Want to know about the future of social? Look where mobile’s going

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eMarketer recently released a survey in which CEOs from the media and entertainment industries worldwide were asked their opinions on what was going to be the biggest disruptor to their industry in the following 12 months. While their answers provide some interesting reading; I am more interested in the grey area between their words.

So, according to the eMarketer report; all the CEOs agreed that social media definitely has its place in the future of the industry; but it is more the technologies which social media platforms are migrating to that is going to be the biggest influencer.

Respondents stated that over the following 12 months mobile technologies (tablets and smartphones, 79% and 62% respectively) were going to overwhelmingly disrupt the media and entertainment industry. Fourty four percent state that social media is going to be pivotal. This in itself is quite interesting; but when you combine this with the increase in content consumption responses:

It becomes a little clearer. These CEOs are effectively saying that the social media networks that their audience partake in are not the platforms on which they consume their content. 100% of respondents said that content consumption will definitely increase on mobile platforms; coupled with improved broadband connections (because a mobile device NOT connected to the internet is pretty much a fancy paperweight) and you have a lot of data that those who are still pushing social media proliferation to the hilt need to look at.

Let me try to clean this up with another snippet from the report:

These media and entertainment CEOs agree that social media has a part to play in their digital strategies — this part is not content consumption however. Only 50% (which is still large — don’t get me wrong) say that social media will act as a distribution platform or revenue generation tool for their company. A large number of respondents agree that social media is there to connect with their audiences; build their audiences and build their brand.

What does this all mean?
Audiences are getting more and more choosy about what they want to whet their social media appetites. In short, content delivered through a social media channel is great; but it is not solving a need — it is not bridging a gap with the audience and creating some meaningful dialogue. It’s basically a big TV advert. When it comes to social media — believe it or not — your audience wants to be social. They will consume your content and then go and talk about it on the social network of their choosing. Your audience is not going to purchase the content to consume it via Facebook.

When I first read the eMarketer report; I thought that they had got something wrong. But in reality; those CEOs have cottoned on to something far larger than just social media usage. The lesson here is that while social media has changed the way in which we interact with brands (and each other) — the way in which we allow them in to our conversations (or points of view) – it has not changed the way in which we consume our content. Mobile has changed the way in which we consume our content.

While we used to be content (excuse the pun) with having our entertainment on the TV at night when we get home from work or through YouTube during working hours — we are now far more needy. Mobile technologies have made us greedy for content when and where we want it. On our tablets, our smartphones — whenever we have a spare moment, we are filling our minds with content delivered literally from the palms of our hands and it is not social media that has made us hungry — no, it is the mobile platform itself.

Mobile has proliferated every free second we have — social media is one of the bits of content we happen to consume on our phones and tablets — but it is by no means the only thing. The lesson to be heeded here (especially if you have rich media content to distribute) is do not just post it to Facebook and Twitter and hope that it reaches your audience. Chances are that a small sliver of your audience will see it; but more importantly ensure that your entire arsenal of online marketing weaponry is mobile ready — if not mobile first.

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