How to improve social media platforms in 2021

Inez Zimakowski
Inez Zimakowski
December 12, 2020 . 2min read

As much as 2020 has been a hellish year for many, it’s also been a transformative one — especially for social media platforms. The pandemic caused major changes in consumer consumption and behaviour, prompting demand for hyper-local experiences and products, seamless ecommerce, cause-led brands and increased corporate responsibility. With these key trends likely to stay for the long haul, we’re hoping social media platforms take note and adapt their features to reflect new consumption behaviour.

So we’ve put together a ‘wish-list’ of the key platform updates we’re hoping to see in 2021:

ONE: a fully integrated social shopping experience.

We would like to see Instagram’s shopping feature turn into a ‘mini-Amazon’, whereby shipping and payment information are stored within Instagram and users can seamlessly shop between stores in-app. Currently, users are taken off-platform and are required to provide their billing details each time they make a purchase. An integrated shopping experience would be a win-win for users and brands, particularly for small locally-run businesses that already rely on Instagram to gain exposure and secure online sales.

TWO: geo-filters on Instagram and TikTok.

While Instagram has copied several of Snapchat’s features already including stories, filters, stickers, it is yet to provide localised filters through something akin to Snapchat’s geo-filters. Given Snap monetised these years ago, it seems like an obvious ad revenue play for Instagram and TikTok.

THREE: in-platform meme creation.

Memes have been around for a long time and continue to be produced, edited and reposted by users all over the world. According to a 2016 Google study, the keyword ‘meme’ is searched more than the term ‘Jesus Christ’! Yet, it’s baffling that a social platform hasn’t yet introduced in-platform meme creation, particularly given how long GIFs have been available in comments on Facebook and on Instagram stories and Messenger. Come on Instagram, give us some extra content creation features!

FOUR: more gamification on Instagram and TikTok.

Research predicts the global gaming population is likely to have increased by a net of 4% since the outbreak of Covid-10, as lockdowns prompted people to look for escapism, entertainment and connection in virtual ways. For example, we saw strong communities emerge around games like Animal Crossing and Among Us. While Instagram has already started to introduce gamification with its gamified filters, such as ‘Blink to Jump’, where blinking helps a character on a skateboard jump over boulders and ‘Cut Fruit’, where users have to use their face to slice flying fruit, we hope to see Instagram expand its gaming capabilities and for other platforms to follow suit.

Finally... FIVE: the fall of #fakenews.

If nothing else we’ve mentioned here comes to fruition, we hope at the very least Facebook, Twitter and Google, as well as relative newcomer TikTok, will finally take control of the dissemination of false information. Social media has always blurred the lines between fact and fiction thanks to the heavy use of filters and photoshop, but we saw the problem truly explode in 2020, most notably with #BlackLivesMatter and #Election2020.

The blessing and curse of social media is the rate at which information can spread. While it can be used as an effective way to share crucial information quickly, it can also operate as a dangerous tool to fuel hate, influence the vulnerable and twist the truth. Here’s hoping that in 2021 the mega-platforms are able to perfect their AI and shut down fake news before it goes viral.

Oh, and if we can also have peace on earth and goodwill to all that’d be great. Thanks.

Image credit: @leafandlotus

Inez Zimakowski

Inez Zimakowski

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