For about a year now, I’ve been enjoying the social media insights of Justin Wise. Justin is the social media director for Monk Development, an Internet solutions company. He also co-directs the Center for Church Communication. He blogs about social media strategy, personal productivity, lifestyle design, and entrepreneurship. Today, he’s joining me for a conversation about the future of social media.
Trevin Wax: Justin, what do you think is the next big shift coming in how social media is used by participants?
Justin Wise: I believe that social media will continue to integrate more deeply into the minutiae of everyday life. Social will find its way into what we eat, what we wear, where we are (and where we’re going to be), what we’re listening to. Social is and will continue to be everywhere.
When I say “social,” I really mean two things:
- The ability to share
- The ability to interact
Share and interact. We want the ability to tell people, namely our friends and family, what we’re doing/eating/going to/listening to. We share, much in the same way we’d tell a friend or spouse over dinner, what our day was like. Now we can share socially and experience feedback in real-time, regardless of where our “conversation partners” are located.
Similarly, we also want the ability to see what others are doing. We want to interact with others. It’s an in-built human desire, isn’t it? The relational convenience that social affords us gives us the ability to participate in the lives of people we care about. We want to share experiences with them. Social allows us to do this.
My favorite example of this is the Nike+ running app for iPhone or iPod touch. I use this app for every run I complete, and it’s been astounding to see the results. You can connect the app to your Facebook profile, and your friends can “cheer” you on by commenting on the status update the app posts whenever you start a workout. I hear these virtual “cheers” in my headphones as I’m running. Similarly, I can post the stats from my run across social networks and challenge other runners to a timed race. I’ve heard everything from “You run a lot!” to “I’m going to start running because of you.” Social is actually affecting the real-world lives of people that are sometimes continents away. That fascinates me.
Trevin Wax: How do you see businesses, ministries, and blogs using social media as part of their strategy?
Justin Wise: If you asked 100 different people this question, you’d get 100 different responses. In the same way that organizations adopted the telephone, they will have to adopt social. Simply put, social will continue to develop and prove itself as a viable, must-have strategy building block.
This, hopefully, isn’t breaking news. We’ve all experienced the impact of social, whether a small business owner, megachurch pastor, or Fortune 500 company. Everyone has been impacted by social. I see this when I talk to small-town churches who, quite bewilderedly, say something to the effect of “We know social media are important, but we have no idea where to start!” This is not an uncommon reaction.
That said, organizations will build social into their structural fabric by resourcing social media as a department. In the same way that organizations have communications, PR, legal, and accounting departments, they’ll have social media departments.
Brian Solis says that we’re about the enter Social Media 2.0. Much like Web 2.0, culture reached a saturation point with the Web, and innovators started doing what they do best…innovate. We’re starting to reach critical mass with Social Media 1.0, where literally everyone and their grandmother are using social media in some fashion.
Sort of like when the printing press started being used for more than just the mass-printing of books, artistry will begin to find its way into social. That’s when we’ll see beautiful social and technological innovations that are fueled with the power of social connectivity.
Trevin Wax: For many years, I heard social media gurus saying that social media (from a business standpoint) was all about the conversation. You’re not using it right if you’re not heavily engaged in the conversation across social media platforms. I’ve always scratched my head at that kind of talk because – in my case, at least – I always felt like the people who read my blog and follow me on Twitter were doing so because of the content I was providing, not just the conversational aspect. It was passing on good content through my daily link-posts or (hopefully) crafting interesting articles for the main page that were driving the social media engine. A few months ago, I saw that other social media people were now talking more about content creation and content curation as the heart of social media strategy. What do you make of this shift?
Justin Wise: “Engaging in the conversation” is a waste of time. While that may seem like an overstatement, it’s not. I even have the data to prove it.
I wrote a post on this very topic using the data of Dan Zarrella, the social media scientist at HubSpot. Dan equates “engaging the conversation” to unicorns and rainbows—they make you feel better but don’t accomplish anything.
People who focus on the “engaging the conversation” myth are the ones who typically don’t have much experience to back up their findings. They think that telling people to “engage” makes the most sense because it’s what they do. Only they get nowhere. They haven’t figured out that it’s content, not conversation, that creates the most compelling social media.
Listen, every study done on this topic has found, over and over again, that the more content you provide, the better. Knowing your audience, and what they care about, is key. Not endlessly replying to blog comments, tweets, or status updates.
That’s not to say that doing those things aren’t important. They are. You just can’t let the false belief that “engaging” will provide any sort of momentum in a digital strategy.
Trevin Wax: What role will content creation and content curation play in the next phase of social media development?
Justin Wise: I think you’ll see a further bifurcation between content creators and content curators. People will drift into one camp or the other.
It’s the difference between a DJ (content curator) and a band (content creator). One makes new content by taking the best that others put forth. The other does the painstaking work of coming up with original material.
One’s not better than the other. Different personality types drift toward one role or the other. That said, content curation will become a skill that everyone interested in social media will need to hone.
Trevin Wax: What role does Apple play in the future of social media? Is Google more important or FaceBook? Amazon or Apple?
Justin Wise: Apple will play as big a role as they want to. When they integrated Twitter into iOS, new accounts went up 25%. That’s not an insignificant number.
Google will, unfortunately, become more important than Facebook. With Google+ being tightly woven into Google search results, publishers will have no choice but to adopt the platform if they want to remain relevant.
With the addition of iBooks Author, Apple, once again, is creating a “blue ocean” in which to market. If you make ebook creation as simple as Apple has while claiming sole publisher rights to books created with the tool, more and more authors will drift to the platform. This is typical Apple—creating an ecosystem where they control every last detail from start to finish.