As users and marketers are maturing in the use of social media, platform providers are also entering a new stage in their life cycles. Here are three social media trends that will shape the social media world as we know it. Taken together, these three big ideas will lead more and more marketers to embrace Google+.
For many social media marketers, the effects of “shiny object syndrome” have worn off when it comes to social media. They now realize that social media is just another tool in their tool kit.
They’ve also realized that social is not free. Many users are starting to flock to marketing automation and CRM systems to help them measure the effects of their social media activity. This can be difficult for those using social media for business, especially at large companies with multiple systems and at small companies with limited budgets. Many are struggling to keep up with this sophisticated new marketing reality, even as new innovations such as mobile marketing keep everyone on their toes.
The major social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ — 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.
Consider the evidence.
- Twitter dropping support for Instagram and getting its own photo (and video) tool.
- LinkedIn adding endorsements, company pages and the option to add all kinds of content to profiles.
- Facebook offering live streaming and now even free phone calls.
It’s a strain on marketers’ resources to have to upload the same content to multiple platforms — sending the same pictures to Instagram and Twitter and Google+. Personally, I like it that I can put my videos only on YouTube and then share them almost anywhere — easy!
Most individuals, and even companies, don’t have the bandwidth to be equally active on all major channels and duplicate their content uploads. Eventually, 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, this might not a bad thing.
Drop off and specialization
Let me ask you this provocative question: “Can you imagine a world without Facebook?”
I was initially lukewarm on Google+, but since it announced its Communities functionality, I think the platform has unlimited potential. Think about it: Community, e-mail, 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.
Because of the Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm, if you want to be easily visible to your entire Facebook audience, you’re going to have to buy an ad. Google doesn’t charge people to be visible to all their connections (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 other Internet titans who once were great and then ended up being full of spam.
As Jeff Korhan writes in his blog post “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 more than 500 million users total). Some question this number as Google has been forcing users to use Google+ to write reviews and more. But I still believe that Google’s attempt to make Google+ the gold standard of social networks will be a success. Just give it time.
This guest post is by Natascha Thomson.