Social media never played a bigger role than it did in this past presidential election.
Now as we settle into 2017 what role will these platforms play?
Well, for all the talk about how divided this country is, the truth is that when it comes to technology, we’ve never been more connected.
But the apps we turn to share our lives are changing to better serve the changing world in which we use them.
One is called Signal, the other Confide. Both are fast becoming fixtures on smart phones everywhere.
The apps, both of them free, operate like standard text messaging with one major difference.
Whatever you send through them is encrypted, unreadable, and unretrievable on any device other than the one to which you sent it.
Apps like these are increasingly popular in an age of prying eyes for consumers driven by fear of hackers and government surveillance.
And speaking of government –
“We are seeing some fatigue with politics on those same platforms,” Caroline Bean of Digitas Health, a local company that specializes in maximizing a company’s imprint on social media, told Action News.
That fatigue is resulting in one of two things: A push for something other than political rants and a need for social platforms to provide something new.
“2017 is a time for the big social media platforms to stay really big – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and we’ll be seeing how they adopt a lot of the features that the more niche apps and social platforms have specialized in,” Bean said.
For now, Facebook remains the social juggernaut.
A recent survey by the Pew Research Center says roughly 8-in-10 Americans who are online use the site, up 7-percent from the year before.
Twitter, too, is seeing a resurgence, driven, in part, by the President, known to use that platform at all hours.
“Politics is changing the way people are on the social platforms right now. Notably, Facebook was used to organize the Women’s March,” Bean said.
Much more than just a place to post pictures, social media is now a kind of town square in which to rally and organize, and to tell the other side of any given story.
Facebook is doing that with its launch of live video, allowing users to take their followers into their experiences.
Instagram does it through it newly debuted Instagram Stories – a kind of diary of a day, in pictures and videos.
But social media is also turning its “look at me” reputation into something with medical benefits.
“Things like TeleDoc and Doctors on Demand are ways that people can see somebody pretty quickly,” Bean said.
They are bringing people who suffer from specific illnesses together for support.
And a trend parents may want to be aware of?
Finstagram, a smaller group within your Instagram world, where only select friends can see a particular set of posts.
“So really this is showing this understanding that generations have that social media is all about sort of your public and private face and they are figuring out ways to show both sides,” Bean said.
That’s one of the fascinating things about social media, the always shifting, but delicate, balance between public and private.
So a reminder to always think twice before you post and always assume it will be seen by someone you don’t know.