We all talk about how consumption of media is changing, but don’t often look exactly what this means for the consumer. Specifically, there are two key influences happening right now which are leading to about ten other things.
The two key influences are the rise of social networking and the extension of then mobile phone from communications into other areas.
By social networking, I include social media, being media which we can interact with in some form (by commenting, blogging, creating, sharing or mashing up with other things); social networking, being the ability to define groups of friends and communicate in a more public manner with them, either by actively communicating or by referential communication, activities we (publicly) undertake; and the wider concept pf social graph, defined as “the network of connections that exist through which people communicate and share information.” (Dave Morin, Facebook) which underpins social sharing sites like Flickr, youTube, Twitter, FriendFeed etc.
The change in the mobile phone reflects that which happened with the internet. Email was a killer app for the internet – suddenly we could communicate with people easily. Yes, there was content, but it was difficult to find outside of our walled gardens (like CompuServe and AOL), search wasn’t very sophisticated and it seemed huge (in reality, a fraction of the size it is now). Mobile phones are starting to be not the primary device for content and media, but definitely an option to a growing section of the community. That, coupled with their uniquely exclusive relationship with an individual, makes them a critical device.
So, together, we find that our networks and the people we know are becoming more and more central to what we do; what we buy; what we read and what interests us. Not so much ‘herd’ mentality as ‘tribal’ interests. Conversations between people relate either to the imparting of new information, or the discussing of shared information – so knowing what our friends are doing, reading and saying will influence what we are also likely to do, read or say. And as the whole idea of ‘life caching’ means that the mobile will move into being a part of the way we capture and consume the stories that are our day.
In order to facilitate this, we need to ensure that our relationship with our consumers takes into account the fact that their networks and social graph are far more important that we are (the mere deliverers of content) and that recognising their primary relationships (social) also means ensure that we continue to know who they are (and what they’ve done) regardless of the device through which our relationship with them is mediated – thus ensuring that our knowledge of what will drive them encompasses all those elements of their life. (The zero, one, two, three rule.)