Editor’s note: Today’s guest author, Troy Costlow, a graduate student who likes books and math, was a winner of our 9 Marketing Trends for 2011 contest, in which we asked readers to submit the ninth trend for our upcoming webinar of the same name, which will be held on December 15. (It’s not too late to sign up!) Following are further thoughts on his submitted trend, pre-cognitive social sharing. In the webinar, we will discuss how to adjust your business to leverage all nine trends.

Social media is making us better people. Those of us who chose to opt in traded our privacy for a network of peers, mentors, leaders, and friends who provide advice, counsel, and endless entertainment.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely, yes. It improves existing relationships and builds new ones. Of course it’s worth it.

Quicker and more accurate information will continue to improve these relationships – and today social media’s biggest limitation is that we can only share things we are aware of. Using social media is not an automatic act: We think first, and share afterwards.

The cognitive process for social media is this:

  1. An event occurs.
  2. You think, “I should share this with people.”
  3. You use social tools to share that event with your network.

This “think first, share second” process can be inverted to “share first, learn second,” and the roots for that change are already being planted. We can begin sharing information before the thought of sharing occurs by using systems designed to share pre-cognitive information with our social networks.

Smart-pill technology from companies like Novartis already allows this pre-cognitive sharing to improve the relationship between doctors and patients. When Alzheimer’s patients swallow a robotic pill, the stomach acids react with the circuitry, which in turn sends a signal to a cell phone, which informs the doctor that their patients are doing what’s instructed.

It’s all automatic. No “I should share this” thought is required, so the process is sped up tremendously and results in a much better doctor-patient relationship.

Smart-driving technology from companies like Inrix is already sharing information with other vehicles to improve (begin?) communication between drivers. Today, all we have are turn signals and an occasional “salute.” Soon – without our direct input – systems will share information to suggest up-to-date alternative routes and cut down the time we spend in traffic.

“Other drivers” is a social network we rarely think about, though we spend an hour or more with them every day – and automatic sharing will improve our relationship with other drivers.

This automatic, pre-cognitive sharing can quickly be interwoven with all of our social networks – our colleagues, our friends, our families, and our extended networks.

Computers, web browsers, and smart phones already track incalculable amounts of information about us, understand our routines, and create accurate predictions of our future activities. Marketers already use this information to tailor their messages and offerings, and there’s no reason we won’t soon be using things like geo-marketing to do the same for ourselves.

“Troy just left his house and will be 30 minutes late again,” is an automatic message my friends should receive when geo-tracking notices my “showing up late” routine continues and I’ve finally left my home. It’s much more accurate than my usual, “I’ll be there in 10 minutes. If I’m not there soon, I’ll send this again.”

Automatic, pre-cognitive sharing will convey more accurate information more quickly with our social networks, and ultimately improve our relationships – and isn’t that largely the point of the social media experience?

Troy Costlow is a graduate student who likes books and math. He recently completed his MBA in marketing and finance, and is currently working on an MS in accountancy at DePaul University while studying for the CPA and CFA exams.