It was my dean at journalism school who first introduced me to Facebook, declaring it to all us students that we as journalists need to have an account on the social network site. This was back in 2010 when Facebook had 970 million users compared to today when Facebook stands as the largest social network on our planet with 1.44 billion active users. I did get an account, not just on Facebook but on other social networks as well like Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin all of which have made steady progress through the years after accounts on multiple social networks not just for personal but for official use, I have been a spectator to the spectacular rise in influence of social media and its use.

The coming new year 2016 looks equally promising for social media as it spreads its reach and influence. Mentioned below are a few trends in social media that we can expect in the coming year.

Social Commerce

For all those who wondered why social media networks were not offering their users options to purchase products through their respective platforms, can be sure, it will be a regular feature both users and businesses can take advantage of. Pinterest made the beginning by launching ‘buyable pins’ that give the user the option to buy products from the social site. Rich pins on the website will have a new button that will enable users to buy products from partnering merchants.

Pinterest has for the purpose partnered with shopify a multi merchant platform, as well as Macy’s and Nordstroms to directly sell products on Pinterest. The largest social network Facebook cannot be far behind, it too has a tie up with shopify that will enable merchants associated with shopify sell their products on Facebook. Another social network giant Twitter that has been working on its ‘Buy Now’ button now enables users to make purchases in real time using the social platform.

Live streaming

Twitter made a prize catch by buying out Periscope adjudged the best iOS application for 2015, boasting a 10 million active user base. Periscope allows its users to live stream video to its followers. Facebook too introduced live streaming but for the time being it is only for celebrities. Facebook users can take solace in the fact that once offered, Facebook live will not be an application to download but an integrated feature available on the social networking platform.

Ad blocking will benefit Social Media advertising

In 2015 social media advertising cost businesses $24 billion, that figure can experience a sharp rise in 2016 in lieu of the war on interruptive ads. The use of ad blocking software has risen 48 percent this year. With bigwigs like Apple taking a firm stand against interruptive ads the focus by all means will move to social media native advertising and influencer campaigns.

Social media monitoring will take center stage

Nearly 80 percent of businesses now have a social media team. The year ahead will see the social media team members become more diligent in their social media monitoring, backed by successful case studies, better monitoring and measurement tools, a better understanding of data analytics, and the proven value of online listening in gaining insights into market opinion.

Social Login will become a must have for websites

The world is moving fast, as attention spans grow meagre, it is essential for websites to keep their visitors interested by offering login options that are simple and user friendly. Social login enables users to use their existing social id’s to access web properties. A good 64 percent of customers believe that social login as an option should be provided by any website. The increasing number of millennials worldwide, 2.5 billion to be precise and their affinity for social networks and mobile phones is another reason web properties should enable social login or risk losing out on engaging the millennial crowd.

There is a lot of action taking place in the social media space, with more and more businesses and users connecting through various social media platforms. The increased use of smartphones is further fuelling the growth for social media platforms as businesses and people prefer connecting through social platforms on the go. With new and varied features on social media platforms becoming norm in 2016 we can be sure businesses and users stand to gain, both professionally and personally.