes, Vine is dead. But that doesn’t mean live video content died with it. On the contrary, live streaming services have been sown into the fabric of almost all social media services. So much so, that it’s getting harder for each one to claim one service is completely different to the next.

Did Instagram’s new ‘stories’ feature blatantly rip off Snapchat’s entire function? Absolutely it did. Although, this kind of feature is hard to suppress in the age where YouTube sensations are born every minute and mobile cameras are improving year after year.

Periscope, the Twitter-owned live video streaming app, recently announced that, during the past year, its users watched a cumulative 110 years worth of its video content. That is an approximate 7.3 hours per person in the world right now, impressive for a streaming company that’s only 2 years old.

Ultimately, as mobile technology advances in sophistication, so too do the apps we communicate through and the methods we use to tell our digital stories. 2017 has already made a name for itself as a year dangerously fraught with uncertainty, but at least we can be safe in taking our online profiles for granted.

Written by James Unwin, PR executive at RealEdge