Why Social Media Will Challenge Marketers in 2019

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What are people thinking? What were they thinking? Who’s doing the thinking? Why are they thinking that? In 2007 when I joined Twitter, those were not front of mind questions for those of us using the social network for the first time. In 2019? That’s exactly why we go to Twitter. It’s a pulse check.

In 2007, when I joined Facebook, it was all about the one degree of separation between you, and who you knew. Now it’s about so many “other” things besides you and yet, in 2019, it still comes back to you, particularly when we have to synthesize the latest batch of Facebook data privacy breaches. Clearly, this is not your mother’s Facebook.

As most marketers know by now, we are pretty far removed from “the what” and “the why” these platforms were built for in the first place. The way social networks are utilized now both from a marketing standpoint and a UX standpoint, has undergone an almost 360 degree change since those early years. They are nearly unrecognizable. Those that were there in the early days, will be the first to admit that indeed, the times have changed for Twitter. Couple that with how Linkedin is now being used on an every-day basis, the evolution of Instagram, and the rapid adoption of Snap, and the choices and the ways that consumers want to communicate, have never been as diverse and complex.

In my opinion as soon as marketers came to the social media party en masse, the dynamics changed forever. People often say that it’s the users who determine how a social network is used, and that might be true, but it’s the marketers who determine how a social network is consumed.  Here’s the best way I can put it and this isn’t far off either. Let’s say you and some friends go to this awesome club in a perfect location, it has unreal musical performances, cool people abound, chill atmosphere, great unique food that works, real comfortable seating, never crowded, killer beer list, etc etc. OK, you get the picture. Now let’s say a promoter takes over, or marketing steps up and in. The word is out on the street. If the marketers were any good, the place is overrun with new people. Lot’s of people. Lot’s of different people with different tastes, opinions, needs and wants. The club now has a choice. Does it want to stay that cool hip joint that only the cool hip people know about? Or does is want to grow, expand and thrive?  It has to adapt or die, embrace change or lose relevancy, right?

The club will never be the same for the early adopters. In name, it’s still the club, but the old guard will always gripe about the way it used to be, and the new guard just drowns them out because this is the way it is now. Sound like a familiar story?

The new club fits the needs and demands of its most ardent and current users. It is still relevant today because of its location. So as things around it evolve, it too must evolve. As such, those that go there, change, adapt and or move on.

That’s the current state of social networks. they’ve changed not only for those that built them but also for those that were there in the very beginning and fell in love with the naked conversations that were plentiful. Has it changed for marketers and advertisers? Absolutely. Is it just as valuable to marketers now as it was then? Absolutely. Just different, more diverse and more complex. Data notwithstanding, today’s social media user is a lot more hip and comfortable on the platforms in which they hang.

Through their maturity, or immaturity, depending on how you want to look at the current list of dominant social networks, it’s become fairly evident that each channel has evolved into what they are and what they are going to be. The challenge for the user, whether they are a marketer or not, is to really understand the nuances of what is happening on each network. Step back and really look at how they are used. There is a rhythm to each, and in order to assimilate or merge into this non-stop, virtual stream of oncoming traffic, the tactics that are used to thrive and survive, have to be different.

That’s what is changing from network to network. How you post, what you post, what you say and how you say it, it’s different and it has to be different. This includes the paid game.  Social networks have evolved and or devolved depending on how you use them. For millennials, the levels of transparency can sometimes be frightening to Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers. For them,  it’s akin to using snow tires in the summer or deciding to pop and lock in the middle of an upscale restaurant. They wouldn’t do it but for marketers the game is all about impressions, reach, engagement and conversions. So everything is considered. The bar has been raised to ridiculous heights in 2019 and the goal is to grab attention and or “get noticed” or “go viral,” if so, go for it, but know this, it’s not sustainable.

The complexity of our world and our society dictate that we become more flexible. This extends to how we use social networks. For marketers to thrive, they have to quit assuming that just because they know your name, that that allows them to cop a feel anytime they want. This is where analytics can only get you so far. To thrive in 2019 in social media, marketers have to possess equal amount of understanding networks, people, data, empathy, systems and what the end game is or should be.

In closing, I’ll use this last analogy. Picture social networks as the events at a track meet. A sprinter cannot run the distance races. The pole vaulter isn’t going to throw the shot put. Each race is different and requires different types of people. Each race requires a unique set of tactics, speed, strength, and or endurance. The ultimate goal though is to win but you have to train. Though you might win, coming in second or third isn’t so bad. You are measured, you are benchmarked and then you try again. By season’s end, you should be at your peak and be ready to compete, challenge and hopefully win. Better tools, better coaches, better conditions, equipment, they all factor in. But sometimes, someone comes out of nowhere and can shock the world. It can happen. It has happened. We’ll just have to see. Until then, embrace the change and stay relevant in 2019 by keeping your eyes and ears open and knowing that your ability to pivot will serve you and your org well.

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12 things I thought I knew About Social Media in 2011

As 2011 winds down, it’s time for me to reflect on the state of my social media world in 2011.

Things that I thought I knew about social media in 2011:

1)      That I knew what I was talking about

Just because I might know more about social media than the average person, it didn’t preclude most corporate heads to assume that they knew just as much about social, if not more, than I did. Can you say bite your tongue?

2)      That the whole ROI thing would have sorted itself out by now

We’re getting closer, more and more corporations seem to now understand that you need to associate some type of KPI to a social initiative, which is a start in the direction of measurement; but you still had the camps of “you can’t make money from social media” to “let’s just grow our audiences across all social platforms and call it a win”.  Ugh!

3)      People would trust what I know and do as I advise

I found out in 2011 that although people would nod their heads in agreement when we’re in the conference room, once I was gone- the silos reemerged, the battle lines were redrawn, the skeptics reappeared and the notion that a consultant was not necessary reared its ugly head-and thus the follow up discussions were slow to evolve. Can you say self doubt?

4)      We had gotten over being enamored with the quantity of friends, followers, fans and likes

Some have and some have not and we’ll leave it at that. It’s a blog post in and of itself.

5)      Corporations were ready to be transparent in 2011

They’re ready as long as they have their social media policies in place. Even then, after the policies are in place, there’s transparency and then there’s “their” definition of being transparent-on their terms, and not the terms of the masses. It’s actually a start.

6)      That the “new guard” would be saying something different

New social media faces and new social media names talking and preaching about things we talked about 4 years ago. Where is the disconnect? Is the customer not getting it? Or is the consultant not listening? Or are we still not there yet? Do we want them to repeat what we have been preaching? Maybe so.

7)      That the “old guard” would have evolved

Old faces and familiar names talking about the same things we talked about 4 years ago. Is nothing new? Or do people just not get it? Or is it uncorrelated wisdom? Do we need to start teaching SM 201 and 301?

8)      That FB would get to 1billion users in 2011

This is going to happen but I am starting to see little tiny micro-cracks in the Facebook brand. Can you say Facebook Burnout, Blowback or Billion?

9)      That Twitter would be making money by now

Well they sorta are making money and they are rolling out custom pages for brands.  Does that count as truly making money? No. The problem? Would you pay 5 bucks a month to use Twitter? No. Would you pay to advertise on Twitter? No. That’s my point.  I think I might have predicted in 2009 that Twitter would be making money by now as well…Le Sigh

10)   That 2011 would be the year that corporations would be ready to adopt social media both internally and externally

Ha! Just because I got in to the boardroom and we were talking about it, didn’t mean it was going to be happening anytime soon. Of course I thought 2010 was going to be the year as well. Can you say mad silos?

11)   Brands knew what they were doing on Twitter.

Last time I checked, brands are still using Twitter as a push style vehicle for marketing and selling product. Some have gotten creative, but most are of the Tweet with a link with no conversation camp….Does it work? Let’s ask them? Oh wait we can’t because all they do is tweet links and sales. Is there an alternative? Sure there is, don’t do it in 2012.

12)   Google Buzz would be around.

Silly me to think that Google Buzz was viable. Actually it wasn’t. Neither was Sidewiki or Wave either. What’s the over/under on Google Plus survival? 2 years?

How do my “things I thought I knew compare with yours? Let’s share.

The Takeaway from Social Media in 2010

 

Online privacy means a lot to us, but for a majority of us, it’s only important when we know our privacy has been invaded. In social networks and social media, every time we join a new shiny network, or register for something online, we give up a little piece of our privacy, like a sculptor chipping away at a piece of marble. Sometimes knowingly, sometimes not, we’re giving up who we are to marketers and brands.

You see, every time we create a profile we are allowing someone to glimpse a little bit more about us than most might really be comfortable with; but we do it because that’s what’s asked or required of us in order to “play”; and like I said, some of you might not even know it. Some of you might not care, because hey, “we’re living in the age of uber transparency”!

Yes we have a right to know what information is being gathered about us, how it is used and whether it is gathered at all, yet most of us are too busy trying to get on the other side of an app to be bothered with reading a EULA or a TOS agreement. Why is that?

I have a feeling  that the reason is similar to when you are hearing a radio spot and at the very end of the spot you’ll hear a guy talking so fast, you have no idea what he just said, so you ignore it, Because all you really care about is the deal that was mentioned in front of the fast talking man-The carrot, the offer, the opportunity. Privacy be damned. Most marketers and companies assume correctly that making the TOS’s and EULA’s so ridiculously convoluted, that we as consumers will just get tired of reading and will click the agree button. And the devil…is buried in the details.

Facebook did the same thing when it came to compromising our privacy the first time. How many times has it changed it’s privacy policy? Most of  the 500 million users probably don’t care what is happening to their data-and that’s a scary thought; but enough of them care to call Facebook out for assuming that we are ready to alter our perception of what is acceptable in data mining- and thus we’ve able to somewhat keep them in check.  I am still not comfortable about the purported data leaks, or satisfied that Facebook is doing all it can to value my privacy, but then again it’s a 1000 times better than it initially was.

So let me ask you something. As we head into 2011, are you cool with giving up snippets of your personal data for the sake of playing Farmville? Or being part of Groupon? or Foursquare?Are you comfortable with that? Are you truly prepared for radical transparency? I’m not sure I am just yet.

We didn’t mean that transparent…

Transparency and openness are so 2008 and you’re so 2000 late.. OK so I’m paraphrasing Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas a bit there.. But I have a simple point to make with a larger concern. look at these latest headlines.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Doesn’t Believe In Privacy

What Do New Facebook Features Mean for Your Privacy?

See What Facebook Publicly Publishes About You

NJ Principal Asks Parents To Ban Social Networking

Facebook’s High Pressure Tactics: Opt-in or Else

Facebook’s Eroding Privacy Policy: A Timeline

So where’s our head at? When some of us first got into social media we touted, and admittedly I still do, the transparent and authentic nature of it all. How social media connected us or would connect us, in ways that we never dreamed of. It was our sales pitch if you will.

Sadly those days are over. Transparency and openness are the old defaults.

A funny thing has happened along the way. Some of us are not as cool with that as we thought we would be.

We care about our privacy. We just didn’t realize how much social networks didn’t.

We didn’t start to care about how much was “out there” until we started to see it abused and blasted all over search engines and showing up in our mail boxes.

The pushback has started. Privacy is the new default, and it’s time for Facebook to quit making it so damn difficult for people to understand how to control what others can and cannot see.