#WearableTech: The Next Social Media Gamechanger

Fitbit, Google Glass, Apple Watch, oh my!

Interested to see where the next revolution in technology will take place? Look no further than your wrist.

A recent survey by Business Insider claimed smartwatches will see device shipments grow at an annualized rate of 18% through 2021 to reach 70 million units. Another Business Insider article stated the wearables market global shipments in general will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 24.8% over five years, reaching 162.9 million units in 2020.

More interestingly, wearable devices, with their small interfaces and more personalized features, have the ability to induce yet another social media revolution, altering the way we communicate with brands and each other.

How is wearable technology affecting social media?

#1 “Bite-Size” Messaging

It is no secret that our favorite social platforms function differently on wearable devices in comparison to our smartphones or laptops. The key difference is that these smart accessories have extremely limited screen space (about 42mm), which eliminates the ability to surf the Internet/social newsfeeds and click on specific links or hashtags for further browsing. Therefore, applications available on such devices as the Apple Watch including Twitter and Facebook allow you to tweet, post, favorite, share, and purchase products with a simple “tap” feature.

This “tapping” is ultimately altering the nature of social messaging, especially the amount of information users share and receive from friends or advertisers. It is important to realize that wearables are not necessarily causing people to communicate less, but rather they are increasing the rate of “micro-interactions” in which conciseness is key to catching hyper-connected millennials’ ever-shrinking attention spans.


#2 Aesthetic Appeal

 …And what better way to attract users’ attention than a pretty picture. The influx of wearable technology has elevated the need to tell a story in a concise, evocative way. Since storytelling is central to social media, the rise of image-central applications like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest have been extremely popular. The nature of wearable technology, specifically smartwatches, calls for the introduction of more quick visual applications that can tell a story in one image, effectively utilizing every millimeter of a device’s screen.


#3 Voice-Based Control

Also, as a result of limited screen space, applications such as Facebook Messenger have embraced quick interactions via voice recognition technology such as voice-activated clips, stickers, and likes. A 2015 Huffington Post article predicted that a shift to voice recognition technology will cause interactions on social platforms to also shift, stating:

“The patterns of of communication on social media…will grow to be more informal, more conversational, and less prone to typing or wording errors. As a result, you’ll have to change your communicative style to cater to those more conversational inquiries.”

#4 Increased Sharing

As mentioned before, “wearable social media” is increasing our level of interaction with people we know, but also others within a select niche wearable device community. For example, FitBit, a fitness tracking device, promotes an active lifestyle that entices members to upload and share their progress on their other personal social media platforms. The ability to have others comment and acknowledge your progress fulfills a psychological need to be rewarded. One FitBit user has the ability to motivate another user by engaging in this positive, mutually beneficial digital community.


How can businesses utilize “wearable social media”?

The changes in social media brought on by the novel format, size, and scope of wearable technology will ultimately affect how businesses use different social platforms to interact with consumers and fulfill their changing interests. Here are 4 ways in which marketers can utilize smart accessories to improve strategic brand exposure.

#1 Data

Because wearable technology such as FitBit encourages the creation of social media villages surrounding certain topics such as fitness, novel networks of data and intelligence that can better inform marketers as to customer needs are also created. By amassing information that users share with each other such as heart rates, food choices, and locations, wearable tech provides an outlet where brands can enter their social conversations in a meaningful way. Marketers now have consumers’ preferences at their finger tips and can improve their business’ product, target specific audiences, or create more niche communities accordingly.


#2 GPS

Data is not limited to consumer preferences, but can also give companies a literal map to consumers’ desires via location-based advertising that disseminates immediate exclusive offers. Smartwatches contain special GPS services that recognize a consumer’s exact location. If consumers check into a company’s Facebook or Twitter page they can activate an automatic discount that can be used toward their next purchase at that business. By becoming wearable-friendly a business has the potential to incentivize consumers toward purchase as well as increase its visibility to all of a certain user’s friends and followers on other social media platforms.

#3 Customer Loyalty

Additionally, smartwatch users are able to accumulate points that businesses offer as part of certain customer loyalty programs on their device. This rewards system can work in tandem with locational services in multiple ways. For example, if a user receives a notification that he or she has gathered enough points for a free product, but GPS shows that a friend is closer to the local business, the person can transfer their reward to his or her friend with the ease of sending a text message. New business can be created and buzz surrounding the company can be generated by getting users to share their rewards with friends across different social platforms.

Additionally, businesses can utilize smartwatch applications to facilitate purchase and enhance the customer’s in-store experience. For example, Starbucks created a mobile app for the Apple Watch that is able to access a user’s Starbucks card, use Starbucks Rewards to notify the user when he or she has accumulated enough points for a free product, and find other, local Starbucks stores. In effect, loyal customers are able to access the company’s application with ease and customize their coffee experience, which, in turn, bolsters the company’s core following.


#4 Targeted Messaging

Due to limited space, product advertisements promoted via wearable social media must cut through the clutter. Brands must understand the desire for image-heavy content that fulfills consumer need with a simple “tap” instead of scrolling through pages of information. Social Times argues that:

“Banner and pay-per-click ads could become obsolete due to the change in screen size and difference in interface, so branching out to more user friendly media is key”

Once company that is practicing the promotion of “micro-content” is Domino’s. In 2015 the company introduced its “AnyWare” campaign that allowed users to order pizzas on various devices, including smartwatches, by simply tweeting a pizza emoji @dominos. Using platform integration, each purchase was, according to a 2015 Computer World article, “a public shout-out for the chain, encouraging all of that person’s followers to do the same.” The Domino’s campaign was wildly successful, especially in terms of awareness, earning 2 billion media impressions, segments on Jimmy Fallon, Ellen and the Today Show and DominosAnyWare.com received over 500k visits.


Future of #WearableTech…

Our society has just started to tap into the wide array of possible wearable technology categories and this post just scratches the surface of the uses of smart accessories. If the devices mentioned above and their marketing potential don’t impress you keep an eye out for Biotech Wearables, aka “tech tattoos”, Snap Inc.’s Spectacles, and many more devices that will dramatically affect the way businesses communicate with consumers and how members within our own personal networks interact.



  1. francoismba · ·

    I enjoyed reading how wearable technology impacts messaging. It will be interesting to see if companies start developing websites and apps specifically for wearable technology, just like they did for mobile devices. Also, I’m curious how much time social media platforms are spending on re-designing the layout and features of their applications such as the Facebook ’emotion’ emojis. Domino’s has obviously figured out a great way in which consumers can continue interacting with the company even with limited messaging power. I wonder which companies will be quick to follow their lead.

  2. skuchma215 · ·

    Very well thought out and very well researched! I’m really excited to see where wearable tech could go in the years to come. Hopefully we’ll reach a point where all your articles of clothing could be considered wearable tech. Snapchat is certainly leading the way with their glasses. I wonder if and which digital business will follow and start releasing their own wearable teach. There are still many accessories that could be turned into wearable tech such as belts and hats. Also I’m curious if you think people might resist wearable tech due to its GPS features. Allowing a company to track your location could be something customers might be resistant to.

  3. gkhanlon · ·

    Such a well presented and well supported blog post! It is funny that wearable tech is growing, because I personally thought I would never want my device on my write and insisted I would not give into the hype of an Apple watch.. but recently I have found myself considering it. In terms of an innovation curve, wearable tech seems to be moving from the early adopters and early majority to the mass market as it becomes so common. I think it will be interesting to see how all companies handle the increase in use of these devices. Will they ignore it as a trend, or invest in the development of wearable tech specific platforms they way they have for mobile over eComm in the past? Great post with great examples, such a fun read!

  4. spulde13 · ·

    Great post! Recently, I was in the market to purchase a Fitbit, or some sort of device to monitor my steps, etc while working out. Health and wellness is extremely important to me and I have always wanted to be able to track my steps with a Fitbit. However, I was sadly disappointed- while I love running (particularly on the treadmill) and using the stairmaster, my Fitbit did not track these steps! For every 20 steps on the stairmaster, it only accounted for one or two additional steps. In addition, when I was looking to purchase a Fitbit, I was amazed how many options there were and how they all sounded so similar in their functionality. It was impossible to tell the difference and just felt like a shot in the dark to determine which one was actually beneficial. I do agree that these wearable technologies plays an important role in business. I was reading an article recently that Aetna is giving a subsidy for its customers to purchase an Apple watch. This is a bit controversial seeing how Aetna is a HUUUUGE insurance provider for a large number of people. If an employee does purchase the Apple Watch using the subsidy, Aetna will now have access to critical data on physical activity levels, steps taken, calories intake, time standing still, etc. It is apparent how this aligns with your notion about how these wearable technologies are important from the perspective of the data they can acquire from them.

    Here is the article about Aetna and Apple Watch: http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/28/technology/aetna-apple-watch/

  5. Really great job, I love the transition from wearable tech in our own lives and social media to its business applications. I had actually never considered until now the effect that a small screen might have on advertising capability. Certainly any conventional ads would be too large and abrasive to function properly on a small watch surface. That would likely create more customer friction than anything else. As a result you seen to be right that these single tap involvements (like the dominos pizza emoji order) could be the way forward. The essence of wearable tech is being able to use it easily and with small glancing looks, creative advertising will have to follow!

  6. Great blog! I had no idea how much wearable technology is capable of prior to reading your post. It was particularly interesting to read how banner and pay-per-click ads could become obsolete due to the small screen size of wearable technology and how the limited number of characters that can be viewed on the screen really does affect the way advertisers are going to promote products in the digital business sphere in the future. Interesting topic!

  7. Wow, really nice post. I confess that I really do like my Apple watch, but it’s not (yet) quite as useful as I had hoped. But, like the iPhone, I bet its not really going to take off until its 3rd or 4th iterations.

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