I have to admit, as I was settling into my chair someone glanced at my name tag and said “You work for Schipul? Don’t you already know all of this stuff?” To which I replied, “I’m hoping to get something new out of this!” … Frankly, it’s difficult to make overview presentations on social media both big picture enough to not lose anyone who isn’t knee deep in it everyday and still relevant to those of us who are. Tom did a fantastic job pulling off that seemingly impossible task!
Tom mentioned a few specific trends going on in the world of Social Media – and I think they’re all really relevant. I’ll distill them down a little here – and the full presentation can be found on Slideshare.net/tommartin.
Trends in Social Media:
1. People are getting off the bench
You’ve heard us talk about Groundswell – one of my favorite books on Social Media. Tom goes as far to say that if you read one book on social media, read Groundswell. Groundswell advocates breaking audiences down not by their demographics – but by their social technographics – how they act online.
The smallest group on the technographics ladder is called “Creators” – those creating most of the content online. Your standard Pareto principle is in place here – 20% of users create 80% of the content. This varies by what type of content we’re talking about (Twitter is more like 5% creating 90% of the content), but the amazing thing is that for the most part – these people are doing it for free.
At the bottom of the ladder are the “inactives” – the most prevalent example of this is the recent statistic that over half of Twitter users quit posting completely after 30 days. Forrester does research each year and in 2007 40% of people online fell into this category. The same study done this year shows that number down to 18%.
>> More and more people are participating each year. And by people, I mean your customers and clients.
2. Facebook is winning, MySpace is losing
I’ll let you debate this one amongst yourself, but I think we can all agree that Facebook is working hard, staying relevant, and making money doing it. With recent releases like Facebook 3.0 for iPhone and Facebook Lite, Facebook is still making innovation a priority. And according to Tom, that’s why they’re still on top (and MySpace’s lack of such innovation is why they are backsliding).
Another big win for Facebook is that it is the first to cross virtually every generation. In fact, 90% of people 65+ who are online use Facebook as their preferred social network.
A big note to marketers on Facebook – across all generations, people cite the reason they use Facebook is to keep in touch with friends. Keep this in mind as you build your presence on Facebook. Be wary of only sharing content about yourself or sending too many messages to your fans.
>> If you’re not helping people connect to their friends, you’re in danger of being clutter.
3. People are discerning – it’s more than tuning you out
Unlike traditional media that is in your face all the time (even if you tune it out, you will still inevitably pass that billboard on I-10 or catch parts of that commercial as you fast forward through it), in social media people can completely opt out. On Twitter, people can unfollow (or block) anyone they choose. On Facebook, people can unfan your page – but most likely if they don’t like the content you’re posting (frequency or subject), they will hide your updates.
This means that the number of fans doesn’t necessarily indicate activity around your brand. In Facebook Insights, pay closer attention to peaks and valleys in the actual activity going on, not the total number of fans over time.
>> Tom’s advice: “Concern yourself with active profile data, not total profile data.”
There is a lot of content out there. If you watched every single video on YouTube, it would take over 400 yrs (412 years as of March 2008)!
>> How do you get noticed? The key is relevant content and respecting your audience.
4. Listen first
This is the essential first step. Tom equated each social media platform as its own country with “its own cultural norms and rules.” Listening is the best way to figure these nuances out for yourself. My typical recommendation to clients is to dive into Facebook, Twitter, etc. by starting a personal account first to get aquainted with the technology before going full force and representing a brand.
Another piece of listening is conversation monitoring. What are people saying about you and where are they talking? This up front research helps you craft your social media strategy, and helps you communicate more effectively in the places (and using the language) that relates to your customers.
>> For more on how to get started monitoring your brand online – check out Fayza’s webinar “Finding & Monitoring Online Conversations” on Vimeo. It’s a good one.
5. Augmented Reality – The next big thing
The “What’s next?” question is one of my favorites. Tom showed off some cool stuff his company is doing with Augmented Reality. He demoed a Best Buy circular that uses augmented reality to show the 3D specs of a laptop – and a fantastic phone application called layar augmented reality that essentially brings Google maps to life by overlaying points of interest and other information over your view.
Tom’s complete Houston AAF Presentation is on Slideshare and embedded below. It’s a good one – I really enjoyed it and loved hearing his perspective on where things are now and where they are going. Thanks for the great presentation, Tom!
>> Quick shameless plug – Schipul is sponsoring October’s AAF Houston luncheon with speaker Shel Israel (coauthor of Naked Conversations and author of the new book Twitterville). We hope you’ll join us there!