For many, it seems like lately we've been seeing more instances where social media sites are enabling us to do more directly within the platforms. This in-app integration on social media isn't really new, but it is gaining steam. This was my prediction for trends in 2017 and it's my prediction again for what we'll see a lot more of in 2018.
Most commonly right now, we're seeing this from Instagram and Facebook (not surprising given the massive capabilities Facebook has).
In 2017, Instagram announced it was testing the ability to book reservations directly within the app. While you aren't able to pay for a service, you can book a reservation and set parameters - like the type of hair cut or color - with your stylist. They also recently announced that certain brands can create shoppable posts directly within Instagram now (we can expect this to expand to more businesses in the future).
And, just this past week, Facebook announced that they are rolling out the "Order Food" feature which partners with existing food delivery services to allow you to order the meal of your choice - directly from within the Facebook app.
Although this may seem new to many of us, in China, the WeChat app is doing all of this and so much more! They have already mastered the whole concept of in-app integration. You can do everything from social media to taking photos, booking a reservation, paying for a service, scheduling an event, buying tickets, hailing a rideshare, and more. And you literally never leave the app.
I want to stress how important this is because this is the future of social media.
Because they want to monopolize your attention so they can feed you ads! Ok, that's the cynic in me, but it's true 😉
Here's the thing. If you see a link on any social media site, it takes you off the site. You leave the platform and go to a website to complete the act - read something, order something, do something. And then you're gone. Your attention has shifted and you move on to something else, not going back to the social media platform where you started.
On a side note, Facebook users are finding that link posts are declining in reach more consistently - not shocking when you think of it from this perspective. Facebook wants to keep you ON their platform, not send you away...
So, if these social media platforms want to keep your attention, they have to keep you on their app. Which means allowing you to read article, complete transactions, and do more directly within the app itself. Not to mention, think about it from a user perspective: if you can log into one social media site and know that if you see a fantabulous pair of shoes in a post and you can buy them right there without navigating through websites and checkout carts and entering a ton of information, wouldn't you be more likely to buy those amazing shoes? Heck yeah you would! Although this may not be so good for our wallets.... lol
But, as consumers, we value convenience. And if social media platforms can provide that convenience, they know they'll earn our business.
And the more they get consumers to stay active and engaged, the more they push ads... and revenue... and keep stock holders happy. But the consumers will keep using it because it's easy and convenient. And what's a few more ads if it saves us precious time in our day? It's all one vicious cycle, isn't it?
So, yes, I can be cynical about the whole process but the reality is that this is the direction social media is going. Facebook (and Instagram) have the leg up on most of the competition right now and I can guarantee you we will see much more of this in the coming year. And if the other social media platforms want to survive, they are going to have to find ways to do the same.