Schaefer (2018) discusses 10 ideas that will drive social media marketing in the future:
- Artificial intelligence
- Smart speakers
- Virtual spaces
- The move from public to private conversations
- Conversation marketing
- The talent gap – not having enough skilled people to utilise the available technology
- Government regulation
- Personal branding becoming the company brand
- Influence marketing
- The difficulty of getting your message heard
Interestingly to me, only the first three points are really new areas for marketing. Although the fourth point of conversations moving away from public forums to private messaging is technology related and refers to the emergence of private messaging apps, it is only a couple of decades ago when private ‘messaging’ (either by phone, email or mail) was the norm for conversations. The other items raised by Schaefer do have some nuances to do with the technological age we live in but are not dissimilar to the marketing world of the twentieth century.
The idea that new tools evolve the way that we interact but that the fundamentals are based on ideas that have been around for a long time is diametrically opposed to some of the hyperbolic discussion of the impact of technology:
The video’s reference to “a perfect storm for change” and the “most transformational time” may be correct, but there have been very few times in human history when the same claim could not have been made. The disruption to established monopolys have similarly occurred in the past.
So what does the technological change mean for information professionals? There is a need to adapt to the technologies and use the opportunities these provide to interact with people and information in new ways. Chat bots are going to democratise access to things such as legal advice. However, there will be a need for information professionals to be critical of claims that technology is completely changing the way things work and to stop becoming overly committed to any particular platform or technology. There are plenty of warning signs that the most “disruptive” of technologies are just exploiting legal loopholes that government will eventually close – it is claimed that Uber, Deliveroo and others in the gig economy are simply practicing ‘sham contracting‘. As platforms emerge with exciting new features and opportunities, it will be important that information professionals do not overly commit to the platform as it is likely that the platform will adjust its business model over time to make more revenue often at the expense of those providing content on the platform. The power that these platforms can wield once they have great power is seen in the booking sites exploitation of the hotel industry.
Technological change yields a lot of potential opportunities and pitfalls for information professionals, diversification and critical thinking are two ways that we can ensure that we get more benefits than down-sides.