Autonomous vehicles (AVs, or self-driving cars) may provide the greatest leap in social media integration since the release of the smartphone itself. While driving a traditional car one is limited to either listening to media or giving limited voice commands to a smartphone. The transition to autonomous vehicles will change all of this. No longer will we be restricted to listening to only the radio, music, podcasts, or other audio based content. Instead, video will become the norm and with video content, social media will also be integrated.
Most experts expect AVs to come with either multiple screens for watching video content and viewing social media, or augmented reality screens, in which video is superimposed on the windshield of the car, allowing passengers to see both media content and the world outside. No longer will scrolling through Facebook in a car be dangerous and illegal. Instead, it will become a normal part of the daily commute.
According to a study by AAA, the average American spends 290 hours per year on the road, traveling an average distance of 10,900 miles per year. https://newsroom.aaa.com/2016/09/americans-spend-average-17600-minutes-driving-year/ With the advent of AVs, people’s driving time, which beforehand was limited in both social media access and social media marketing reach, will likely expand astronomically, providing increased recreational time for passengers and exciting new opportunities for marketers.
What Social Media Integration Might Look Like
While scrolling through Facebook or Instagram on a screen in our AVs will almost certainly be commonplace, the possibilities extend far beyond this and will likely contain options we are yet to even dream of.
Social media integration in AVs will provide businesses with more targeted marketing options than ever before. Current radio advertising, for example, caters to the masses. Ads tend to be for businesses that almost everyone uses or will use at some point, such as car dealerships, grocery stores, doctors, and lawyers. It would be rare, for example, to hear a radio commercial for specialized aftermarket parts for vintage car enthusiasts. There simply aren’t enough people out there with that particular hobby to justify paying for the airtime.
But if you’re riding in your AV and you have liked social media pages for businesses which focus on vintage car parts, then your AV might tell you about a store which sells those types of parts that is right up the road. The best part is, this notification would only go to those targeted—those who have shown a specific interest in this type of service, and not to the masses as a whole. This could make marketing more affordable and effective than previously possible.
Targeted social media based marketing in AVs will likely speak to an individual’s specific interests and needs. Ads could even be customized to the person sitting in a specific seat, with facial recognition software automatically loading social media profiles.
Let’s say you like a certain restaurant on social media and your location tracker has shown you going there many times. Your car might say “Are you ready for dinner? Your favorite restaurant is two miles away. Would you like me to take you there?” Your car would likely even be able to reserve a table and place an order for you.
One likely downside of AV social media integration would be privacy. Some people will not want every aspect of their likes and dislikes, as well as their favorite locations, to be accessible.
A young couple with lots of baby pictures on their social media accounts, for example, might not appreciate being bombarded with targeted ads for baby clothes and diapers. There are many ethical issues which will have to be worked out as new technology progresses.
Marketers can avoid overstepping their bounds by always asking for permission when personal information is involved. They must also be careful to insure that AV based social media marketing and advertisements are created for the benefit of customers and provide valuable suggestions and options without being overbearing. If the technology makes customers’ lives easier and provides them with what they feel is a valuable service, then they will likely approve and welcome AV based marketing into their daily lives.
It is impossible to say how long it will be before autonomous vehicles are the norm. But regardless of the time scale, it is evident that social media will be integrated into this new technology. This presents a great opportunity for marketers, as the many hours people previously spent driving will transition into increased time for entertainment and social media interaction.
Matt Ramage has been marketing websites for over 20 years. He loves helping businesses improve their user experience and searchability on the Internet. Matt now heads Emarketed which is located in Los Angeles, California. They specialize in SEO, social media marketing and web development.