The other week I had the pleasure of being asked to speak about the future of social media at Pro Manchester’s ‘Big Social Media Conference’.
I spoke alongside a great line-up including Melonie Dodaro, Sara Simeone and Ian Brodie. A couple of people have asked for my slides, so I thought I’d write this blog summarising what was discussed in my session last Friday.
The Future of Social Media:
So, the subject I was asked to cover was the future of social media and the content trends that we can expect to see over the next two years. The truth is social media is a landscape that is changing constantly and this is not a question that anyone definitively knows the answer to.
However here are my educated guesses.
Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the subsequent negative press, sessions with Congress, and (in the week since the conference…) eventual fines, it’s now looking inevitable that some sort of regulation will be forced upon Facebook and other social media platforms in the next twelve months.
Whilst I now feel the regulation is inevitable, how that will come about and what it will look is another story completely. During Mark Zuckerberg’s interviews with politicians, Sen. Lindsey Graham, whilst querying whether Facebook was a monopoly, asked ‘Do you embrace regulation?’
Zuckerberg’s response ‘I think the real question, as the Internet becomes more important in people’s lives, is what’s the right regulation?’
The answer to that question is a complicated one and very much depends on how Facebook is classified as a business. If it were treated like a media company it would be relatively straightforward to regulate them in the same way other media companies are regulated with the use of OFCOM in the UK and the Federal Election Commission’s rules in the United States.
The problem of this is regulating online publishers in this way completely undermines the principles of the Internet. This would mean creating new regulations for tech businesses and that process would most likely go on and on.
This is most likely going to be a complicated mess but I accept the ball will start rolling very soon.
Public to Private:
The other major change I have seen in the fall-out from the Cambridge Analytica scandal is the effect it has had on customers. It seems that users are leaving the site in their droves and the mistrust in social media has led them to instead cultivate their friendships on more private social media platforms such as Whatsapp and Messenger.
The irony here is that both of them are owned by Facebook and Zuckerberg (there’s Sen. Graham’s monopoly) giving the business access to mineable data that will be more insightful than anything that has come before it – our personal conversations.
Over the next year, we’ll see the audience habit of going to private channels continue to rise and this will lead to new opportunities for marketers, as Facebook work out a way to harness this data.
In the past thirty days, more online video content has been uploaded to the web than the past 30 years of TV content. 59.3 million blogs are posted every day. 6,000 tweets are posted every second.
With the amount of content currently posted online, as a marketer, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. With that in mind, it’s important to be forward thinking, be creative and try new things. Here are some trends I’m expecting over the next year.
Personal Brand(s) over the brand:
All of the research suggests that one of the major effects that social media has had on the general public is the way it has affected brand loyalty and recognition. Having 24-hour access to brands online has reduced the loyalty that consumers have with businesses.
Saying that the rise of influencer marketing and user-generated content shows that potential customers do still care about people. The lines between personal brand and the company brand are already blurring and you will see more and more businesses put their key staff ‘front and centre’ in their marketing mix.
The evolution of throwaway content:
With the World Cup and Love Island currently running concurrently, it’s currently more or less impossible to visit Twitter without seeing a meme or GIF. We’ve now got to the point where they’re a solid cornerstone of a business’ social media content. However, we’re also at the stage where originality is scarce and the same handle of memes and GIFs are used all of the time.
In the second half of the year, we’re going to see an explosion of creativity with GIFs and Memes with more care being taken of throwaway content. Expect to see more depth-perception GIFs and more branded content featuring businesses staff and products.
The continued rise of fleeting content:
Following on from that, I think there will also be an increased corporate use of fleeting content, with businesses from all sectors developing designated Snapchat and Instagram Story strategies.
Instagram stories now have over 400 million active daily users despite only launching in late 2016, with Snapchat adding a further 191 million users. Whether you like it or not, the audience growth shows just how much consumers want fleeting customers and your business is missing a trick by not being there.
Whether you like it or not, most social media platforms are now ‘pay to play’ and if you don’t have a paid social strategy then you don’t have a social media strategy. For businesses, organic social media is dying and I imagine by next year’s big social media conference, it will probably be dead.
As I said, no-one can be truly sure of upcoming social media trends so have fun and try stuff. Leading instead of following will put your brand ahead of your competition and by constantly reconfiguring and renovating your social strategy, you’ll keep your audience engaged and your business in front of the eyes of the many.
If you do have any questions, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.