In an announcement that surprised very few people last week, Cupertino’s finest revealed the first ever Apple Watch. Many commentators are predicting that, like mp3 players, smartphones and tablets, Apple’s arrival into the smartwatch market provides wearable technology with mainstream appeal and long-term staying power.
Of course, wearable tech does not stop at watches, with Google Glass arguably generating the most excitement among consumers thus far. We have already seen isolated examples of the technology used in American Football (as shown above) – and some of the major social platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat are now introducing functionality for their apps to wearable devices. However, the wearable industry is still in its infancy and it hasn’t been until now that applications for wearable devices will become a mainstream product for developers.
Now, the wearables industry enters a gold rush for a standout social app for these new devices – because current platforms are too content-rich to shrink and display on a tiny watch screen. The new gadgets will have to operate on their own merit, without the need for a smartphone app, to really flourish.
This means reducing messaging to the bare bones – prioritising the quality of communication over richness and detail. Even a 140-character Tweet would be too lengthy as a piece of content on a smartwach, and would a Facebook post hold the user’s attention when glancing through Google Glass?
Where will wearables position in the social media marketing mix? As the success of Vine and Snapchat have proven, social media users (particularly in the younger demographic) are hugely receptive to short, snackable content. This translates to engagement as well: users already engage in the way that’s quickest (applause) over ways that are more demanding for time (conversation and amplification). While user experience across products ranging from Apple Watch to Android Wear to Google Glass will likely vary a considerable amount, creating a language of engagement that plays to wearable strengths – gestures, body movements and voice control – is how the next big social platform will distinguish itself.
So where do sports brands come into play? First of all, wearables present a clean slate for marketers to push content. Consumers have become so accustomed to notifications popping up on a smartphone that many disregard those messages until a later time. If a smartwatch were to vibrate, being physically connected to the user means the natural reaction is to check the screen.
Because wearables will undergo several phases of adoption before it’s safe to assume that almost everyone has one, the cogent tactic for marketers would be to first use the devices to get personal. For example, Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Gear – even screenless trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone Up – track the user’s physical activity. Sportswear brands will mine this valuable CRM data, and offer the consumer information on the latest products, relevant to their activity.
If wearable technology is really here to stay and not simply a passing fad, at some point in the future we could be attending a sporting event where the majority of spectators have one. You’ll be sat there during a lull in play, and a message from an event sponsor flashes up on your smartwatch saying something like:
“Check out our amazing offer. Come to this part of the stadium. Give the attendant a high-five to collect a discount.”
Conclusion? Though smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of everyday life to most of us, they have also made communication more elaborate, more screen-centric and ultimately more homogenous. Wearables, within the evolving universe of connected products, dubbed the ‘Internet of Things’, present an opportunity to scale back complex communication to a simpler and (arguably) less intrusive experience. In turn, the new challenge for marketers will become a defining paradigm for brands and fans to connect.
header image source: http://qoosha.com/is-wearable-tech-the-next-big-thing/