Where Is Social Media Going in 2014? (Part 2)

In my previous post, I shared some of the possible social media trends for 2014, as observed by Cedric Dias, Digital Director and Head of Social Media at Havas Media Singapore. This is Part 2 of my notes from the Social Media (Re)Connections seminar organised by the Institute of System Science, National University of Singapore on 27 November 2013.

Privacy is dead, long live privacy!

Privacy is Dead? Stylized Picture of Surveillance CameraWith social media really becoming mainstream, issues of privacy (or lack thereof) will become important. But is it really true that with advances in technology and the increasing ubiquity of social media that privacy is impossible?

Not so, says Leon Chia, Lecturer at Institute of Systems Science. Instead, he says that in the age of social media, it is our individual definitions of privacy that will need to be fundamentally changed. What does this mean? Basically, that there will be no absolute privacy provided by social media platforms. Instead it will be up to individuals to determine their own comfort level in releasing information. (For his full presentation on Slideshare, see the end of this post).

Take TaskRabbit or Exec for instance. People “outsource” personal errands and house cleaning to other people that are members of the same website. This does require a lot of trust on the part of the people hiring, and some of your privacy will be relinquished (I mean, the guy’s gonna come into your home!). You might argue that it’s not very different from the past where we hire plumbers or domestic helpers to come into our homes, but I reckon that because your tasks are all made available online for viewing, someone could potentially put together a profile of you based on the tasks you have listed.

So how else will social media and technology transform privacy?

The Password Has Expired – New Ways of Authentication Emerge

All of you with your shiny iPhone 5S already might be using the fingerprint identity sensors. A Finnish company, Uniqul has also launched a payment system that relies on facial recognition. Motorola is working on digital tattoos, which are electronics implanted in the body, so that the body becomes one walking authentication tool. And for those of you who are glued to your iPhones, you can also Knock to unlock your Mac.

Sigh. I actually prefer passwords, although I love Paywave.

Tracking, Predictive Analytics and Marketing

With the idea that more and more devices can be connected via the Internet a.k.a. the Internet of Things, we might also see a “Social Internet of Things” whereby your social media activities can trigger other devices to drop you alerts. Imagine checking-in on Foursquare at a shopping mall with a supermarket. Your Internet connected fridge could theoretically scan its contents and prompt you to buy milk and eggs. Right now, your plant can even tweet a plea to be watered.

To some degree, marketers are already analyzing our data and anticipating our needs and requirements. The famous case study is how Target figured out how a teenage girl was pregnant – even before her father did.

All Your Privacy Are Belong To Us?

In addition to what Leon covered above, I also thought that issues of privacy will not only be about what you as an individual choose to share with the public, but also what others around you are sharing about you. The most recent and prominent example would be Elan Gale’s live-tweeting of his feud with a woman onboard his flight to Phoenix. I do admit that I did enjoy reading the saga, but at the same time, I share Nisha Chittal’s view that we should please stop live tweeting people’s private conversations.

Public shaming is becoming more of an issue with the ease of sharing on social media. The problem with public shaming is that there is no context available – the view is most likely biased. Take the incident where the Kinetic Rain art piece at Changi Airport was damaged. In subsequent coverage, it was reported that the woman was arrested under the Mental Health Act, which probably means that she is mentally unsound. Unfortunately, that information only came after there was a barrage of xenophobic comments thrown about online.

So I guess the question remains – where do you draw the line in terms of your own privacy? How will you determine what’s “shareable”? It’s up to each one of us to decide when we will share with the world, with our family, with our business partners, with our friends.

Update on 3 Dec 2013: Darryl shared a really interesting article on how Vint Cerf raised the possibility that the notion of privacy may be an anomaly.

Update on 4 Dec 2013: Here’s Leon’s slides on Slideshare:


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Where Is Social Media Going in 2014? (Part 1)

I attended the Social Media (Re)Connections seminar organised by the Institute of System Science, National University of Singapore on 27 November 2013. The theme for the seminar was “Where is Social Media Going in 2014?” and is a timely reminder to take time out to review the past year and plan for the coming one.

So… where is it going?

Part 1: Social Media Usage Will Increase (Duh…)

Quite a no brainer. There are various statistics available if you search online that indicate this increasing trend. The real question is – “In what ways will social media usage increase?”

Cedric Dias, Digital Director and Head of Social Media at Havas Media Singapore, suggests a couple of trends he has observed (the stuff after the “So What?” in each bullet point are my thoughts in response):

  • Greater Social Platform Diversity. Businesses and organisations are going to invest in more diverse social media platforms, other than the usual Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We’re already beginning to see this – Cedric highlighted Pie Five Pizza Co’s use of Snapchat for marketing.

    So What? Honestly, I didn’t really know much about Snapchat prior to attending this seminar. The platform is apparently gaining traction among younger audiences in the US, and I wonder if it’ll take off in Singapore. In any case, all communications practitioners should take some time in the new year to review their social media plans and see if there’s a need to shift focus on newer platforms which their audiences are moving to.

  • The Rise of Micro-Videos. With Vine and Instagram, businesses can now create short videos for audience engagement. Short form videos are relatively easy to create and also relatively easy to consume, so it seems likely that businesses will try to leverage this format.

    So What? I don’t think that micro-videos are going to replace your longer form YouTube and Vimeo. It’s more likely that these are seen as enhancements to static image content. Although, I do wonder if we’ll start seeing a series of bad GIF animation-type micro-videos soon (yikes).

  • Paid Social Goes Mainstream. BIA/Kelsey forecasts U.S. social advertising revenues to grow from $4.7 billion in 2012 to $11 billion in 2017, representing a compound annual growth rate of 18.6 percent.

    So What? It’s going to get even more competitive for businesses to get eyeballs. The other effect might be that we might reach a tipping point where there’s a pushback from users, who will start migrating to platforms with less advertising. Maybe there will be a market for specialists in social advertising. Or, for advertising specialists to add social to their skillset.

  • Social ROI becomes increasingly important. Clients are becoming more savvy – they understand that it’s not just about “likes, shares and comments” anymore. Instead, all marketing and communications efforts will need to be directly tied to a measurable business goal.

    So What? This is the true test of a social media practitioner’s ability. A good practitioner will be able to design communications that effect measurable behavioural change in the specific target audience. What this means for me is that understanding the psychology of a consumer / audience member is going to be as important (or more important) than the ability to create a pretty social media campaign.

  • Rise of Mobile. More users are accessing social media by their mobile devices.

    So What? This is not a new trend, so most practitioners should already be “thinking mobile” when developing social media campaigns. It is also definitely time to get your website/blog mobile-ready.

In the next post, I’ll be writing more on what the other speakers shared at the seminar (issues of privacy, the concept of a social business). The Institute is also probably going to share the presentations on its Slideshare, so do keep a look out for that.

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Skewing Perceptions?

A couple of weeks ago, The Real Singapore, an online news portal “which aims to provide quick updates on Singapore’s socio-political affairs from a unique and interesting perspective” (their words, not mine), posted an article with a title “Rising Anti-NS Sentiments Is Growing In The Mainstream Media”.

Title from The Real Singapore "Rising Anti-NS Sentiments Is Growing In The Mainstream Media"

Besides the obvious redundant inclusion of the word “rising”, when the word “growing” is already in the title (tautology?), what is interesting to note is that this article, less the title, is a word-for-word replication of a TODAY Online article with the following title:

Title From TODAY - "Defence Policy: Not just a matter for experts"

The title in TODAY Online for the article was “Defence policy: Not just a matter for experts”.

With a simple change of title, The Real Singapore has tried to create an impression that there were indeed anti-NS sentiments growing amongst the mainstream media. What I believe the writer, Ong Weichong, was actually proposing was for more citizens to participate in the discourse on defence issues, as stated in his final paragraph:

‘In short, the creation of space for public discourse on defence issues built on public trust will go a long way in creating a “public brain trust” that is resilient, dynamic and passionate about serving Singapore.’

What is unfortunate of course, is that in the hectic world of today, we tend to skim through headlines and the inaccurate headline can skew our perception of what we are about to read. The people who commented on The Real Singapore’s post, quite possibly did not even read the article.

If the editors of The Real Singapore want to be taken seriously as an online news portal, maybe they should read up a code of ethics for journalists, in particular,

“Make certain that headlines, news teases and promotional material, photos, video, audio, graphics, sound bites and quotations do not misrepresent”

Society of Professional Journalists

Oh, and while they are at it, they might want to read up on copyright laws. I’m pretty sure copying a whole article isn’t above board.

Disclaimer: The views reflected in this blogpost are purely my own and do not represent the organisation that I work for.

Disclosure: I currently work for the Ministry of Defence, Singapore.

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