2016 is well and truly here. It’s ridden roughshod all over the cream shagpile of the year that was. But let’s stop for just a second and reflect. After all, a lot can happen in a year where social media is concerned. Though it may not seem that way…

Facebook is still top dog. Twitter remains large, but languishing. The impressive growth of Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest persists. LinkedIn maintains its backward nature, progressing mere moments before it’s left irreparably behind.

On the face of things, the state of social media now, compared to 12 months ago isn’t vastly different. But squint a little and you’ll soon see that fundamental changes have occurred across all platforms; some polarising, a few obvious and a handful almost too subtle to notice.

So, without further ado, here’s a list of what we think have been the most important changes in social media over the past 12 months. You may agree, or disagree, but the 5 developments below are what have stuck in our collective minds.

Social Media 2015: A Year in Review

Hitting the Real-Time

2015 has been all about real-time. Admittedly, platforms like Twitter have always been about real-time updates, but new offering Periscope and updates like Twitter Moments and Facebook Live Video have taken real-time to previously unknown heights.

In particular, we’d like to highlight Moments as one of the most interesting and bold moves of the past 12 months. Only recently available in the UK, Moments is a relatively real-time curated news outlet that has been incorporated within the Twitter experience.

You can find out all about Twitter Moments here…

LinkedIn Plays Catch Up

On a more specific note, 2015 was the year that LinkedIn finally indulged in some catching up. And while these changes are likely to be ongoing into 2016, the professional network has brought its offering closer to trend, especially on mobile.

As we’ve discussed recently, these developments should be seen as reactive and not proactive, but that shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a bad thing. LinkedIn, with substantially fewer active users than Facebook, Instagram and Twitter shouldn’t be expected to set the trends.

You can read more about LinkedIn’s desktop group changes here…

The Year of Social Advertising

If we had to choose the single most important change in social media marketing over the past 12 months, it would have to be the further rise and improvement of native advertising across pretty much every platform.

2015 brought with it wider targeting options, behavioural targeting, custom audiences, improved conversion tracking and the ability to optimise locally. For us, as marketers, this is incredibly exciting, opening up the possibility of granular targeting and enabling us to deliver campaigns to ever better audiences.

Click here to read our guide to social media advertising in 2105…

The Rise of Social Commerce

Happily, we’re not bound to one important change to social media marketing. After all, how could we forget the year when…

‘Social media has taken the step from passive marketing platform to direct sales machine.’

From Pinterest’s ‘buy it’ button, synonymous with social commerce, to Instagram’s range of ‘shop now’ buttons and all those in between, developments like this take us yet another step closer to being able to do pretty much anything on social media.

You can read our guide to social commerce in 2015 here…

Ineffable Growth

The most boring of the bunch? Perhaps. But 2015 has seen impressive growth across almost every platform, especially among the young pretenders.

Perhaps the most impressive has been Snapchat, which clambered its way above 200 million monthly users on its way to the title of the fastest growing of the bigger platforms. Though its ad revenue still lags behind others.

Periscope launched and immediately grew above 10 million users as real-time social media gripped the world, seemingly out of nowhere. Instagram continued to grow and Facebook extended its domination.

Twitter continues to stagnate…

But on to 2016. What could it possibly hold in store? Well, we’ve already given our predictions, which you can read here… Will they come to pass? Only time will tell.