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How Will Social Media and Technology Further Advance Our Digital Era?

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Written by Breanna Houk

Our Ever-Changing Digital (and Inherently Social) Landscape

When social media initially started to gain attention, speculators asserted, “Social media is nothing more than a temporary fad that will die out over time!” As social media progressed, it has only gained even stronger support, usage and global prevalence. By taking a look at our current digital landscape and the unprecedented impact social media has made on a majority of industries, consumer relationships, and social interaction as a whole, it is impossible for the concept and usage of social media to simply “die out” and be replaced with some new trend. Instead, social media is not only here to stay, but it will continue to thrive and evolve.

Social media will become more integrated into future technology because people now see how crucial it is as one of our primary sources for information sharing and communication. Those with the weight of the future on their shoulders (read: children) grow up understanding the Web and master new technologies as if it were all second nature. Infants swipe around on iPads and wave to familiar faces in video chats. Even grade-schoolers sport mobile phones (perhaps “for emergencies only”) and undoubtedly communicate with their peers through texting. Children aware of, and accustomed to, adults sharing, engaging and communicating online through social media channels.According to a report from McAfee, 67 percent of “tweens” ages eight to twelve use a social media site.

Global Interconnectivity

The familiarity with “digital” is embedded in our younger generations’ DNA. It is becoming increasingly clear that a main purpose of the Web is social interaction and connectivity, not just peer-to-peer, but B2C, B2B and so on. And if you think about it, using the Internet to connect with others only makes perfect sense. Even though access to technology is not (yet) equal across the globe, it is still true that a large portion of our era exists entirely in digital space; we may live and breathe in “real life,” but essentially everything about that world (including all that we know, think, feel, say, believe and do) gets “synced” online and filed somewhere in the ever-growing digital landscape. The understanding that “the world is at our fingertips with the Internet” will continue to be the case. With advances in technology comes changes to everything else, from the ways we communicate, to the gadgets we use and wear, to the way our minds perceive situations (or, better yet, the way our technology perceives us).

Let’s face it: technology has forever changed our entire social landscape. Imagine the potential of social connectivity through the Internet. If someday we reach a point where all people have Web access, then everyone would have the ability to connect with anyone else, regardless of language barriers. An outlook such as this may make you realize how interconnected everyone already is, or easily could be. Even poverty-stricken crop farmers now use mobile devices and social media, and it’s becoming apparent that mobile phone usage is linked with financial growth and prosperity.

With this idea of global interconnectivity in mind, the point of each generation in America being predominantly more multicultural than the last gives much-needed insight to marketers that are focused on “traditional” methods that may have worked before the Internet transformed the world. However, these outdated approaches to marketing, advertising and business in general need to be revised and adapted to relate more accurately with consumer segments’ constantly-changing media habits, information consumption and ways of life.

Technology Changes Generations

“Generation gaps” are visibly shortening (drastically) in all societies because of how rapidly technology continues to advance. For instance, in India, because of how quickly newer technologies are being implemented there, it is now apparent they may have a different generation gap every three years. This further confuses marketers about how to accurately “understand” their audiences when behaviors and mindsets change so quickly.

The Internet forever changed how we live and behave, and some of our most recent generations (also known as the “digital natives”) are a blatant example of this when compared to the older generations of “digital immigrants.” Countless statistics prove that everything from media consumption habits to concepts of love to even concerns about online privacy differ greatly between these two groups.

Some Cool Technology To Look Forward To

It will be interesting to see how future technological advances will change our lives for the better. For now, keep in mind that “high-tech inventions from the future” are already in our reach, and marketers need to keep up with these advancements or they may get left behind. Examples of upcoming technologies include the seemingly sci-fi Google Glass, the Leap Motion Controller that enables devices to be used “touchlessly” by sweeping hand gestures, technology that can change our perception of the textures we touch (as well as another that turns the world around us into an interactive touch screen and finally even AR (Augmented Reality) has become, well, a reality. As breakthroughs such as AR become more mainstream, we’ll start to see things even cooler than a cute, dancing Happy Feet poster!

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