Be prepared: eventually, the ‘social’ will be dropped from ‘social media’
The increasing influence of social media on our daily lives is pretty amazing to witness. People are more connected than ever before, more linked to their social circles via technology. Social platforms have become the preferred communication method for many, and usage and adoption rates continue to rise – and growth potential is still huge, with many regions of the world still yet to gain access, due to technological or regional restrictions.
What was once something businesses could downplay, even dismiss, is now an obvious area they need to invest in. What’s more, social media will eventually be integrated into so many aspects of our daily routines that it’ll potentially change the way we interact with almost everything.
A connected world
We’ve already seen the first stages of the next technological integrations into our daily routines.
Facebook recently launched a listening app, which can ‘hear’ what TV show you’re watching or which song you’re playing and provide contextual recommendations for status updates.
Google acquired a thermostat maker with a view to developing systems that’ll enable you to control your home appliance network remotely, all with a flick of the finger.
Wearable tech devices will soon be able to track every aspect of your daily life. These developments are all leading towards an even more connected world, a world where all your devices interact wirelessly, aligning your digital preferences to your real-world presence in real-time, without you doing a thing.
This is of significant relevance to the media sector, which, for all intents and purposes, has always been in the drivers seat, controlling the ‘what and when’ of content availability to audiences – and thus, respective advertising spend.
While media producers will still be required to provide what people want, users are gaining more control over when and how they consume it, breaking down the traditional models of TV stations and media outlets. In the near future, you won’t come home and check the TV guide to see what’s on – your TV will already have your program preferences all lined up, ready to view, in your time (for some, tech-savvy consumers, this is already the case).
The consequence of this will be reduced influence of traditional media publishers. TV networks, as they exist, will continue to adapt their models to suit an on-demand audience, but magazines and newspapers look set to become the records and cassettes of the next generation. In the midst of this, your social media presence will become a more influential representation of you, linking you to the content of your choice and aligning targeted media back to you. Eventually, social media will become the media. But not yet.
The time for change
This is how many businesses see it – most of them now concede that social media isn’t going away, and more, that social media is going to be a significant driver moving forward. Some still don’t see where social fits for their business.
It’s true, not all businesses have to be on social media to survive at this stage, and for some, like your local milk bar, there’s no definitive deadline on the horizon where that’s going to change, as such. But the movement is happening, there will come a time when ‘this is the way we’ve always done things’ will no longer suffice – relaxing into such a mindset, hoping things will go back to how they were, is not a viable business strategy, long-term. But ‘not yet’ is an approach many fall back on.
Adaptation = Evolution
While many businesses can avoid social media at this stage, there will come a time when adoption is necessary. Consumer behaviour is changing, things we never would have thought possible a decade ago are now happening right before our eyes. Complacency on this front will lead to decline in the long run – the print media industry ignored digital media for as long as they could, they’re now struggling to catch up, erecting paywalls round their empires as new media players storm the gates.
The reality of the new business environment is that social media is something all brands need to consider, that all businesspeople need to be cognisant of. Maybe you don’t go all in, maybe you don’t allocate hours per week to the task, but you need to be taking the time to learn what’s happening, to learn what people are talking about online. If this is where the audience is at, it’s where brands need to be to hear them.
‘Not yet’ might be accurate for you and your business, it might not be necessary, or even highly useful, for you to be on social at this stage. But it will be. Preparing and learning now will have you better placed to meet consumer expectations and migrations as they evolve, rather than after. Because eventually, we’ll drop the ‘social’ from ‘social media’ – and the media is always going to form a significant part of any marketing strategy. Worth being informed now, rather than waiting till it’s too late.
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