Wearable tech and social media

Last week, I attended my first Pubcon Las Vegas. The Pubcon conference schedule is loaded with industry speakers talking about the latest innovations in search, social and content marketing – and I was proud to be a part of it, representing MMI Agency on the panel “Beyond SEO: Market Intersection Optimization,” a talk about the future of wearable technology marketing.

My co-panelist, Casey Markee, spoke about Wearable Marketing with Beacons, and I discussed how wearable technology affects social media – now and into the future. Below is a recap.

#1. Wearables have the potential to cut through consumers’ natural ad block.

As consumers, we are exposed to 5,000+ branded messages per day. In addition to device-specific adblockers, like what we’re seeing on mobile devices, we have developed a natural adblock to filter through and tune many of those ads out. Because wearables are so personal, they have the potential to become a part of users’ lives to cut through the clutter.

#2. The rise of new social communities around connected objects.

Everyday objects are now connected – creating a new network of data and intelligence. Niche communities are rising as users of these devices come together to share their experiences – particularly in the health and fitness space. As an obsessive FitBit user, I not only interact with the community on the native FitBit community website, but also cross-post my updates and achievements to other social channels (such as Instagram).

These new device-centered communities create opportunities for brands to:

  • jump into these new social conversations in a meaningful way,
  • find influencers in these spaces and look for micro-influencers who may have a small but passionate user base and whose pull is often stronger than influencers with a wider but shallower network, and
  • encourage community members to cross-post achievements to other social channels to spread their reach.

#3. Wearables increase the speed of engagement.

As consumers are always connected, brands need to be prepared to always be on as well. We’ve already seen smartphones increase consumers’ expectations on brand response time. A recent Edison Research study found that 42 percent of consumers who post about a brand on social media expect a response on social media in under an hour. Another 25 percent expect a response the same day. As consumers continue to be hyper-connected to their devices and social media notifications are available on their wrists, this expectation will only accelerate.

edison social media response expectations

#4. More data means more targeting options, but screen size is limited.

This is the major paradox of wearables and social media: Wearables create a huge opportunity to engage with consumers in a very personal way based on the user information they provide, but screen size to interact with these consumers is getting smaller.

Using Beacon technology, wearables allow marketers to target users with more precision than ever. Beacons allow brands to not only message to users while they are in a given retail location, but also to deliver customized messaging based on where they are within the location. With Beacon technology, we can deliver a welcome message as a user walks through the door, a specific product coupon as they browse through a particular aisle of the store, and a store map or other assistance based on their movement within the store.

#5. Content becomes (even more) concise.

As marketers and advertisers, we have to become even more creative as screens shrink. The Apple Watch has been the dominating sales in 2015, with 75 percent of the global market share. On an Apple Watch it becomes much harder for consumers to understand, absorb and act on our messages in the context of a small interface.

Brands are beginning to develop microcontent, where brands get their messages across at a glance. And brands have more tools in their toolkit than ever before to share this content. Symbols like emoticons and emojis help shorten the distance between message and consumer.

For example, Domino’s recent campaign allows consumers to communicate with the brand with a single character. Once a user opts into the program with their default order, all they have to do is tweet a single pizza emoji to the brand to get pizza delivered directly to their door. And the consumer now associates the pizza emoji symbol to the Domino’s brand.

Dominos anywhere

Dominos tweet pizza

#6. Storytelling remains key.

Storytelling is at the heart of any social media platform. In the last few years, we have seen the rise of quick visual platforms like Instagram and Snapchat that instantly tell a story in one image. Wearables will only make this interaction quicker, solidifying the need for brands to tell their story in a meangingful and concise way.

instagram apple watch

Instagram app on the Apple watch

#7. Calls to action change.

Wearable devices create an entirely different user interface than a computer or phone, and our calls to action need to adjust accordingly. Users can’t browse the Web or their social media timelines in the same way they do on a mobile device.

For example, on the Apple Watch, Twitter app users can retweet, reply and favorite Tweets. They cannot click on specific links or hashtags in tweets that appear in the timeline. So when Twitter content would typically encourage clicks through to a brand’s website or landing page, we need to rethink our call to action to find the most valuable action for us and our consumers.

#8. Privacy becomes more nuanced.

As people opt in to even more devices and services, they will become more aware of when and where they are connected and what data they are leaking out.

We have already seen this start to unfold, particularly when it comes to the largest social platforms. Each time Facebook rolls out updates to its Privacy Policy or Terms of Service, searches for terms like “Facebook privacy” spike.

Google trends facebook privacy

Google Trends data on the term “Facebook privacy”

Currently much of this conversation is still confusing to nontechnical users, as evidenced by hoaxes circulating around fake Facebook policy updates in recent weeks. A December 2014 Pew Research study found that 52 percent of American Internet users still don’t know what a “Privacy Policy” really means.

#9. Useful content wins.

Regardless of the device, providing useful content is best way to engage with your consumers. Consumers don’t want to see sales messages pushed out with no relevance. Content, including branded apps, that provides value to the consumer will win in the wearable world. This continues to be true throughout social media – as competition grows and screen size shrinks.

How do you begin to prepare for wearables?

Key takeaways:

  • Know your audience. Understand its device habits. If the audience is full of early adopters, you may want to jump into wearables sooner rather than later.
  • Tell your brand story in a meaningful and concise way.
  • Look for opportunities for microcontent that is meaningful at a glance.
  • Beyond your logo – define brand assets, including commonly used images and taglines so consumers get used to seeing this content from you in a consistent way.
  • Always seek to provide value.
  • Monitor social conversations about your brand/industry.
  • Stay on top of wearable technology developments.


 Caitlin Jeansonne caitlin j
Social Strategist


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