By Matthew Himes
As the popularity of social media has skyrocketed, it has not only become a place to share and connect socially, it has become a new marketing frontier for business and brands. Social networks offer a way for companies to connect with consumers in new and interesting ways, and the ability to create brand engagement in more direct and relatable ways. From the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to the “Share a Coke” campaign, using social media in new and innovative ways can create the type of brand engagement and recognition that money simple can’t buy.
We live in a social world that is evolving rapidly, so trying to predict the directions social media will take in the future can be a tricky business. Nevertheless, here are a few industry trends we have observed, that we think can shed some light on what to expect in the years to come:
- As the amount of data collected through social media continually grows, businesses will be able to piece together much more complete customer profiles, and adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.
- Customer interaction over social media will become increasingly targeted, localized, and personalized, as consumers will be able to access the content they want, when they want it, and vise versa. Marketing campaigns will be able to send content directly to their target audiences.
- Increased integration of devices. New devices will be introduced to the market including wearables (watches, glasses, contact lenses), immersive virtual reality technology, and even transportation (think of the planes, trains and automobiles of the future as mobile smartphones), all of which will be able to connect and share content seamlessly.
- Increased peer-to-peer sharing and direct buying. Think of the Uber and Lyft care sharing services. More and more, people will be able to connect with one another to share goods and services directly, without the middle man. Social savvy companies will find ways to use this to their advantage.
- Video dominates content. As broadband networks become faster and more accessible, video will become the dominant content format. It will be instantly shareable and playable in almost any environment.
- A trend toward simpler user interfaces, and more minimalist design aesthetics. We are already seeing the rise apps with simpler purposes and easier interfaces like snapchat replace the more clunky and cluttered interfaces like Facebook, and we expect this trend to continue in the future. While people’s lives become more complicated, people will seek simplicity wherever they can find it.
- Consumer backlash against the mass data collection practices, with more and more apps supporting and focusing on online anonymity.
As social media evolves and our world becomes increasingly interconnected, new, more direct and personal client/business relationships will be possible, and new opportunities for brand engagement will occur. Imagine walking by a Starbucks and getting a tweet with a personalized coupon for your favorite Latte, or working out with your favorite athlete in real time via live streaming. While nobody knows what the future of social media will hold, one can’t deny the influence it has on today’s interconnected culture. From a marketing standpoint, social media has the potential to make customer interactions less promotional and more relatable, making it an important tool for shaping a brand’s image and reputation, and building lasting relationships.