Ten years ago, I was a freshman in college when a life-changing site called Facebook launched.
It was a revolutionary social platform that quickly captivated lives. My daily routine soon included status updates, photo tags and friend requests. Facebook allowed every one of every age to gather the latest news, voice opinions, stay in touch with friends and family near and far – all at any hour of any day. Facebook single-handedly transformed the way we communicate.
Over the years, Facebook was joined by other key players including Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. Today, 78 percent of Americans have a social media profile, so it’s clear that social media is here to stay.
How will social media evolve in the next five years? Here are my top three predictions:
- Video will trump text: According to Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook “will be probably all video.” We’ve seen the success of video-based platforms like Snapchat and YouTube, and the popularity of Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope, so it’s just a matter of time that text will be replaced with video.
- Content will be more personalized: Social platforms are overflowing with user data, which is used to provide users with personalized content that specifically appeals to them. It’s a tactic we’re seeing already with the Facebook and Instagram feed algorithms. As more data is collected, users will see more accurately personalized content.
- Virtual reality will be the future: We already have 360-degree videos and photos, so it’s just a matter of time until virtual reality is incorporated into social platforms. Imagine users providing followers with a fully immersive virtual reality experience of a recent vacation or school recital!
Now, how will social media impact the public relations industry in the next five years?
- Rapid reaction will be a requirement: The speed with which news travels on social media is rapid to say the least. If those of us in public relations don’t react quickly, we will miss opportunities for our clients to be featured. As a result, public relations professionals will need to be monitoring the social news cycles constantly, have quotes prepped, and be ready to react immediately when we see opportunities arise
- Strategy will require more creativity: Users are bombarded with information on every platform and device day-in and day-out, which requires public relations professionals to have a solid understanding of which platform/device targets the desired audience and how to craft a message/strategy to reach that audience. Creativity is required to break through the noise and make sure your message stands out from the crowd. Differentiating a message is essential to ensure that your message is heard and amplified.
- Influencers will be your best friends: Social influencers are individuals who share their genuine passion for specific topics via social platforms or a blog. Since they’re typically not paid, their often sizable social audience trusts their opinions and suggestions. Social media provides a platform for anyone and everyone to become an influencer, which means that the number of influencers will grow as social media grows. Tapping social influencers is another way for public relations professionals to get the message to their target audience in a sincere way.
As social media continues to grow in popularity, it’s smart for public relations professionals to stay on top of feature updates and tap social platforms to reach desired audiences and amplify news. With social media, the possibilities are endless. We know that whatever is to come next, it’ll be good!