The Third Generation of Social Media

Did you know that we are currently experiencing the Third Generation of Social Media? I, for one, did not and I am sure that many of us in the audience on the 10 March did not know either. Thus we here at PHBS- UK is very honored that Arnold Ma, Founder and CEO of Qumin was able to give our staff and students a webinar on marketing, social media, and how we all need to adapt to this third generation of social media that we all live in.

Arnold Ma is a speaker, writer, podcast host, and founder of Qumin, Europe’s first Chinese digital creative agency. The official line is that ‘Qumin delivers creative marking campaigns based on Chinese audience behaviors’. However, over a steamed bun in Camden Town, Arnold will tell you that his bigger purpose in life is to ‘Open the World to China’. His belief is that only Digital can make both the official and personal happen quickly. To walk the talk, Arnold is active on Digital and Social Media platforms. You can find him on LinkedIn, Clubhouse, WeChat, Instagram, Dao Insights, and 9gag. What makes him interesting is despite his laid-back demeanor – he still wears flip-flops to work - Arnold is a powerhouse in creative marketing and his ideas on Digital are leagues ahead of many others in the industry.

Thus it is our extreme pleasure to have Arnold talk to us about the marketing and the third generation of social media. The rapid rise of social media has mapped our growing desire to engage with other people- friends, family and even strangers - online. The proliferation of ‘fake news’, the rise of partisanship across the US and Europe, many believe that traditional social networks like Facebook and Twitter are contributing to the deepening of political divisions and alienating users, on top of correlations of time spent on social media being associated with mental health issues like anxiety and loneliness, it is unsurprising that these traditional social networks are losing traction.

On top of all that, marketing consultants have discovered that the seemingly endless reach of social networks for their purposes, namely Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, have become a bottomless flow of ads and commercials which are artificially creating needs rather than retaining their power as a tool to fulfill the human sense of community. When all these factors are considered, social media has become decidedly, unsocial.
However, trends have shown that despite the Gen Z (those born in the mid to late 1990s) dropping these traditional platforms, a new generation of social media is slowly rising. This “third generation” reflects a fundamental evolution in the way the user is viewing the social media platform – its uses and objectives. These third generation platform users are seeking to connect meaningfully online. Third generational platforms focus on meaningful social interaction, with the aim of fulfilling human needs and not focusing on ad-driven ones. These platforms eschew conventional means of interaction which are only limited to scrolling and liking. Rather, they offer more active and genuine user experience that focuses on live-streaming and direct interaction between young people.

So what implications does this have on marketing and ads? People are growing increasingly annoyed by random ads popping up in the middle of a YouTube video and the privacy issues surrounding targeted ads are growing rather alarming. Thus, in this latest generation of social media, Arnold offers some creative advice – make use of AI. On these live-streamed videos and interactions, platforms can incorporate AI into the user interface. If the user sees a product they like and want to know more about, they can freeze frame and touch on the product. There the platform can identify which product it is, and link the user to the same or similar products.

This changes the game completely – companies now need to integrate their products into these meaningful social interactions rather than mining users data. For some, this might seem like a throwback to the 90s and noughties were product placement ran gamut. However, Arnold has a piece of advice to companies and how they can manage their product placement effectively; stop paying influencers to hawk your products or paying for ads on social media. Rather, try to engage with the users of social media in a meaningful way, where your products are integrated into a storyboard or some form of meaningful social interaction which can drive change and benefit societies. When effectively managed, you can not only sell more of your products but also engage in meaningful corporate social responsibility where you can spread ideas and innovations, improve discourse, and encourage broader participation.

The ideas that Arnold shared with us in the webinar were so forward thinking, meaningful, and socially responsible.

Naturally, this resonated with our Gen Z student population. There were a plethora of questions form the audience – staff and students alike. It was a lively discussion with a lot of engagement between the speaker and the audience. To borrow the term from the article, the webinar was indeed a meaningful one. We thank Arnold for his time and for sharing his expertise with us. We hope that we will continue to build a meaningful relationship with Arnold and we look forward to inviting him onto campus to interact with our staff and students another meaningfully in person!