As a marketer, more than likely at some point in your career you will be asked the question “Does marketing provide a solution for a customer’s need or does it create the need?” In a similar fashion, one might ask “Does the change in technology impact customer behavior, or is it the change in customer behavior that drives the change in technology?” Personally, I think the answer to both questions is somewhat the same, each side of the equation impacts the other and vice versa. So where does social media fall within this equation? Well smack-dab right in the middle of it. That being said, I would argue that historically, a lot of the changes in technology might be considered the sparks that have given consumers the initial push in changing their customer behavior, and once it started to change, that change in turn pushed a continued development in technology. It is this underlying theory, which is what we are seeing unfold before our eyes over the past few years via social media. While the topic of the video below is focused on how technology impacts customer behavior, I think the moving force behind it in most recent history is the advent of social media, which in it of itself is a balance between technology and human behavior (i.e. the whole concept of being social).
Needless to say, it is critical that brands and companies understand the power customers now have with social media becoming more main-stream. And, similar to other technological advances over the past few decades’ social media is no different. This is evident in the recent history of social media and the continuing flux in the number of and capabilities of the various social media platforms that come and go (some of which you may have never even heard of). So, it is key that brands and companies continuously monitor their consumers preferences, to make sure that the social media platforms the brand / company has chosen to use to communicate / socialize with its consumers is indeed the most applicable one for the company / brand to actually connect with their target market.
So, when it comes to the future, given this continued flux in social media platforms, and consumer’s ever-changing platform of choice, what does a brand / company need to do? What are some implications a company / brand should be on the lookout for, which might impact their social media program? Well, here are a few suggestions:
- Mobility – It is hard to deny the impact the advances in mobile technology has had on our lives as a whole, not to say our use of social media. We are now connected 24/7, anywhere there is a broadband connection, and are able upload content instantaneously, be it pictures, thoughts, news, etc. Furthermore, having this ability to connect anywhere, gives customers even more power to research certain products / services, making impulse buys even more common, as customers are able to research these products as needed, and gain friends and people’s opinion on the fly. It is recommended that companies spend resources on their mobile strategy, making sure they are able to provide their content and market their brands / products / services via this extremely impactful channel.
- Visual Content – One of the continued growing areas within social media is the use of visual aids in catching consumer’s attention for written content. In fact, we have also seen over the past few years the emergence of visual social media platforms, starting with YouTube, and others like Vine, Pinterest, Instagram and others. Several articles, reports and surveys have been done, such as this one, or this one or this one, which further support this claim. Furthermore, the leading type of content that tends to go viral is video In fact, if you have the time, I would suggest watching the following video, which provides a lot of good insight about visual content:
It will be important for companies to include visual content (i.e. pictures, infographics, videos, etc.) if they want to have a successful social media program down the road, one which helps drive traffic to the company’s website, blogs, and/or help convert prospects to actual paying customers.
While it is safe to say that there are a lot of additional changes that are predicted to take place with social media in the coming years, I think the two suggestions listed above, are the two leading ones which will 1) help shape the future platforms social media users will use the most and 2) help drive social media tactics within a social media program. That said, as we stated at the onset of this post, it is important to continuously monitor your customers on a regular basis, and key your finger on the social media pulse to make sure you don’t “miss a beat”.
Additional suggested reading:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/102029041#. (11 Predictions on the future of social media)