Asked and answered: three important questions for marketing in a connected world

By ‎@MitaliHobbs‎

Virtual assistants who know when you’ve entered a room. Headphones that act as a live platform for sharing. Snowboarders who transmit their every move to fans off the mountain and around the globe. As the internet of everything continues to encompass more devices, we find ourselves at the tipping point of a major shift in connected experiences.

Marketers have an opportunity to leverage this new connected ecosystem and redefine how brands engage with audiences and share their stories. And research shows that Twitter is a hub for technology early adopters and enthusiasts.

We recently hosted our #Twitter4Tech event and Periscope broadcast with thought leaders from CNET, Intel, and Muzik to dig deeper into these topics. At the event, we asked our speakers to address three important questions impacting technology marketers today:

  1. Which connected technology platforms are here to stay (and how will they evolve)?
  2. How can brands use connected technology to create content that people can’t live without?
  3. What role do early adopters and influencers on Twitter play in technology conversation and adoption?

In case you missed the event, we’ve captured key takeaways from our experts below.

Connected technology platforms that are here to stay

Sharon Profis, a senior editor at technology site CNET, answered question one, describing emerging technology platforms, four pillars of today’s connected technology ecosystem, and where these categories are headed.

Virtual reality

Profis began by highlighting how virtual reality enhances customer experience because of its inherently immersive nature:

“When you watch TV or you’re on your phone, you are still aware of the world around you. But when you put on a VR headset, that is where you are. Content creators have your undivided attention in the world they created for you.”
-Sharon Profis, Senior Editor at CNET

Profis also said smartphone-based virtual reality will emerge as the biggest category in this space as the components will have all the power of VR headsets but will remain relatively inexpensive.

When it comes to content, Profis notes that 2016 is the year of experimentation, as content creators explore what’s possible with VR. 2017 will be a pivotal year for brands looking to connect with consumers in the VR space, and content will begin to be tailored to drive purchases. And in 2018, Profis believes that VR hardware will start to be created with a content-first philosophy in response to what audiences want.

Personal assistants (the robot kind)

We’re in the age of conversation. From Apple’s Siri to Amazon’s Alexa, personal assistants have the potential to be the thread connecting all of our devices. As innovations around natural language processing and machine learning increase, Profis believes this category will grow and mature:

Profis says: “Imagine a virtual assistant that knows everything about you and starts to learn your behaviors. You’re heading to a meeting at work, and your assistant automatically silences your phone the moment you sit down. It’s a simple but meaningful example of how smarter technology can make our lives easier.”

The smart home

More than a quarter of Americans have purchased a smart home device, with the main purchase motivators being increased security, savings and convenience, and interest in trying new technology, according to CNET’s Profis. Moving forward, the goal for this category will be to improve user experience.

Profis adds, “The goal for the next few years is to not just make smart home products seem easy to use, but to actually make them easy to use.”

Wearables

Twitter’s new research findings show that early adopters on Twitter are 75 percent more likely to have recently purchased a smartwatch and 40 percent more likely to have purchased a fitness tracker than users of other social networks. Profis says these purchases are driven by the notifications, fitness motivation, and voice commands offered by wearable devices. But as this category begins to mature, what will drive future demand?

Profis says: “Two major drivers of future smartwatch purchases: 1) proactive information, or predictive actions based on user behaviors, and 2) the emergence of the smartwatch as a hub bridging all your devices.”

How brands can create content that people can’t live without

Ashley Cole, US media director for Intel, and Jason Hardi, founder and CEO of Muzik, joined Profis for a fireside chat to discuss ways that innovative technology brands are storytelling in a connected world. It all comes down to user experience, according to both Cole and Hardi.

Cole highlighted Intel’s commitment to telling stories and creating incredible experiences. From putting Intel chips in snowboards to giving new perspective into the Winter X Games to powering Lady Gaga’s mind-bending David Bowie tribute performance with wearables at the Grammys, Intel is focused on connecting audience passion points with new experiences and exclusive content.

According to Cole, “It’s exciting to experiment with smart, wearable technology that has never been used before for the sake of creating great stories and a great user experience. Twitter is a platform we use to connect fans to these cultural experiences in real time, as conversations are happening.”

This approach specifically helps Intel connect with Millennial audiences.

Cole says: “Most Millennials don’t know or don’t care what Intel is doing for them. We take on the challenge of pushing a sport or a performance to the technological leading edge to show them what Intel is capable of.”

Hardi shared how Muzik, a groundbreaking connected headphone device, is focused on the user experience above all else. Hardi and his team are passionate music lovers and believe headphones can and should do more.

According to Hardi, “Ten years ago, the phone was used to talk and text. Now it’s an amazing technology platform. We think headphones can be the same. We work backwards, thinking of what experiences we want to create, and then we put in the software tools to empower it.”

Focusing on experience first has changed how Hardi approaches both product and content development.

Hardi says: “We used to design products to fit the space. Now, we create products specifically designed for a great user experience. Products need to grow, just like we do.”

The role early adopters and influencers on Twitter play in technology conversation and adoption

Twitter’s Jeffrey Graham, global head of research, closed out #Twitter4Tech by diving into brand new research findings that confirm Twitter’s critical mass within tech early adopters and tech purchasers — and what brands should know about connecting to these audiences.

Graham shared that technology adoption moves much faster today, with Twitter playing a vital role in how content and news is disseminated to the market through early adopters on the platform.

Back in the 1930s, it took nearly a decade for the entire agricultural market to adopt the sturdy crop we recognize as “corn” (according to a seminal study on the phenomenon of early adopters referenced by Graham). It now takes Twitter users less than a week to make a technology purchase once they’ve decided to buy.

Graham says: “Something we’ve found to be true all over the world is that Twitter users really value the platform for getting information about new technology. Early adopters drive conversation that influences and in many ways predicts category growth.”