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Social Media - A Prediction for 2017

So the other day I was asked to look over a company’s global social media strategy for the next three years. I excitedly settled down with a cup of coffee ready to be inspired and maybe learn something about the social landscape in 2017. As I read on I realized that what I was reading was already out of date.

Strategically, it made sense what they were suggesting. The emphasis was largely on ROI (good stuff) and “social selling” was at the centre of the strategy, but it bothered me that this is what we’re doing now, not only that it’s what we were doing last year. Although this strategy isn’t necessarily a bad one I don’t think it’s where we will be in three years time.

There still seemed, to me, a disconnect between the business and social media. I have talked before about a “holistic” social approach and I still stand by it, social needs to work from the inside out and we need to learn a lot more about our social audiences.

We have known it’s not about numbers of followers and fans for a while however, what very few companies are doing is taking time to look individually at the people connecting on social channels. The problem with B2B social is we’re still not reaching human beings. Because companies aren’t buying into the social media ethos they’re hiring community managers and agencies to “fake” their social media. The problem with this is that all we are doing is reaching other agencies and other community managers; we all swirl our content around in a big pot.

We are still not really connecting with Mr Smith, IT Manager. As I read on it occurred to me that a social strategy which looks forward three years needs to work on being THE go to place, a forum, a hub, an open channel. No more @FacelessBrand handles, it should be @BobITSales talking directly to Mr Smith the IT Manager.

I found myself really trying to imagine the social landscape in 2017 and one thing that occurred to me is the question of privacy. It is really interesting how this issue has become a key theme of so many discussions, and I believe we will see it more and more over the next few years. With this becoming a real concern to people I can see a shift in how people on social media will choose to interact. We have seen the “explosion” with everyone sharing everything all the time but now I think we will begin to see an “implosion”. We will find our balance of sharing our lives yet keeping important things private. This is where I believe B2B social media marketing will have to really change, we will need to provide a place where potential customers come to us and talk to the real people, a place they can trust their privacy will be taken into account. It will be social media as social media was intended before it got taken over.

The thing is that now we have all the tools that make automated social easier, it’s meant we’ve fallen back into the trap of spray and pray marketing because the calendars and tools have taken away the human element of social media. But, I didn’t get into this industry to be a slave to calendars and tools. I want our legacy as an agency to be an impactful and personal one.

We all know that content is becoming more valuable and people are really buying into that idea. Content marketing has exploded. Now imagine if we combined that with honed social personas. Imagine if someone could take the piece of content and send it to the exact five people it needed to go to (because they’d asked for it or we knew them well enough to pre-empt them asking for it) rather then sending it to 500 people who will mostly likely either not see it or not be ready for it. All of that automated stuff will tick over in the background of course but the idea of personalisation combined with a truly open and transparent brand and you literally can’t lose.

The brilliance of it is that it can’t really be automated, and that’s a good thing! It’s not about community managing hundreds of faceless brands, it’s about supporting real people to do real social for businesses that have hidden behind jargon for a long long time.

It’s time to take it back. Sit down at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook (whatever your platform of choice) take a look at it, connect, talk, make a new friend! Just remember that social media should be part of a culture, it shouldn’t feel like a chore.