Sifting through some of the latest SEO-related articles today, I read an interesting quote from Beverley Soloman, who is the Creative Director at musee-solomon. When asked by Business2Community.com what her predictions were for social media in the next year or so, she began her answer with this bombshell:
“People are over saturated with social media.”
Not an overly positive response, but one that is actually quite refreshing amongst all the companies that continue to preach to us about the ‘do or die’ impact of communicating with your consumer base through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and similar platforms.
This quote got us thinking – how is the social landscape going to change in the next year or so? And how are these changes going to affect SMEs already struggling to keep up the pace?
After taking a look at the opinions of various different marketing industry bods and optimisation firms, we’ve put together a list of our five biggest social media predictions for 2013.
More Brands Will Use Social Media To Enhance Their Customer Service Experience
According to recent research from Bain and Company’s ‘Putting Social Media to Work Study’, customers who engage with companies through their social media sites are alleged to spend 20 – 40% more than those who don’t get involved through these channels. This new data re-confirms the need to focus on getting your name out there to the right audience – and keeping them interested in what you have to offer.
Businesses and their marketing departments will tune in to the fact that they can use their social media accounts to talk to customers rather than at them. Instead of simply promoting themselves, they will need to listen to what their consumer base is saying and use this information to shape their future marketing strategies.
Customers Will Be Harder to Convert
In the article mentioned at the beginning of this blog, Joey Beachum from Markstein Consulting went on to comment that ‘consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion’. This may be true, but perhaps these customers won’t be as susceptible to blatant marketing tactics as they once were.
Social network users have been exposed to increasing ads and advertising slogans for some time now and understand the difference between a sales pitch and a piece of genuinely insightful or useful content. They’re not going to be convinced to buy from you if you don’t try a little harder to make it worth their while!
Though this change in thinking presents a challenge to SMEs, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The demand for higher quality content means that marketers will simply have to up their game and think of new and innovative ways to secure their reputation and generate the business they need to make a success of their social media campaign.
Companies Will Shift The Focus Away From Facebook
When most SMEs think of venturing into social media, they immediately think of setting up a Facebook page. While Facebook is still a great communication tool with plenty of useful features for businesses, there are plenty of other (and often more relevant) options out there.
As if to confirm that more and more young people are moving away from using the platform, a report from Raymond James Research this year has found that 31% of 18-29 year olds are expecting to use the site less in the coming year. The fact that members of this highly targeted demographic are migrating to other sites will encourage Facebook devotees to head elsewhere if they’re to broaden their reach.
Pinterest has been the major success story of 2012, as has the hotly-debated Google Plus. However, plenty of SEOs and social media marketers are predicting the continued rise of YouTube as a social sharing platform, and many are still keen to fight Twitter’s corner too. SMEs need to identify the pros and cons of each network and work out which sites best suit their long term engagement goals.
Businesses Will Integrate Their Social Media Optimisation Into A Broader Strategy
2012’s State of Social Media Sponsorship study taught us that nearly 60 percent of brands have set aside a specific budget for their social media marketing efforts, and this trend is only set to continue, but we reckon that a greater number of companies will stop viewing their SMO campaign as a completely separate project to their other marketing efforts in 2013. Instead, they’ll make sure it’s an integral part of their plan and will make decisions in other areas based on the feedback they receive from social channels.
And Finally… Each Platform Will Fight To Remain Competitive By Introducing New Features and Ideas!
As we’ve seen this year with Google Plus, a new kid on the block can really shake things up for businesses who thought they had their strategy sussed. There have been big developments in 2012 (such as when Facebook realised its money-making potential and decided to re-invent itself as a public company), so forward-thinkers are likely to launch even more innovative ideas that will be sure to significantly improve the entire social experience, both for online marketers and their customers.
The future hardly looks bleak for social media. But there’s no denying that all kinds of companies, from local brick-and-mortar businesses to international brand names, will need to ensure they adapt their SM strategy to keep up with emerging trends and developments. There are plenty of businesses that have had a great deal of success with their social media campaigns, but there are also millions of companies out there on the web who are struggling to keep their customers engaged, and losing crucial footfall to their website as a result.
Our advice? Make sure you stay in the know. Read up on the industry and react to what’s happening as it happens. We look forward to giving you our views on 2013’s updates and seeing what the New Year brings!