3 Takeaways From New York’s Social Media Week

Platforms have the opportunity to foster community and connections

A man is seen on stage in front of an audience; on the screen behind the man a title says 'Social Media Week,' On the screen to the left of the man is a picture of New York's Time Square
Social Media Week took place in New York from April 30 to May 2. Social Media Week

We live in an increasingly connected world. And while the concept of social media is certainly nothing new, its ubiquity has reached unprecedented heights, connecting users across the globe and providing unmatched opportunities for brands to speak directly to consumers.

New York’s recent Social Media Week allowed us to reflect on social media’s evolving impact on our lives and how we can create a future that uses it for positive and net good. The conference provided a unique opportunity to discuss some of the key insights that will impact the way we use social.

Here are some takeaways from the conference:

An influx of data will bring increased focus on security

Two-thirds of the world’s population is already connected by mobile devices, according to data from GSMA. What’s more is that by 2020, it’s estimated that 1.7 MB of data will be generated per person per second. That amount of knowledge brings immense influence, and with it, a great responsibility.

[Social] has the power to reach billions of people with one click and bring us closer together as a community.

A catch-22 remains, though. Customers expect personalized offerings across every touchpoint but are also increasingly aware of how their data is being used and shared. According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, six in 10 Americans want increased protection over their personal information. Yet 61% of people are willing to share their personal data with a company if it means they will receive hyper-customized offerings.

This complicated balancing act will continue to be a major focal point as organizations toe the line between personalization and privacy. Companies must understand that customer loyalty is about much more than specific offerings: it’s about building long-term trust.

Over the next year, privacy will become an even bigger topic as companies like Facebook and Google take public strides to address security concerns.

Conversation will be a canvas, not a transcript

To keep pace with innovation, brands, media companies and content creators should view messaging as a space that will continue to become rich with content and far more dynamic versus a back and forth exchange of text.

If you think back to the history of messaging, the first SMS text, which was sent in 1992, read as a simple “Merry Christmas.” “Merry Christmas” can now be expressed with a dancing Santa sticker or the latest trending GIF. By pairing conversational intelligence with visual content, our digital conversations can take on a whole new form. Incorporating not only visual content but utility will help the people inside that private conversation have greater empathy, understanding and productivity within their messaging experience.

Social will bring new power to storytelling

Today, social media goes far beyond sharing monumental life updates and sentimental birthday wishes. Social is the primary, most direct form of communication between brands and their valued customers, and with that comes new opportunities to effectively communicate company values. Until recently, many organizations have used these platforms as a channel for targeted messaging to reach a specific audience. This strategy is quickly shifting as companies are now using social to drive a larger story about the brand and its place in the world.

Finding the perfect channel to engage and connect with your target audience is no easy feat, but when done correctly, effective storytelling goes far beyond selling a product or acquiring a new customer. It has the power to reach billions of people with one click and bring us closer together as a community.

Look no further than Nike’s recent Colin Kaepernick campaign to see how effective storytelling can tap into cultural moments. While the video, which launched on Nike’s social platforms, comes in at only one minute long, it spurred record-breaking social engagement.

What made Nike’s strategy so successful was its deep connection and understanding of its loyal consumer base. According to a recent YouGov study, 65% of Nike’s customers noted that they like when companies are open to diving into key social issues, as compared to 45% of the U.S. that felt the same. With social providing new opportunities to understand audiences on a personal level, we can expect to see more companies using this platform to tell stories that put their customer’s values at the center.

By gathering some of the most creative minds in the industry, this year’s Social Media Week refreshed and reframed our thinking around social’s unique challenges and opportunities and how we can all come together to drive positive change. Though some challenges inevitably lay ahead, by understanding social’s innate power and influence, we have the potential to create genuine, long-lasting relationships that will drive the connected future.

@travismontaque Travis Montaque is the founder and CEO of Emogi.