2017 Social & Digital Trends

2017 started with the promise of an increasing dependence on technology that touches almost every aspect of our lives. Here we explore some examples that, depending on their use, can be fantastic tools to deepen connections and expand the horizons of what we define as reality.

Roberto Hernández

 

Ethics and Coding – Who is coding our future?, by Roberto Hernández, Director of Digital and Social Strategy

 

Coding is not new, it has been in the conversation for a long time; but it keeps on evolving and diversifying into industries or products that we never imagined. Every day we read stories about the topic; that it is one of the hottest job skills to have; that kids need to learn it as early as possible in their life, or that -on average- jobs requiring coding skills pay up to $22k more per year.

 

But there is a part of coding that we need to start talking about and make it a trend. It is something that you hardly can find information about and will be key for our future: ethics and coding. Think about the amount of interactions we have on a daily basis with software. And don’t think about email, computers and smartphones only. Go beyond; think about your bank accounts and healthcare providers, think about the cars we drive or the planes we fly in. Think about cameras connected to the Internet to monitor our babies and homes, or those cute Artificial Intelligence (AI) home assistants that we all want to have now. During CES 2016, Ford revealed that the new F150 has more than 150 million lines of code!

 

We are surrounded by code that dictates our interaction with almost everything. This code is not automatically or magically created, there is always someone who was responsible for its creation. And when you bring in the human factor, you also have to deal with a moral factor. The big question in the following years has to be: who is deciding what is right or wrong when coding? Right now someone, somewhere, is coding our future. What mechanisms or supervision process have we put in place to ensure that people that are coding what we will see in the upcoming decades are doing it for a common benefit, and not only to benefit personal interests?

 

I remember Sinan Aral and Young Guru talking about ethics in coding to an almost empty room during SXSW. Just recently, Bill Sourour wrote a post titled The code I´m still ashamed of, that you should read. It is scary to think that at some point, a developer will be asked to do something unethical. And because of that, we need to make sure that we can establish the guidelines to help them do the right thing. It is our future, and all of us should be discussing more about it.

 

 

María di Fonzo

 

Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence, by María di Fonzo, Management Supervisor Social Media

 

First of all, a few considerations; not every piece of video content you watch with a Virtual Reality (VR) headset is virtual reality. VR is a fully immersive experience that transports you out of your environment into a computer-generated world that you can interact with and navigate through.

 

Augmented Reality (AR -many times used as an acronym-) is a computer-generated environment that lets you experience a different reality. It inserts virtual objects into your real-world view. Through VR you can virtually hike the Yosemite Park, tour the British Museum tower, and enjoy a stroll through the streets of Paris without leaving your home or office.

 

There are other –very interesting- social uses of VR; like the initiative of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, which uses immersive virtual reality to create a “virtual shoes” experience through which a participant can viscerally embody an avatar who encounters various forms of racism. They have also designed the initiative of “Learning in Immersive VR”; where a virtual classroom gives researchers the freedom to conduct experiments with complete control over the actions and appearance of virtual teachers, classmates, and surroundings.

 

Since its launch in 2016, many tech companies started to invest in VR. But interest in virtual reality, as we have seen, goes beyond gaming. There is also a big potential for VR to be explored and capitalized on in social media. There is already Oculus  (previously acquired by Facebook). There is also vTime, the first VR sociable network, which allows you to meet new people and socialize with family and friends in virtual environments.

 

For brands, there seem to be many opportunities down the road. According to a survey from Greenlight VR, 71% of consumers feel that VR makes brands seem “forward-thinking and modern”, and 53% said they’d be more likely to purchase from a brand that uses VR than from one that doesn’t, since they feel more emotionally connected.

 

Advertisers will have the opportunity to create their own story, co-develop or sponsor a piece of content. But with VR, it’s all about adjacency; not interruption of the experience. Brands should be smart about their strategies, finding the way to enhance, and not disrupt.

 

Google recently conducted a study to determine what makes VR content attractive to consumers, and participants expressed that it must do at least one of the following three things: 1) Make the viewer the protagonist, not just an spectator, in the VR experience; 2) Make the impossible possible; 3) Expand the viewer’s worldview. By the way, if you haven’t already, I encourage you to check this site where you can conduct your own AI experiments.

 

Since VR is expected to influence the way people interact with each other on social media, it can be expected that more businesses will focus on producing VR gear, content, and potentially creating VR social platforms. However, VR comes in a few different forms and the gear price, for example, will be a factor -among others- that will determine whether VR truly becomes a big social media trend for 2017.

 

Artificial Intelligence

 

Artificial intelligence will continue its growing path during 2017. In fact, investment in AI is expected to triple in 2017. The need for people to reduce their interactions with screens in favor of speaking directly to faceless machines is going to reshape how brands communicate with consumers, and it is also set to redefine social media strategies.

 

AI can help brands to not only communicate more effectively with their customers towards improving their experience, but also to create business to business leads and increase sales. Chatbots are now able to answer customers’ inquiries with predictive capabilities based on previous interactions.

 

Rapid adoption of chatbot technology will continue; led by Facebook’s roll-out of news feed ads that open directly into Messenger chats, and products such as Google Allo, a smart messaging app with an integrated AI assistant.

 

In the workforce realm, while advanced learning machines may replace low-skill jobs, AIs will be able to work collaboratively with human professionals to solve complex problems. In that sense, AI would become one of the most disruptive forces in the IT world.

 

To learn more, I recommend this playlist with 8 talks on AI.

 

 

Zuleyka Vega

 

Social Media as a culture preservation tool, by Zuleyka M. Vega, Social Media Manager

 

Is not a lie that everyday we are exposed to a large amount of content through social media, coming from news, memes, interesting articles, fake news and cute cat videos. And I know this is not something new, but what I see from our Multicultural point of view is that social media is -and it will continue to be- serving as a key tool to preserve culture.

 

As with myself, many people move from their countries of origin to seek for more. We leave our roots planted in our place of birth and become part of the multicultural America. We carry with us a big bag full of culture and traditions to spread and conserve, no matter where we end up. Social media is helping us do that and, even better, is allowing us to keep in touch with our culture and preserve it.

 

You might be asking yourself, how? Let’s start with new media or entertainment outlets like MiTú, Being Latino, Essence, Afro Punk and many more. These new networks are allowing their audience embrace and reconnect with their cultures at the same time they educate many others about the multicultural force that is quickly growing in America. Other great example is streaming video and video content itself, which is allowing us to see our regular local TV programs through the lenses of any device, mobile or not, from almost anywhere in the world. Bloggers and social media personalities are also doing their part by creating content that is relevant and strongly attached to their audience’s roots.

 

It’s important not forget that by 2050, the multicultural segment is going to be the new majority*. As multicultural marketers, we have to observe how the trend is moving, and how culture is been kept alive by the different generations. There are many big opportunities to contribute in a respectful and innovative way, in order to preserve culture and be part of our consumers’ lives.

 

 

*Source: US Census Bureau

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