The coming year will demonstrate that the social media landscape is still evolving, morphing and proving to exemplify the axiom of “embrace change”. No longer can we think about “social” as a bolted-on aspect of marketing and communications efforts. It’s ubiquitous and needs to be baked-in seamlessly throughout the experience.
The Rise of the Fluid Omni-Experience
Marketers often think in terms like channels and platforms. “Social media” and “mobile” are tossed around in jargon-filled discussions and frequently it’s assumed the end user, or target audience, thinks in the same manner. There is a concerning gap between how marketers are managing channels and platforms, and how audiences are interacting with them. Where marketers often (still) think in terms of separate channels, evidence-based and anecdotal research is showing that their audiences, especially younger “millennials”, think of these as blurred interactions, and fluid experiences. Marketers need to adapt.
One recent focus group we conducted with 50 high school students highlights this well. When asked related questions about social media use, device use, and general “online” habits, students overwhelmingly conveyed how they are not consciously thinking about these as discrete experiences. While each student shared individual preferences, collectively they migrate to the platform/channel of maximum convenience. Smartphones are with them most of the time, however they often move to desktop/laptop when at home. Most shared that they are frequently on a phone and a desktop/laptop at the same time. This trend continues when they are watching television, tracking multiple experiences and interactions concurrently, some of which are interconnected.
We see this trend only accelerating in 2014 and beyond. Marketers should consider how interactions “online” have morphed to be ubiquitous. The lines are further blurred between platform, channel, location and the relationship to each with the shifting physical environment around the “user” as s/he moves throughout the day (related post at: http://ow.ly/sNCZl
Additionally, this recent focus group also demonstrated that everyone has a different set of preferences. Different channels/platforms resonate with people for different reasons. There isn’t (and may never be) a collective agreement among mass audiences on channel preference. Nor should there be. We have moved from the age of omni-channel to omni-experience. Seamless and fluid.
The Revolution Will Be Live-Casted
Bad puns aside, the “media” of social media has been transforming in a deceptively-subtle manner. Much of this media has been about capturing moments in time somewhat statically, with images or short video clips. The rise of Vine, video on Instagram, etc. has amped this up in new ways. Conversations and interactions revolve around these moments and we share them in real-time, or after the fact, but at a personal level they’ve typically been retrospective snippets, small fragments of the actual experience.
YouTube’s recent announcement of the expansion of its live streaming video service is a game-changer. In 2014 the era of live-casting will begin, with YouTube leading the way and empowering a critical mass of people. We’ll see broadcast power given to everyone, with YouTube Live turning us into a nation of “micro-live-casters”. This could fundamentally change the way we share and the way we engage with social media. Perhaps a larger transformation is at play beyond the moniker of “social media”. It may give new meaning to the term “always on” when describing today’s generation of “digital natives”.
As one colleague of mine noted: It’ll do one of two very opposite things to the notion of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – erase it entirely or heighten it to extreme levels.
Learn more about getting started with YouTube Live at http://ow.ly/sNPEyThis article originally appeared on the MITX blog.