Sunday, February 5, 2017

Future Social Media Business Disruptions?

Social media platforms come and go. Existing, dominant platforms always release new updates, sometimes with new features and functionality. But it's rare that the entire social media world is actively disrupted, changing how consumers think about their social experiences and forcing brands to scramble to keep up..

The shift to mobile experiences over desktop experiences was an example of a slow-moving disruption in the past few years, and we've seen minor improvements become mini-revolutions of their own (such as infinite scrolls, auto-playing videos, and temporary messages).

However, I believe we're overdue for a major disruption, one with the power to change your entire social media marketing strategy, and few businesses are prepared for the potential ramifications.

These are seven of the most likely scenarios for an impending social media disruption:

1. AR and VR

First up, we have augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), which I'm lumping together in the same category because of their similar nature. Oculus sales and Pokemon Go downloads are just two sample statistics that show that our culture is ready for the digital and real worlds to start blending together.

Once people start getting used to headsets or similar devices that integrate these two independent realities, the way people interact with each other is going to fundamentally change - lifelike interactions and pop-up displays based on your current location are just the beginning, and businesses need to start thinking now about how they can take advantage of these features.

2. Wearable Integration

It's too early to say that the wearable technology trend has caught on, but we're getting there. Google Glass was a failure and the Apple Watch is lackluster, but once wearable technology catches on, the nature of our social media interactions is going to have to change.

We're going to see even more embedding, with some social apps constantly running in the background (Snap's Spectacles are an early example of this), and fewer interfaces, so consumers have less to directly engage with. It's going to be a whole new world of engagement, and businesses need to be ready.

3. The Resurgence of Live Messaging

Instant message platforms were the best way to communicate online for many years, but when social media first caught on, everything transformed into bulletin-board-style posts that people could occasionally comment on, along with chat areas with less formal communication. Now, users are getting used to live, in-the-moment messaging again thanks to mobile devices and better technology (like streaming video). If you want to earn more followers moving forward, you'll need to be ready to meet consumers at this level of live engagement demand.

4. Total App Domination

Social media apps keep doing more and more things. On Facebook, you can buy things immediately or enter a local marketplace where people are buying and selling items constantly. It even has its own search engine for the web to help you find links, and uses Instant Articles to load content without ever having to exit the app.

Gradually, social media apps are building their own mini-empires, and soon they may have complete control of user interactions in a number of different areas. Think about how Google started reaching its tentacles into dozens of different areas, including email, navigation, and even mobile devices - that could be the future of Facebook.

5. Centralization

Speaking of which, it's unlikely that there's enough room in the social media world for several dozen platforms to have their own empires. Similarly, users are beginning to find it difficult and annoying to switch back and forth between apps (especially when each app offers so much).

It probably won't happen all at once, but all it will take is a handful of shifts - such as a platform making a bad update or a platform introducing a lauded new feature - and we'll start to see centralization. That means one "main" social media app, with most other secondary candidates falling off the radar.

6. Collaborative Social Narratives

Twitter Moments introduced the idea of collecting a number of different posts by different users into a single area. In effect, they would tell a patchwork collaborative story - one pieced together by artificial intelligence. Though the functionality and reception of this specific feature is mixed, it offers a vision of a potential future. One disruption could be the rise of "collaborative narratives," with multiple users stringing conversations and engagements together, rather than the strict individual focus we have today.

7. Syndication Limits

Soon, we may cross a threshold in the limitations of social media as a syndication channel. Facebook and other platforms are already throttling the organic visibility of posts by brands and organizations, and platforms like Snapchat and Instagram make it virtually impossible to post links back to your site. Social apps are favoring peer-to-peer engagements and paid ads more than anything else, which means organic promotion may soon become a thing of the past - and most brands wouldn't be ready for such an eventuality.

Guest Authored By Jayson Demers. Jayson graduated from the University of Washington in 2008 with a degree in Business Administration (Marketing), and immediately entered the professional online marketing world. He founded AudienceBloom in April 2010, and has since become a columnist for Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, and Huffington Post. His personal blog is located at He guest lectures for marketing classes at the University of Washington. Follow Jayson on Twitter.

"Disruption" is admittedly a bit of a buzzword, but that doesn't change the fact that we're around the corner from some major spark of evolution in this area.

It could be something minor, which adjusts consumer behavior over the course of a year or two, or something major, which shuffles up the popular platforms and takes the world by storm.

Either way, it's in your best interest to be prepared, so start brainstorming ways to keep your brand relevant in the indefinite social future, and be ready for anything..

    • Authored by:
      Fred Hansen Pied Piper of Social Media Marketing at & CEO of Millennium 7 Publishing Co. in Loveland, Colorado. I work deep in the trenches of social media strategy, community management and trends.  My interests include; online business educator, social media marketing, new marketing technology, skiing, hunting, fishing and The Rolling Stones..-Not necessarily in that order ;)
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