Future Implications: What The Future of Social Media Means for Your Business

You finally made the leap this year to establish your business presence on Facebook and Twitter. You’ve successfully increased brand awareness and loyalty with customers, but what’s next? Social media is constantly evolving. If your strategy is static, you will eventually find yourself left behind again. Having a dedicated team of social media professionals is one way to stay ahead of the curve. If you don’t have the resources to hire someone in-house, there are many small agencies that can help you create a plan for your business. I would recommend re-evaluating your social media marketing strategy every three to six months. It is impossible to predict the next big thing in social media, but here are a few implications to keep in mind as you are thinking about your overall strategy:

Increased Audience Segmentation

A recent study by Pew Research found that “61% of current Facebook users say that at one time or another in the past they have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for a period of several weeks or more.” The users surveyed cited a multitude of reasons for taking a break from the largest social network. So where are they going? Social networking has become so mainstream and is considered part of our everyday lives now. With new social networks popping up all of the time, people have a more options for where they spend their time. Think about what has happened in the Television industry.

Image

From the 1950’s to the late 1980’s there were The Big Three major television networks: NBC, ABC, and CBS. These were the only three major options that Americans had for consuming television programming. As cable became commonplace in the late 1980’s, and then with the advent of satellite and internet television, people had more and more options. Today you have hundreds, even thousands, of programming options. From cooking, to outdoors, to home renovation, science, sports, music, and so on. Much like traditional media, I believe that we will see this same evolution with social media.

Ten years ago we had Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook. Facebook is still one of the largest players along with Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. Depending on the users specific social media interests there are many other options now. If you enjoy photography – you join Instagram, if you are interested in business networking – you go on LinkedIn, if you like curating and collecting things – you join Pinterest. As more and more social networks pop up, brands will have to consider a more segmented audience. Just as you wouldn’t only advertise on NBC, you don’t want to only be active on one social network. It will become more important to research where your target audience is spending their time and then tailor your social media marketing strategy to go where the customers are.

Direct Monetization of Social Networks

Social networks continue to be a great mouthpiece for brands looking to connect with their fans, but as of now, it has been difficult to show a direct correlation between social media and actual sales. However, sites such as Wanelo.com offer a possible sneak peak at the future of social commerce. Like Pinterest, Wanelo users can collect items they like from all of their favorite retailers such as Forever21, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, and more. Then they can purchase the items right through one shopping basket. This could really revolutionize the way people shop online.

I am not exactly sure how other types of businesses (non-retail) will be able to directly monetize social media yet, or how Facebook or Twitter would be able to support that type of model, but new social networks with different revenue structures could be the key. For businesses wondering which social networks to be on, Facebook is still the best place to connect with people, Twitter is the best place to find new connections, and Google will continue to be important from a search engine optimization perspective. If customers can’t find your business on Google, you are losing money.

Improved Metrics

Image

As social media continues to evolve, so will analytics platforms. Brands will be able to obtain better and more detailed social insights from across all of their networks in real time. Cutting edge CRM platforms such as UberVU can now provide brands with something called “Sentiment Metrics”. The future of social media insights is going to be all about sentiment metrics. Simply finding out how many mentions your business had doesn’t mean much to a brand marketer. New technology can actually rate the sentiment of each mention as positive, negative or neutral. Then you can analyze how people generally feel about your brand – even by geography. This is becoming increasingly important in politics as well.

References:

Rainie, L. (2013, February 05). Coming and going on facebook. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Coming-and-going-on-facebook.aspx

Singh, R. (2013, March 12). The last social network: The future of social media. Retrieved from http://www.ere.net/2013/03/12/the-last-social-network-the-future-of-social-media/

Sniederman, Z. (2010, August 02). How small businesses will use social media in the future. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2010/08/02/future-business-social-media/

* * *

Michelle Mastrobattista is a Social Media Manager for Propel Marketing – a GateHouse Media company. She works with over one-hundred SMB’s creating social media strategies and helping them navigate the digital marketing landscape. @MAKEsociable

Advertisements

Comments

  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Michelle! The mentions we collect, which as you mentioned are automatically tagged with sentiment, prove very helpful for community and social media managers – they can see overall sentiment at-a-glance, OR dig into mentions with one specific type of sentiment to see in more detail what people are saying about them (the good, the bad, and the ugly!) If you’re ever interested in spending a little more time with the platform, I’m happy to give you a tour and trial – just reach out!

    Best,
    – Elisabeth, Social Media Marketing & Community Manager at uberVU

  2. Good read. I think increased monetization will be huge in finding the best social media strategies and measuring actual ROI. I’m also excited to see LinkedIn continually become more and more of a marketing tool for B2B.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: