Addressing in the audience on ‘The next decade of social media’ on the main stage of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2015 on 21 June was Peter Kim, chief digital officer, Cheil Worldwide.
The decade past
Kim confessed that he got his Facebook account by using his .edu e-mail ID 10 years after he passed out of college. Back then, you needed to be a student to get onto Facebook, he reminded the audience.
He traced the evolution of social media from 2005 through to 2015, before foretelling what one can expect in 2025.
Facebook had, circa 2006, received $25 million in VC funding, boasted of 7 million users, including most 18 to 24 year-olds (or ‘more than twice of MySpace’). It had even launched Facebook for mobile. In 2015, the social network has 936 million daily active users, accounting for $227 billion in market cap.
“But some of the trends that we saw in 2005 are still at play,” observed the Cheil executive.
He noted that devices are becoming more powerful, wireless networks are becoming even faster (with companies working on 5G technology that would allow record speeds), and cost of storage is dropping even further. While these trends remain, he reasoned that ‘the game has changed’.
“Technology is almost too easy these days. Anything is a hashtag. Society has become selfie-absorbed. (On the other hand) Social media has become a freemium model. But brands are still stuck in 2005. It’s time to evolve,” Kim added.
Crystal ball 2025
By 2025, Kim reasoned that social media would be ‘god’. While luxury brands like Burberry have turned the runway experience into a shoppable experience, ‘ordinary’ brands are following suit, he pointed out, citing the example of Williams-Sonoma in partnership with Visa.
“We blogged in the beginning, then we heard podcasts. Consumers don’t want to read (so much) anymore. Video is an anomaly where we still see long form content. But social media will continue to become ‘snackable’,” he explained.
With automation of social media, it will increasingly move to programmatic, he said. “Consumers hate ads for the clutter, interference and irrelevance. Programmatic can and does have the ability to allow publishers to declutter sites and make them more relevant.”
‘More connective of societies’
The speaker noted that social media would become more connective not just of individuals, but also of societies, with an example from Korea.
The future will see a more ‘filtered’ social media, reasoned Kim, as people only see what they want to. He added that the social media of the future would also be truly integrated, unlike the ‘integration’ in the past when one was syncing TV with a website. We will see social media being
used for CRM, he stated.
‘In 10 years, social media will be Chinese’
China’s contribution to global GDP and the rise of Chinese e-commerce majors formed the basis of the next prediction by the Cheil chief digital officer. While language has been a barrier thus far, the growth trends point to another picture, he warned.
On the other hand, Alibaba’s ‘Singles Day’ sales for 2013 stood at around $4.8 billion, or about twice of US Cyber Monday sales.
Among top 10 technology companies, those from Germany and Canada have gone off the list between 1995 and 2015. The 2015 list has only Chinese and American companies. “(Chinese) Companies are going beyond the great firewall,” he said, pointing to the rise of Tencent, Alibaba, YouKu, JD.com and Baidu. “What happens when they come into your market?”
‘Brands need to change to engage’
Social media is going to be subcutaneous, reasoned Kim, before surmising his 10 trends with the message that it would also be empowering in the next decade.
Citing Dove and P&G as being among those who have realised that one can drive business results by standing for larger values, he screened the ‘Look at me’ app for Samsung built by Cheil.
“Brands need to change to engage,” he said, urging companies to adapt to the economic ecosystem where they need to ‘pay to play’ and ‘think outside borders’.
“As an agency, the way you made money from social media is no more,” surmised the speaker.