Social Media’s Future: 5 Important Trends [Research & Charts]

Twitter Is the Must-Have Business Social Media Tool

Social Media - Business UseSocial media is maturing. To meet prospects, customers, fans and the public on the digital platforms where they spend their time, businesses are building their social media presence to reach and engage participants. 

Here’s the numbers behind the business push (even if their CEOs don’t follow suit) on three of the major social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, via Visible Technologies. As you check these facts, understand that they translate to social media presence, engagement and content creation.

  • Twitter: Twitter is the place to be for businesses. With 340 million tweets per day in March 2012, the average number of Twitter followers in 2012 was 14,709 almost tripled the number in 2011.  On average, each corporate account followed 2,062 other Twitter accounts in 2012.
  • Facebook: Roughly three quarters of the Global Fortune 100 have a Facebook page. Each firm had about 153 thousand likes per page in 2012. Further,  70% of corporate pages responded to comments on their wall. On average, 9 out of 10 companies updated their Facebook page weekly.
  • YouTube: Overlook YouTube at your peril. About three days worth of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. The second largest search engine has about 800 million unique users per month who watch 4 billion videos per day. In 2012, about four out five firms had a YouTube channel. Each company averaged over 2 million views and 1,669 subscribers.

Based on research of the Global Fortune 100 by Burston-Marsteller and Visible Technologies, here are five trends emerging across social media platforms. Regardless of the size of your business, there are tactics you can apply to your marketing to ensure that your social media marketing strategy is on track.

  1. Customers talk about businesses a lot. Conversation takes place whether you’re present or not. You can’t just sit back and pray nothing will happen to your firm. The Global Fortune 100 Companies were mentioned 10.4 million times in one month based on Visible Technologies’ research. Of these mentions, 5.6 million, or just over half, of the company mentions were made on Twitter.  Interestingly, forums and blogs were the next largest area where consumers mentioned companies. This makes sense since users go onto forums to get help choosing or using a product better. By contrast blogs provide product and consumer oriented information. Social media mentions by Global Fortune 100Actionable Marketing Tactics: Understand that just because social media participants mention your company, it doesn’t mean that you have to respond. You must engage where there are issues, often 2% of the mentions. The challenge is finding those mentions that require a corporate answer.
  2. Nine out of ten businesses are present on at least one social media platform. The subtext is that social media is becoming a mature communications system. It’s acceptable to be on these platforms and to use them to achieve business goals.  Actionable Marketing Tactics: Before you dive into multiple different social media networks, understand your customers, where their interests are, and how they relate to the information you’re looking to distribute
  3. Organizations use social media to engage and distribute content with their various audiences. This translates to additional resources, financial and headcount. Companies continually need content and people who can respond to customer inquiries in real time. Actionable Marketing Tactics: Create a robust editorial calendar to ensure that you have the appropriate content ready to support your customers.
  4. Companies have multiple social media accounts. More average corporate accounts across social media platforms shows a maturing and more targeted approach. This translates to increasingly targeted messages at various audiences on social media (Create your social media persona(s).) This signals social media’ maturity. Actionable Marketing Tactics: Plan how you’ll expand your social media targeting. Think products, customer segments, geography, departments. Assess the value of the increased targeting.
  5. Companies are adapting to new forms of social media faster. Since companies have gained experience from being on social media platforms, they’re no longer hindered by fear of the unknown. Specifically, about half of firms are on Google+ (although this could be a defensive search strategy) and about a quarter are on Pinterest. Further, they’re adapting to local needs. Where necessarily, some firms are using multiple languages either through one account or via targeted accounts. Actionable Marketing Tactics: To stay abreast of the current ecosystem, continually test new social media options and work to integrate them with your other marketing and communications.

From a business perspective, you need to have a presence on Twitter to ensure that your business is listening to the conversation and can respond quickly when and where appropriate.

What other important social media trends would you add to this list and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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