Here are some more trends we’re watching this year:
- Customer Service Amps Up: Several acquaintances have established Twitter accounts with the express purpose of reaching out to brands to voice their complaints. They don’t utilize Twitter to connect with fellow users or to research topics of interest or to follow trends: they use it solely to command the attention of their intended recipients – and often in dramatic fashion. This approach is not only effective, but also an increasingly more common approach to customer service for both consumers and brands.
By responding to customer service inquiries conveyed through social media, companies have a unique and very public opportunity to succeed or fail in epic fashion. Results are also achieved more rapidly than they would be with a traditional phone call – a benefit to both the brand and the consumer. If your organization isn’t already monitoring its social channels for customer input, especially during meetings season, dedicate a resource to the activity. Responsiveness is just as important as tone and action: real or perceived.
- Tools that Manage Unsavory Behavior: Trolls are regrettably not new to the social media scene, but the larger platforms are taking additional steps to provide tools that will help manage those who behave badly. During this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show), Twitter reportedly announced that it is testing new troll tackling tools that will empower users to limit audience responses before the tweet deploys. As an example, a user may limit replies to its followers as opposed to the entire Twitterverse.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, also recently announced that it introduced a new feature that flags potentially offensive posts before they hit the Internet. This technology presents prospective trolls (or cyberbullies) with an opportunity to reconsider their choice of words before the post goes live.
- Regulation: It’s Here and More Is Coming: The frequency with which data breaches occur is on the increase, and consumers and their governments will only continue to demand greater transparency and data protection in the coming months. As of this writing, India is crafting new regulations and revising its current social media policies. The regulations are expected to be announced early this year.
Regulation of social media channels is also already underway in Europe, and it’s only a matter of time before Congress and/or the FTC takes similar steps in the U.S. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, joined the public outcry for regulation of the Internet. In a piece he wrote on Facebook’s website last year, Zuckerberg proposed that, “…we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.” Regulation in the U.S. will encounter an interesting challenge as lawmakers seek balance between freedom of speech and safeguarding the public.
Regardless of where you reside, we are living in unpredictable, interesting and dynamic times! In the U.S., the stock market has reached unexpected all-time highs, unemployment has hit historic lows, and an emotionally charged presidential election will take place this Fall. Protesters in Hong Kong and Iran are raising their voices to demand change within their governments. Climate change is wreaking havoc and creating unprecedented disasters around the globe. Few would have predicted these trends just 10 years ago when today’s established social media platforms began to dot our cultural landscape. The social media sites of the future will arguably also continue to evolve in ways we have never imagined.