Right now social media is blurring the lines between our private and public lives, shrinking geographical barriers while involving different isolated groups, and changing the way information is communicated to its audience. Social media allows us to curtail the information we want, find exactly the content we need, and receive information almost instantly before any other traditional media has a chance to share it.
Neal Schaffer (2013) in his book Maximize Your Social suggested three key trends that social media is experiencing.
- These platforms are always changing.
- These platforms will continue to monetize their services through paid social.
- There will be an increasing shift to mobile, including smartphones and tablets, as their functionality and network speeds will only increase.
Social media platforms are always vying for consumer attention and new platforms are being created that cater either to specific geographic areas (Xiaonei.com in China), topics (MySpace for music) or single content mediums (Pintrest, Vine). Inevitably in order to stay on top and retain their audience these platforms need to constantly innovate. Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter can’t just remain stagnate; Facebook is constantly changing its features and look especially as they experience competitive pressure from Google Plus+.
As a company you need to not only be attentive of where your audience is going to engage with you online and what forms of content they are consuming but also the method they are consuming them by. Smartphones and tablets are only the beginning; with the introduction of wearable technology such as Google Glass and smart watches there is a whole new plethora of issues to address as social media moves from being accessible to completely portable and literally attached.
There have been a number of predictions of the role wearable technology will play in future social media usage according to Social Media Today (2014).
- New social media platforms will emerge that cater to users of wearable devices. With the limited screen size of these devices screen based social media, like Facebook, will either adapt or be replaced by social media specifically catering to those devices.
- Micro interactions will win the day on wearable devices. Micro interactions such as likes, favourites, stars, thumbs up will be the primary focus.
- Automatic posting by devices as the monitor your movements.
- Voice recognition will become a utility. With small screen sizes voice recognition and dictation will be developed for improved interactions.
- Brand adoption will be rampant. It is a new way to engage with the customer and is highly scalable.
Social media has an interesting future ahead of it but the bottom line is that you still need to get a return on your investment (ROI). Companies need to ask themselves why they are using social media and how it can be incorporated into their corporate infrastructure. In order to evaluate the ROI you need to establish a business objective for your social media strategy (Schaffer, 2013) and select metrics that allow you to measure the success of your objective.
- Primary metrics: directly affect your strategic goals and tie your media efforts and business objectives together
- Secondary metrics: indirectly affect your strategic goals and look only at the effectiveness of your social media strategy
- Comparative metrics: show you how well you compare to your competition and help in establishing your business
Mostly importantly however is making sure that the amount time, money, people etc. that you invest in social media is returned or made back. The ROI is measured by following your social media efforts, measuring your metrics and comparing your investment to your result.
The question of the future is that given these new changes, the evolving platforms and the need to make money or increase brand awareness how will you the completely different ways that are developing to connect with your audience?
“There are no guarantees when it comes to social media, but if you continue to experiment, evaluate, analyze and change your strategy as needed, your business will be able to maximize its social media ROI and create a road map that can be used to guide social media successfully throughout your entire company” (Schaffer, 2013, p. 148).
Gossmar. (2013). Why Your Business Should Measure its ROI. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from http://www.inbound-marketing-automation.ca/blog/2013/10/15/why-your-business-should-measure-its-roi/
hootsuite. (2014). Wearable Technology and Social Media ~ A Series. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from http://blog.hootsuite.com/wearable-tech-series/
Schaffer, N. (2013). Maximize your social a one-step guide to building a social media strategy for marketing and business success. Hoboken, New Jersey: Windmills Marketing, LLC.
Thought Pick. (2010). What’s Next for Social Media? – Future of the web. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2010/06/what-is-next-for-social-media.html
Social Media Today. (2014). Predictions for the Future of Wearable Tech and Social Media Integration. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from http://socialmediatoday.com/rgbsocial/2054556/CES-2014-7-predictions-future-wearable-tech-and-social-media-integration
Social Media Today. (2013). The Future Social Media. Retrieved March 28, 2014, from http://socialmediatoday.com/starrknight/1423216/future-social-media