Is Social Media Still Social?
Social media has been around more than a decade. Yet, we are still learning about its impact on our world and how we impact its development. On one hand it has been a wonderful way to connect with family, friends and customers. Businesses have successfully leveraged it for communication, savvy viral campaigns, branding and inexpensive advertising. It also has a dark side. Nasty commentary, bask lash, bullying, political divisiveness, censorship and fake information run a muck. Is it time for a new evolution in social media?
The time seems to be right. Legislators are laser-focused on big tech. Pressure is mounting as fueled by public opinion, security issues and other business concerns. The media is focusing more readily on the impact of social media on mental health--especially for children. Learning to "unplug" and participate in family activities during Covid has drawn new attention to a balance between real and virtual worlds. Then there is the user experience. An increasingly-frustrated audience is tired of political speech or the inability to see other people's post. The added problem of being punished for unclear "community standards" violations isn't helping. These issues create a lack of reward for the user, which presents a problem with the fundamental hook of social media. How often do you check your notifications? How do you feel about them today vs. 3 years ago?
For businesses that rely on social media, having organic or paid reach in such as environment is particularly challenging. Certainly, having a clear and creative social marketing plan is helpful. But social media is maturing and we need to be ready for what comes next. While it won't necessarily go away, it will evolve. The next few years will be pivotal in making social media models stay relevant. In the meantime, we need to pay attention to how the trends are evolving and ensure that marketing is integrated to support the next change in digital media.