Social Media: Expanding infinite boundaries
In 2013, Deloitte predicts that Social Media will increase its dominance further over other forms of media for connecting to the masses both at a personal level and for business purposes. Users will tend to spend more time on social media either for communicating in the virtual world or searching for their favorite webpages or simply echoing their voice about the current political and social issues concerning them and their lives. Social media users are expected to grow by approx. 21% in Asia-Pacific (including China, India, and Indonesia).24
As for marketers, social media will provide infinite opportunities to grow their businesses beyond geographical boundaries and get on to the stage at national (including regional) and international levels.
When it comes to mobile access, smart phones are the preferred device compared to laptops and desktops. Increasingly, it is becoming evident that mobile internet users will exceed the wired users. The growth rate of mobile internet users will primarily depend on the success of internet penetration in the country and that of faster and more reliable mobile networks - like 3G and forthcoming 4G.
Software development for mobile platforms will need to be ‘in-sync’ with the development of hardware and advancement in technology for transmission and networks. Ease of navigation and more features for sharing information between private users will be the key to success of such software development. Instagram, for instance, has more mobile users than Twitter.25 Users will follow the ‘Trending Apps’ list and try out newer and improved versions of social networking apps. Innovation will be the key in developing and rolling out newer Apps that address the ever increasing need to connect to social media platforms. As per a recent article, Instagram has already reached 80 million users in July 2012 and soon there will be more mobile phone-based applications of a similar nature.26
Social, local and mobile (SoLoMo), a terminology that gained popularity on 2012, will continue to gain ground in 2013. Social networking sites will help feed data analytics for the retailer, who then can use the same to target separate segments of consumers. The result will be more target-focused campaigns and personalisation of businesses.
Enterprise social networking
Companies have been using Social technologies to improve intra or inter-organisational collaboration and communications. Also social technology is being used to match talent with tasks. Companies have identified that increased enterprise social networking can add immense value to the organisational functions, such as – Product Development, Operations and Distribution, Marketing and Sales, Customer Service and Business Support. There is a great untapped potential for social technologies to improve communication and collaboration within and across enterprises. Productivity can be increased manifold by regular and intelligent interaction amongst employees using social technologies. Today a huge amount of relevant enterprise knowledge is locked up in e-mail inboxes – which is referred to by the user as per the needs. Also with increasing availability of internal knowledge and information on social media, time spent on searching for information can be reduced.
‘Connect’ to be the Mantra for growth and for building Brands
Customer relationship management on social media will enhance visibility and encourage more brands to leverage these platforms to create brand awareness. The need to directly interact with consumers makes it critical to connect using social media platforms. Increasing numbers of B2B and B2C companies are building up domains on social networking sites to connect with businesses/customers. This interaction will take all forms, including registering complaints for products/services or getting more information of the same or staying abreast with the latest consumer trends and technologies in products/services concerned.
Social networks will push ahead with new social ad models like Promoted Tweets and Sponsored Stories. Behind it all is the concept of convergence - the idea that advertisements and content can be interchangeable For instance, companies are already sending out Tweets to followers on their social media channels. Using analytical tools to identify the most read tweets, they can selectively amplify the best of the bunch as Promoted Tweets, turning content into ads and reaching an even larger audience.
After its acquisition by Facebook, Instagram saw its share of social media traffic grow by 17,319% in 2012, while Pinterest grew by 5,124%.27 This demonstrates that niche networks, which offer deeper, more focused functionalities overlooked by the bigger players, will continue to experience truly explosive growth.
In a recent survey commissioned by Deloitte, almost 51% of the interviewees, who went on-line, visited their social networking site. 61% used mobile devices to update their profile page on the social networking site. Further, 47% discussed social networking sites in conversation with friends, family and at the workplace. The interviewees also preferred to have intelligent software on their social network which, for example, alerts them on happenings in their neighborhood or in their fields of interest at their social networking page. All this relates to an exponential growth in the use of social networking and related sites.28
A recent Harvard Business review survey showed that only 12% of the companies using social media feel they use it effectively. In 2013, there will be more social media coursework at universities, as well as dedicated social media MBA programs, as schools rise to the challenge (Syracuse, NYU, Columbia, Harvard Business School and other higher educational institutions have already begun such courses).29
Most critical of all will be social media compliance training to ensure that workers in sensitive industries from finance to healthcare uphold regulatory standards while taking advantage of social media’s benefits.