Social is not a medium

2020 vision

In the not-at-all-distant future, expect apps that think for you and more control over your data. Guest post by Mike Rodionov, Account Supervisor, Ogilvy Healthworld.

Whether you think of it as Orwellian intrusion or welcome convenience, you can expect that in the near future, your devices will become increasingly capable of doing your thinking for you. That was the key takeaway from the Social Media Week panel “2020 vision: What your life will look like in 6 years.”

Panelists noted that the major information trend we’ve seen in the last two years is data becoming more relevant and accessible—more tailored to our personal interests. By 2020 we might see Google Now-like technology permeate our lives, making data available before we ask for it, and helping us keep track of our habits and routines. Our main function will be to optimize the feed, or adjust it in the moment.

How might data affect your day to day?

Any app that’s relevant to you will be able to provide alerts or info, relevant to you, at a key time, possibly before you ask for it. For example: Your fitness-activity monitor, which knows you go running every Tuesday and Thursday, will let you know one of the streets on your route is closed due to construction and will know how to adjust your route, while keeping your distance, elevation, and other metrics generally the same. Or, your “blog” (if such a thing still exists) will know the documents you’re working on in Google Docs, and will alert you of any upcoming events or news to motivate you to publish the post sooner.

The arrival of personal dashboards

Right now we can check out Klout scores, but have no clue as to what other ripples occur when we throw our pebbles into the social-media pond. Facebook, for one, is learning a whole lot from the habits we might not even be aware of. So by 2020 we might have a personal dashboard that will be able to aggregate all the data we’re generating for our review. This will allow us to adjust our streams of information to marketers or recruiters by turning off certain channels.

Overall, tech will continue to make us smarter, higher functioning, and more well rounded. More of us will use more of it, provided it becomes easier to use. How, then, do brands engage us? Shouting and throwing content at the audience no longer works. But it’s hard to engage with audiences in a traditional sense because now we, the audiences, engage with one another—and not so much with brand-generated content anymore.

The panelists’ advice: Brands should be transparent and honest; no tricking users into clicking on an ad. But they also need to provide a clear and relevant incentive: Hey, if you watch this ad, you can get 20% off the roses you’re about to buy.

Hence, social is not a medium—it’s a behavior. Brands should embrace and act accordingly.