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Online Trends

Published January 3rd 2017

New Year, New Data: Social Data Predicts What Will Be a Thing in 2017

The Brandwatch React team analyze social data to crowd source predictions for 2017. What does the future hold? Let the collective crystal ball tell you.

The tides of revolution are shifting, the winds of change are blowing and the volcanos of disruption are erupting. Tech, politics, and click-bait gurus across the world are making their predictions for 2017, some with a little more ambition than others.

Of course, after a rocky 2016, there’s no way to tell what will be going on by the end of this year, but there definitely seems to be an appetite for trying.

While our own Kit Smith looked into his crystal ball to produce predictions for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the coming year, the Brandwatch React team decided to take a less targeted approach and consult the internet on what 2017 will look like using social data.

Collective future telling

The team used Brandwatch Analytics to scan over 80 million websites for the term “2017 will be the year of __” between December 1st and 29th 2016, finding thousands of mentions.

We then downloaded the mentions and identified the most common words immediately following the phrase.

We excluded retweets to try to get an idea of what individuals are thinking, as well as phrases that were repeated hundreds of times that promoted products (spam).

This is what we found.

Predictions for 2017

Fairly obvious were the number of marketing buzz words, but there were a fair few anomalies. For each keyword pulled from the data we explored the mentions behind its prominence.

2017 will be the year of intelligence

We’re kicking off with a vague one, but once you dive into the data a little the word intelligence is used in a number of ways.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and chat bots are huge talking points within the “intelligence” conversation. 2016 may have been a year where these words came into common parlance but it seems we’re now expecting them to become far more visible in our daily lives.

2017 will be the year of blockchain

Blockchain technology could be taking off in a far greater way in 2017. Blockchain is a way to structure data that creates a far more secure and fast way for transactions of currency like bitcoin to take place, with potentially revolutionary consequences for the FinTech world (another key word in the conversation) and the way we each do business.

You can find out more about blockchain and it’s potential here.

2017 will be the year of cyber warfare

“Cyber” was a top-used word in the conversation, with warfare and security amongst the top used topics associated with it.

Some claim we could already be living through humanity’s first world cyber-war, and others believe 2017 will see a greater realization of that fact.

We are, undeniably, living through tumultuous political times, and as damaging technology gets smarter cyber security is a big worry.

2017 will be the year of different kinds of reality

Virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality are all big talking points, and rightly so. While virtual reality was a popular subject last December looking forward to 2016, this year there are even more kinds of realities to consider.

Augmented reality was big in 2016 as Pokémon Go exploded across the world, but some believe that mixed reality will be a buzz word of the future.

Mixed reality, though sort of vague, is understood as “an overlay of synthetic content on the real world that is anchored to and interacts with the real world.”

2017 will be the year of video

Online video is a pretty popular theme for 2017 within our data and many of the predictions pieces we’ve read. Whether it’s embracing Facebook Live (which we tried out in December) or brands using online video as part of their content marketing strategy, we expect to see plenty more moving pictures in the coming year.

2017 will be the year of the rule of Donald Trump

Well, yeah. Many of the mentions surrounding Trump were quoting TIME’s person of the year article.

But by almost 2 to 1, voters cared most about who could deliver change, and in that category he beat her by 68 points. This is his next test. The year 2016 was the year of his rise; 2017 will be the year of his rule, and like all newly elected leaders, he has a chance to fulfill promises and defy expectations.

2017 will be the year of vegan meat

Say what?

According to Mercy for Animals, vegan meat (which imitates real meat) could see a huge boost in popularity this year.

While many people are dubious about it, the mass production of convincing and tasty vegan meat could see the vegan community grow.

2017 will be the year of smarter technology

Smart home technology will undoubtedly grow in popularity in 2017 but so could attempted cyber attacks upon the new systems.

“The sharks have smelled the blood in the water and they’re now circling to use your IoT device for further attacks,” said James Lyne, global head of security research for Sophos, a U.K.-based cybersecurity company, speaking to CNBC.

Smart apps and smart cities (that could help facilitate self-driving cars) were also hot topic.

2017 will be the year of uncertainty

After 2016, nothing is certain. As the UK faces up to the consequences of leaving the European Union and with an “unpresidented” Trump inauguration just around the corner, there is uncertainty stretching across the world.

The term “year of uncertainty” was propagated by the Wall Street Journal, talking specifically about CEOs and the unpredictable environment in which they operate.

The future awaits

There you have it – social media’s predictions for 2017. Will they come true? Only time will tell.


Are you a journalist looking to cover our data? We have plenty more. Email us [email protected] for more information

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