When social media made its debut, it captivated users because of its ability to facilitate global connections. At the time, it’s capacity to facilitate conversations between “friends” (old, new and everything in between) provided a groundbreaking experience. People could get caught up with old flames, family, friends and even connect with potential business matches and partners. Still, despite its innovativeness, users aren’t logging into social sites for the same reasons in anymore. In fact, the social channels of yesteryear look a lot different from one the ones of today. Now, users log into sites like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to their idols, contribute to news stories and even watch TV. It feels practically impossible to imagine a world where these channels don’t exist.
Still, as new technologies emerge and dictate how we communicate, it’s easy to wonder where we’re headed as a social media dependent world. For the social media reliant marketer here’s what you should know:
Emergence and Stabilization
Remember, Facebook wasn’t always the rockstar social channel it is today. In the beginning, there was MySpace, Friendster and Six Degrees and an array of other mini sites that tried to tack on to the booming trend. New platforms would pop up almost regularly with new ways of facilitating communication between strangers and friends alike. Almost as soon as they’d spring up, they’d die off and fall to the wayside. Just a few years ago there was room for new social media channels and their growth. These days, fewer and fewer networks are popping up to claim a piece of the social media pie. Now, social channels aren’t just sites, they’re apps.
Today’s users are attaching themselves to only a few social media apps (Facebook, What’sApp, Instagram, and Twitter) that are considered to be in the top tier. In fact,79 percent of adults are logged into Facebook, many of whom arerelying on it for communicating with family and for work. This decrease in the number of social media sites that are emerging mean two things for social media marketers of the future.
First, that social media has become a more integrated factor of the user’s daily life, means it’s no longer an option for advertising. People are harnessing social to access an asset that is far and way beyond the social interaction social facilitated just a few years ago. Users rely on social media for news updates, entertainment and with social apps like Facebook’s messenger and WhatsApp, actual communication. Social media is becoming a unified part of our lives and as such marketers have to find ways to integrate it into their strategy that goes beyond written content promotions. The second factor for marketers to keep in mind surrounds the handful of channels that are dictating social media’s development. Just as Google sets the standard for search, Facebook is proving itself as the frontrunner for social. Marketers will have to continue to look to the giant for indications of where their business is headed.
Make A Place For The Constantly Connected User
Today’s social media channels are making an obvious push for sharing “real world” experiences. Live video streams and other “real life” features are putting a new type of social media platform in motion. With features like Facebook Live and Snapchat Live Story, users are becoming accustomed to instant access to information as well as a new sort of involvement. As consumers, they’ll want to get their hands on much information and fun experiences that marketers can provide.
With more and more social apps taking the mobile user experience into consideration, this concept of an “interactive live world” grows. From the creation of mobile apps’ features came a completely new market that social media hadn’t yet discovered: instant communication. Now, users can use Facebook to text friends, call them and video chat. Today’s apps are encouraging consumers to use social media more. Now, users can run multiple social media apps in their phone’s background as they interact with friends and family on another social channel. As opposed to serving the distinct purpose they initially provided users, social channels have morphed into a communication system of their own. As such, marketers will have to learn how to make these interactions and communications with users more fun. Consider, Snapchat’s use of filter and the popularity of their geofilters as use move forward with your social marketing campaigns.
Wearable Tech and The New Social
It’s a time-honored fact that new technology dictates our world of socialization. The telegraph did it, the telephone did it, the internet did it and now wearable tech and smart technology are doing it. Looking back at these “ancient” technologies, social media’s future might not be as obvious to us as it was to us just a few years ago. With interfaces like smartwatches andsmart home systems, users are slowly but steadily being pulled away from their screens. Just think about your driving habits. Three years ago you might have driven around town with your eyes focused both on the road and your phone as you tried to find directions. Now, users simply have to utter “Hey Alexa,” to get themselves on the right route.
The new hands-free communication features aren’t leaving much in the way for social media and its visual functionality, though. Smartwatches and small screens don’t give users much space to engage with the content being served on social. For social media giants like Facebook, that means emerging and relying on their new strengths. Facebook’s interest in virtual reality is an indication of their anticipation of this trend. With integrated VR, Facebook will be able to help users have more vicarious experiences.
While the appearance of our online social interactions might look different, marketer’s shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that they’ll be rendered obsolete. Perhaps we won’t use buttons or menus to look at photos or stream content. Instead, it’s likely that social media channels will focus their attention on advancing communication and taking their live broadcasts to the new level. Still, social media and its evolution are proving there’s a lot for the marketer to explore.