As we move through the digital age, social media is becoming more and more important for the growth of your business, as well as your business’ reputation. Over the past 4 years, social media has exploded all over networks, schools, and various business industries, leaving many of us struggling to keep up.
A sustainable social media presence is important, but it is hard to predict just how important it will be in the next few years. Facebook has crushed MySpace, yet the open graph and lack of privacy on Facebook is causing many to shun it. It is hard to tell whether this was a huge mistake on their end that may destroy their future, or if people will just continue to warm up to the idea of their personal lives and information being transferred across hundreds of sites.
Regardless, certain aspects of social media do not appear to be going anywhere. Of the top 100 Fortune 500 companies, about 79% of them are active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or a company/industry blog. That activity must be paying off; otherwise these intelligent corporate moguls would not be doing it. More and more organizations will shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for an Internet marketing company to tweak and manage their online reputation.
We should expect the following social media trends in 2010 and the next few years:
Integration in Overall Marketing Strategies: Companies know what makes them money. They will accept social media marketing (for now) and put ample money in the budget. They will pay employees to tweet, update Facebook, and join LinkedIn. They will also start writing articles and submitting them to Digg, StumbleUpon, and other social media article-based sites. These sites do not love the use of an SEM company, but they will not hate it either.
More Invasive, Less Personal: Just think about Facebook. What started as a way to connect and establish friendships amongst college students has turned into a virtual meet and greet. Instead of needing the first and last name of that guy you sat next to in the computer lab, you now just need a network, an email, or a common third-party site subscription. You can find people through Yelp, Skype and a variety of other sources. It has morphed into what MySpace always tried to be. Most of the people on your network or friend list are not actually your friends, nor are they people you are likely to befriend. They are merely pawns in the same game of free advertisement and marketing. It is no longer about personal relationships or shared interests, rather a random matching of similar networks and products.
Optimization: With the exponential increase of social media and Internet use, many businesses will be hiring an SEO company to manage their marketability. Rather than sitting back and allowing your site’s users to create buzz about new products, they will be paying people to get that buzz started. We will surely see more giveaways to people with reputable blogs, or high ratings on Digg and other sources. If you have 25,000 friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter, you may just get contacted to receive a free product, with the knowledge (or silent commitment) that you share your experiences online.
User Advantages: While these social media trends and marketing techniques are not free, the people who actually implement them are often not the ones getting paid. Becoming a fan of a business’s page or product on Facebook is a great way for them to get more visibility on the web, but you’re not getting any credit for the 12 people that bought the product merely based on your Retweet, Like, or post. That is one thing that may very well change in the next few years; you may yet be rewarded for the individual social media marketing you do on your own time.
Amanda is an avid writer and blogger living in San Diego, CA.