Last week I mentioned that I was going to a breakfast where a social media expert was to explain why social media was dead and what would replace it.
The speaker was Ernest Barbaric, a Calgary social media and digital marketing strategist. In addition to running a local business he helped develop the Mount Royal University Social Media for Business Extension Certificate.
According to Ernest:
The ground is shifting out from under social media because sites have gotten too complex. There is too much information, too many visuals, too many links, too many likes, and too many distractions. Complexity kills usability and fun, which were the reasons that social media started in the first place.
Where there was once distinctions among major players like Facebook, Twitter, Foresquare, Linkedin, and so on, they are all moving toward replicating the same focus, which is away from the consumer and toward advertisers. When Facebook started in 2007, it took roughly two years before the first serious advertisers appeared on the site. When Pinterest started in 2010, advertisers were major players within days.
Businesses are flocking to social media in droves, without having a clue how to use social media. They fail to understand that social media is all about communication and don’t establish two-way communication with potential customers. Instead, they attempt to shoe-horn traditional advertising onto the web. It’s not working.
The flood of businesses failing at Internet marketing are actually shutting down social media participation. Companies are doing crazy things like including Quick Response (QR) Codes in bus and billboard advertising. People who are driving can not point their cell phones at these Codes, so they are absolutely useless in these kinds of ads.
Across all of the social media sites, likes are down. Clicks are down. 60% of people who have indicated a brand loyalty don’t bother reading updates that the companies to which they have indicated a loyalty send out.
If social media is dying, what will replace it?
What’s big right now is the pain point. What can your company do that would be a pain for your competitors to duplicate? If you get there first, with something thats painful for your competitor to imitate, you win the round.
A Calgary realtor is having professional photographers produce videos for each house he has listed. This is not simply the walk-through of the bare house, but a video of the neighbor, the near-by amenities, etc. Did you pick up the key words there. EACH HOUSE. That means in order to outshine him on the web, another Calgary realtor would have to produce better videos for EACH HOUSE she has to sell. It’s not going to happen.
Technology moves so fast that it’s useless to speculate further than three years into the future, but here are some predictions that may come barreling down the pipeline.
Go mobile or go home
The immediate future is mobile. Whatever content you produce—web site, blog, Twitter, video, podcast, etc.— find out what it looks like on a variety of devices. Each time you create something new, look at it on as many devices as you can. Change it so that it looks good on as many different devices as possible.
Applications will die along with social media
No one wants hundreds of apps (applications) on their mobile devices. Stop wasting your time writing them.
Forced ads will die as well
When SIRI (the ability to speak instructions into your mobile phone) combines with Bluetooth (that borg-like device people have growing out of their ears), visual ads disappear. People will no longer be looking at their cell phones.
Pre-recorded ads also disappear because when you say to your phone, “Phone my mother,” you won’t want the response, “I’ll be glad to phone your mother, but first listen to this message from your phone company.”
Forced ads are based on advertisers’ needs, not customers’s needs. As soon as technology gives the user the ability to opt-out of advertising, the customer will use it.
Reputation will become the new battleground
Companies need to spend their time on- and off-line dealing with the angry minority. Where PR once meant Public Relations, it now means Personal Relations. A happy customer is not as likely to post on the web as an unhappy customer. A car company can’t ignore an unhappy car buyer in Alabama because the bad review that person writes, will affect the car buying choices in California, and Alberta, and Timbuktu.
Real-time marketing means that speed and responsiveness are the keys
Suppose you’re in a new neighborhood and want lunch. Your phone finds three possible restaurants, all within walking distance. You text an identical message, such as,“What’s your special today?” to each restaurant. The restaurant that answers first will get your business.
Where does future power lie?
The bottom line is to consider what you’re using now—whether it be a device or a social media service—as disposable. When what you are using stops working, stop using it, and move on to the next thing.
Build and sustain a community on your own turf. The most valuable thing you have is your list of electronic contacts, your mailing list, if you will. Own it, keep it, do not share it, take it with you as you migrate to new devices and new platforms as they develop.
Keep what you are doing real. Keep it simple. Make it fun. Developing and sustaining relationships sells; selling doesn’t develop and sustain relationships.