Despite the great deal of attention, study and experience that social media has received over the last 20 years, the fast-paced and ever-changing nature of social media the future of social media in marketing might not be merely a continuation of what we have already seen. This has given rise to the very pertinent question; what is the future of social media in marketing?
In its early days, social media activity was mostly confined to designated social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter (or their now-defunct precursors). However, as both social media, and the technology that supports it, has progressed over the years an abundance of tools and services have allowed websites and applications that focus on other areas to embed social media into their interfaces. In the same way, the advancement of mobile technology has seen pretty much all mobile and desktop operating systems including in-built social media tools in recent years. This has made social media pervasive and ubiquitous, perhaps even omnipotent, and has extended the ecosystem beyond dedicated platforms.
Consumers now live in a world in which social media intersects with most aspects of their lives through digitally enabled social interactivity in such domains as travel (e.g., TripAdvisor), work (e.g., LinkedIn), food (e.g., Yelp), music (e.g., Spotify), and more. At the same time, traditional social media companies have augmented their platforms to provide a wider range of functions and services, such as Facebook’s marketplace and WeChat’s payment system. As it seems likely that this trend is only going to continue, the modern-day consumer is living in an increasingly “omni-social” world.
This new world presents many considerations for social media marketers. For example, how will social interactivity influence consumer behaviour in areas that had traditionally been non-social? It is also worth considering how marketers can strategically address the flatter decision-making funnel that social media has enabled, and to examine how service providers can best alter experiential consumption when anticipating social media sharing behaviour.