As users and marketers are maturing in the use of social media, platform providers are also entering a new stage in their life cycles. In the following, you will find three pertinent social media trends that will shape the social media world as we know it.
For many social media marketers the “shiny object syndrome” of social media has worn off and the reality that social media provides just another tool kit for marketers has set in.
As it has become clear that social is not free, people are starting to flock towards marketing automation and CRM systems to help them measure the impact of their social media activity. This can be difficult, especially for large companies with multiple systems and small companies with limited budgets. As many are trying to catch up with this sophisticated new marketing reality, continuous innovation and new mandates like mobile keep marketers on their toes.
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2. Consolidation and Isolation
The big social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+, have been consolidating features on their platforms. Each of these “communities” wants to offer every possible social feature themselves: content sharing, video, live streaming, discussions – to just name a few.
Points in case are: a) Twitter dropping support for Instagram and getting their own photo (and video) tool; b) LinkedIn adding endorsements, company pages, and the option to add all kinds of content to profiles; c) Facebook offering live streaming and now even free phone calls.
Realistically, for marketers, it’s a strain on resources to have to upload the same content to multiple platforms, e.g. pictures to Instagram, pictures to Twitter, and pictures to G+. Personally, I like it that I can put my videos only on YouTube and then share them almost anywhere – easy!
So here is my prediction: As most individuals, and even companies, don’t have the bandwidth to be equally active on all major channels and duplicate their content uploads, there is going to be a movement of isolation as a result to all this consolidation activity. People will narrow down the number of social networks they engage with. This is likely to give each network an even stronger niche focus, e.g. Facebook for B2C, LinkedIn for B2B. All in all, maybe not a bad thing.
3. Drop off and Specialization
Let me ask you this provocative question: “Can you imagine a world without Facebook?”
I had been lukewarm on G+ ever since it started – but since they announced their Communities functionality, I see the sky as Google’s limit. Think about it: Community, email, analytics, document hosting, pictures, video sharing with YouTube and more – and all of it accessible with a single password and login, connected to the most powerful search engine in the world.
And while Facebook charges brands to reach 100% of their audience (PageRank), Google makes this free (at least for now). Furthermore, reports indicate that people are cutting back on time spent on Facebook. The promoted stories are annoying, to say the least, and graph search makes me very worried about my privacy. I see Facebook going the way of Monster.com and Yahoo.com, who were once great and then ended up being full of spam.
As Jeff Korhan writes in his blog Winning the Social Media Overwhelm Race: “Many businesses are discovering that Facebook isn’t working for them, so they are focusing their efforts on LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google+…It’s better to have a robust presence on Pinterest than a mediocre one across the board on the more “popular” networks.”
Google+ is already in second place when it comes to the number of most active users on a social network (and has over 500 million users total). Some question this number as Google has been forcing users to use G+ to write reviews and more – but I still believe that Google’s attempt to make G+ the gold standard of social networks will be a success. Just give it time.