The Future Of Social Media Pt. 2

Social media has been a huge buzzword for the past few years, and as a method of connecting people and businesses, it is here to stay. The internet is helping to provide a way for people to connect in ways never before dreamed, and actually changing and influencing human connections along the way. In our last article about social media we talked about the fact that some of the early adopters to such websites and services as Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare, have had to try to learn to balance an innate need for privacy with the desire to participate in social circle by sharing information. Despite these early concerns, social media continues to grow as the crowd learns to balance their needs for privacy with their needs for self-expression.

The conclusion of the first article was that social media is here to stay, and that it will become more and more seamlessly integrated into everyday life over the coming years. This is demonstrated by the near ubiquitous integration of Facebook “Like” buttons all over the web. Facebook has actually come to be indispensable in other ways as well, such as many popular websites allowing the user to sign up and sign in using their Facebook login. Essentially, having a Facebook account is becoming a ticket with which to access the internet.

Twitter too has become more and more integrated into everyday life. It is not uncommon that news and other live programs will read tweets from watchers, or even have a live tweet scroll or wall in order to display tweets from the audience at home. Social media seems to have been widely accepted by the young cutting-edge generation, and by the more established older generation as well. So, with so much already having been accomplished by social companies, where do they go next? Recent interviews with experts in social marketing have provided some valuable clues as to what will be the next likely steps for social marketing, and what to look out for in order to get a clearer idea of the direction social media will take in the future.

In a recent profile by the Washington Times newspaper, Liz Strauss – founder of SOBCon – gave her perpective on the future of social media. Read this interesting quote from the article:

Now, it’s about creating a fiercely loyal community. Take a glass of orange juice. It used to be that you would try to explain all the features and benefits of it. Now, the challenge is to use the glass to connect others who also like that same glass of orange juice.

What Staruss is saying here is that social media is changing the way that advertisers connect with their target audiences. Instead of mainly trying to win converts to their brand, advertisers must learn to focus on fostering and growing a community of “insanely loyal” fans of their product or service. This reasoning works in almost every kind of advertising, from political advertising to advertising to create a following for a local band. In the future social media will be used to create followings and to better keep in contact with the herd. Many top recording artists already have millions of twitter followers. The fan, the follower, the customer – they will all demand constant content and constant contact in the future. Social media will be the avenue by which that attention is delivered.

Charlene Li is author of the New York Times bestseller “Open Leadership.” She gives a lot more perspective on the role social media will play in the future. Saying that social media will become like “air,” Li adds that social media will allow companies to identify the customer from the moment they walk into the store, by using check-in applications such as Foursquare. This will give the store crucial added time to help influence the customer’s buying patterns, as opposed to only knowing the client has visited the store at checkout – when the client perhaps uses a loyalty card (such as in a grocery store.)

Another of Li’s observations is that social media will need to figure out a way to help solve a problem or make life simpler in the future, instead of just adding cool new applications to already stressed and busy people. She gives a great example, and it bears repeating. Speaking of booking travel, Li says that in the old days a single phone call to a travel agent was enough to get a vacation booked. Now, multiple websites including to a site to book a flight, book a hotel, and rent a car are needed. This is after choosing a destination and reading a ton of reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor.com. In the future companies which design ways to simplify life will have a much better chance of surviving than those that simply offer something that is a cool way to pass a few minutes here and there.

One aspect of the future of social media is certain – videos and photos will play a huge role. It is hard to imagine Facebook if the user didn’t have the ability to post pictures and videos to their walls. The fact is that, with a camera and video recorder contained in nearly every smart phone, and a smart phone in nearly every hand – the future of social media will contain lots of video and images. The old saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Most videos contain the equivalent of 24 pictures per minute showing why users of social media are flocking to post photos and videos of themselves in all kinds of situations and circumstances. The fact is that photos and videos have the kind of attention grabbing power that is simply hard to match through other means. Social media users know this a sites such as Facebook and Youtube, sites rich in photo and video content, are among the most visited sites on the web.

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