On the occasion of World Social Media Day, ETBrandEquity.com spoke with experts to understand what the future of social media will be and what it means for the world…
“The future of social media will be in the hands of the creators as much as the people,” Sahil Shah, director of business at WATConsult, told ETBrandEquity.com about the future of social media in conjunction with World Social Media Day. Imagine life without social media, especially when one is stuck in one’s home and a global pandemic has hit the world. It seems like a dead end.
There have been quite a few disruptions to various social media platforms lately. There was a global outage at the end of 2020, #Instagramdown was trending on Twitter (again, a social media platform) 3 weeks ago, it was trending 2 weeks ago, and it was also trending June 29, the day before World Social Media Day. This underscores the level of user dependence on these platforms. When the last week of May 2021 became known about the “potential ban” of the platforms, users and brands took to the same platforms to express their grief.
It all comes down to just one question-what the future holds for social media. Shah shared, “It’s hard to say what the future might be as Facebook continues to either acquire or destroy competitors (FB is reportedly launching an audio-room-like feature in its app against Clubhouse). And despite these tactics, the Ticktocks of the world are moving forward and the Tweeters of the world are maintaining their niche.”
Social media is first and foremost a way for people to interact, bringing people together from all over the world. But Kaushal Mahadevia, senior account manager at Gozoop, stressed that there has been a paradigm shift from interaction to transactions. “Today, social media platforms are not just used for brand exposure, visibility or engagement, but are very specific metrics for driving sales and profits,” he said. Mahadevia went on to touch on the concept of “social commerce,” which is a mix of social media and e-commerce, and said it’s the next big thing in the world that’s here to stay.
Hemal Majithia, founder and head of OktoMind, Oktobuzz Digital Solutions, introduced the term “social shopping.” “Imagine being able to see an item while watching a video or, better yet, a live video, click on it and being able to buy it from there. Facebook’s AI is already working to make that possible, improving its ability to recognize products through visual search, and bringing that to Instagram in the near future,” he said, noting how discovering the right products and making them easy to buy will change the social shopping experience for customers in the future.
Social media has undergone a number of changes over the years and is no longer based on the old “likes” and “shares” metrics. Majithia also noted that with the development of deep analysis and social media analytics tools, brands will be able to trace the customer journey across social platforms and even predict the future. “For example, movie analysis companies have found that Twitter Chatter is much more reliable at predicting box office success than any other metric,” he added.
Experts also shared their views on the emergence of augmented or mixed reality apps, which will pave the way for a new and better version of social media. While Shah expects blockchain-based social media apps to change the face of it all, or mixed reality apps to make social media more social and vital in terms of experience, Majithia said he foresees a broader and more practical use of augmented reality in marketing through these platforms.
Speaking of evolution, one can’t help but touch on the latest trend of “audio features” in social media. Currently, one of the most talked about applications using audio features is Clubhouse, which is growing at a huge rate. Who would have thought that one day talking to strangers would be so easy!
Mahadevia also noted that while video content has always topped the charts, another player to enter will be audio features. “With the example of players like Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces, social audio looks like a very interesting space to follow,” he added.
He also expressed hope that the downsides of this spike won’t turn into an episode of “Black Mirror,” where the manipulative effects of advanced technology leave people in the soup. “I think the best way out of this is to act responsibly and take advantage of social media in a good way,” he shared.