Follow us on Twitter!Like us on Facebook!Circle us onGoogle+!I would like to talk about an inflection point in social media that requires pause. I am not suggestingthat there will be a social media 2.0 or 3.0 for that matter. Nor do I see the term social mediadeparting our vocabulary any time soon. After all, it was recently added to theMerriam-Webster dictionary. Instead, what I would like to discuss is the end of an era of social media that will forcethe industry to mature. It won’t happen on its own however. Evolution will occur because consumersdemand it and also because you’re willing to stake your job on it.FromSocial Network FatiguetoDealsFatiguetoFollow Fatigue, businesses are facing acrossroads at the intersection of social and media. Following the path of media continues a longtradition of what Tom Foremski refers to as “Social Media as Corporate Media.” Following the path of social is a journey towards relevance.
As Foremski states, “Social media is not corporate media…if corporations try to turn social mediainto a corporate sales or marketing channel then they risk losing thenaked conversations, and theinsight into customer behaviors.”His point is that there’s more to social media than clever campaigns and rudimentary conversations.Talking isn’t the only thing that makes social media social. Just like adding Facebook, Twitter andother sharing buttons will not magically transform static content into shareable experiences.Listening, learning and adapting is where the real value of social media will show its true colors.Listening leads to a more informed business. Engagement unlocks empathy and innovation. But it isaction and adaptation that leads to relevance. And, it never ends.Indeed, there really are more examples of media than there are that of
media in many of thecelebrated examples out there today. Even though distributing corporate media in social channelssets the stage for dialogue, there really isn’t much that’s social about it. In fact, study of many socialmedia initiatives have led me to believe that much of what we benchmark against is actuallyanti-socialin its approach.The future of social media comes down to one word, “value.” Without it, businesses will find it muchmore difficult to earn and retain friends, fans and followers (3F’s). As adoption of social networkssoared in previous years, growth is now plateauing. eMarketer estimatesthat Facebook growth willhit only 13.4% this year after experiencing 38.6% acceleration in 2010 and a staggering 90.3%ascension the year before. Facebook isn’t alone in its sobriety either. The rate of Twitter user adoption fell from 293.1% growth in 2009 to 26.3% this year.Don’t get me wrong, people are still embracing social networks. However, the severity of competitionfor consumer attention is now unmistakable. Once liberal with their likes, Retweets, and follows,consumers are becoming much more guarded andrealistic. Therefore brands will now have to moreeffectively listen to markets to make more informed decisions about how social media impacts theenterprise and in turn customer experiences.The GlobalWebIndex “Wave 5 Trends” report delivers insight into how consumers are using socialnetworks and technology in general. According to the report, growth in social network usage among16- to 24-year-olds in the US is stalling. And, in a few countries usage within this group is declining.In fact, one of the key insights shared in the report is subduing, “Facebook is no longer the one stopshop for the total internet experience.”However, the report is not a harbinger of social networking’s demise. It is merely a lens into howbehavior is changing. This is important for any business to realize thatbusiness as usualin socialnetworks is in fact anything but.Between June 2009 and June 2011, the following changes were noted in Facebook activity:- Uploading videos is experiencing a modest increase around the world up 5% in the U.S. and 7.6%worldwide.- Installing apps is on the decline, down 10.4% in the U.S. and 3.1% worldwide.- Sending virtual gifts may not be gifts worth giving after all, with numbers declining 12.9% in theU.S. and 7.5% around the world.
Twitter on the other hand is a rich exchange for information commerce,where links become a formof digital currency. For example, 45% share an opinion about a product or brand more than once per day. Another 34% of Twitter users also share a link about a product or brand more than once per day.When asked what consumers want from brands, knowledge and entertainment soared to the top of the list. Additionally, The GlobalWebIndex Wave 5 Trends report tells us that online consumers wantbrands to provide services that fit with their lifestyle. They also want brands to listen to them.What can we learn of this?1) Businesses must first realize that there’s more to social media than just managing an activepresence, driven by an active editorial calendar. Listening is key and within each conversation lies aclue to earn relevance and ultimately establish leadership.2) Consumers want to be heard. Social media will have to break free form the grips of marketing inorder to truly socialize the enterprise to listen, engage, learn, and adapt. You can’t create a socialbusiness if the business is not designed to be customer-centric from the outside-in and the inside-out.3) Social media becomes an extension of active listening and engagement. Strategies, programs,and content are derivative of insights, catalysts for innovation, and messengers of value. Moreimportantly, social media becomes a platform for the brand and the functions that consumers deemmandatory. From marketing to HR to service to R&D, brands will expand the role they play in socialnetworking to make the acts of following and sharing an investment in a more meaningfulrelationship.The end of Social Media 1.0 is the beginning of a new era of business, consumer engagement, andrelevance.#AdaptOrDie
will be available in the coming weeks. You can pre-order now atAmazon|Barnes and Noble|800CEOREAD.Part 1– Digital Darwinism, Who’s NextPart 2– Social Media’s Impending Flood of Customer Unlikes and UnfollowsPart 3– Social Media Customer Service is a Failure