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Wearable tech and its influence on social media


With the fitness culture driving uptake of wearable devices and the increasing popularity of fitness as a social activity, brands are investigating the opportunities that sharing wearable data over social platforms present.

Council members outlined details of Bupa’s recently launched wellbeing app, which lets employers encourage their entire workforce to improve their health. Bringing together health and fitness data from many different apps and wearable technology, including Apple Health and Google Fit, the initiative rewards users with points for completing goals. Employers can also use the app to set targets or challenges across the whole company, in either competitive or collaborative settings. Data can then be logged for social sharing across LinkedIn or other groups.

How these initiatives are managed across social channels, however, still raises some concern - as PruHealth discovered recently when its Vitality programme came under criticism for urging policyholders to download a Facebook-owned fitness tracking app in order to receive free weekly cinema ticket. The health insurer faced an onslaught public of criticism over potential social media manipulation.

But these ethical dilemmas aside, the scope for wearable tech-driven insights in the social environment is enormous. According to analysts, the growth potential for wearables is still very much in its infancy, with IDC predicting that the wearables market will reach 45.7 million units shipped in 2015, rising to 126.1 million units by 2019.

Wider adoption is likely to cause a significant shift in how consumers use and interact via social networks, and brands will need to adapt and evolve new strategies to ensure that they are reaching and influencing their target audiences across these devices. Small screens, together with limited notification space and interface options, will increase the importance of delivering concise brand messages.

New networks may emerge to take advantage of the shift, supported by micro-interaction facilities from social platforms, including the ability to like, favourite, share or retweet with the tap of a button; features which some smartwatches are already offering.

So if an Apple watch adorns your wrist and your Fitbit or Jawbone is your constant friend, what next? A council member recommended the perfect addition to any Christmas wish list for the wearable fanatic, keen to keep all social engagement at their fingertips: Ringly, the tech ring that connects to your smartphone and notifies you of calls, apps and messages that matter most by glowing in different colours.

It connects with a surprising number of other apps, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Uber, Tinder, Pinterest and LinkedIn. The social media council could barely contain our excitement and we await the festive season with eager anticipation!

Philippa Field, Council Member and Director at Fieldworks Marketing

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