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Social media: The future is fragmented

The results of our Social Media Benchmarking Survey are in, and I’ve spent the much of the last week pouring over them, in a darkened...

The results of our Social Media Benchmarking Survey are in, and I’ve spent the much of the last week pouring over them, in a darkened room writing my analysis – a bit like a medieval scribe locked away, working on a sacred document. Except without the hessian clothing.

As ever, there’s a wealth of fascinating data in these results, which will also be contained in the final Social Media Benchmarking Report, and included a mix of helpful reaffirmations of preconceptions together with some entirely new perspectives.

For example, the report confirms how dominant Twitter and LinkedIn are in the B2B space, with these two formerly allied platforms now fighting it out for top spot. Twitter is currently winning, but recent enhancements mean LinkedIn is catching up and likely to overtake in the next year.

Facebook, by contrast, appears to be losing ground, yet relevance of Google Plus to the B2B marketing sector looks set to explode in the next 12 months, which perhaps proves that despite all our innate cynicism, we can be pushed into using a platform if the organisation doing the pushing is powerful enough.

But it’s not just the big social brands that will dictate the future – you dismiss the relevance of small platforms at your peril. Slideshare, for example, is set to see a dramatic ramp up in relevance and use, as well as Pinterest (admittedly from a very low base) and more importantly, so will niche vertical platforms, which serve specific audiences, and are often owned by media organisations.

So it seems the future of B2B social media will be more rather than less fragmented, with different platforms playing different roles – this has to be good for brands, offering variety and choice and with competition continuing to create opportunities for innovation.

For marketers, this means regular audits of social platform usage is required – don’t take for granted that what you’re using now and how you’re using it will continue to be right for tomorrow, because changes in behaviour and technology means it probably won’t. In short, social media in B2B continues to be very much a moving target – and a fast moving one at that.