Social media has been such a powerful force and has shaped elections, impacted business decisions, and changed the landscape of what news is and how it is reported. The future of social media is an active topic of discussion in schools and businesses around the world. It cannot be ignored, but there does not seem to be a definite direction all its advocates are moving toward, perhaps waiting for a media leader to create a singular path for the rest to follow. Until then, the future of social media will be segmented, its value being determined by how practical and profitable its applications are while discovering who will be taking responsibility for the direction it is moving.
Facebook has been both an avenue for employment and the source of dashed dreams as its users have seen the double-edged sword as it relates to employment. Users of the world’s most popular social networking service have found that the content they post is now scrutinized more carefully than ever before by potential employers. This screening has resulted in some epic fails by applicants, as their posted college antics drew less than favorable reviews.
The question is whether Facebook users will use the social media site as a management tool for their career aspirations. Employers will use it to get a better sense of the social side of potential candidates contrasted to LinkedIn, which is geared more towards the business and professional presentations of its members. The strategic combination of these two social media sites will save companies millions of dollars in recruitment while getting a broader and clearer picture of prospective employees.
Companies large and small have come to realize the importance of having a presence on social media sites, primarily because in the global economy the goal is name recognition. “Liking” a particular brand, company, or product, regardless of its stage in the marketing life cycle, can generate immediate revenue.
The current focus of every social networking service throughout the Internet is that of content. Search engines are being redesigned to focus on the content of the web page or social media site. Online marketing will follow, minimizing flash and gimmicks and change their strategy to target channels where potential buyers focus on product quality and content.
In the past, each social media company would drive the potential buyer to their website as a source of information. The future of social media will have the company driving potential buyers to the Internet to meet and join with existing customers as a method of sharing personal experiences. It is the word-of-mouth advertising of the digital world.
The obvious attraction for startup and small businesses to use social media is simply exposure. A new or unique product or social networking service can gain a following with a simple advertisement that could go viral.
But beyond the exposure, small businesses will find social media sites to be an answer to negative publicity by its competitors, especially larger companies who can run negative campaign ads that cost millions of dollars. It is all about public relations, a critical aspect of growing companies but one that is often too expensive for small businesses.
Small businesses will be advocates of influencer marketing and online influencers by positioning their company in social media circles either through their own presence and online influence, in the case of a proprietary business, or through uncovering potential marketers within particular social media to act as product surrogates. The long-term strategy is using social media to identify advocates within select social groups and use them to promote the product or service.
More and more people are becoming freelancers, particularly those over the age of 50, where employment at the larger, traditional company is becoming increasingly scarce and who are discovering that the Internet is a global avenue for marketing their acquired skills and expertise. But freelancing is for both young and old. Social media sites offer an easy way to connect with people in the same line of work and collaborate to a mutually agreeable advantage. Starting a blog or creating a website has become far easier, and can be done without much technical knowledge.
But this growing number of people is already taking its toll on social media sites like Facebook, where users are weary of ads and have concerns about privacy of their personal information being available to advertisers. The glut will result in freelancers having a more difficult time being able to be recognized on every social networking service on social media, as their efforts will be curtailed by stricter social media privacy policies and user options to filter out unknown and unwanted ads.
The issue of defining what journalism is in the 21st century is an ongoing discussion. The expansion of social media has made first hand knowledge of events broadcast by social media sites such as Twitter preferable and sometimes more accurate than broadcast by traditional media outlets. It is all about the speed – who is the first to report the event factually.
The future of journalism within the scope of the future of social media is that of accuracy and reliability. Whether people prefer first hand accounts of ongoing events regardless of their accuracy or reliability, or people prefer a more controlled, but slower source of information via traditional media outlets will define journalism and determine its future.
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The future of social media looks bright. But the responsibility of being a user of social media is growing, from the content a student posts on their Facebook page to the irresponsible use of Twitter in tweeting news or reporting events that are biased or unsubstantiated. The effect of carelessness can affect just one person or perhaps millions. The ability to use each social networking service is concurrent with the responsibility of what it is used for.
Ron is a profit-driven marketer. Named one of the Top 50 Influencers in B2B Marketing (#14) by Onalytica and a Top 50 Influence Marketing Blogger by InkyBee, Ron is a digital marketer and conversion optimizer, focusing on maximizing ROI on social media campaigns. Contact Ron for advice about growing your blog and increasing your traffic.