Geoff Livingston says the marketing industry is pivoting from social media to the Internet of Things, and he’s completely correct.
My colleagues are growing tired of me repeating this, but I’m not sure this has fully soaked in with our industry peers.
Social media is no longer an emerging trend. Facebook turns 10 years old next month. 10. Twitter is 7. Foursquare is almost 5. Social media is a normal method of communication and engagement in 2014. Media that is social is now mainstream, and therefore we marketers need to be thinking about what’s next, how and why.
My primary takeaway of SXSW 2013 last March was a focus on human + tech experience over social:
Technology empowers us and betters our lives in so many ways other than Facebook Likes and mommy blog posts (don’t get me wrong, I love a good mommy blog post). It was fantastic to see true innovation this year — ambient umbrellas that forecast the weather, replication technology to make copies of physical objects, affordable flying machines (drones), and more.
CES 2014 will be more about enchanted objects that connect to the always-on web than communications and marketing, but it’s not difficult to apply the context of engagement and selling products and services to increasingly connected devices.
If you can put a sensor on something, it will soon have sensors. And it will be generating data that can allow companies to better learn about, market to, and share content with consumers. For example, even our toothbrushes will soon log our brushing stats with our mobile device and the cloud. If I sell toothpaste, toothbrushes or dental insurance, I should get in on that. You get my point.
Because marketing and consumer engagement in 2014 is so much more than real-time social media posts, user generated content and native advertising. On the shift from social to the Internet of Things, Livingston says:
It’s not a big surprise, after all 73 percent of online adults in the United States now use at least one social network site. Really, the only big things that happened last year in social were private messaging which seems like a reaction against public forms of social media and video social networking.
It’s not that businesses won’t continue spending on social or that PR people/community managers will be out of work. Far from it. Social isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s a primary driver of data needed for contextual media and word of mouth trust. Social remains a valuable asset for companies.
It’s just that, well, social media marketing is not new anymore. You could argue that companies are in the learning phase, but last I checked they were still determining how to build a decent website, too.
Plus companies just seem to fail when it comes to connecting with people online. The native advertising boom acknowledges that brands would rather pay to play than do the hard work of scaling social media communities.
So if social media has peaked, what should marketers be paying attention to?
New opportunities for consumer engagement and reach including and beyond social media.
It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how quickly we go back to Facebook and Twitter campaigns in our brainstorm and strategy sessions. Those sessions need to be disrupted by the fact that social media is in double digits now. The kids have moved on, and we need to be thinking about what’s next.
We must be focusing on opportunities like: wearable devices that create new opportunities to share content with context (like smartwatches and smart lenses/glasses), converting big and earned data into value (this may or may not include ingestible smart devices); digital and brand innovation beyond social media campaigns (I don’t care that your brand wished me a Merry Christmas; neither do your customers); and change management programs to help companies deliver on the two-way communication and listening programs they may have started with social media, but now need to mature.
As I head to CES, I’m excited about sensor innovation, connected devices, and new and disruptive technology that truly solves problems. I’ll be tweeting and blogging and posting to Facebook, of course.
I’m not foregoing social media. Rather, I’m building on its foundation and looking forward to the next thing.
Some good reads:
- WSJ: ‘Internet of Things’ in Reach
- AdAge: The ‘Internet of Things’ Heralds the Arrival of the Jetsons Age
- Quartz: Why 2014 could be the most interesting year in technology in a long time
- The Future Is Enchanted Objects, Not Glass Slabs
- Geoff Livingston: When Things Matter More than People
Economic Times: Advertising industry to see massive disruptions