1. Where is the Social world going in 12 months? In 24 months?
Over the next 12 months, I envision the social world continue to grow rapidly into various avenues both in the consumer and the business to business segments. There is an explosion of new business ideas germinating to leverage the growing adoption of social media and networks, along with the explosive growth of smart phones, and we will start to see more exciting applications emerge to leverage the combined phenomenon of social interactions and anytime, anywhere connectivity. In particular, I see the continued rapid growth of smart phones exponentially increase the number of participants in social media globally, and this is indeed going to be exciting – as when people, like my 76 year old aunt, suddenly became a Facebook addict after she got herself an iPhone!
In the B2B front, the leverage of social media for customer service is getting more and more established, and the ROI is also becoming very clear. I foresee a lot more companies getting on this bandwagon. Marketers are going to still experiment to figure out where the ROI lies; this is becoming more of an art than a science and the creative types will find ways to surge ahead and win. Measurement tools and techniques for social media impact will continue to mature offering marketers better insight and guidance.
Around the 24 months timeframe, I do foresee participants in social media challenged by an overdose of channels, information, applications, and just plain noise. Already, I am finding it challenging to catch up with the top 4 or 5 channels I want to be plugged into. And there are at least a dozen more clamoring for my attention, for which I have not enough time in my day. People are going to pause and ask ‘Where is all this madness leading me to?’ This would then lead to some consolidations, more meaningful and useful ideas winning, etc.
2. How can businesses not be left behind?
Now, which business in its right mind is not already doing something with social media today? The experimentations will continue. The smart ones who can figure out how best to create attraction and meaning to their audiences will surge ahead, and leave others wondering “What the heck happened? Did something just flash by me?” Businesses do not have a choice but to participate in social media today.
3. What’s going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of social?
Since three years is eternity in social media terms, anything can happen and I will throw in my speculation. One big thing that can happen is the end to marketing and sales as we know it today. In a world where consumers are telling other consumers and companies what they need and how they need it, where companies are building products and solutions that customers are asking, where evangelical groups of consumers eagerly spread the experience of delight, what’s the need for today’s marketers and sales people? These jobs are going to get transformed in very significant ways, and today’s marketers and sales guys better watch out! Start engaging to build an identity and a social media following to be relevant in the not-too-distant future.