The Future of Social Media and its Impact

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Part II of a three-part series – Emerging Trends

What are some of the trends in social media you should be tracking in 2013? Social media has been evolving at a very rapid pace. It is time to catch your breath and take a moment to consider new social media developments that may directly impact your business.

This is the second installment of a three part series on social media that strives to help your company create a social media plan for 2013. The three parts of this series are:

I – Social Media Overview – What are the main social network players and how they can fit into your plan.

II – Emerging Trends that will impact the Value of Social Media to your Business

III – Creating your Comprehensive Social Media Plan

Set Your Social Media Priorities

New social media tools and approaches are surfacing daily. You need to have a way to sort through these capabilities and determine your social media priorities. To achieve this, you need to establish your social media focus based on your business objectives.

Social Media must support your Business Goals

Based on your business goals, you can decide what current and evolving social media tools make the most sense to include into your company’s tool box for success. The following graphic identifies six typical goals. Each of these goals will be discussed as they relate to current social media trends.

Customer Experience

Social Media 1

Social media has turned online marketing into a shared and democratic experience, which means that to grow and maintain your brand, you will require an investment in building and maintaining your social media presence. The maintenance must be dynamic as the medium continues to flourish and expand. This new customer outreach can manifest itself in the form of competitions, games, polls and even private online communities. The key is to entice your customers to engage with your company rather than just the traditional broadcasting. You need to find ways to show your personable side in order to truly improve customer relationships.

Customer Experience Trends:

Mobile Social Media

“[We] anticipate that the rate of growth in mobile usage will exceed the growth in usage through personal computers for the foreseeable future.” Source: Facebook quarterly SEC filing.

Transmedia Storytelling

Transmedia Storytelling is the leveraging of multiple platforms and properties simultaneously in support of the same campaign or goals. Transmedia storytelling for brands will incorporate visual platforms such as Instagram and video into campaigns.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Look at Google’s entry into the world of Augmented Reality (AR) with their Project Glass initiative. AR should be considered when developing mobile apps, new ad campaigns, or incorporating trans-media offerings.


You can involve your current and potential customers in the evolution of new and innovative products or services. Once your customers know that you are actually listening to their ideas, the level of customer input and participation will dramatically increase. Offering contests for the best new product idea or improvement is a good method to solicit ideas. Once you select an idea to pursue, you can create a private community of your design staff to collaborate on idea development.

Brand Health

Image: iStock Photo

Image: iStock Photo

Social media is more measurable than ever before, from platforms like Klout, SimplyMeasured, NetBase, Google Analytics and Social Reports, and Soshio, brands now have the opportunity to understand consumers across multiple networks and even continents, interact with them, measure the conversation sentiment, track activity and ultimately, drive them to purchase.

To assess brand health, you need to measure your brand’s vital signs on a regular basis. One of these vital signs is your brand’s recognition and influence online.


Klout is a powerful tool to track your brand’s online health. Klout provides an overall score and also examines the following:

  • True Reach: How many people you influence (the width of your influence)
  • Amplification: How much you influence people (the depth of your influence)
  • Network Impact: How influential your audience is (the impact of your influencers)

Social Media 3

Track your Klout scores over time to assess your progress.

Google Analytics Social Reports

Another social media tracking tool worth considering is Google Analytics Social Reports. By using the new Google Analytics reporting, you can get a good idea of the effect social media has had on your site. It tells you the conversion value total, the maximum value of social media conversions and any sales resulting from direct social media visits.

Marketing Optimization

All of the approaches referenced in this article can help with marketing optimization. But there are some trends that need serious consideration.

Social Media Advertising

Developing advertising campaigns for mobile platforms is critical to future success. You must develop new social ad models. It is time to reduce the use of traditional banner and interruption ads and replace them with promoted tweets and “sponsored stories.” In fact, you do not want your advertising to look like ads at all. These native ads appear in-stream and should read exactly like another piece of user-generated content. You want to reach clients on their own turf and on their own terms.

International Growth

Social Media 4The projected growth of social media use by international markets cannot be underestimated. The following graph displays the growth path for the various areas of the world. Creating social media content that targets these geographic growth areas will improve your marketing results.

Niche Networks

The creation of niche networks can work to your advantage. You could create an invitation-only social site for your current customers. For instance, a certain brand’s boat owners may take great pride that they are a member of an exclusive club. The creation of a private boat owner’s social site grows owner pride and opens a channel of ideas and opportunities to introduce new products.

Operational Efficiency

Last year, McKinsey published a report that identified the untapped business value of social technologies at $1.3 trillion. The majority of this value was projected to come from improved office productivity. Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite states, “In the year ahead, expect enterprises to embrace social media tools–including internal networks, real-time chats and wikis–for uses that go way beyond the familiar applications for marketing and community building. At stake is a potentially enormous boost to the bottom line. We’re already seeing HR departments applying social media to streamline application processes, sales teams cultivating leads and monitoring the sales funnel via social channels and operations and distributions teams tracking supply chains at a granular level. Deeper still, internal networking tools like HootSuite Conversations are enabling companies to free up expertise trapped in departmental silos.”

Revenue Generation

Of course the real bottom line is to generate revenue. Learning to master all of the tools and approaches that social media provides will bring about fundamental change in your organization. These changes include improved collaborations, the reduction in the cost to reach potential customers, enhanced effectiveness of marketing efforts and improved close rate to exposures. All of this relates to a reduced cost of sales and improved profits.

Relationships, Not Likes

The days of investing in specific channels, building follower numbers, and counting on “likes” to drive your business are over. Leveraging social media tools greatly increases your ability to build lasting relationships with your customers that will open up previously untapped revenue streams.

Now is the time to create your company Social Media Plan that will drive the needed transformation of your operations and marketing programs. Don’t miss Part III of this series that will address Creating your Comprehensive Social Media Plan.


Additional Reading

The Future for Social Media

Social Marketing Optimization and the Future of Economics


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