Yes, explode and become as big or important as SEO, online advertising and web analytics.
It certainly is going to be a game changer in how companies use social media. We will probably see new areas of expertise born, in fields such as “Social Engagement Planning” (SEP) and “Social Media Relations” (SMR). How businesses interact with social media channels will change drastically in the near future, with the next wave in social media enhancements/ channels being a game changer.
Before explaining my reasoning for these bold statements, let’s recap on a few things.
- Online PR, is struggling. The levels of engagement, measurement and optimisation required are
elusive, with online editor relationships and the ability to secure press release coverage online
almost non existent. Furthermore PR now competes with web publishing.
- Every internet user is now a potential publisher and influences opinion. This has seen the rise
of Online Reputation Management.
- Social Media channels will continue to evolve as dominant gateways to target markets based
on their market reach, frequency of use and levels of user engagement. User numbers and growth
rates of social media channels are phenomenal – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube etc.
- Business engagement via social media channels is complex, challenging and requires a mind shift.
It certainly is not seeing mass adoption beyond paid for Ads and PR integration is not easy.
- Management of exposure (defined target market reach, timing, assessment etc.), call to action
(reward, driving interaction), fighting through the meaningless clutter (Twitter spam, non-business
chatter) and a lack of control over the engagement process, have been serious stumbling blocks to
social media adoption as part of the online strategy.
- With social media, too much is left to chance – Please follow me! Click my like button! Read my
tweets…. every day! Join my group, become a fan! Did you search for my video? Oh sh*t, people
are blasting me on Facebook or Twitter, what can I do?
The takeaway from this is, companies of all sizes are crying out for ways to engage target markets in addition to search marketing, banners and normal traffic generation methods. Secondly, everyone realises that social media channels are steaming ahead and that their target markets are engaged socially, but we need simpler, measurable and effective methods to engage the target markets through social channels. Measurement of engagement and ROI has to be in place.
The game changer, if done effectively and something that has been missing for a while is “SOCIAL CONTENT CURATION.” Taking the real time streams of information that is being generated on social channels, filtering it, customising it and packaging in a meaningful manner for online audiences, particularly from a business perspective. To start with, I envisage it will be a free for all, but as with all new innovations, leaders and channels will emerge as dominant players with time.
Below is a typical example of social media content that has been through the curating process and is automatically published as a news channel. Note how it has no resemblance to twitter tweets, Facebook conversations etc. Bring structure and meaning to social data overload, with the ability to easily find up to date relevant information in a desired field, lets business engage more effectively, provided targeting, measurability and a more structured engagement methodology. Just what business people need from social media.
|Fully Customised Social Media||Content Page continued|
The above content stream comes from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and based on customisation rules, is uniquely presented, constantly updated and most importantly, creates a whole new series of opportunities.
It is these new opportunities that will drive Social Media PR or as I think of it “Social Media Relations.” I say this for a variety of reasons.
There will be the opportunity of owning the customised social news channel and dominating in vertical or regional markets, both business and non business related. Anything is possible in any market through this customisation and filtering process. Example – Create a social voice channel for digital marketing in South Africa. Included a local news section, an Africa news section and perhaps a Cape Town job opportunity section (filtered job opportunity tweets only). Filter your social news according to your objectives.
The successful players will create advertising/ market reach value, but equally important will be the birth of Social Media Relations, as audience exposure and engagement can be measured and reported on. Social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) will be used to gain SMR exposure into these new social news channels, with the ability to drive people who click on links, directly back to a website. I have no doubt that with time the planning and implementation of “Social Media Relations Planning” will grow to become as important as SEO, marketing and PR planning is today.
First the social news channels will arrive, then the growth of audience
critical mass to establish value, then the explosion of
Social Media PR. Life is never easy, but there
is always opportunity!
Free exposure or paid for exposure. The markets will dictate, but company content blended with social news and topical content and endorsed through its inclusion in the news channel, is as close as we will come to the traditional form of PR, in an online world. Obviously content will be written and structured for the online audience -please! I would expect that commenting and sharing would form part of these new social news channels.
Another interesting take on this, is using this same concept of social media content curating and developing easy to use tracking tools. Whether you are tracking social commentary about your own company or tracking competitors, the above could be used effectively, within a reputation management plan.
So who will be the first to create the “Social Voice of South Africa” news channel? Completely customised content, with your flavour or branding as to what is to be included.