My grandmother used to say three things changed the world after World War II: the atom bomb, the birth control pill, and television. The atom bomb because people recognized that entire countrysides could be devastated in a matter of seconds; the pill because women could control their fertility; and television because people could watch the news unfold in real time. It wasn't just her either: It seems that most historians agree with this premise.
When we look back at the evolution of the web, what three factors will contribute to the birth of the next level of interactive experiences? Will we even be able to pin it on any three factors?
In my opinion, three interactive elements are driving the evolution of how consumers interact with brands online:
- Social media
According to Wikipedia, "A Web 2.0 site allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators (prosumers) of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumers) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them." I think we're witnessing the beginning of Web 3.0 because video, social media, and mobile are contributing to a radical change in content consumption. Content is no longer limited to a site but rather is free to roam about the web. Consumers can morph content delivery by distributing a piece of content they like across their social networks in a matter of seconds. Second, consumers are no longer limited to one device to consume content, or even one location-they can consume at will in different formats in different places.
It's probably helpful to define what others think Web 3.0 will look like. While there's a difference of opinion about Web 3.0 (shocking, I'm sure), most people agree that this newer, improved version of the interactive experience will be the overlay of many different types of interaction together. We may be seeing the beginning of this new type of experience, as brand managers begin to create strategies for multiscreened and multithreaded experiences.
Multiscreened is when people consume content on different screens, such as when you watch your TV, while checking your Twitter stream on your phone. Multithreaded refers to conversations you have with different people on different topics on different devices. These days managing content online means contending with users' constantly shifting focus.
The popularity of YouTube and video online cannot be denied. Now that people can take videos using their mobile devices and upload them so easily, video will continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Research suggests, however, that people will not watch a video past 30 seconds, which means that brand managers have to ask themselves some important questions about what video is truly capable of achieving in terms of growing market share.
However, it won't be YouTube videos that will push Web 2.0 into Web 3.0. That honor goes to applications such as Skype and Google hangouts. The ability to video-chat so easily with anyone in the world belies a depth of interactivity that will continue to push the collaboration experience.
Communicating with friends, colleagues, and strangers on a variety of topics will continue to make the globe feel more like a village. People I barely knew a year ago have become friends because of our interaction on social media. Furthermore, interaction becomes shaded and nuanced by the sharing of content on multiple social media channels, making it more crucial for brand managers who need to decide where to spend their time and resources.
Anywhere you go, you can communicate (easily) with anyone in the world in myriad ways, thanks to mobile phones, video, and social media. Mobile has changed the entire landscape of the web, pushing us into new frontiers by changing patterns of content consumption. Again, multithreaded and multiscreened overlays of interaction add depth to experience, opening brands to wider reach. Now you can reach your target consumer almost anywhere-but how do you break through all that noise?
Paying attention to your video, social media, and mobile strategies are a good bet, as users continue to push communication technologies to shift and adapt to fit into their lives.