I feel like Social Media is in a bit of a rut. Or maybe it’s just me.
The big 3 platforms here in the U.S. are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This doesn’t mean they are necessarily the “biggest”, though Facebook sure is a behemoth. But they seem to be the three on which most users are focusing their attention.
From a marketing standpoint, it seems like businesses are begin to settle in a bit more as they understand how to leverage these networks.
On a smaller scale we have geolocation platforms like Foursquare, but it seems like the general public is beginning to tire of them. And then there are more narrowly focused networks like Quora or Empire Avenue, but boredom seems to be setting in there as well.
And as for bloggers like me and the gazillion others who cover marketing, business, and the social space, it feels like we’re running out of things to write about. We write the same posts from a variety of angles, and hash through the same issues over and over again. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because I think we still need to beat the Social Media horse at times.
So what’s next? What is the “next” Facebook or Twitter? Is there another platform out there poised to be the next big thing?
I honestly don’t have any answers, but I think this “settling in” phase is a good thing. As these networks grow, the luster of their shine wears off. But that just means we are getting used to them, and they are becoming a more normal, and integral, part of our lives. We use them on a daily basis without really thinking about them. Kind of like telephones, radios, or televisions. They’re not new anymore, and we don’t give them much thought, but they’ve been woven into the fabric of our lives.
Again, no crystal ball here but I have a few hunches:
First, while there will certainly be new platforms, I think the focus will be on new features within the existing platforms. This includes both new features created by the networks themselves, and 3rd party apps that integrate well within those platforms. I even think that most new social networks will actually be sub-networks that get more use because of how they work within Facebook or Twitter. Ge0location apps like Foursquare owe much of their popularity to how well they’ve integrated within the larger networks.
Second, now that we’ve settled into the current social climate, we’ll see a greater socialization of the non-social web. Facebook opened up the floodgates with their open graph and widespread use of the Facebook Like button. We are already seeing a rather strong move away from static, brochure-like websites, to more interactive, social websites. But there are still a lot of small business sites that need to make the move. Not just in the ability to share socially, but also to make the comments on their blogs more social, with applications like Livefyre. This also has major implications on which web designers will see success in the years to come. I believe that we haven’t really even scratched the surface of the importance of WordPress as a web platform for business. And as for Facebook, I think they will continue their domination of the web and continue to spread and grow well beyond the walls of its own platform.
Third, we are starting to see a greater emphasis on business blogging. There are thousands of bloggers out there writing about business, marketing, and just about everything under the sun. But I believe we’re just on the edge of seeing a real explosion in blogging by individual businesses. Local businesses are starting to wake up to the benefits of blogging, primarily SEO and becoming an authoritative voice in their field and community. And this new found interest in blogging will also be a factor in the future of the web design industry, as very user friendly content management systems become imperative for web sites.
Fourth, as businesses find their “social” comfort level, we’ll begin to see more online/offline integration. QR Codes are just one example of how businesses are driving people to their online properties. Your online social presence is only effective if you can get your existing customers to connect with you there. From the simple “Find us on Facebook” logo on print materials or at the checkout counter, to more tech intensive means, businesses need to integrate their online and offline and stop looking at them as two different realms.
Fifth, continued increase in the importance of mobile. The growth of smart phone adoption is booming, and businesses need to recognize this. It means that more of us our accessing the web from small screens, rather than PCs or laptops. Our websites need to be optimized for mobile, plus we need to make sure we are meeting the needs of mobile customers as they seek out information and deals on the go. Plus, from a customer service standpoint, it means that our customers can either praise us, or trash us, at any time, in any place. We need to remember that every customer has a megaphone at their disposal, and they know how to use it!
What do you think the future holds for Social Media and blogging, particularly in terms of how it applies to small businesses? Do you agree with what I’ve written? Have I missed anything?
Recently I asked a number of my friends to submit their ideas as to what they saw happening in terms of the future of Social Media and blogging. I’ll be sharing their thoughts in tomorrow’s post.
- Making Social Media Manageable for Your Small Business (inklingmedia.net)
- Social Media and Games: Get In The Flow (joeystrawn.com)
- The Dos and Don’ts of Executive Social Media (spinsucks.com)