source: Mindshare SHIFT research study February 2015

Social Eco-systems: can we move beyond Facebook?

Posted 16 October 2015.

​By Samantha Osborne, Managing Director, Mindshare New Zealand, and member of the CAANZ Media Committee

​Recently, I sat in an industry conference with agencies, marketers and media owners debating the hot topics of the year ahead. Not surprisingly, social ecosystems and how we can leverage and monetise these for marketing purposes was high on the agenda.

At one point, a fellow attendee declared that there is a “real chance that all media will be consumed through Facebook”. I took a double take “What?! No. Never!”

I read and watch the news. Ok, well I don’t, at least not in a linear fashion. Then I took a moment to think about my own Facebook use. There it was. In amongst updates of friends swanning around Cannes and toddlers in new pyjamas, I realised that I consume 80% of my daily news through Facebook. Yes, I mean real news; One News, 3News, Huffington Post, BBC.

I’m certainly not admitting that I spend all day on Facebook, but research released earlier this year by Facebook clearly showed our cousins across the ditch spend 1 in 3 minutes of their day online with Facebook or Instagram. My assumption is that it’s similar here, but what was really surprising was that 82% of Kiwi mums are checking daily (yes I fall into that), and 81% of all of kiwi Facebook users are accessing it on mobile devices. (‘Kiwis on Facebook’ study by ACNielsen and Facebook NZ).

The question some in the industry are asking is: do we need Facebook, or are there other players in the ecosystem out there that can do the same job?

To me this indicates a resentment in the increasing omnipotence of Facebook, or a desire to pit one social network against another, newer challenger. Our reliance on social networks and the interactions they facilitate is beyond debate, as is the fact that right now Facebook is king of the pile. Other networks like Twitter and Pinterest don’t come close in reach, or engagement.

The more interesting question for me is how, and in what way, will we connect to our social networks in the future?

Over the past few years, we have experienced the shift from desktop to laptop, and laptop to tablets and smart phones. We now stand at the brink of this next major shift - into wearable technologies, the internet of things and the connected self.

The SHIFT 2015 research project - a collaboration between Mindshare and Goldsmiths College, University of London - aims to understand the key consumer motivations for wearable technologies and the opportunities they present for brands and advertisers; what consumer need states and uses will wearable technology fulfil, and what opportunities for brand communication does wearable technology present?

The project identified six key need states that wearable technology can satisfy:
1. Flow making everyday life smoother or easier e.g. opening locks
2. Reflection reflecting on ways you can improve your life such as fitness and wellbeing tracking
3. Affinity connecting remotely with family, friends or shared interest groups via sending hugs or similar
4. Performance helping with specific tasks to improve performance such as ‘heads up display’ sports performance apps
5. Value exchange allowing tracking or data sharing for a consumer benefit, for example health tracking for insurance
6. Self expression using wearables to look and feel good e.g. smart fabrics, Apple Watch

The project also worked with respondents to develop the different ways brands could tap into these need states and take advantage of wearables and their data in their communications.
It found five key areas embracing both advertising (push notifications and search) and content (brand utility, brand experience, and content personalisation) delivered both on the wearable itself and across other platforms.

The advertising industry has had a tendency to try and force old forms of communication onto new platforms with mixed success. The first TV commercials were radio ads read
by a narrator; the first banner ads were essentially digital posters or print ads; and mobile advertising has suffered from attempts to shoehorn the banner ad into an even smaller screen.
Wearables represent even more of a challenge to advertisers. On the one hand they represent a platform with an incredibly intimate understanding of the consumer; on the other, they have limited (if any) screen real estate on which to present a message.

SHIFT 2015 identified two key areas for advertisers to consider: on versus off device, and advertising versus content based.

source: Mindshare SHIFT research study February 2015

It is only by understanding why consumers use wearables and the role they play, that advertisers will give themselves a fighting chance of getting the most out of them.

The SHIFT project has opened the window on the underlying motivations for using wearables and the possibilities that this presents for marketers. As the launch of the Apple watch kickstarts the entire sector, now is the time to experiment, learn and plan for the future.

The day when I’m consuming all media through my Facebook feed on my smart garment,watch, or glasses actually isn’t that far away…