5 Ways the Internet of Things will Change Social Media

The Internet of Things will change the what it means to be social. Everyday objects, data, systems and people will be connected to create an intelligent network, creating value for those choose to be a part of it. Evidence of this shift can be seen first hand in the mobile traffic application, Waze,  now a part of Google; by linking internet connected smartphones to other connected objects (traffic signals and cameras for example), people, data (real-time traffic information), and systems, the network helps drivers optimise their journeys in real time.

The social network of things is the interconnection of hybrid services, objects and people where ordinary users will eventually have the ability to create their own personalised social services easily and conveniently through the use of a network-wide API or Web passport that is both secure and convenient. In order for there to be a true social internet of things, data needs to be liberated from walled gardens and shared across multiple platforms (or one universal platform) if it is to be as useful and impactful as many predict.

This interconnected hybrid network will lay the foundation for entirely new approaches to creating meaningful online and offline social experiences.  When everything is interconnected and able to communicate in useful and timely ways, it will represent a quantum leap forward in how organisations interact with the people they exist to serve.

Perhaps televisions and cars will not possess a Twitter or Pinterest account but, they will interact with other such devices centred around one or many shared purposes. Creating products and services that leverage the intelligence of networks of people and other connected objects also requires a change in thinking from connecting products to connecting platforms. Wearables and other connected products in particular are simultaneously experience, emotion and data devices and for them to produce maximum value to people, the ability to combine sports data with health data, for example, will be indispensable.

How the Internet of Things will Change Social Media

1. Conscious Privacy: You don’t have to look very far to see respected commentators and industry leaders proclaiming that privacy in the digital age is an anachronism, to be cast aside as we increasingly place our personal data online using digital devices and services. I think that these statements only tell half the story. Privacy as we know it will probably cease to exist but something else will take its place. In the age of the social internet of things, we will have the ability to share every aspect of our lives no matter how small, no matter how insignificant. Beacons will be able to share highly targeted messages to our connected device wherever we are. Connected objects will be able to communicate with one another and ‘connect’ to other people or devices in the same vicinity based on the behaviour of the person. Privacy will not die, people’s conception of privacy will simply become more sophisticated in the digital age. People will gradually learn to make highly nuanced decisions as to when, where and to whom they want to be connected and based on the right information  served to them at the right time. As people become more aware of when and where they want to be connected, the opportunities to engage with the right people at specific places and times will become a highly lucrative art and science for both companies as well as people.

2. Health: The internet of things will change the bring social media firmly into the realm of health care; patients will be able to connect easily and conveniently to the best doctors and health professionals using social media tools. The health professionals in turn will be well informed of our physical state by accessing our health data that we share with them and be able to provide expert health advice quickly and reliably. The ability to not only connect with the best health professionals from across the world but securely capturing and sharing our health data will enable us to live healthier and happier lives.

3. Community: Perhaps the most exciting development of all is the changing notion of community in the internet of things age. As our digital devices and other internet connected objects can connect everywhere we go, we will be able to enter into micro-level, context-focused communities which we interact with for short periods of time and then engage with others. Such context-dependent micro communities will provide a richer experience of life and more accurately reflect the complex personalities of human beings as they go about their daily lives. Imagine a tourist’s smart devices automatically suggesting engaging experiences for people based on their established activities and social interactions. The internet of things allows people to be more social in a safe and secure manner, rather than less.

4. Corporate Relations: As more devices and services become part of the digital ecosystem, people will generate ever-increasing amounts of data, providing companies the unique opportunity to understand in unprecedented detail people’s attitudes and behaviours. The opportunity for companies lies not in being omnipotent in knowing more about their customers. Rather, companies now have the opportunity to understand how people interact with their physical environment and design unique and truly valuable experiences around their products and services that genuinely add value to people’s lives.

5. Competition between Companies: The social internet of things allows companies that specialise in specific products to evolve into data-driven digital organisations. Entire business models are set to change as products that were once inert become contributors to and beneficiaries of the digital ecosystem. As a result, companies can now develop meaningful businesses in entirely different industries because of the connections that exist between their products and their customers.

It is impossible to predict with any certainty what will happen when internet connected objects become social. In spite of this, industry leaders are convinced that the internet of things will make a significant impact in the realm of social media. The internet of things and wearables are a new touchpoint for companies to engage with people and people to engage more profoundly with one another as the digital device becomes a natural extension of the online. It encourages people to engage with content and services in real time because it acts as a natural extension of the mobile and online experience.

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Managing Director at Semantica Research
Lawrence Ampofo is a thought leader on the impact of digital technologies on humans and society. Lawrence is a trained political scientist, strategic communications consultant, author, trainer and speaker who focuses on the impact of emerging digital technologies on the geopolitical system and global business.
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