The biggest take-away for me at #SXSW is that social media is not hip and cool anymore. There have been tons of applications, tons of new tools. But there has been nothing to really made the audience go wow. And that is a good thing. Social media is getting mature. People use it to find their way around, locate sessions, comment on content, book cars and taxis and hotels, hunt for food.
The different applications on the smart phones are used, often on daily basis. There might be fewer applications on average per phone than a couple of months ago, but the applications that make it to the phones’ homepages are truly used. Most people even forget that the app or service they are using was once called social media. It turned into the stuff they use every day: tissues, car keys, chewing gum, twitter, Facebook, Google maps.
Social media is mainstream, it is everywhere, and it slipped into people’s lives and became quietly ubiquitous. Just as people do not get excited about car keys and bottle openers any more, they do not get easily excited about social media anymore either.
Focus goes clearly on functionality: does it work, will it work better, smoother, quicker? Will it interact with my social ecosystem? Does it link to my social networks? Do I really need it? The crowd became picky, asking for proof before want. Having new is not cool anymore, having best-in-class is. That forces developers and strategists to shift down a gear, and to push the pedal to the metal: that download from the app store will from now on have to be earned. The days of cool and shallow are buried somewhere with the leftovers from #SxSW 2011.