Unraveling the Future of Social Media
Industry: Public Relations and Communications
Contact(s): Rebecca Grieb
Web references: Wikipedia, BBC.com, Skype, Facetime, Countrycode, Popular Mechanics, RollingStone, apartmenttherapy, BT.com, cta.tech, Vivere Ltd, Amazon.com, Bazaarvoice.com, Facebook.com, Pinterest.com, Woot.com, Smallbiztrends.com, Twitter.com, Conversedigita.com, Soundcloud, HuffingtonPost.ca
Peering into the crystal ball, one can see that it’s pretty cloudy when it comes to social media. However, someone had it down pretty pat back in 1964. Isaac Asimov, a highly acclaimed science fiction writer knew what he was talking about when he predicted the future way back then. Here is the now verified substantial list:
1. “Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone.” Skype, a well known video calling service does a decent job on smartphones and Facetime which is an Apple app, performs a similar function.
2. It will be possible “for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica”. Totally a go, as the area code for Antarctica is 672. Challenge now is to find someone you actually know who lives there.
3. “Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.“ UW Robotics Team, don’t take this too much to heart. Actual fact is that robots do everything from clean your floor, dress you and make your air ducts spotless.
4. “As for television, wall screens will have replaced the ordinary set; but transparent cubes will be making their appearance in which three-dimensional viewing will be possible.” Isaac, make note, 3D movies are here, or should I say, were here, since their arc to popularity is already spiraling downward.
5. “Conversations with the Moon will be a trifle uncomfortable.” Or , his even better related prediction, “Only unmaned ships will have landed on Mars. ” Check – this was attained in way back in 1976. However, if man did land on the Moon, it may sound a bit like this:
“Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare ‘automeals’, heating water and converting it to coffee.” Coffeemakers are getting the 21st century upgrade with smartphone capability.
6. Lab grown food from yeast and algae sources would be available – In 2013 scientists made a burger pattie in a lab, and it was of acceptable texture but the taste was just too fat free.
7. “An experimental fusion-power plant or two will already exist.” Off the mark on this one, Isaac. Obtaining power from inside stars is still some years away.
8. “Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with ‘robot-brains.’ ” Self driving cars are a very real and advancing technology. Part of their system currently includes smart phone apps that aid in parking.
9. “Not all the world’s population will enjoy the gadgetry world of the future to the full. A larger portion than today will be deprived and although they may be better off, materially, than today, they will be further behind.” Despite the ominous tone, fact is that cell phones are helping less fortunate countries advance their economy. I’ve already talked about this. If you’ve missed it, check out Making a World of Difference Half a World Away, one of my prior blogs.
Standing back, when you look at the list above, what is the most common denominator?
Enter the year 2015 and Rebecca Grieb, communicator, PR specialist and founder of Beccomm.com. Grieb has covered a lot of territory in a short time span, as she was named to the PR In Canada’s Top 30 Under 30. Her energies are focused on digital strategy, social media and, of course, public relations. I had the opportunity to catch up with her, and we discussed what the near future will bring. Yes, you bet – mobiles devices came up more than once.
Insights from Rebecca Grieb, Digital Tools & Analytics Instructor, Integrated Marketing Communications program at Conestoga College
To extract from Grieb’s concepts as she noted in the video:
A) As businesses, “ …we need to be on the mobile devices and platforms that people are using, so that we can be part of their lives”. In order to stay connected, to sell, businesses need to get ahead of the curve, develop their own apps and make shopping happen on the move. That crystal ball would be really handy right about now. Failing that, what I see on Oktopost is really inventive. It is a social-media content distribution and management tool. On the up side, and what makes Oktopost so appealing is that it’s focused on B2B. A lot of social-media management tools are focused on B2C – they are substantially different. According to Conversedigital.com,
“Oktopost is a cost efficient, social media management, tracking and reporting platform that tracks clicks, and more importantly, sales conversions, down to the individual Facebook, LinkedIn or G+ post and tweet level. It is this ability to track conversion at the individual post level that I’ve found most helpful as it finally provides a tool to report true social media ROI.”
This is the kind of tool that can propel business into the future and provide essential information to build social media strategies. Tempting fodder for futuristic mind and an avenue to seriously consider.
B) In terms of developing a company brand on social media, it’s necessary to, “find ways to join the conversation, rather than just start one.” Companies can no longer foist their brand on the consumer via Facebook and Pinterest, rather the consumer is driving the brand. I’ve experienced this with several sites where we sell our product. Bazaarvoice helps facilitate the consumer quest for knowledge, by providing the forum where their questions can be directed to me. My goal is to answer, but to enhance that experience. Added tips and techniques I supply propel an already great product to improved heights. It’s brand building 21st century style.
Other sites like Woot allow for a similar experience, but with a quirky attitude. On this short term daily deals site, I monitor the consumer content, supplying product data ‘on the fly’ which allows for a more satisfied shopping experience and fewer returns. But what if there was one, more fluid location for the consumer to find out about products? That’s what needs to be further developed.
C) “Four out of five purchase decisions are made based on someone’s recommendation.” Consumers interact with one another, not always directly with the company, and that then propels the buyer. At Vivere Ltd, a hammock and outdoor seating wholesaler, where I work, we continue to monitor and interact with the consumer content on Amazon.com. Those consumer reviews (2,380 of them at last count) are loud and clear. After several years, our top selling product, a hammock combo (a double hammock, hammock stand and carry bag) are still rated as the top seller in the category, at 4.7 stars out of 5. Information sharing, ‘joining the conversation’, as Grieb says, solidifies Vivere as a brand with a face, and real solutions to product questions.
To further reinforce the value of that activity, Canadians are very much focused on social media, being one of the largest users globally. Consider this an advantage when it comes to being a forerunner in the development of future B2B social media solutions apps. Smartphones have a great deal to do with this progression, and one that’s not going to ease up anytime soon.
Another irresistible glimpse into the retail future is Holition.com. The company specializes in ‘augmented retail’, illustrated by their video.
They are known for “their award winning digital creative studio specializing in emerging technologies crafting premium 3D digital experiences for a growing network of pioneering digital luxury organisations.”
The work of this company is particularly futuristic, but it’s happening in the present – which makes one wonder – is the future already here?
Lessons Learned: Development of mobile apps for purchasing online is critical. Smartphones are going to drive future retail and apps to implement this will be essential.
Make the mobile shopping experience smoother. The shopping experience needs to be cleaner and more user friendly – ‘organic’ comes to mind.
Innovate means to instigate change. If it’s not available, built it. Apps need to be custom built, highly tailored in order to keep ahead of the consumer demand.
Submitted By: Dianne McBride, SMBP Student, University of Waterloo
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