For all the marketing hype that surrounds social media, it’s sometimes hard to notice the impact that it’s making to the world around us right now.
Every two years I like to travel to a music festival in Serbia. Despite the constant sunshine, great music and (fantastically) cheap exchange rate, I still get asked all the time why I pick such a peculiar location to habitually travel to. Sure I could rattle off everything I just mentioned, but my defacto response is always “for the culture shock”. Typically, every time I’ve been, the combination of roaming fees, inadequate charging facilities and lack of smartphone adoption has resulted in a nostalgic, tech-free existence where there are no status updates, no “add me on Facebook” and absolutely no checking-in to every.single.venue.ever. Imagine my surprise when this year was different.
Perhaps it should have crossed my mind when I was packing the adaptor for my smartphone that I was probably not the only person bringing my connected self along for the ride. But Serbia is hardly a mecca for high-speed internet, right?
|Desperate to avoid technology? The famous scene from cult classic movie Office Space (source)
So yeah, as it transpires, in the last two years Serbia has actually become a mecca for high-speed internet. Every single restaurant, bar, nightclub and even the festival campsite itself had massive ‘Free Wi-Fi’ banners hanging from every available wall. Not only that, but Novi Sad (the venue for this years journey) had FREE citywide broadband for all to use. I’d left the comfort of ol’ forward thinking Blighty to travel somewhere even more forward thinking.
This marked shift in technology manifested itself in almost every part of the trip. Why bother texting people when you can add them on Facebook and message them for free from the comfort of the beach? Why feel obliged to trail your friends around lest you end up separated when you can instantly share your location or find them on Google maps? Brands were desperate for me to scan their QR codes; bars desperately needed my ‘like’ – it was social life or death! All of a sudden, any dreams I had of some idyllic return to the hey-day of p2p interaction was steamrolled by the avalanche of friend requests, event invites and, sigh, status updates.
We all know that the stats for social media adoption are constantly on the rise – there are almost 1 billion people on Facebook, give or take 100m fake accounts or so. But it’s so easy to get caught talking about the future of social that sometimes the present can be a shock too.
My holiday tale might not seem very significant in the grand scheme of things, but it highlights that interaction through social is no longer tethered to your home city, country or even continent. Your ability to instantly connect with friends, acquaintances or even brands is global and unrestricted.
Over the next few years this reach will only continue to grow. A strong social presence in one country might also provide the opportunity to expand your brand into places you never imagined.
But right now, just for a second, please stop thinking about what the future holds and think about what impacts youright now, right this minute. Impressive, isn’t it?
By Sam Macleod, account manager @cooltweetbro