The past year saw an increase in technology upgrades and earlier adoption. As consistent leaders of global transformation, social media networks once again led the way—influencing the lives and work of people and businesses.

While new social media tools and features introduced last year were already in development, these multi-billion dollar platforms continue to innovate. To stay ahead of the market you need to keep up with new social media trends. So as we look back on a year that many would like to forget, here are a few of the top social media trends and the prerequisite mobile app testing required to successfully incorporate them.

TREND 1: Spending on social media

According to data by IBM’s US Retail Index, COVID-19 accelerated the shift from physical stores to online shopping by roughly five years. Researchers expect digital purchases to hit four trillion by the end of the year. But while traditional brick and mortar stores embraced a shift to online, they weren’t the only ones. The introduction of Shops on Facebook and Instagram showed how vital e-commerce was to social platforms.

For Facebook, this has been years in the making, with Shops essentially being an extension of its Marketplace offering. With further development on features including Facebook Pay and live-stream promotion and purchasing options and the integration of more shopping posts on user feeds, the social media giant expects to increase shopping activity.

E-commerce has also been a big focus for Instagram for years, with a new Shop tab and dedicated features aligned with facilitating more in-stream purchase behaviors.

The visual platform has also been building on its existing AR shopping options allowing businesses and creators to facilitate direct buying.

So what does this trend mean for mobile app developers?

Mobile e-commerce traffic and sales have doubled in just five years. With social media bringing a new wave of e-commerce activity, it’s essential to find any potential issues with functionality and payments, and secure user data. Thus, the main usability issues QA testers must focus on are:

  • Usability testing: from app response time to ease of use and updated product availability, optimize online stores while keeping mobile device usage in mind.
  • Payments testing: payment functionalities are vital and need to be thoroughly tested to eliminate any bugs or anomalies that can prevent customers from completing their orders.
  • Security: meticulously test from a hacker’s perspective to identify possible threats and vulnerabilities with the highest standards of data security.

Learn how a leading e-commerce company maintains a 4.9+ app store rating by conducting localization and payments testing throughout the world.

TREND 2: A new reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is becoming more common in social media. Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are a few of the platforms that recently launched their features, including lenses, filters, and effects.

Pioneered by Snapchat, the company has remained a key innovator in the AR space. In addition to the multimedia messaging app’s quirky filters, Snapchat has started rolling out the ability to ‘scan’ barcodes and labels to provide more context and information. An ever-increasing database of scannable items appears to be tied to advanced AR tools, including marketing promotions. Snapchat continued to establish its niche in 2020, especially appealing to younger audiences. New app partnerships and interactive options have provided additional avenues of consideration, but AR remains the key to boosting the app’s appeal.

And with many of our regular entertainment options shut down, many have been seeking new ways to keep ourselves occupied. Virtual Reality (VR) fills the void for those who can afford it.

Facebook already has a solid baseline of consumer products, with the social media giant’s Portal and Oculus devices. The social media giant has been gradually lowering the price of its VR devices, making it more accessible to the masses, and it’s worked… with Facebook’s Oculus headsets seeing a significant boost in sales.

So what does this trend mean for mobile app developers?

AR should become a key battleground in social media. While these new features sound great, as the quote goes, with great power (in this case, great features) comes great responsibility… to keep users happy. That’s why engineering and software testing teams must build a strategic and thorough plan for adding features. This includes:

  • Regression testing: you can’t make everyone happy, but you should – at the very least – understand each code change, how it can affect current features, and the impact of said changes on users.
  • Real device testing: simulation testing has its place, but with all the moving (literally) parts of AR and VR features, it’s best to test the actual viewing experience on multiple devices and headsets to check usability and intuitiveness.

Wondering what’s the most efficient approach to real device testing? Watch this webinar recording to learn which device/OS testing combinations are best for maximum coverage and quality results.

TREND 3: Gone in a flash

The Internet never forgets, or so we’re told. That used to be the case, but then Snapchat changed everything. Launched in 2011, Snapchat became a $75 billion company off the back of ephemeral video and photo messages called ‘Snaps.’ Unlike traditional social media platforms, which are defined by a sense of permanence, Snaps are designed to expire 24 hours after being opened.

It was a breath of fresh air. Snaps allowed people to be candid, silly, experimental, and endlessly creative. It didn’t take long to become copied by rival social media giants. As Oscar Wilde purportedly said: “Talent borrows, genius steals.” Instagram was among the first sites to debut a Snap clone, adding a feature called Stories. Facebook and YouTube followed suit. Even LinkedIn and Skype got in on the action. And while the results may have varied, it’s clear that there’s plenty of appetite for a social media form factor that exists beyond timelines and homepages.

And now it’s Twitter’s turn, with the microblogging platform launching Fleets towards the end of last year. Admittedly, this caught many by surprise, considering it arrived almost a decade after Snapchat’s debut and years after Facebook and Instagram launched Stories.

So what does this trend mean for mobile app developers?

Fleets will likely stay, but it’s doubtful they’ll be a significant factor in Twitter’s ongoing success, serving as an add-on to the platform rather than a core element. This shows that sometimes mobile app developers don’t always have to be the flashiest – or the first. But they still need to test their offerings and maintain engagement. Some key factors to consider:

  • Localization: just like words convey different meanings when translated, so do hashtags. Fun features on many ephemeral programs and platforms should deliver excellent user experiences in every country and language.
  • Functionality: beyond lasting a mere 24 hours, specific expectations of this content exist. As such, functional testing to verify product features work according to requirements is essential to identify all areas where performance doesn’t meet expected results.

TREND 4: Short social sharing

There’s nothing inherently novel about TikTok. Vine and Musical.ly pioneered the concept of short, shareable videos long before it became a global cultural phenomenon. Separately, Instagram has long been regarded as the master of “endless” user-generated content that you can spend hours listlessly scrolling through.

But TikTok brought those two elements together. That’s its secret sauce. And it’s a recipe that’s proven tremendously popular, with the Beijing-owned platform doubling its users in one year, from 500 million to 1 billion. This growth has occurred despite external pressures from the Trump Administration, which threatened the app with bans, and forced it to partner with Oracle for its US operations.

Next year will prove similarly challenging, albeit with the pressure coming from other social platforms. The most likely threat is Instagram, which launched its own equivalent product, Reels, last year. As with Twitter’s Fleets, this isn’t likely to become a significant part of Instagram, but rather an add-on that will only be used by a percentage of its user base.

Still, Instagram has some advantages that TikTok doesn’t: namely, a first-mover advantage, a captive audience, and Facebook’s bottomless pockets. These will combine to help Reels become a viable threat to TikTok, particularly when it comes to spending big on influencer deals to attract users and monetization.

It also helps that both platforms have fundamentally different objectives. TikTok wants to become a viable, long-term property. Instagram merely wants to boost engagement with the users it already has.

So what does this trend mean for mobile app developers?

TikTok has been the topic of questionable activity but these issues aren’t worse than any other giant social network— however, they bring to light the importance of security and privacy protection. Other notable factors QA teams must pay particular attention to include:

  • Exploratory test: go beyond traditional, scripted tests to uncover issues and interruptions. Use this type of testing to find relevant scenarios and opportunities for feature enhancements.
  • Livestream: even short content can be live-streamed. It’s imperative livestream tests are run to find any streaming issues and bugs.

Social media is a mainstay in everyday life. With a global pandemic changing the landscape of shopping, gathering, and even dating, social media presented many new opportunities to users.

When considering user experience and engagement, strategic and practical mobile application testing helps. Take advantage now of this year’s social media trends so your mobile app can be a leader in this ever-changing market. And then partner with Testlio to ensure your application thrives. Request your personalized demo today.

Dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of digital marketing, PR, and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in communication and storytelling.