In 2013 I recorded a video on behalf of Hootsuite in which I was introducing the concept of social mass media. Judging by the number of tweets and interactions we had on our post, I sense that we had struck a chord. We are wrapping up the 2016 version of our Hootsuite/Visionary Marketing barometer of social media use by marketers in France. The insights we are deriving from it are showing clear signs of a maturing market, and indications that there is still a long way to go. In this piece, I will make a few guesses at what this maturing social media landscape could look in 2017 and beyond.
Insight #1: Some tools are born and others disappear
One thing struck me when looking at the results of our new barometer: the list of social media tools quoted by marketers is evolving. Exeunt Vine (definitely killed by Twitter this year), Viadeo or Xing (cornered to very definite geographies). Enter Periscope, Facebook Messenger, Facebook live and Snapchat. Snapchat is appealing more to B2C companies and is also attracting attention, but many businesses are still struggling with its unusual features and unwieldy interface. It will take time before the dust settles but a new social media giant may be born. My hunch is that businesses will be increasingly experimenting with live video. It has already become a usual tool in live event streaming. We are also experimenting with it as a means to increase engagement in webinars (thanks to this, in one afternoon we managed to get a record 117 job applications for the cloud computing arm of local telco Orange). As 2016 is nearing its end and speculations on the survival of Twitter abound, Periscope may well prove to be a real opportunity for the struggling social network we like so much.
Insight #2: more Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) and UGC (User Generated Content)
The old mantra of brand engagement in social media has been often repeated but not always understood by brands. Most of them have struggled with this idea that users, be they employees, customers or the average Joe, would talk about their brands on their own social media pages rather than go to the brand’s account page. Social media is still seen as the old way of bringing eyeballs to an owned Web asset, rather than as a major WOMM tool. But things are changing and I see more and more businesses attracted to inbound marketing. B2B companies seem more mature in this area. Few B2B players have the means of investing in advertising. To them, UGC and WOMM is a credible alternative. Besides, inbound marketing is a major source of lead generation, mostly when it is coupled with marketing automation. As Facebook announced it would diminish the amount of advertisements in its timelines, Word of Mouth and UGC are bound to play an increasing role with brands.