Social media is not just about Twitter. Of course, Twitter is where much of the online chatter about brands is taking place today so it is an enormously important network, but there is a difference between social media and social networking.
Let me step back for a moment and remind you that the web used to be a fairly passive place. There were web pages and people read them. People did not generally upload a lot of content, unless they were running their own web site.
The social web - what we call social media or Web 2.0 - was really born when sites like Flickr and YouTube came along, encouraging users to create their own content and to then upload it into collections. The web became interactive. Then social networking came along, with the concept of friends, and the rest is history.
Since the boom in smart phones that really started in 2007, it is now more likely that you will be using the internet from a mobile device that is aware of its location, than a fixed desktop computer.I'm exploring the distinction between these areas of the social web because I can see a perfect storm developing where all these technologies come crashing together in a way that consumers will soon find normal.
- Location awareness will be essential to the future of marketing and advertising.
- Social media will include more voice audio, photo, and video capabilities than ever before - with intelligence, not just collections of photos.
- Social networks will not only be used to control lists of friends, but also the products you like and the brands you allow to contact you.
You can take photos of products to get a list of ingredients, compare the product to others, or run a price comparison check on competing products. You can talk to your phone and ask it where the tofu is located - because the phone will know the layout of the store you are in.
All this is possible now, so perhaps we are talking about two years from now, not 10. After all, think back a decade to 2002. There was no Facebook, Twitter, Apple iPhone, location-aware mobile devices, or dynamic websites you could contribute to.
Things are moving faster than we sometimes like to believe. And this convergence of technologies will fundamentally change how customer experience is perceived.
Follow Alistair Niederer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/aniederer