There’s No Turning Back – The Future of Social Media

CBrookbanks    July 16, 2015

Web References: CNBC, Statista – Facebook, Statista – Twitter, Internet Live Stats, Business Insider, YouTube – The History of social media, INC,  Statista – Network, Imedia Connection, Fast Company, Big FishWall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Ad Age, Atlas, Soundcloud,


 Back in my day, the internet was dial up, you saved a single document to a floppy disk, and social media was nonexistent – and I’m not even 30 years old. The landscape of the online world has changed dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years. Before Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat our lives did not revolve around a stream of status updates, tweets, videos and filtered photos. Now they do. And it doesn’t look like that is going to change.

We’ve watched as social media evolved from a fad to phenomenon that has completely altered the way we communicate with people, governments and businesses alike. It has given us a platform on which to voice our opinions, share our joy, and find support in our darker times. The numbers prove the exponential power of social media.  Every year, almost 200 million people are signing up, and by 2016, we are expected to be in excess of  2 billion social media users.  Facebook has 1.44 Billion active users signing on at least once a month.  The micro blogging site Twitter has 236 Million active users sending 500 Million  Tweets a day. Relative new comer to the social media game, Snapchat, launched in 2011 and has 60 Million registered users sending 400 Million snaps a day. With numbers like these it is hard to imagine a future where we are no longer logging on to like, share, or retweet. But what does the future hold in store for social media? How will it continue to alter the way we live our lives? Or will it at all?


Substance over Style

 While it is hard to deny that social media will continue to be popular, the way we use it is already changing. The focus has begun to shift from ‘going viral’ to creating more meaningful engagement. We are moving from a world of sharing a picture of our cat in a bonnet, to creating more tailored, and therefore impactful messages. Technology is changing to allow us to tailor content to a specific individual in real time. This not only created a stronger value proposition for the readers, but gives them an immediate reason to read content that is hand delivered versus mass produced for all ‘followers’. (1) This will be especially helpful for marketers who struggle to get their message seen and hear as the content volume increase.


The Move to Mobile

A 2013 survey found that 25% of smartphone owners ages 18-44 say they can’t remember the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them. With numbers like this it isn’t hard to see why we have now passed the mobile tipping point, with more users connecting via their smartphones than desktops. The reason is simple: it’s more convenient. Now companies can focus on understanding consumer preferences and how they behave differently when using mobile devices than clunky desktops. For social media this means that instead of posting text heavy content, you should be utilizing pictures, videos and tappable post elements. Social media strategies should focus on encouraging users to generate their own content whether it be pictures, videos, or short text reviews, and sharing them in order to engage.



Ad Serving and Tracking Technology for Marketing

The future of social media is not reaching your audience on social platforms, it’s using those social platforms to reach your audience everywhere else. Lets take for example Facebook Atlas which allows you to use Facebook data to find prospective clients all over the web by measuring cross-device and cross-platform and leveraging display targeting capabilities powered by Facebook ID. People have fluidity across their devices now, we jump from smartphone to laptop to tablet. Cross-device strategies let them measure ad campaigns across screens; solving the cookie problem. Atlas helps marketers reach the real people they want (not phantom people on the web), at the right time and across devices, platforms and publishers. And knowing that the majority of purchases are still made offline, Atlas connects offline sales to your online ad buys.

Linkedin Netowork Display works much in the same way. It allows you to reach memeber of the Linkedin community on many different websites, tag them, and then find and serve up ads to those people in other locations. Much like Google Display Network. These are so important because they help you understand what drives incremental reach and new sales. The behaviours on these social media platforms are essentially the data we will use to find customers and deliver our ads directly to them.



A Word of Caution

Whether we are using social media to connect with a loved one thousands of miles away, read reviews on the latest product before buying or scroll through pictures of our favourite celebrity’s luxurious vacation, the bottom line is we are almost constantly using it. We use it on our smartphones during our commute to the office, on our desktops at work while no one is looking, and on our tablets at home from the comfort of our couches. While social media has provided us with so many various outlets and platforms to explore, it is import to keep in mind what it may be taking away from us at the same time; real face-to-face communication.  “Screen addiction” as many refer to it, is becoming a real thing. Television used to the stand-in babysitter of choice, but over the last few years computers, tablets and smartphones are gradually taking over. Teenagers spend an average of more than 11 hours a day connected to a variety of media.  In China, an ad campaign titled “Phone Wall“, was created as a literal representation of the barriers to human relationships that screen addiction creates. “Pulling out a phone during a conversation is like erecting a brick wall between two people,” Juggi Ramakrishnan, Executive Creative Director (ECD) of Ogilvy & Mather Shanghai, told The Huffington Post. “We want people to see this and rethink their relationships with others and their phone in a different light.”


Submitted by: Caitlin Brookbanks

To contact the author of this entry please email:

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.