Recently I was reading an article from copyblogger.com about Facebook Gunning for Google. The article explains how Facebook has no interest in teaming up with Google and they have become partners with Google’s archenemy, Microsoft.
This got me thinking. Will the future of social media be the one super time wasting website youtwitface that Conan O’Brien predicts, or will it become a useful pool of information that we will rely on for our decisions? I predict it will be the latter.
As the tools of social media and supporting technologies improve and move in to the palm of our hands I would expect that they will be utilized more often in our everyday lives. We already have the capabilities of taking a picture of a book and finding online where the cheapest place to get it. We already have the ability to take a picture of something that we like or dislike and share it with our community. More and more websites are including customer comments and people are relying on these to make their decisions. How much more powerful would those comments be if they came from someone they knew.
Social media is becoming part of our everyday lives. As it continues to mature we will begin to see more posts with substance that include brand names. The “I’m at lunch” type posts will turn in to “Just had the best pie at Marie Callender’s” or “The service at _____ was terrible” (sorry shameless Marie Callender’s plug for my Dad). Those everyday experiences, good and bad, will be shared with their community. The comments may not reach as far as a network TV ad would but they will have a bigger impact coming from someone the community trusts rather than a faceless brand. I don’t think it is very far off that people are going to use their online communities as directories to find goods and services.
Businesses that once relied on marketing departments will shift more toward customer service and PR type functions. Brands are going to have to interact more with their customers. They are going to have to create good experiences that people talk about. When an experience goes bad they are going to need to respond more rapidly. The fill out the online form and wait 24-48 hours for a response will not cut it; the damage has already been done by then. (see United Breaks Guitars for a good example of this)