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Future of Social Media: Mark Schaefer at SXSW Interactive

When you stop to think about everything that the internet offers us on a daily basis – the answer to any question at the tip of our fingers, the ability to connect with people on the other side of the planet and to communicate with hundreds and thousands of people from the comfort of your own home – it feels as if the future is already here. All we’re missing is the hover cars.

Social media plays a big part in the innovations and abilities the internet provides. But where do we go from here? What is the future of social media?

One of my South by Southwest highlights: Mark Schaefer, author, public speaker, blogger, and marketing professor, presented what he believes the future of social media is, and how to navigate through it. More about Mark Schaefer on his blog.

Schaefer outlines the four Digital Revolutions, the three previous and the one to come. Image found here http://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/04/28/digital-marketing-innovation/

Schaefer outlines the four Digital Revolutions, the three previous and the one to come. Image found here http://www.businessesgrow.com/2014/04/28/digital-marketing-innovation/

The Four Digital Revolutions

Presence (The WWW) 1990-2000 – Companies were really only expected to have a website at this point, to show an online presence.

Discovery (Search) 2000-2010 – A bigger emphasis on search engine optimization (SEO) happened in this time period, to encourage the discovery of your company.

Utility (Social Media & Mobile) 2010-2015 – The focus in this phase is on meeting the consumers’ needs when they need it, which is possible because mobile devices make it easy to consume content at anytime. The average American is spending 10 hours a day consuming content online, a two-hour increase because of mobile devices.

Immersion (User-Generated Content) 2015-? – This is where the future of social media exists. Social media sites are becoming more and more about users creating content. Schaefer estimates that by the year 2020, the amount of data online will have grown by 600% and 75% of that will be created by the consumer. This will also be the era of “wearable technology” and “immersion,” where, Schaefer says, “the Internet will surround us like the air that we breathe.” This would create a whole new landscape of marketing possibilities.

How to navigate the new social media landscape

Content Shock is created when the amount of content being produced is greater than the amount of content that people can consume. Image found on Mark Schaefer's site http://www.businessesgrow.com/

Content Shock is created when the amount of content being produced is greater than the amount of content that people can consume. Image found on Mark Schaefer’s site http://www.businessesgrow.com/

While it’s great that everyone and her brother has access to create content online, offering a more diverse and thriving online market, this also generates stronger competition for your content to break through the clutter and be seen.

In fact, there will be a time in which the amount of content internet users can consume will be outweighed by the amount of content produced. Schaefer calls this “Content Shock” which, unfortunately, is uneconomical.

This Content Shock, which Schaefer believes is coming soon, will have some negative implications on small businesses, including:

  • Big corporations will overtake the market.
  • Schaefer says just like with most industries, those with “deep pockets” can obtain control over a market and even create barriers that perpetuate the Content Shock for their competitors.
  • Companies will have to invest more in their content than they are getting back, making the production of content no longer worth it.

Create content that will stand out

Schaefer says that the Content Shock might be a few years off for some markets and might be here now for others. It’s important to plan ahead and think about how saturated your particular market is.

When producing content, Schaefer says to think about whether what you’re making is “RITE,” meaning:

  • Relevant
  • Interesting
  • Timely
  • Entertaining

He says that the element of fun is essential, as is serving your consumers’ needs and keeping your content human. Content that is “RITE,” especially in an under-saturated market, will get views and garner your brand attention.

Another important thing to keep in mind as the market keeps evolving is search filters, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Filters like Zite might soon replace Google even, making SEO less important than it used to be.

It’s essential that your brand evolves with the industry, or it will be lost in the shuffle and unable to stand up to the competition.

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How do you envision the future of Social Media? What are you doing to prepare your brand? Share your thoughts and insights with a quick comment.

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Octalysis elevates gamification principles at SXSW

Gamification via Octalysis – Not as tricky as it sounds

Again, this year’s South by Southwest Interactive festival united an astonishing group of innovative thinkers and strategists. One of those innovators was Yu-kai Chou, “a Gamification Pioneer (since 2003), International Keynote Speaker and Occasional Guest Lecturer for Stanford University,” according to his profile on the SXSW website. You can find more detailed information on his theories from Chou’s website, from which some of the information from this article was sourced, in addition to live attendance at the best session of the festival.

But what is Gamification?

Gamification enables companies to use game-like elements such as competition, point systems, challenges etc. to entice customers to use their product. It’s meant to make boring things seem fun, encouraging people to do what they might otherwise ignore.

  • An example of explicit gamification is the Monopoly game at McDonalds.
  • An implicit example would be the progress bar on LinkedIn profiles, showing what percentage of your profile is complete.

Volkswagen started a campaign on its “Fun Theory” to prove that making things fun encourages people to do them more often and therefore change their behavior. While gamification isn’t a new idea — think about every store that offers you cards to earn points or receipts that will enter you to win a prize if you fill out a survey — Chou offers a new way of looking at this strategy, and explains why some gamification plans fail, by describing his theory of Octalysis. This theory analyses eight types of motivations behind successful gamification.

Why does motivation matter in gamification?

This comes down to the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, meaning being motivated to do things by outside reward, compared to being internally driven. Understanding your consumers’ motivations is very important because intrinsic motivation can be snuffed out by trying to force extrinsic motivation on them.

  • When customers are intrinsically (internally) motivated, they care about your product or service on their own.
  • Extrinsic motivation, like a point system or other gamification technique, won’t matter to customers who aren’t interested in your product to begin with.

A good example of extrinsic motivation defeating intrinsic motivation is looking at students in school who are so concerned with grades that they fail to really learn the material beyond what they need to know for tests and assignments. Poor handling of motivation may be why, even though “70% of all Fortune 500 companies will be using gamification” according to Chou, “80% of these [gamification plans] will fail.”

How Octalysis can keep gamification from failing

Chou argues that simply incorporating gaming “elements” won’t get customers intrinsically motivated to use your product or service, and they simply won’t make a game interesting. In fact, gamification could turn people away, if it feels gimmicky. What will convince potential clients to use your brand, or to keep current customers coming back, is to think about how the gaming elements make them feel. Design games with a human-based, rather than function-based, focus – keep human motivation in mind.

Gamification Pioneer Yu-kai Chou's model of effective gamification motivations, as presented at South by Southwest Interactive 2014.

Gamification Pioneer Yu-kai Chou’s model of effective gamification motivations, as presented at South by Southwest Interactive 2014.

Octalysis driven by 8 drivers

1. Meaning – The drive to be involved with something bigger than yourself, a community or a bigger purpose that drives decisions.

2. Empowerment – The motivation that drives people to paint or play with Legos. Expressing creativity and getting feedback is empowering and creates intrinsic motivation in players.

3. Social Influence – Includes drives such as competition, mentorship, companionship, acceptance, and envy.

4. Unpredictability – Comes into play with gambling. When the result is unpredictable, it drives players to try to discover what will happen next.

5. Avoidance – The drive to avoid a bad consequence, such as admitting defeat or feeling if you don’t act now, you’ll miss an opportunity.

6. Scarcity – When things are rare, it increases the motivation to obtain it. For example, if in a game only a select few are awarded a special accomplishment, it would make the players try harder to be one of the few to achieve it.

7. Ownership – When a player feels like he or she owns something, the drive to improve upon that ownership motivates him or her to continue working toward a goal.

8. Accomplishment – The drive to overcome a challenge. This is the easiest motivation to design for, according to Chou. It’s important to stress the challenge, otherwise the reward received will be meaningless.

How to employ Gamification using Octalysis

Begin with how you want your potential customers to feel when engaged with your process and your company. The motivations you wish to emphasize and act upon will help you decide on the best gamification techniques to employ. But ideally, you would use almost all of these motivations since different people are motivated by different drives. After that, consider these four phases a customer will hopefully go through. It’s important to think about how you want your clientele to feel at each stage, showing participants the value of not only beginning your game but sticking with it. These stages include:

  1. Discovery – Value must be evident immediately or no one will begin the process.
  2. Onboarding – When a new participant begins to create a space for themselves in this new gaming community or situation.
  3. Scaffolding – In this stage, value is often achieved through customers’ actions. Their motive may be driven by the core values of accomplishment and empowerment.
  4. End Game (Veteran Retention) – This stage includes mentoring new players and improving the community.

You have the power to interest potential clients and keep your current customers interested in your product or service by employing techniques that will speak to their motivations and show them value every step of the way. No one really needs your particular brand of product, so according to Chou, you need to figure out how to make them want your specific brand.
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Which of these tips would you use as a customer? As a business? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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