As we look back on 2016, we realize that social media was on everyone’s lips–but not always for reasons that we marketers would imagine. Social media in the news at the end of the year was all about responsibility and control.
Events like Brexit and the U.S presidential election were no doubt influenced to a significant degree by social media. Look no further than President-elect Donald Trump’s use of Twitter as a direct channel of communication with his followers and critics. As also the questionable role that social media played in dishing out news stories to the voters.
Major news and polling organizations are yet to come to grips with the fact that they could not foresee a Trump victory as a serious possibility. But those monitoring the campaigns on social media were witness to the support that the Trump campaign was able to muster and how numerous controversies galvanized his supporters rather than hinder his progress.
There’s no question that social platforms are maturing both in terms of technology and business models. They are clearly behaving more like traditional outlets in that paid media is fast becoming the prevalent model.
In a world overflowing with distraction and entertainment on demand in their pockets, user attention has become the new currency of success. Organizations that are active on social media (nearly everyone) need newer and more forms of support to make this marketing environment work for them.
Since social media has acquired such a large share of online activity, companies are seeing social media as an integral component of their wider digital and marketing strategies. Along with that, customer service, human resources (employer branding and recruitment) etc. too are taking a stake in social.
Digital marketing expertise is seen leading the pack in 2017 as the most desired of skill sets. Almost all marketing roles require some digital marketing experience or analytical skills. Social media has evolved from being a nice-to-have to a must-have. It’s sure likely to turn a business-critical function in 2017.
Data has been critical for social media from day one, more than any other marketing channel. Consequently understanding your data is essential to both improving your performance and extracting greater returns from social channels.
Now, companies have separate tools for their own data, competitor data, marketing, customer service, etc. These silos will need to be broken down and merged in order to create one cohesive ecosystem of data.
Social media platforms have very much advanced in the kind of advertising technology they offer. With the flexibility, targeting and media buying options on offer from major social channels, advertisers can target and reach users with precision like never before.
All this will help make 2017 a watershed year for marketing, and many expect digital spend on advertising to finally surpass TV ad spend for the first time ever. This shift will also be aided to a large degree by the massive inflow of money into social media channels.
Businesses will increasingly invest more in social media and, consequently, the tools they require will need to be smarter, well integrated and easier to use. In 2017, social media is only going to become more important and influential, both with respect to society and marketing.
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