In 2017, marketers are looking at several trends in social media that will shift the way consumers interact with platforms. Some of the biggest trends include the rise of chat apps; the explosion of live video; and the role of fake news in consumer trust. But the most exciting potential trend of 2017 is the increased adoption of augmented and virtual reality.
Augmented reality, which refers to the ability to add elements of fantasy to the real world in various applications, has already been adopted on a large scale. The most famous examples are Pokemon Go, which allowed players to search for imaginary creatures in the real world; and Snapchat, which offers popular filters allowing users to alter their appearance in radical ways.
Given that the rate of technological advancement is increasing exponentially, it makes sense that many think virtual reality is not far behind. But what does VR mean in the context of social networks?
Well, it could end up altering the landscape of social platforms in a major way. Facebook has maintained its edge as the world’s biggest social network by constantly innovating and investing. But despite trying to stay ahead of the curve in VR, Facebook’s investment in the space has recently been described as a “fiasco.” Also, developing a true VR feature could fundamentally change the way users interact with each other and other features.
Because of this friction between traditional platforms and true VR, there may be an opportunity to create a new space for social that is based on VR rather than trying to shoehorn it in. Snapchat has essentially done this for augmented reality. VR networks are beginning to emerge, led by vTime, which is accessible for Samsung Gear and Oculus devices. vTime allows meetings between family, friends and strangers in virtual locations around the world.
Overall, VR headset sales are still low and some believe it’s not going mainstream anytime soon. But marketers are still keeping an eye on the social media effect – and Facebook is certainly scrambling to make up lost ground.