Social Media (SM) is here to stay; that, we know for certain. It has shaped our entire social and business world from hard-copy, print interactions to app-driven, hand-held marketing. There are countless articles and advice on what to do in this brave, new, digitally-run world, but the future predictions on just how far this technology will go is still anyone’s guess (or is it just mine?)
I’m going to go out on a limb here, prepared to be ostracized by the most devout SM tweeters, posters, and bloggers who have collaboratively altered the marketing world and our social lives as we knew them. I’m going to predict that while SM in the general sense is here to stay, it will not continue and may even decline (gasp!) in the next 15 years.
I recently came across an article on SocialMediaToday.com called “Trust is the New Currency: Innovative Models for Business Transactions.” That title is pretty interesting. In my opinion, this has been one of the most critical emotions tied to SM. People become engaged with their favorite brands because they want the affirmation that the company deserves their business; they want to trust the brand. On Facebook and Twitter, people are blindly adding “friends” and “following” each other with zero knowledge of who that person is; again, wanting that trust and connection. We scour the web to find out everything we can about a company before we start with them; we want to trust this new, future employer.
In just 10 years (Facebook was founded in 2004), the level of SM engagement and technology has increased to a level no one predicted. But I don’t think it’s going to last. I think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, maybe Instagram, and few others, will continue on to attract the younger generations and market. However, the overkill of participation and opinions will eventually be drowned out. It will only be a matter of time before consumers become exhausted constantly being asked to vote on products, or give their opinion/feedback on everything they do or every link they click. I argue that to an extent, we like being told what to think; we like someone else doing the research and advising us on whether to pick car A or car B.
The frantic buzz and excitement around social media has forced companies to participate, even when they have no idea what they are really participating in. The best strategy moving forward, for any company, is to remain flexible and maintain continuous measurement on your SM strategies. As this human behavior changes, be ready to adapt to it. Perhaps we will still be utilizing Facebook or YouTube as marketing platforms, but the messages shift to less engagement. Keeping a constant measure of your SM tools will also ensure that you are on top of the trend, whichever way it swings, and following it won’t be as painful as the first time around.
Whatever comes of SM and all of the tools surrounding it, my hope is that we do not lose the real “social” aspect – you remember, the one where people actually interact with one another, in person.