How Social Media Plays Into the Innovations of 2014, Pt. 1

lightbulbNo doubt 2014 will be filled with tech innovations that alter our landscape, just as 2013 has been.  But how will social media’s role, be it as part of or as a driver of these innovations play out? Some educated speculation:


Wearable Tech

It’s not enough that people have technology, now they want to be the technology. Wearables look to be a $50 billion industry in 5 years. Sure some of it makes you look downright odd. But in 2014 people will get more comfortable sporting smartrings, smartbracelets, smartwatches, smartwigs, and connected glasses.


Why? We apparently have no desire to ever be “unplugged.” Our vital signs, our exercise achievements, how we’re sleeping, what we’re eating, our location, what sounds we’re hearing, how we interact with the “Internet of Things” (including our cars), will increasingly be collected, recorded, then often published on social. We’re social creatures who like doing life together. Today, we stay “together” via social.


Wearable tech is also about immediately available info. We want to know who’s nearby, what places are nearby, what their reviews are, how to get there, and what we can get if we go. We want all that within reach, no matter the place or time. Mobile social is already being built on these capabilities, with all the opportunities for brands that entails.


Mobile

Speaking of mobile, with over 6.8 billion mobile users worldwide and growing, we’re already talking about laptops being passé just as we were saying the same of desktops. Be it for work or play, people want everything they use immediately in hand.


Mobile innovations will be less about new features (a phone that bends!) and more about the movement of more of our activities to mobile. Nielsen shows 38% of tablet users and 24% of phone users bought something through their device. The public is growing comfortable with that, and the social component of commerce will make such experiences evermore frictionless, timely and relevant.


Ad spending on mobile and the social that accompanies it will soar well beyond the $11.4 billion projected for 2013 as brands capitalize on the ability to reach out to those near their establishment, or to project a need based on mobile data. Understanding the need to offer up things of real and immediate value, loyalty programs will be big in 2014, with social used to drive and administer them.


More mobile apps will enjoy downloads, which hit 102 billion in 2013, up from 64 billion in 2012. With no more patience for poor mobile browser experiences, consumers will require a mobile app to do what they want to do. Once they have the app, comfort with making purchases inside of it will grow, projected to account for 48% of app store revenue by 2017. Many of these apps will have social components, and of course will be marketed via social.


At the root of all this mobile activity is the ability to gather invaluable big data on consumer behavior, patterns, interests, whereabouts, buying activities, customer service activities, and influencer behavior on their friends. “Getting it right” in 2014 will mean being able to get and activate this mobile sourced data


Wordless Stories & Data Visualization

Action movies do well in international markets. The dialogue is sparse, and the story can be followed even if you don’t speak the language. In 2013, imagery drove engagement. We saw bigger pictures, better pictures, using images to communicate the message, infographics, Instagram Direct for visual messaging, etc. Every platform dedicated themselves to more visual experiences.


2014 innovations will make creating such imagery easier than ever, and social will continue to make it easier to share those images. People and brands will get much better at understanding the best images evoke emotion.


The imagery movement will extend to data presentation in 2014. Beyond the clever infographic, the results of massive, often complex data crunching tell stories, which must then be presented in clear and memorable ways. If that isn’t done, the data and the potential lessons are wasted.


Most will tell you data visualization is downright hard, especially if you want personal, interactive experiences. Ask for big data visualization in real time and you really get puzzled looks. But in 2014 we’ll get closer to the goal in terms of tech and cost, able to funnel social data into those equations and use social to distribute results. Yes, even real-time interactive ones.


3D printing

Want an open-source 3D metal printer for only $1500? Michigan Technological University might have one for you. And that’s indicative of how fast prices are falling and capabilities are rising for individuals to turn software blueprints into real world items.


Studies show printer owners could save up to $2,000 a year cranking out basic goods themselves, and we’ve seen 3D printers make an array of amazing things like movie collectibles, medical applications, stronger & lighter jet engine parts, jewelry, albums, clothing, hearing aids…the list goes on. Complete plastic 3D printer kits can be had for only $250, so it’s not hard to see the masses getting into this game in 2014.


To help them, 3D print shops are popping up everywhere, with no shortage of object blueprints being uploaded every day from a variety of sources where they can be downloaded free and turned into solid objects. You can bet blueprint designers will be collaborating, designing and marketing on social, requests for blueprints will be made via social, blueprint reviews will be posted on social, and photos and videos of finished products will populate social channels.


Oh there are far more innovations on the horizon than that. And for every title with “Part 1” in it, there should be a Part 2. So touch base next week for this continued gaze into our social future.


@mikestiles
Photo: Sufi Nawaz, stock.xchng

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