All Media Will Be Social Media

This is a forward looking opinion post on the potential future of digital marketing.

The future of digital media is social. With the far-reaching tentacles of Google and Facebook, no digital marketer will be able to approach marketing without engaging in some form of social media.

Today, companies can choose to ignore social media. Although they cannot stop the conversation, they can ignore the conversation that is happening elsewhere.

In the future, social media will be harder to ignore. Social media will not be integrated into marketing, it will be integrated into our experience as individuals. As social media is integrated into the applications we use, marketers will no longer be able to ignore it or choose not to integrate it. Marketers will lose even more control than they already have.

Here are three predictions for what this future may include.

A New Interaction Layer

Rather than tweet buttons and comment boxes on each page, sharing and commenting will be integrated into browsers or OSs. Any page can be commented on or shared, with universal functions available to nearly every visitor. Companies will promote interaction with call outs and reminders, or also integrating the functionality into their site, making it clear what action visitors should take. But it can’t be removed, simply highlighted.

Just like companies learned to develop custom landing pages to promote Likes on Facebook, corporate sites will direct visitors to engage. As visitors, we will choose the platform based on our own network (Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc) and purpose for interacting.

A New Access Layer

When we visit web pages or view content, we will see both the underlying content and the social interaction that has happened. Companies can choose to highlight comments, LinkedIn shares or other social activity to increase engagement or credibility, but they will not be able to hide it. Both digital content and the social media interactions will be presented together.

A New Discovery Layer

Not only is social media influencing search results, social media is already directly powering the discovery of new content. With tools like Summify or LinkedIn Signal, it is already possible to discover information from your network without ever looking at individual updates or shares.

Delicious is a powerful discovery engine today. Starting with an influential user or a combination of tags, it is possible to uncover targeted sites through Delicious that cannot be easily discovered through search.

As these discovery elements are layered into search, social media will become a key discovery layer and quality filter on the content that is available today.

Summary

As social media and digital merge, social will become a part of the underlying fabric of the internet. When the conversation and functionality is brought to a company’s site, completely ignoring social interaction will no longer be an option for companies.

Some of this functionality has made its way into social browsers and plugins, but it has not made the jump to mainstream browsers and usage. When it does, all digital media will become social media.

Your Turn

Will social media be integrated into the way we consume everything online? Or will there continue to be lines between sites and social media that each site owner can choose to cross? Share your view in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

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  • http://heydavecole.com Dave Cole

    Eric – I think you’re right on the money with this, especially in the regards that companies may be able to highlight & promote their preferred content, but won’t be able to conceal or remove content entirely (especially unfavorable).

    I worry, however, that crowd-sourcing everything could lead to a suppression of the creativity and willingness to fail that’s made the web such a wonderful playground for the last 20 years. What happens when an artist gets his first 10 comments of negative reactions? Being able to tone-out feedback – for limited periods – might be a luxury some people will miss.

  • http://www.jamesstrock.com James Strock

    Excellent insights. Social media has ushered in an age of relationships, supplanting the age of transactions. Now, with social media making ever greater inroads, the relationships become deeper and more diverse.

    So often when people believe that something is ‘historic’ it reflects generational self-regard and/or lack of historical knowledge. In this case, the changes unleashed by evolving social media are indeed game-changers–and hold tremendous promise…..

  • http://projectvantage.com Kelly Kazimer

    Great post Eric! What corporations need to realize is that “social media” isn’t the latest tech fad. It’s beyond that, and in fact where we are now is in the midst of a shift in communication platforms. It’s happened throughout history, with innovations like the telegraph, telephone, email and now social mediums, the expectations surrounding production and receipt of communications take another leap forward.

    If the majority of your resources are using social channels outside work, does it make sense not to embrace that medium corporately? To put it a different way, if most of resources use telephones in their personal/home lives, would it be acceptable for your company not to have any telephones as a communication tool? Food for thought.

    • http://B2BDigital.net Eric Wittlake

      Food for thought, yes. Thanks Kelly!