Reflecting back on 2015 Social Media trends, Ten months in

This week I came across a blog post from New Years Day on Social Media Examiner that I wanted to discuss. The post brought together 28 authors and social media professionals to share their predictions for Social Media Marketing in 2015 and reading over the article, a few of the trends presented stood out to me. I thought that for my blog post this week I would dive in and discuss some of these major trends—to easily follow along, I have marked each topic with the corresponding number for that piece on the original blog post.

Paid Ads Become Unavoidable

I thought that this short prediction from Kristi Hines (#5) was timely. Hines wrote that social networks will continue to push companies to pay to advertise on their networks, which certainly is continuing. The reason I thought this was timely was that just this month Apple rolled out it’s latest mobile operating system that now supports ad-block technology.


So just as it is becoming hard for marketing departments to avoid paid spending on social media, it is also becoming easier than ever for Internet users to avoid these ads all together. It is really unclear how this will play out—though it is clear that smaller sites are at much greater risk than the large social media platforms. Perhaps paid ads won’t be such a priority for marketing departments. One possible outcome that John Naughton at the Guardian points to is that smaller sites will fall to the wayside, while the sites that can sustain it will shift to subscription models.

Social Media Marketers Rebrand

Andy Cresodina (#25) highlighted the fact that the interest for “Content Marketing” on Google has been catching up to “Social Media Marketing.” Ten months ago, it almost looked like “Content Marketing” would overtake “Social Media Marketing” I ran these terms through Google Analytics on October 2, 2015, and it has not happened yet.

But I do think that the trend being identified is an important one. Essentially, as the two terms become synonymous, it will be important to for companies hiring a content marketing provider to evaluate extend of the firm’s actual capabilities before moving forward with them. Cresodina writes that “the branding of marketing companies will converge, but the ‘flavors’ of the providers won’t.” What he means is that managers looking to hiring a content marketing firm want to make sure they are working with a provider that has the skills they want. This will also be important for business students to be aware of, as they consider various marketing firms for employment.

Hashtags Build Collaborative Communities

I thought that Sue B. Zimmerman’s (#20) piece fit in well with a number of our discussions in class—including my previous posts on Collective Action and #DebateWithBernie. I thought the #MassWomen image that Zimmerman shared was a great example. From the looks of it, it comes from a photo booth at the Conference of Women. It is a very inviting photo, and presents the Mass Women community as both collaborative and welcoming.

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This image speaks to the power of the hashtag that Zimmerman was speaking to—she calls the hashtag “the anchor of the social media revolution.” She highlights the fact that even if you are not at an event, you can be a part of the conversation. In the context of this image, I do believe users postig on the #MassWomen hashtag would feel like a part of this community. And building off of our conversations on collective action in class and Clay Shirky’s 2008 lecture, it is this feature of Twitter that has made it a useful tool in for building communities for collective action in our past examples. So it will be interesting to see this trend continue, as more sites adopt the hashtag. Zimmerman’s piece also made me think back to Taylor’s presentation this week on Trainer’s leveraging hashtags on Instagram to build communities.

Video Becomes the Content of Choice

Finally, I wanted to draw attention to the first topic covered in this post, which comes from Heidi Cohen (#1). I will be giving a presentation in our afternoon class on October the 8th on the increasing importance of video and some related trends, and I wanted to give the class an opportunity to read over the piece as it overviews some really interesting statistics and gives a few great tips for marketers.

Those were the trends that I wanted to discuss, but feel free to respond in the comments with your take on any of the trends cover in the article (here is another link). I would recommend reading all of the trends and evaluating them yourself! For the ease of conversation, make note of which topic you are discussing by including the number of the trend from the original article. Thanks for reading.


  1. Great post, John! I find your first point very interesting, as I just came across an infographic ( morning that mentioned the effect of ad-blocking on companies. One firm (JoyOfBaking.Com) estimated that roughly 10% of all of its ads get scrubbed before reaching the end user. This number was much higher than I expected, and actually made me re-consider why I haven’t tried blocking ads on my devices. Definitely food for thought!

  2. It’s interesting to think about how many times over the years these same “trends” have been repeated in one form or another. I’m betting someone has been telling us that this year is the year video is the content of choice. Is there any evidence that has happened yet, or even that it’s going to happen in the future?

    The first trend you identify is really interesting, because now there aren’t any platforms left that don’t have access to ad blocking technology. However, if you look at the usage rates of ad blockers, they’re still pretty low (numbers I’ve seen have been ~12-15% of desktop users), and it’s likely mobile rates won’t soon catch up to that. Anecdotally, even relatively tech-savvy MBA candidates at BC are less likely than not to have an ad blocker installed. Most didn’t even know such things existed on desktop browsers, never mind mobiles.

    However, taking ~15% of ad revenue off the top will force more sites to do “native advertising” or “sponsored content”, which is impossible to catch with ad blockers. Engaging bloggers or content producers to get sponsored content promoted alongside regular content is going to be marketers’ primary job in the future.

  3. I’m sort of with Jonah on this one. I think you could have applied this list to any of the past 5-6 years and it likely would have held true. It’s not saying that the list is wrong, its just that these are longer term trends that continue to play themselves out over time. I bet they’ll apply for the next 5 years too.

  4. Nice post. With the power of social media, we expect immediate results and content in real time. I pay extra for Spotify premium purely to avoid the advertisements. I’ll be sure to check out other methods for blocking adds.

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