Industry: Social Media
Web References: CNET, Fastcompany.com, niagarafallsreview.ca, coldwellbanker.ca, apple.com/ca, fwthinking.com, cavesocial.com
There is little doubt that Social Media is the next level in the technology revolution. It has crossed over the point at which it is no longer a fad and has become common place; the new normal. It’s integration into daily life has fundamentally changed society and as it morphs into the next wave, it will continue to create new benchmarks in the evolution of humanity. By all accounts it’s a game changer!
But at what point does something go from trend to commonplace or the new normal? There seems to be 4 distinct phases or stages that each trend goes through; Introduction/Attraction, Adoption, Integration, Evolution/Decline/Redundancy.
Introduction/Attraction: Influencers are early adopters, that’s how they become influencers in the first place. They adopt the technology and a buzz is created. The buzz continues to grow and drive trial until it’s grown to the point where more users know about it than those who don’t.
Adoption: Is the second stage and it occurs at the point where it’s no longer just a buzz but a must-have. It is officially a trend and begins to put down roots. Eventually the scales are tipped and more people have adopted than have not and it is at this exact intersection that the trend gives way integration.
Integration: Throughout this phase, Social Media as we know it becomes fully integrated into society and our daily lives, we build businesses around it, it becomes a significant contributor to the global economy. The turning point etched in history forever. We are somewhere in this integration stage now.
Evolution/Decline/Redundancy: This last stage is a bit of a quandry. Everyone agrees social media is not going away so what is the next step? It’s my theory that social platforms will do one of three things. Evolve into the next generation of the platform, so rather than allow redundancy, the creators continue to evolve their platform to meet the increasing and ever changing needs of the user. Often changes in platforms will occur perhaps on the heals of some decline or even some redundancy. The latter two outcomes would be indicators that the platform is beginning to loose it’s appeal or not fully meet the users needs. Or maybe changes will come as the technology world around it evolves. Redundancy and decline will lead to elimination of some platforms as they may not be able to compete with the enormity of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, My Space may be a good example of that.
In a chat with Jordan Scheltgen, managing partner for Cave Social, he had this to say about the future of social media.
“When I look at social media and the future, it really comes down to attention. As long as social media is able to save us time, and connect us with what we want to see, I only see it increasing in use. Five years ago, Facebook was flooded with statuses and wall posts, now it serves more of a function as a news aggregator – I’ve never punched in www.buzzfeed.com, yet I’m somehow on their site daily. As Facebook becomes a news aggregator, we see the shift of attention and engagement to platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, fueling the demand for short doses of information. I see more platforms that give tremendous amounts of content in a small amount of time continuing to dominate.”
Facebook and Apple are at the forefront of these changes now and will continue to be. In an interview with Fastcompany.com, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook talks about the future of Facebook and where he sees the technology heading. Virtual technology is at the top of the list.
Apple’s Smart Home product is one to watch, with a rapidly developing list of everything you can now connect to in your home. The latest is a locator chip that can be placed on your key ring. Loose your keys, don’t worry, pick up the signal with your device and follow the map to your keys. See the whole list.
Now with video fortifying its place in the social media it’s only a matter of time before it crosses over to communications and video calls will replace phone calls and cell phones will give way to video phones, skype-type communication will be the norm. The ultimate in mobility could see hand-held devices disappear for panoramic projection watch-styled devices (it’s practically here now, Apple Watch) with multiple display settings for sitting at a desk or standing. It will connect us to everything in our lives and even monitor our well being such as blood pressure and heart rate too. A panoramic screen is projected up at a 45 degree angle and the keyboard is projected down 45 degrees onto a surface, we’ll type by virtual keyboard and maybe even wear a special lens (or have it inserted into our eye like a permanent contact lens) that will only connect for you as it is specific to your traits. Seem far fetched? Maybe or maybe not.
Fast forward a quarter to a half century say, social media has continued to evolve. We have smart everything! Smarter smart phones, smart cars that drive themselves (traffic accidents are now a thing of the past) and why not, cars already park themselves. Isn’t this next? We have smart homes, we talk to it or program it and it does whatever we want. Turn lights on and off, run the dishwasher, lock the doors, melt the snow on the driveway. The adoption of this type of technology has helped save resources as conservation is a major benefit. Everything is electrical now because we have clean energy production and we no longer need gasoline or crude oil. We’ve even managed to slow down global warming. People also enjoy a greater quality of life. They no longer travel to and from an office but work virtually from home. Your boss wants to speak with you he video calls you direct, meetings take place this way. Each person is projected into the virtual meeting. Since people no longer go to an office, many of the office buildings once filled with thousands of employees have been converted to housing and huge data warehouse facilities.
Logins are a thing of the past too, everything about us is connected to one central hub that is linked to our own unique features such as our fingerprint, retinal scan and eventually yes, directly mapped to our DNA. This type of testing technology has evolved exponentially so now DNA testing can occur almost instantly.
In our world, fame no longer really exists either, the onset of social media gave every individual talented or not a voice and a wave to be heard on and now celebrity takes on new meanings. Fame comes from likes, followers, posts and shares. So many good things have come from technology. Social networking has allowed researchers around the world to gather virtually, collaborate and share findings and finally rid the world of diseases like Cancer and Alzheimers. Our virtual technology can instantly and accurately translate speech so language is no longer a barrier. The world is an open video stream.
Check out this video from fw:Thinking.com on the future of social media. They sum it up in a very thought-provoking way.
Learnings for Others
Data will become more and more important and there will continuously be more of it. We will be able to use the data to find the exact customers we want. It will allow us to put more and more parameters in place so we can zero in on our target segments like never before. Learn how to read and interpret the data, get it working for you now. By the time this really catches on everyone else will be just learning and you will be ahead of the game!
Don’t underestimate the power of research. Social Media provides countless opportunities to conduct research into your audience or for product development, concept testing and brand awareness at significantly less cost than the traditional ways. Learn how to do this effectively and reap the rewards. One thing I do know is true, while so much around us is changing, the key to great marketing is still the same, know your audience!
Submitted By: Lisa Taylor, student, SMPB, University of Waterloo
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