TC blog 12.15.15Major Social Media Shifts of 2015 & Mental Shifts We Can Make

As the year wraps up, we all like to take stock in what developed over the past year.  In the world of social media, a lot has changed, while other things have stayed the same.  And, as someone who watches social media daily, I’ve seen it morph over the past ten years dramatically.  In the last year…a little.

In 2015, I’ve seen a few main shifts in social media:

  1. Social media can’t be viewed in its own little world.  Social media now is part of a bigger digital marketing machine that uses advertising, influencer marketing, content marketing, and digital word of mouth to build brands.  Social media is now completely mobile and a real-time powerhouse, which means it can be incorporated into retargeting and geotargeting advertising strategies.  Social media is also a HUGE traffic source for many websites, rather than just another source.
  2. Social media is live.  Live-streaming capabilities emerged this year that make live-streaming make sense to the average user.  While we’ve had streaming capabilities with Skype, Google Hangouts, and more in the past, the new players have made it EASY.  Meerkat, Periscope, and Blab are easy-peasy and sync with Twitter, making it a no brainer to build your digital influence.  We’re seeing marketers using these tools to expand their influence and appeal to a different sense to get their message across.  We’re also seeing live events streamed through these platforms as well (for better or worse).  Just look at the way victims were tweeting from inside a live hostage/shooter situation in Paris.  Live tweeting is now a vital part of the news and brings us closer to the event.  (The first thing I did when I found out was go to Periscope and listened to a witness on the street live-streaming what was going on in Paris.)
  3. We’re paying for social media.  While Facebook is free for users, it is clearly NOT free for businesses.  The organic engagement and reach that brands can get on Facebook has continued to dwindle, forcing businesses to pay to get their message out. For many small businesses, this is extremely frustrating.  We saw this number dwindle dramatically early in 2015 from the already pathetic organic numbers.  We also saw Pinterest and Instagram ads emerge this year, bringing some serious dollars into play via social media.
  4. Mobile.  Mobile.  Mobile.  We’ve been saying it for years, but our culture is moving to be a mobile culture.  Just take a look at the top five apps, as compiled by Forbes.  Do you notice any common denominators in these top mobile apps used in 2015? Perhaps, a “social” denominator?

Top apps by downloads:

  1. Facebook
  2. Facebook Messenger
  3. YouTube
  4. Instagram
  5. Skype

As I think through these shifts in social media, the human in me wonders if we’re truly being SOCIAL at all anymore.  Or, perhaps, we’re simply reading a lot of articles, looking at pointless memes, and seeing more ads than we saw back in the stone age of tv commercials.  Are we truly being social on these social networks at all anymore?  Are we promoting relationships?  Do we truly know what is going on in each others’ lives, or are we simply believing the “keeping up with the Jones” personas we see online?

Everyday we have the chance to change these patterns and to truly be social, but we’re going to have to fight for it.  And, the flip of the calendar is a great time to focus on resolving to fight the consumerism, ever-present, go-with-you-everywhere tendencies of social media in our culture.  Instead, let’s promote authentic, slower, intentional lives of meaning and purpose.

How Can You Promote Authenticity Online:

  1. Be Real.  Show the good, bad, and make-up-less days on social media.  Take away the filter and facade that you put out to the world.
  2. Take Relationships Offline.  Yes, it’s great that we can interact with people from all over the world, but if you can take it back to meeting up in person, do so!
  3. Put Down The Phone.  Yes, I dare you to leave your phone on your kitchen counter for a day and go at least five minutes without checking it for notifications.  There’s a great big world out there…go explore it!

You may be thinking, “but I LIKE having social media with me on the go and seeing these advertisements and all.”  These words are not meant to condemn anyone, but rather to help you examine for yourself what stronghold social media has on YOUR life.  As someone who deals with marketing daily in this social space, I feel a heavy weight on my shoulders to be promoting something good and of worth in marketing strategies.  Social media is a frontier that we’re only just beginning to understand its scope and power. Should be an interesting year ahead!