Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What's the bigger social media threat: verification or platform overload?

Evolving is the bettering or worsening of a sturdy phenomenon. Change is a more radical spin on the very same. But when it comes to social media habits, it is tricky to discern what is evolutionary and what is truly changing. Two elements that pose a risk to using social media for marketing are verification, and a simple overwhelm, particularly of visual platforms. Two trends highlighted further in Social Media Habits of 2014.

Ever had a tweet favorite or retweeted almost simultaneously after posting? Or are you guilty of scrolling and liking or disliking? While it may be the signs of an obsessive compulsive behavior, it becomes even more risky in the world of big data. When emergencies happen, or misquotes are leaked, or media puts forth information that is not verified, the habit can become a risky one. Things like events in Boston give rise to the speed vs accuracy paradox, as do weather related calamities like the Polar Vortex or Sandy. The key is to always ensure to verify before sharing, before misinformation leads to virality. But is this even possible in a me-first world?
social media @sssourabh

Similarly, ever noticed how Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr or Snapchat are all driven by a vicarious sharing of images (and off late, videos)? Sometimes even the same ones… with some apps making it easy to cross share. Besides a sense of overwhelm, there is also a notion of déjà vu. Social media is meant to be current, but is getting muddled with the user equivalent of recycling and content marketing. And some of these platforms are aping one another, like direct messaging on Instagram as a war to snapchat. Video was born to Vine, and is now popular with Instagram and Flipagram, alike. One of these photo platforms will surely tumble under the mounting pressure to distinguish and differentiate. Is another MySpace coming our way? Until then, anticipate more scrolling and observing, until there is simply less time spent on certain platforms before the final crash.

Sourabh Sharma, Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering, marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting, he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer, and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called 3FS. He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com. Follow him on @sssourabh.

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