Every year, around this time, I write a story, as many in this field do, where I try to predict what's going to happen in the current year. Here's the thing about that: making predictions is really, really hard. They most likely won't come true, but you have to sort of go way out there, and you have just put yourself out to look somewhat foolish.
So, with that in mind, I give you the top 5 social predictions from prognosticators, including myself, that didn't pan out.
1. That Twitter would be sold
Twitter had a bad 2015, as it saw a huge overhaul in leadership, and also saw its stock price sink.
Despite all of that, it still remains a public company, contrary to what Chris Ciaccia of the Street predicted: that Twitter will be sold.
The reasons he gave included that many people wanted CEO Dick Costolo gone, and that Twitter was still not profitable. But, he noted there's another, more looming issue.
"The company's biggest problem isn't that it can't generate money, as third quarter revenue rose 114% year over year to $361 million, and it now expects 2014 adjusted EBITDA to be between $260 million and $265 million, up from a prior outlook. It's that it doesn't appeal to a broad enough audience," Ciaccia wrote.
Twitter solved one of those problems, by pushing Costolo out in favor of Jack Dorsey, but the second issue, its lack of profitability, still remains. In the third quarter of this year, Twitter posted a net loss of $131 million, though that was down from $175 million year-to-year.
As for that third issue, the one where Twitter has terrible user growth, yeah, that's still it's biggest concern. Dorsey is trying to fix it by finally showing ads to logged out users, something the company has been talking about doing for over year.
2. LinkedIn was going to explode
Of all the social networks, I'd say I probably use LinkedIn the least. I generally only go on there when someone connects with me, or if I need to connect with someone. That honestly isn't all that often.
Gavin Hammar, Founder and CEO of Sendible.com, however, predicted that "LinkedIn is gonna be huge."
"LinkedIn is tired of being “that other social network, the one for business”. They’re ready to be The Social Network for Business, and there’s a big difference. The first is relatively unknown, with a small-to-medium sized loyal user base," he said.
"The second is the authority on business and an essential part of every professional’s repertoire. At the rate they’re growing right now and based on their plans, they’ll be opting for title number two next year. Their publishing platform is going to explode. Yeah I know, everything’s exploding today."
Let's get this out of the way: LinkedIn did not explode in 2015. It celebrated a nice milestone, getting to 400 million users, putting it ahead of Twitter, but it still took it a year and a half to get there from 300 million.
So its doing fine for itself, but the chances of LinkedIn ever getting anywhere near Facebook numbers seems pretty remote by now.
3. Anonymous social media was going to grow
Following the Snowden leak a few years ago, there was a rash of anonymous social media apps, including Whisper, Secret, YikYak and, of course, SnapChat.
Ryan Holmes, CEO at Hootsuite, predicted that the "demand for anonymous social media will only get bigger in 2015, and that "the major players are beginning to acknowledge the issue."
Neither of those really panned out. Sure Snapchat continued to grow, but one of the more popular anonymity apps, Secret, would up closing its doors in April.
The app had a spectacular fall from grace in a very short amount of time, gaining 15 million users in less than 10 months, but its popularity began to wave over time. This led to a major design at the end of December, switching to text-only posts rather than photos, which made it look more like one of its biggest competitors, Yik Yak, erasing what had made Secret special in the first place.
Holmes also pointed to Rooms, the anonymity app that Facebook debuted in October of last year, as proof that the major networks were going to begin incorporating these same kinds of features.
Except that Rooms was shut down earlier this month, in purge that also took down Slingshot, Riff and Creative Labs, Facebook's apps development unit, which was behind the production of all of those apps.
Meanwhile other major social networks, like Twitter and LinkedIn, have made no steps in this direction.
Anonymity still has a place on the Internet, but it seems like there will only be a few key players.
4. Google+ was going to die
This was an easy assumption to make. And it kinda sorta did come true. But then not really.
The death of Google+ was probably predicted by many, including Team eValue at engagementlabs.
"Let’s be realistic. Google+ remains a mystery for many and is far from reaching the same popularity as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Youtube. Even though Google fails to create commitment on its platform, it is still necessary, even mandatory for some to join Google+ in order to improve their SEO rankings," they wrote.
"Joining the Google empire’s through social media can help with better referencing, searchability and creating relationships with people of influence and reinforce a company’s authority. However, this year, many signs indicate a possible end to Google+, like the departure of Vic Gundotra (leader of the Google+ project from the start) or the ability to open a Gmail or Youtube account without having to join G+."
And, for a while, it seems like that would be what would happen. In March, Google made two announcments: first Google+ was given a new head in Google product vice-president Bradley Horowitz, and second that it was going to be split up into two separate apps, one for photos and one for a social stream.
In the announcement of his new job, Horowitz never even used the term Google+. It seemed like it might be dead. However, in November, Google+ was given a big, new redesign, pointing to at least some future for the product.
5. Apple was going to buy Tesla
Ok, so this one has nothing to do with social media, but it's so out there, and would be so awesome if it happened, that I'm including it anywa.
Peter Csathy, the chief executive officer of business accelerator and development firm Manatt Digital Media, predicted that, in 2015, Apple will buy Tesla. Not only that, but Elon Musk would become the new CEO of Apple.
The first part I can get behind. After all, Apple might actually be the first, before either Google or Uber, to develop its own car. The company recently stated that it planned to have its first car done by 2019. Though it would not be a driverless car, it would obviously be a big step toward bringing such a vehicle onto the road.
Obviously getting a hold of Tesla would be big help.
The second part, about Elon Musk replacing Tim Cook, that doesn't seem plausible, especially since Cook was hand picked by Steve Jobs to run the company.
Still, you gotta love these kind of bold predictions. They may never come true, but if they do somehow come to pass then you will always be the one person who predicted it.
(Image source: pinterest.com)