The recent Consumer Electronics Show managed to gain quite a bit of coverage recently for the marvel that is the self-watering plant. A perfect example of technology improving the many and varied mundane objects that make up our belongings. In this instance, the humble pot plant has been revamped as a smart-plant with the addition of soil sensors so it can tell when acidity and required dampness of the soil requires some form of intervention, i.e. watering. These are exactly the kind of small but practical evolutions we’re due to see over the course of the year ahead, just one of the many social media trends we think will become dominant activities/ideas. So what better way to kick off our Social Media Trends of 2015 than with The Internet of Things.

Throughout this series we hope to highlight the practices, techniques and platforms that we see taking off throughout the year – each of them another rung on the ever-evolving ladder of social media innovation.

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1) The Internet of Things

Inevitably, technology has had a huge impact on social media practices throughout the year. The development of platforms that can listen, understand and carry out pre-determined actions has exploded the social media market place like never before. Not only has evolution of tech giants like Facebook and Google opened up advertising as an almost DIY concept, they’ve begun to reach beyond social media in to real-world solutions like healthcare and the driverless car.

At the simple end of the spectrum, with the launch of Microsoft’s Cortana, voice-recognition has become a standard for Smartphone operating systems and has extended to cars and the automobile industry. Smartphones themselves have become operational hubs for all aspects of our lives, allowing us to monitor and control our health through wrist-bands like Jawbone or FitBit, our fitness through MyFitnessPal or Runkeeper, even our home entertainment through Sonos, AppleTV or provider apps like TV Anywhere from Virgin. Dual-screen and portability is a must but the focus is shifting through Smart-watches and wrist-bands to devices which can communicate between each other, rather than communicating with us alone.

Lighting system, heating systems, energy efficiency – the ability to automate these with the optional luxury of increased control have all contributed to the concept of The Internet of Things. A concept where all tech can become Smart and our lives can be simplified through DIY automation. Platforms like ITTT have already begun to allow us to automate our virtual lives, whether it’s filing emails, sending reminders for the next item on our to-do list or automatically posting our latest blog post to Twitter, the ability to link systems is already there. And soon enough this kind of technology will allow all aspects of a person’s home to become interlinked and self-regulating. Your fridge will notice when you’re running low on milk and not only alert you to this (if you really want to know of course…) but order more milk from your supermarket. Beyond this, your fridge could maintain your shopping list to a level that ensures a balanced, healthy diet, perhaps even calculate your calorie intake and regulate what you’re able to eat and when. The possibilities are only really limited by what consumers deem ‘useful’. The beauty of these systems, and their inevitable growth, is not only that life becomes easier for people but that everything becomes that much more measurable.

Increased automation means increased data. Increased data allows for the observation of habits and trends, increased ability to trend allows us as marketers to model behaviours and tendencies and distinguish the best possible way to approach consumers with product recommendations or brand messaging. Beyond the sociological aspects implied there is huge potential there for integration with social media channels, allowing for activities or milestones to be share with the wider network of family and peers. And as such, this means increased accuracy for content targeting and native advertising. The Internet of Things could well be the step-change we’ve been looking for to allow a future of ultra-personalised, ultra-relevant marketing techniques tailored to the ever-increasing niche audiences for our products and services.

Photo by Flickr user Marcus Brown, used under a Creative Commons license.

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