As we round the bend to the end of another term of learning and applying the principles of social media marketing, I wonder what the future will bring to the social media world. I have spoken to my classes about the history of Marketing, the emergence of social media, and how we utilize social platforms and tools for B2C and B2B. But, now we need to consider what new tools, processes, trends, and gaps could appear as social media becomes more pervasive, effective, and required in business.
In the future, I think we will see a further evolution of how we produce and consume marketing messages as well an increase in the value of information produced via social (for business and consumers). Some points to consider:
I believe the future of social media can be seen by looking to the past. Humans by nature are social creatures, however we have spent years relying on mass media. As time has passed, we are now relying less on mass media and more on our peers: we are once again turning to one another. Consider your friends on Facebook or those you follow on Twitter. Via social, I have surrounded myself with like minded people that I can have a symbiotic relationship with. Many of the folks I follow on Twitter I follow because I can learn from them and I value the content they produce.
Relevant connections, content, and communications will remain increasingly important in order to cancel out the “noise”. As consumers continue to be bombarded with tweets, status updates, mobile marketing messages and the like, it will be paramount for these communications to be relevant, timely, and personalized. This is true for the business as well. I see the future of social including smaller more niche social groups organized by brands to further identify consumer needs, research, and for crowdsourcing purposes.
If your business is on a social platform and engaging, good for you. If you are not utilizing it to facilitate customer service, shame on you. Obviously, this will take some planning on your part to prepare staff and get processes in place for customer service inquiries. Nevertheless, the benefits far outweigh the costs in this situation. Consider the company who is “on Twitter” and ignores customer inquiries made via tweets. This is the equivalent of having a customer at your business, asking you a question (with a store full of other customers and potential customers) while you stand there not listening with your hands covering your ears.
We have seen an evolution in Social Media. For those, like me, who have been on the social platforms for over 7 years… look at how LinkedIn and Twitter have changed. LinkedIn is becoming more Spammy and irrelevant (aka more like Facebook) with more users that are not as professionally invested and Twitter is now my go to source for the most up to date news. Leveraging socials “best self” is a worthwhile endeavor for business. However, there are still many challenges ahead as we embark in a new era of business and marketing where social no longer stands on its own but is part of the emerging digital marketing landscape.