2017 Social/Digital Predictions (Part 1 - Industry Predictions)

If you're reading this, you made it through 2016. Congratulations.

Welcome to our inaugural social and digital predictions. In this first part, we'll look at trends we're witnessing within the tech/social industry. In the next part, we'll look at school-specific predictions.

Firstly, let's revisit 2016... Gulp.

Our 2016 predictions - how did we do?

  1. More Twitter characters [CORRECT]
  2. Moving further away from television [CORRECT]
  3. Periscope inside Twitter, and the real launch of live streaming [CORRECT]
  4. 360° videos and 360°live streaming [CORRECT]
  5. One-click purchasing on social media [INCORRECT]
  6. Snapchat to be sold [INCORRECT]
  7. Battle for news [CORRECT]
  8. Vertical video [CORRECT]
  9. Messaging apps = The new OS [CORRECT]

To read more about last year's predictions, and an analysis of each, take a look at our recap of 2016.

What does 2017 have in store for us?

[1] (More) Live Streaming

We called it last year, and it’s becoming clearer that live video on social platforms is the trend for 2017. We’ll start to see live-streaming move way beyond just early-adopters and into the hands of the mainstream users.

How many Facebook ads have you ever seen on TV, billboards, etc.? None, unless you remember the awkward TV advert back in 2012, when Facebook said ‘Chairs are like Facebook’. Yes, that really happened.

Yet, we’re constantly seeing the new Facebook Live adverts. Why? Well, Facebook know how important it is to win the live-streaming battle.

[2] Chatbots

The question 6 years ago was ‘should we have an app?’, but fast-forward to 2016 and the questions currently are around chatbots.

What are chatbots?

A chatbot is a program that is designed to simulate conversation with humans, using artificial intelligence.

Chatbots are being built into current messaging products (Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc.).

When we look at the state of social, it’s clear that the dominating platforms are messaging apps. In 2015, the number of active users surpassed that of social networks.

  • WhatsApp rapidly became the biggest messaging app, with more than a billion users
  • Messenger (FB) also reached the 1 billion user mark in 2016

Chinese social media giant, Tencent, enables 600 million people each month to book taxis, check in for flights, play games, buy cinema tickets, manage banking, reserve doctors' appointments, donate to charity and video-conference all without leaving the app - according to Wired.

We've gone from wanting a website, to an app, to chatbots.

Marketing / Admissions

‘What are the school fees?’
‘How can I get a scholarship?’
‘When are the next open days?’

These are questions people have when they visit your website. To get the answer, people navigate the site structure to find the content. Eventually, people can open your school’s chatbot on Facebook Messenger, and ask it questions.


Chatbots are going to be used more in education to help teach people.

Duolingo have launched their own chatbots to help people learn a new language. Talk to 'Chef Roberto’ - a legendary pizza maker. 

IBM’s Watson is being used to power a Teaching Assistant bot

Maybe the future teacher’s aren’t robots, but chatbots? 


[3] A Video First World

We're in a video-first marketing era. In 2017, video content is the #1 focus for many marketers. Whether it be on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, video is playing a big part in reaching new audiences, and engaging with current fans.

Fifty-five percent of the world’s mobile traffic is now video.

Traditional video formats will be abolished, as we know it. We used to create content purely for horizontal viewing - but we no longer consume content in a singular way.

How are we consuming video?

The most popular ways of consuming content are through the following devices:

  • TV
  • Mobile
  • Tablets
  • Desktop
  • Virtual Reality 

Which allows us to view content in a number of orientations: 

  • Landscape
  • Portrait
  • Circular
  • Square
  • 360

On social, we consume a lot of landscape, portrait, and square content. Snapchat is currently leading the way with circular video - with the release of its Spectacles hardware.

Creating video has never been easier. We have access to high quality hardware that enables to capture professional footages, on a budget. Everybody with a smartphone has the ability to be a filmmaker.

The variable is the story you’re telling. You don’t need expensive equipment to tell an inspiring story, but a great hardware won’t save an uninspiring story.

[4] Farewell, Google+?

Will we finally see the end of Google+?

It’s been 5 years since the initial launch, but the platform hasn’t evolved or seen the usage Google had hoped for. We haven’t seen that ‘killer’ feature yet.

Yes, people do use it - it’s particularly popular for niche communities - but is that enough for Google to continue investing.

We expect to see the platform continue to stagnate, or perhaps be quietly shut down.

[5] Ads for Snapchat

With a valuation of $25 billion, and the rumours of its looming IPO, it’s time for Snapchat to make some serious cash.

Snapchat has allowed companies to advertise on its platform before, but it’s been limited to those with a very very large marketing budget.

Companies have used promoted lenses, and advertised in Stories, and Snapchat’s Discover section. 

However, to justify their valuation, Snapchat will need to come up with an advertising product that is affordable to the masses, and that works.

We’ve seen the valuation of Twitter plummet, as their advertising products suffer. Snapchat will want to take a chunk of this market share.

[6] Voice OS

We’ll start to see the growth of the ‘Voice OS’. Our two key operating systems sit within desktops (Windows vs Mac), and mobile (Android vs iOS).

Amazon has seen the opportunity for an ecosystem based around your voice. Amazon’s Alexa is a voice-based personal assistant within your home - able to control your lights, heating etc.

They're not the first to do this, Apple has Siri, Google has Google Assistant, and Microsoft has Cortana.

The difference is Amazon have a stand-alone voice-activated device (Echo). Other voice-controlled services are built through your phone, or desktop.

Google have released Google Home too. We expect to see these devices to be the centre-piece of many homes.

And we’ll start to see more apps being built for voice control.

"What time is my daughter's hockey match today?"

[7] Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality

2017 is a big year for virtual reality (VR). We've already had exciting hardware releases, with Playstation VR and Samsung Gear.

Facebook is betting big on VR. Zuckerberg believes VR will be the future of the platform.

We'll also see AR to continue its growth into the mainstream. Everybody was talking about Pokémon Go last summer, and made everyone aware of AR - and they have been the common buzzwords since.

The technology and behaviour around VR and AR will evolve over the next 12 months, and further. We're at the very early stages - similar to when computers where invented. Everything was bulky, but tech will continue to improve.


Next week, we’re going to focus on school-specific predictions. We'll look further at live-streaming, 360 videos, virtual reality, vlogging, web apps, and more!

What should your marketing team be thinking about? How will technology be used in 2017? What should parents be aware of?

Subscribe to our SchoolBytes newsletter to find out!

RECAP: Our 2016 Predictions - How Did We Do?

[1] More Twitter characters [CORRECT]

We predicted that pictures, and links will not be included in the 140 character limit.

In May 2016, Twitter announced you would be allowed to express more, within 140 characters. Then in September, Twitter rolled out a feature that meant photos, videos, GIFs, polls, and Quote Tweets no longer count towards the 140 characters.

We’re still expecting a feature that will extend the character count way beyond 140 characters. Similar to a ‘read more’ button that will expand and collapse text.

[2] Moving further away from television [CORRECT]

The way we watch television has fundamentally changed over the last decade. We’ve moved further away from watching a traditional TV set, into consuming via computers, mobile, and smart TVs.

Our behaviour has also shifted from live to on-demand.

The content we consume has shifted from professional content to amateur. More young people are consuming amateur content on YouTube and Facebook.

This impacts marketing in two ways:

  • Content Creation
  • Content Distribution

It’s never been easier to create a piece of video content, and to distribute it to millions of people around the world. Use this to your school’s advantage. Think of your marketing team as a media company.

[3] Periscope inside Twitter, and the real launch of live streaming [CORRECT]

Technology capabilities quickly evolved in 2015 to allow for suitable live-streaming capability through mobile.

Earlier in2016, Twitter embedded Periscope streams into tweets. Towards the end of 2016, live streaming (through Periscope) was built directly into the native Twitter app.

Facebook Live has launched globally, to huge success. With the release of their Live adverts, Facebook are expecting this feature to continue be adopted by mainstream users.

[4] 360° videos and 360°live streaming [CORRECT]

We’re now in a blended hardware / software world of 360 video. We have 360° hardware from Samsung Gear and GoPro Omni, and the software to view through YouTube and Facebook.

Facebook is betting on the future of VR, with its release of Oculus Rift. We’re going to see 360 video and streaming continue to grow in 2017.

[5] One-click purchasing on social media [INCORRECT]

We’ve seen one-click purchasing on social media grow, but not adopted to the scale we expected.

Social commerce just isn't living up to the hype. Social has a huge audience, but human behaviour just isn't aligning to the way people want to buy.

It looks like we're going to be using social to assist with purchasing decisions, rather than be the end point of a sale.

The Bold (Risky/Unlikely) Prediction…

[6] Snapchat to be sold [INCORRECT]

Snapchat continues to surprise with its continued rapid growth. In 2016, Snapchat changed its company name to Snap Inc. and now have to core products - Snapchat, and Spectacles.

In 2017, we expect to see Snapchat file for their anticipated IPO. It's rumoured to be valued at $25 billion.

The Wild (Maybe Too Futuristic) Predictions

7. Battle for news [CORRECT]

Facebook has become more of an entertainment platform, and Twitter a news company.

We're shifting from using social 'networks' as communication tools, and into media platforms.

We’ve started to see schools use their websites less and less for uploading news to. Instead, news is being published directly to Facebook and pull through into the website. That way, it’s distributed straight to the channel people spend their time in. 

[8] Vertical video [CORRECT]

Popularised by Snapchat, vertical video has grown in 2016. We consume video content on a mobile device, which is naturally a portrait device. 

Facebook followed in mid-2016, with vertical video ads. One agency claimed to get 3x better CPM rates using vertical video ads.

We’ve even seen more video orientations popularised - vertical, square, circular, 360 etc.

[9] Messaging apps = The new OS [CORRECT]

We’ve seen the growth of messaging platforms, and the applications built into them.

You can order an Uber directly within Facebook Messenger. You can install apps into iMessage. Chatbots are growing on Slack. 

We’re going to continue to see more applications being integrated and built onto messaging platforms in 2017. 

25 Tweets to send before Christmas #SocialAdvent 2016

The Advent period does not need to be all about chocolate you know (though it can't hurt to have some chocolate every day 🍫 😋). Instead, we can have lots of fun online while delivering a really strong and engaging marketing campaign.

Yes, the #SocialAdvent Challenge is back for 2016! 

Every day we are going to be setting a different challenge. So, for 25 days you will have something new to share on Twitter. The idea is that you will be able to share things that your communities will be interested in. It also helps you get into a rhythm of tweeting (and will hopefully inspire you too!). 

To take part, and be in for a chance to win infamy, post your Tweets using #SocialAdvent. You will be able to follow along and find inspiring content from other schools. We will be monitoring #SocialAdvent every day and picking our favourite Tweets for each badge.


Make sure you check back here each day to see all the winners and the challenge of the day.


Day 1

DAY 1 WINNER: @Tormead_JS 🏆

Day 2

DAY 2 WINNER: @BIS_School_eV 🏆

Day 3

DAY 3 WINNER: @GFSWoking 🏆

Day 4

DAY 4 WINNER: @NotreDameCobham 🏆

Day 5

DAY 5 WINNER: @EagleHouseSch 🏆

Day 6

DAY 6 WINNER: @BromsSchool 🏆

Day 7

DAY 7 WINNER: @NewHallSchool 🏆

Day 8

DAY 8 WINNER: @MalvernStJames 🏆

Day 9

DAY 9 WINNER: @NottsHigh 🏆

DAY 10

DAY 10 WINNER: @MountSchoolYork 🏆

Day 11

DAY 11 WINNER: @ShiplakeCollege 🏆

Day 12

DAY 12 WINNER: @PipersCornerSch 🏆

Day 13

DAY 13 WINNER: @moulsford 🏆

Day 14

DAY 14 WINNER: @DwightSeoul 🏆 

Day 15

DAY 15 WINNER: @RMSforGirls 🏆

Day 16

Day 17

DAY 17 WINNER: @BSNetherlands 🏆

Day 18


Day 19

DAY 19 WINNER: @FelstedSchool 🏆

Day 20

DAY 20 WINNER: @GodolphinSchool 🏆

Day 21

DAY 21 WINNER: @moulsford 🏆

Day 22

DAY 22 WINNER: @WestonbirtSch 🏆

Day 23

Day 24

DAY 24 WINNER: @EagleHouseSch 🏆

Day 25



Thank you everyone who took part. This has been an incredibly successful year and we hope that you can now all move into 2017, and beyond, with some new tricks and ideas to share with your community.  😃



Get ready for #SocialAdvent 2016 🎅

Each year, schools all around the world share their inspiring #SchoolStories throughout December. Each day there's a new challenge to tackle and share with your community. We call it #SocialAdvent.

Will you be taking part? Last year, schools taking part reached over 2 million people.


The #SocialAdvent Challenge 2016

December has been a firm favourite at @intSchools HQ for the past three years, following the great fun we've had running our #SocialAdvent challenge. This year we are looking to make the challenge our greatest one yet, with a record number of participants across a global audience.

To make it extra special, our creative elves have been hard at work - coming up and designing a bigger, better and refreshed #SocialAdvent challenge to spread festive marketing cheer this December. 

So, without further ado we have this year's #SocialAdvent to share out now! 🎄

What do I do?

The rules couldn't be simpler - each day we will ask you to do a festive challenge using social media. This could be posting your favourite Christmas joke or creating a time lapse video. Everything is shared on Twitter using #SocialAdvent as a hashtag. At the end of each day we'll have a look at all the Tweets and pick a daily winner. 

Use the link above and print off a full-size version of the #SocialAdvent calendar. It is not too soon to start planning each day 😉.

What do I win?

Pride. Glory. Your school's immortalisation behind a #SocialAdvent window. Everything you could ever want!

What's new?

For those who took part last Christmas you may notice a few minor changes. We wanted to keep the essence of the challenge the same, since last year was just so successful, but update it to meet the social media demands and trends of 2016.

We have added in a few new challenges that we know you will love:

  • GIFt-wrapped: Create a festive GIF and share
  • Pin Up!: Create a festive Pinterest Board showcasing your school
  • Christmannequin: Record an amazing Christmas themed #MannequinChallenge
  • A Little Bitmotional: Create a Bitmoji of your Head and share some Bitmoji Snaps
  • Snap, Crackle, Faceswap: Get onto Snapchat and share some hilarious Faceswaps!
  • Reindeer Ready: Schedule an interesting Merry Christmas Tweet
  • Festive Moments: Create a Twitter Moment that sums up your school's #SocialAdvent 2016!

What happened in 2015?

Last year was incredible fun and highly engaging for the schools who took part. In fact, the entire #SocialAdvent event reached over 2 million people on Twitter!

That is a simply amazing level of engagement you can earn your school, while having lots of fun! 

...of Impressions, Likes & RT's for your school.

...of Impressions, Likes & RT's for your school.

You can read a recap of 2015's #SocialAdvent Challenge here - and make sure you check out the #SocialAdvent 2015 Twitter Moments ⚡️ below.

They can also be viewed on Twitter here:


We'll see you Dec 1st ❄️

Today means that there is exactly ONE WEEK to get planning and prepared for the 1st day of the Advent.

Best of luck to everyone. We hope to see old friends and new 😄 

The @intSchools #SocialAdvent challenge

It has reached that odd part of November where Christmas enthusiasts really start gearing up for Christmas, and Christmas traditionalists gawp at all the festivities coming down the chimney a month too early.

Regardless of your stance on when Christmas should start, planning in an effective seasonal marketing campaign is an incredible way to get lots of engagement. Of course, having enough content to do this can be difficult to arrange. This is why, for the past three years, we have run our #SocialAdvent challenge. 

A sneak peak of this year's challenges - can you guess what they might be?

A sneak peak of this year's challenges - can you guess what they might be?

What is the #SocialAdvent Challenge?

The aim of the game is simple - each day we will Tweet out a challenge for your school to take part in. This could be anything from posting a short festive video from the Head or putting your carolling skills to the test. At the end of the day we will pick a winner and add them to our #SocialAdvent calendar.

Last year's winners

Why take part?

For one, it is LOTS of fun! There's a real buzz in the office atmosphere whenever the #SocialAdvent period comes up. Not only do we get to take part ourselves (lead by example) but we get to to see all the creative and hilarious acts you Tweet out to the world. 

The second, key reason, is: it gets GREAT engagement. Not only will your parents, pupils, teachers and prospectives like, RT and reply to your posts it will drive engagement out to new people. How? This event uses a simple #SocialAdvent hashtag - so if 30 schools are doing this daily and using this one hashtag across all their posts the audience it can reach goes way up. Obviously this number goes up exponentially the more schools that are involved!

You couldn't ask for a better 25 days to make new connections!

The third reason is: you will ✨STAND OUT✨ in the marketing game. Of course you want lots of engagement from your audience, but they key to take away from this is after that engagement has been and gone you want to stick in your audiences' mind! This event is one such way to effectively work towards that. 


Last year, there were over 2 million impressions on the #SocialAdvent hashtag. On our own account, we had 191.7K impressions. Impressive stuff!

1.7% was the average engagement rate per #SocialAdvent tweet, when 0.07% is the average engagement rate for the top 25 brands.

And when $35 billion was spent on social media advertising in 2016,  it's worth considering that #SocialAdvent is FREE!

Finally, 200+ schools and school leaders took part on #SocialAdvent 2015 - can we beat it this year?

#SocialAdvent 2015

Last year was by far our most successful, and we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to those schools who took part. This would not work without you guys so thank you 😆.

Last year, @NotreDameCobham kicked off #SocialAdvent with this festive message!

We have created a two-part Twitter Moment⚡️ to commemorate last year's challenge. They can be viewed on Twitter here:


Looks like lots of fun right? We have come up with a few new ideas for this year's challenge, and are massively looking forward to some #socialmedia creativity.

We hope to see you all taking part come December 1st.