As you are putting together you business plan for 2016, are you wondering what role social media should play? The short answer is that it should play a very important role, if done correctly. Digital media is constantly changing, sometimes so quickly we feel like we can’t even catch up, so it’s hard to know where to spend your time, money and effort. Ultimately, it depends on your goals and audience. But, hopefully these predictions help you plan accordingly! Enjoy!
Virtual Reality Hits Social Media
This isn’t the virtual reality every 90s kid (like myself) might be thinking. Don’t expect to be hopping inside some sort of hi-tech tube in your basement to experience living on the moon. But, thanks to the lower cost of 360 video cameras (like the Ricoh Theta) and the emergence of Google Cardboard (a virtual reality “viewer” that works with your smartphone) average folks like myself will be able to create a virtual reality experience right from their phones! Think retail/factor tours, property highlights, and deep dives into your operations.
Video Is No Longer an Added Bonus, It’s Expected
Refer to my first prediction. Technology has gotten cheaper and easier, and social media users can’t get enough of video. Expect new platforms to focus on video while older ones reinvent themselves to make the inclusion of video easier. We’ve seen this in 2014 and 2015– Twitter and Instagram allowed video, Periscope became a social media darling and Vimeo gave YouTube a run for its money. Even Apple got in the game by allowing “Live Photos,” which records a snippet of video before and after you take a picture, to provide a “moment in time” rather than just a picture, on it’s new iPhone 6s. Expect more video-centric technology and ideas in 2016.
Retail Goes Crazy on Social Media
Last month, the new New York Times reported that digital ad spending will soon surpass TV ad spending. This isn’t surprising, and social media networks are making it easier and easier for users to directly purchase goods and services from their platform. Pinterest caught onto this early. They were one of the first to add “buy” buttons on retailer posts, and it’s paid off. Despite having a fairly smaller user base, Pinterest drove 16% of social revenue in 2014.
Why is direct retail gaining on social media? I expect millennials have a lot to do with it. They are a large generation, have a ton of purchasing power, and, by this point, are more comfortable on their phone than almost anywhere else. Swiping to purchase something seems more normal than waiting in line!
In addition to social media platforms creating technology to make direct purchasing easier on their site, I expect we’ll see improvements and innovations in e-commerce. More retailers will weave Google Wallet, Apple Pay, Bitcoin and the like, into their e-commerce abilities.
Authenticity and Transparency Are Key
This isn’t new. In fact, I’ve been saying this for years. But, thanks to the rise of photos and videos on social media, it’s becoming even more and more important. I think the popularity of live streaming platforms (like Periscope, Blab and Meerkat) make authenticity even more important. People don’t expect polish when you’re live streaming. They expect the truth. I’ve done a ton of work with government agencies and elected officials, and live streaming, if done right, could be really helpful for this sector (and, really, all sectors). They key here is to have a strategic plan to ensure you are providing helpful information to the right audience while remaining authentic.
Simplicity is Key
By 2016, most companies and retailers have been using social media one way or another for a few years now. I expect companies will focus more on what works for them, what has the best ROI, and what doesn’t seem to resonate with their audiences. If you can get the same ROI from managing two social media platforms instead of 10, why wouldn’t you take that path and use your energy fine-tuning your most successful platforms? I recommend simplicity to my clients all the time and think it’s a good path to take. There’s a lot of static out there and efficiency can be the key to social media success.