Trends Go Social: Key social trends

Social Thinking
In the first of a four-part series, We Are Social has teamed up with Trendwatching to share 16 social media mega-trends. These are the big, slow-moving currents in the consumer arena that, taken together, form our complete picture of consumerism today and where it’s heading. The first post was originally published on Trendwatching, and they’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it here.

What is a Trend Framework and why do I need one?
To develop truly relevant, meaningful (and successful!) innovations, you need to understand the bigger picture. Enter the Trend Framework – an insanely comprehensive (and actionable) overview of the the 16 mega-trends we track.

Ready to explore? Read on!

STATUS SEEKERS: What, why and what next
STATUS SEEKERS is a way of describing the relentless, often subconscious, ever-present force that underpins almost all consumer behavior – the deep and universal human need for status and recognition.

In consumer societies, people traditionally derive much of their social status through the goods, services and experiences they collect and share. And with so many choices available in modern economies, consuming is as much a statement about who I am as what I have.

As status becomes more diverse, and traditional status symbols such as cars, houses and designer handbags lose their allure, status is accrued through knowledge, skills, expertise, connections and more. And the most important facet of the post-material statusphere? The ability to tell and share ever-more interesting stories on social platforms.

The We Are Social perspective
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter all encourage self promotion. But Instagram is arguably the natural home of the status seekers. It’s where you’ll find the Rich Kids flaunting their wares, and actual fashions for selfie poses ranging from T-Rex hands to the duck face and the fish gape. It’s where people post filtered, perfect shots of beaches, dinners, drinks and sunsets. In short, it’s the go-to platform to create instant FOMO.

But despite the undeniable popularity of Instagram for posing, more private platforms like Snapchat are growing rapidly in popularity, thanks to their sense of humour and private sharing options. Users can share silly, unfiltered, unposed photos of themselves for select groups of people and what’s more, they disappear after a set about of time. Snapchat is becoming a force to be reckoned with, attracting major investment from some of the world’s biggest brands.

Instagram has been attempting – sometimes shamelessly – to steal back users’ time from Snapchat. For example with its new Stories feature which offers expiring images. What is certain is that a more playful trend is emerging for social posing, one that is not rooted in depicting a polished and perfect existence. The meteoric success of, which has been an enormous success with teenagers, is based purely on a fashion of lip syncing and has made superstars of some teens who would struggle to make a mark on the beautiful people landscape of Instagram.

BETTERMENT: What, why and what next
BETTERMENT is the universal quest for self-improvement. Show us a consumer who doesn’t aspire to do so!

The desire to improve can manifest in many ways: the desire for better health, for greater knowledge, the development of new skills and much more. The products, campaigns and services that enable the realisation of these goals will simply appear ‘better’ than those that don’t.

Consumers now seek a deeper, lasting personal impact from their purchases, wanting a sense of personal growth (think emotional, spiritual or ethical) that is not always easy to quantify. It’s time to think beyond BETTERMENT devices and tools of convenience to services that truly facilitate a higher version of the self (more on that can be found in our recent briefing, THE FUTURE OF BETTERMENT).

The We Are Social perspective
There are now a vast array of self improvement apps, gadgets and YouTube stars available to help consumers improve every aspect of their health. From Change4Life’s sugar smart app to help you make lower calorie shopping choices, to Nike’s running app, technology is on your side to fix your eating and exercise habits. But a growing trend for more holistic health is driving an exponential growth in technology designed to improve your all-round wellness.

From digital sleep improvement masks like Neuroon to meditation app Headspace, consumers are using technology in a more holistic fashion than the original fitness tracking apps. You can log on to Clue to help you get pregnant faster, and Ovia to track your pregnancy. There are even betterment devices available for children. The Octopus Watch is a smartwatch programmed by parents for their kids, with daily reminders for tasks like brushing their teeth or washing their hands.