Looking into the crystal ball – the future of social media

Tarot cards with social media icons

3 minutes read

Aruga’s social media soothsayers foresee the future of your favourite platforms and what’s next on the horizon.

Right now, around 80 per cent of the Australian population (that’s 20.5 million people) are active social media users, according to the We Are Social x Digital 2021: Australia report.

The average Aussie spends one hour and 46 minutes on social media every day, or one-third of our total time online – an increase of 10 per cent from 2019 to 2020.

This increased time online is also driving behavioural change with the widespread adoption of social media as the search engine of choice and users jumping on audio-only platforms to maximise activity while minimising screen time.

While COVID-19 brought big changes to our IRL and online life last year, social media platforms will continue to impact our behaviour and introduce new opportunities to engage, connect and reach people.

Here’s what we’re seeing in the not-so-distant digital future…

Immersive experiences and new formats

User behaviour on social media platforms will continue to shift at a rapid pace with new formats and immersive experiences emerging at breakneck speed, Aruga Account Director Nicole predicts. The social media landgrab shows no signs of slowing down with new platforms staking their flag; TikTok was the world’s most downloaded app in 2020 and Clubhouse created such a debut buzz that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter raced to create their own clones of the social audio app.

Untapped areas including social gaming platforms, such as Twitch, and video-first social apps, such as TikTok, will provide fertile ground for brands and marketers to reach and engage with new audiences.

Aligning brand purpose for a better UX

We’re also seeing platforms such as Pinterest and Reddit place greater emphasis on aligning with the social values of its users, creating a safe space for expression and gender identity, Nicole notes. Brands will also rely more on social media insights to adapt to shifting audience expectations and perceptions. Privacy will still be at the forefront of the agenda. Instagram recently introduced new safety settings for teens and both Instagram and parent company Facebook are working on parent-controlled versions for kids.

Increased audience = more opportunities

Senior Account Manager Leigh says social media usage will continue to surge worldwide and be an intrinsically vital marketing channel for companies. The total number of active social media users increased by 13.2 per cent in 2020 to 4.2 billion people worldwide. This equated to 1.3 million new users per day or nearly 16 new users every second.

With 34.9 per cent of Aussies now using social media as their main search engine to research brands, if businesses don’t jump aboard, they will simply be left behind.

Gaming the algorithm

Account Manager Henry believes audiences will start to reject the algorithms that determine what content they view and look to platforms that allow them to curate their own experiences.

People will increasingly seek new ways to connect with communities online. Whether that’s invite-only platforms (Discord, Clubhouse), self-programmed customisable newsfeeds (Reddit) or subscription-based creator economy platforms (Patreon, OnlyFans), audiences want to see a more intuitive feed and content based on their actual interests.
Want more? Check out the 6 most underrated social media platforms, according to Aruga. Need more of our crystal-ball insights or a killer social media strategy, stat? Do @us on your fave channels.