In the last 20 years, social media platforms have given people the opportunity to stay connected with friends and family and interact with not just people they know, but also people who have similar interests forming a community. It has also given companies a platform to engage directly with their customers. However, as internet connectivity becomes seamless, consumers re-evaluate their relationship with platforms putting the onus on platforms to add value and act on privacy concerns.
Improved internet connectivity gave consumers the ability to stay connected through their favourite social media platforms all the time. This coupled with increased penetration of smartphones meant that consumers could be online and available on their favourite platforms irrespective of their location. While the idea of being constantly connected was mesmerising, consumers started getting anxious if they were not able to connect or be online. Slowly but surely the Fear of Missing out (FOMO) took over society. Social media’s impact on society has been so great that some studies have blamed it for negatively impacting mental health. In addition to this, there has been much criticism about the rosy picture that social media portrays which leads to comparisons and the feeling of inadequacy in one’s life.
Additionally, many consumers are wary of sharing their information online and are not aware of how it is used by companies. Data security and privacy concerns are very relevant issues for any country that is looking to be digitally developed. The Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal that exposed the mining of social media profiles for election propaganda has continued to keep such issues in the limelight. In large democracies, it has created a call for more regulations on what social media platforms can and cannot do and how they should regulate their content. It has made regulators across the world sit up and take note of the grey areas and has urged the platforms to take on more accountability.
The future for Social Media Platforms is all about catering to consumers who see out a digital balance. Consumers will be more intentional with online activity and may reduce online activities, specifically time spent on social media. Companies must be more deliberate with messaging as they will have a shorter time window in which to win over consumers and they must personalise the message in order to differentiate themselves. Companies must also add value to their customers’ lives as consumers are no longer pure followers. As consumers gain more of a voice in the ongoing privacy debate, it will put more pressure on companies to prove the value of data collection.
To learn more about disruption in social media, read our report "Digital Disruptors: The Global Competitive Landscape of Social Media"