So last year I was rather swept up with hype (buzzwords / what the tweeps were raving on about at SXSW) during my 2012 Social Media predictions. Explains why most were a little off-course. This year looking out is a little more reserved. Grounded. But this isn’t just a reflection of another year of experience under my belt. Maybe a little wiser. I’m sure as hell not getting smarter. This is a reflection of how we, as a society, are embracing these platforms and new technologies. Below are my thoughts and predictions for
Social Media the Digital landscape in 2013:
The slow death of social media as you know it (agency side at least)
Ridding the term ‘Social Media’ would be a great place to start. It just feels a little beguiling. Who titled platforms such as MySpace, Bebo, Facebook that anyway? Was emails to and from a friend not social? How about MSN. You’re telling me messenger and those chat rooms (emo, punk, ska, whatever was my gang) wasn’t social? Platforms aren’t social, people are.
Apart from being descriptively inaccurate the title also suggests compartmentalised activity,”I’m just going to make a cuppa, take Marly for a walk then do some Social Media.” Social isn’t just a stand-alone piece of activity. It’s a layer on top of everything we do. Equipping us with the tools to share our thoughts and experiences to our family, friends, communities and complete strangers.
With a better understanding of the above we will see a shift away from building Social Media platform ideas towards Digital solutions that are inherently Social.
MySpace will fail
There’s a key ingredient for the success of a community platform – critical mass. Without it the platform, as an enabler, holds little worth. Take mobile phones for example; wonderful little things that connects us to our friends through a call, text, Whatsapp, tweet etc. We all take these devices for granted but what if no one else was using one? Wouldn’t be as appealing would it? Now add to the mix a host of rival communication methods that your friends already use. Not much incentive to stick to the ol’ dog and bone if that was the case. That’s what MySpace is facing in the other corner.
4G will accelerate smart phone consumption
A few reason why 4G will be a massive game changer for digital:
- 4G will accelerate media consumption on mobile: The speeds at which we can download / stream data to 4G-enabled phones will boost adoption of media streaming services and create a stronger lean towards consuming more video clips, show and movies on our phones than ever before.
- User experience: I’ve been part of BBH Labs for 10 months now and one thing more than anything that has stood out in the wealth of learnings is UX. This is an absolute deal breaker if you’re hoping visitors to enjoy their experience and want to come back to your page, app or thing for more later on. As you’ve probably experienced at some point, 3G has a habit of being pretty slow whether loading the next level of a game, waiting for content to populate on a page or buffering streaming content. This won’t be such an issue with 4G providing a richer and smoother mobile UX that will see users coming back for more.
- 4G will drive down the price of smart phone devices: As we trade up for 4G, 3G and other smart phones will be looking to still attract consumers; driving down cost-to-purchase seems a clear path. This will mean more people will be able to afford an internet-enabled smart phone increasing the percentage of us who is connected to the web and everything around us. That leads nicely onto my next point…
A more connected world; the internet of things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept that the internet can be harnessed to enable us to communicate with the machines around us, and the machines with each other. By using the internet, the objects around us become capable of communicating for us.
Technologies such as radio-frequency identification (oyster cards), sensors or cloud-computing, the machines you use everyday could send you updates – when your washing load is done or when the kids are raiding the fridge for a midnight snack.
There are many examples IoT in action already. Take your Sky+ box which can be commanded by your iPhone no matter where you are in the country. Philips’ Hue LED light bulbs allow you to control the colour and mood of lighting from your phone. Even the garage door that opens when it senses your car is approaching.
This is just the tip of the iceberg and as our smart phones becoming not just the hub of communication but our lifestyle remote we will continue to see ways how objects around us serve to benefit our lives and experiences.
- So that’s my thoughts for what to look forward to in 2013. Technology has been moving a lot faster than the people using it so I personally look forward to the industry taking one step back and designing on-message campaigns of real value and mass reach. In short, let us put the people first 2013 and begin serving them branded content and services that benefit, entertain and connect.