Photo courtesy of via Pinterest
Photo courtesy of via Pinterest

Come 2025, robots and artificial intelligence will redefine “office work.” This is not a plot for a Hollywood movie but an impending reality, at least according to futurist and entrepreneur Ross Dawson in his report for Intel Security. The report, Safeguarding the Future of Digital Australia, gave a glimpse of how technological innovation will overhaul businesses, jobs, and social interaction. It also found that social media will disrupt conventional business strategies.

In fact, this is happening already. More brands are going social and social media websites have changed the way marketers engage their followers. Social media trends are constantly evolving and interconnection will certainly look much different years from now. Social media strategies have to be restructured often for a brand to remain relevant, engaging, and effective.

The Big Data Challenge

Facebook users have exceeded the one billion plateau in 2013 and millions more have joined since then. More brands, including around 70% of the Fortune 500 companies, have given social media a big thumbs up. Users flood the news feeds with updates and new information much faster than the blink of an eye.

The question is: what are you going to do with all these data? A new report by Business Insider (BI) intelligence shows how “deep learning” research in social media is helping marketers get to know their audience better. Through the profiles and data posted by users, new marketing fields are emerging: audience clustering and predictive marketing.

The report showed that Facebook ingests 500 times more data than the New York Stock Exchange each day. Twitter ingests 12 times more. It cited an IBM report saying that the overflow of data is seen as the top challenge for marketing people. In fact, 71% of chief marketing officers around the globe feel that their organization is not prepared to deal with this impending explosion. Although data mining posts a great challenge, 61% of data professionals say big data will overhaul marketing practices for the better. They believe that social data gathering is an important tool for content marketing.

The Challenge of Measuring Success

A research by software company Awareness on the state of social media marketing found that 57% of companies and social marketers say they still find it hard to measure return on investment (ROI) of social media campaigns. This is crucial since this shows where the company needs to improve and where it is already doing a good job. Measuring success goes hand in hand with the art of social listening, which is often referred to as social media monitoring or social intelligence.

Among the measurements companies commonly use to evaluate success are social media metrics such as: number of followers (96%), traffic to website (89%), mentions across social media platforms (84%), shares of social conversations (66%), and social influence (63%).

Businesses must note though that metrics are not about numbers alone but engagement and interaction. This is more challenging to measure but despite this, the research also shows that only 16% of businesses are currently using a social Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, 21% are planning to use it, while 17% do not have an idea what is and what it can do to their business. Without a CRM platform, it will be much harder to gauge activity and results and companies will have a hard time ensuring that customer experience is everything it can be.

The Privacy Challenge

The concern over privacy is probably one of the major challenges to social media. It is evident now and will be more apparent in the future. In the latest Cisco Connected World Technology report, 91% of generation Y students and workers believe that the age of privacy is over. The social media efforts of companies to get as much data from users is seen as a total disregard for privacy — an issue often thrown at Facebook.

Organizations must be careful with how much social media content they are going to put up. Remember that social media websites are tools and are not the strategy. This is a way to earn and serve your followers trust and loyalty.

The Challenge of Security

Social networking is a multi-edged sword for businesses. It can easily provide the data companies need from users but it can also be a threat to security — employees might disclose confidential information, cyber criminals see you as a target, and spread of false information is perennial.

In the 2013 Global Risks report of the World Economic Forum, the rapid spread of false information through social media was identified as among emerging risks. With this in mind, companies should be able to manage the power of social media. Companies must reduce the risk of social media becoming an insider threat to information security.

Companies cannot hold back the flow of social media but they can put up security strategies, policies, and technologies to manage information.

The Challenge of Sharing

With 2.5 billion different posts just on Facebook every single day, how does your content and social media efforts stand out? This will be a bigger challenge in the future as more and more people jump on social networks. For a content to be shared, must have the elements of what “social” really is — a way of thinking and feeling. Remember that while you are on virtual space, you are dealing with real people with real emotions and real problems. Make them laugh, touch their hearts, help solve their problems, give them options, teach them how to do things, engage them in a debate and test their mind.

Social media is no longer just a phenomenon, it is here to stay. As more people join in, there will be more issues and concerns and potential deal-breakers. The years ahead are exciting as they are terrifying. This sets a good business apart from the rest of the hype. It takes a special company to turn challenges into opportunities. Going social is a good investment — today and in the years to come.