We’ve had a solid year of continuous bad news about social media – from data breaches, to election tampering, fake news, loss of engagement, and everything in between. We are on the cusp of a new era for social. With the cogs already in motion, we’ve identified our 10 reasons as to why social as we know it is changing, and what we think the future looks like for brands, communities, and influencers in the near future.
1. A Trusted Network
Fake news. Clickbait. Algorithm tyranny. It’s hard to go a day without reading another article on the trust-demise of Facebook and the impact across social networks. Friends and family have all but disappeared from our feeds (despite the algorithm changes), and from a business perspective it is hard to place trust (and marketing budgets) in networks that consumers are losing interest in.
The new world of social is already heading back to its original heartland. A place where people can trust and engage with what they are viewing, but it’s unlikely this will be across the big, formidable networks. It’s a world of bespoke social networks (and dark social) where brands, communities, and influencers will be building their own private spaces - and this shift is already in motion.
2. Connected Content
Big social networks have become a content-hoarder’s paradise, but for the rest of us, it’s a wasteland. Gone are the days of receiving content from people you love, brands you like or communities you are a part of. Today, we have an endless field of clickbait, unrealistic influencers, and sponsored ads. And it’s disheartening.
There is a shining light, though, the OG of social media: having that personal connection. Being able to connect directly with your followers and share relevant content or brand stories with them is where social will evolve (or perhaps re-evolve?) back to. It will move from a network you share with thousands of brands, with bigger ad dollars, to your own network, surfacing only your content, and the content of your followers.
3. Data Ownership
In a world of GDPR, privacy and permission-based marketing, it seems redundant to rely on untrustworthy third parties to tap into your audience and connect with your followers. The desire to understand your fans in detail has not disappeared but relying on social networks to tell you this information has limited how much you can really know.
And this raises the question, ‘How can anyone truly interact with someone they don’t know?’ The new world of social will be about increased insights combined with careful ownership of data, compliant with every rulebook out there. Having the ability to not only understand your followers’ needs, wants, interests, but to react to behaviours and interactions on a direct and deeper level is powerful. You’ll be serving up what they want to see, and in response, you'll have a more engaged community.