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The End of Social Media 1.0

The debut of a series introducing The End of Business as Usual

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I would like to talk about an inflection point in social media that requires pause. I am not suggesting that there will be a social media 2.0 or 3.0 for that matter. Nor do I see the term social media departing our vocabulary any time soon. After all, it was recently added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.  Instead, what I would like to discuss is the end of an era of social media that will force the industry to mature. It won’t happen on its own however. Evolution will occur because consumers demand it and also because you’re willing to stake your job on it.

From Social Network Fatigue to Deals Fatigue to Follow Fatigue, businesses are facing a crossroads at the intersection of social and media. Following the path of media continues a long tradition of what Tom Foremski refers to as “Social Media as Corporate Media.” Following the path of social is a journey towards relevance.

As Foremski states, “Social media is not corporate media…if corporations try to turn social media into a corporate sales or marketing channel then they risk losing the naked conversations, and the insight into customer behaviors.”

His point is that there’s more to social media than clever campaigns and rudimentary conversations. Talking isn’t the only thing that makes social media social. Just like adding Facebook, Twitter and other sharing buttons will not magically transform static content into shareable experiences. Listening, learning and adapting is where the real value of social media will show its true colors.  Listening leads to a more informed business. Engagement unlocks empathy and innovation. But it is action and adaptation that leads to relevance. And, it never ends.

Indeed, there really are more examples of media than there are that of social media in many of the celebrated examples out there today. Even though distributing corporate media in social channels sets the stage for dialogue, there really isn’t much that’s social about it. In fact, study of many social media initiatives have led me to believe that much of what we benchmark against is actually anti-social in its approach.

The future of social media comes down to one word, “value.” Without it, businesses will find it much more difficult to earn and retain friends, fans and followers (3F’s). As adoption of social networks soared in previous years, growth is now plateauing.  eMarketer estimates that Facebook growth will hit only 13.4% this year after experiencing 38.6% acceleration in 2010 and a staggering 90.3% ascension the year before. Facebook isn’t alone in its sobriety either. The  rate of Twitter user adoption fell from 293.1% growth in 2009 to 26.3% this year.

Don’t get me wrong, people are still embracing social networks. However, the severity of competition for consumer attention is now unmistakable. Once liberal with their likes, Retweets, and follows, consumers are becoming much more guarded and realistic. Therefore brands will now have to more effectively listen to markets to make more informed decisions about how social media impacts the enterprise and in turn customer experiences.

The GlobalWebIndex “Wave 5 Trends” report delivers insight into how consumers are using social networks and technology in general.  According to the report, growth in social network usage among 16- to 24-year-olds in the US is stalling. And, in a few countries usage within this group is declining. In fact, one of the key insights shared in the report is subduing, “Facebook is no longer the one stop shop for the total internet experience.”

However, the report is not a harbinger of social networking’s demise. It is merely a lens into how behavior is changing. This is important for any business to realize that business as usual in social networks is in fact anything but.

Between June 2009 and June 2011, the following changes were noted in Facebook activity:

– Uploading videos is experiencing a modest increase around the world up 5% in the U.S. and 7.6% worldwide.

– Installing apps is on the decline, down 10.4% in the U.S. and 3.1% worldwide.

– Sending virtual gifts may not be gifts worth giving after all, with numbers declining 12.9% in the U.S. and 7.5% around the world.

Twitter on the other hand is a rich exchange for  information commerce, where links become a form of digital currency. For example, 45% share an opinion about a product or brand more than once per day. Another 34% of Twitter users also share a link about a product or brand more than once per day.

When asked what consumers want from brands, knowledge and entertainment soared to the top of the list. Additionally, The GlobalWebIndex Wave 5 Trends report tells us that online consumers want brands to provide services that fit with their lifestyle. They also want brands to listen to them.

What can we learn of this?

1) Businesses must first realize that there’s more to social media than just managing an active presence, driven by an active editorial calendar. Listening is key and within each conversation lies a clue to earn relevance and ultimately establish leadership.

2) Consumers want to be heard. Social media will have to break free form the grips of marketing in order to truly socialize the enterprise to listen, engage, learn, and adapt. You can’t create a social business if the business is not designed to be customer-centric from the outside-in and the inside-out.

3) Social media becomes an extension of active listening and engagement. Strategies, programs, and content are derivative of insights, catalysts for innovation, and messengers of value. More importantly, social media becomes a platform for the brand and the functions that consumers deem mandatory. From marketing to HR to service to R&D, brands will expand the role they play in social networking to make the acts of following and sharing an investment in a more meaningful relationship.

The end of Social Media 1.0 is the beginning of a new era of business, consumer engagement, and relevance.


The End of Business as Usual will be available in the coming weeks. You can pre-order now at Amazon | Barnes and Noble | 800CEOREAD.

Part 1 – Digital Darwinism, Who’s Next
Part 2 – Social Media’s Impending Flood of Customer Unlikes and Unfollows
Part 3 – Social Media Customer Service is a Failure

129 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The End of Social Media 1.0”

  1. Tom Foremski says:

    Thanks Brian. My post: “Social Media Is Not Corporate Media” hit a chord with a lot of people and people keep rediscovering it and retweeting it every few days. Listening is a really powerful activity and it’s not passive if you take action.

  2. Pingback: That’s a wrap!
  3. Social marketing works well only when a business or individual become social. For sure SM v.1 is gone. The development war between giants just starting and this is the best time to promote business through social media.

  4. TJ Ojehomon says:

    There was a time in social media, where the only reason you joined up was because it was popular. It was all on the news, your friends talked about it in daily conversations peaking your interest, and it was just fun to surf. You could find out what drama there was between friends, what everyone was doing in there pictures, and stalk the ones you had particular interest in. Now, people are starting to pull back. Social media is not just a place for mere randomness anymore. There is a method to the communication. Whether it be self-promotion, illustrating an elaborate point, or sharing the latest news with your peers. Not only that, but people are being much more careful and cautious about what they’re releasing on these social networks. Its starts to get scary when pictures that were very private show up on a mainstream site, or someone calls your phone that you’ve never met, but somehow tracked your number down through your facebook. If social media truly wants to expand in the future, then they will no longer be able to depend on those people who just join up because its the new craze. There has to be a social benefit. That’s how LinkedIn is becoming popular because it offers networking between potential customers and future careers. Step your game up!

  5. Social media are the products of two-way communications. They should be used as talking to and listening to audiences since the beginning of their births. PR people and marketers mostly focus on its talking function and neglect its listening function. Now businesses, PR people and marketers need to listen to their audiences and talk to them as well. This is not the end of Social Media 1.0, it is the return to the essence of social media.

  6. Abaya says:

    Well Google +1 options is really good and i agree this the end of Social media 1.0

  7. Media Agency says:

    Twitter is one of the fastest growing, on-the-fly social media platforms, with some 200 million users, 460 thousand new accounts daily, and 1 billion tweets a week! This medium allows you to post instant updates on almost any topic you wish, alerting all those who “follow” you closest…your most loyal “fans”, say, from Facebook or most loyal customers/clients who use your services frequently. And…it’s free!

  8. Guest says:

    Agree! Social media is a two-way communication. Just click the sharing button cannot “transform static content into shareable experiences”. Listening, learning and adapting is the key. As a PR person, we should not pay our attention only on talking. The more important thing is to listen carefully what our consumers are talking about though social media.

  9. Trek2020 says:

    I find it sad that one of the only way to get someones attention and keep it is to keep your advertisement, or statement less than eighty words. Many people are quickly losing their attention span and desire to really read into subject matter.

  10. Trek2020 says:

    I find it sad that many people do not have the attention span to read more than fifty words due to social media sites. It is as if some do not want to really take the time to read into something and get all of the details.

  11. Runner6837 says:

    “Listening, learning and adapting is where the real value of social media will show its true colors.” You make some great points in this piece. The value of social media is not in simply having a Facebook page or a Twitter feed, but rather how the company chooses to effectively utilize social media via listening, learning, and adapting. Social media is definitely two-way communication in which the benefit stems from the fact that the company can see consumer responses to products/services and then respond accordingly. Additionally consumers can see company responses; so they are effectively communicating though not geographically in the same place. 

  12. Brands and Businesses have been over sold, over hyped and over promised what Social Media can do for them. We forget everyone has finite time available. You can only engage with a few brands regularly. Good luck being one. Most tweets and most Brand page posts are seen by less than 3% of your follower/fan base. You can’t reach millions you can reach hundreds or thousands which for major brands isn’t acceptable. And the VC’s, Mashables, Social Media Agencies etc keep pumping the bullshit. With so few ‘Wins’ for social media for marketing after all this times promises are hollow and brands are rethinking spending and now see the value of TV and Paid Search is more than they thought. That their own website is much more powerful for selling than anything they will ever do on Twitter or Facebook. In fact time spent on Facebook per person per day is down over 40% since April 2010 (from Facebook’s own stats page!) And they know that 99.9% of human communication (one way and two way) take place in non-social media spaces. Word of mouth, SMS text, live phone calls, Email etc still trump Social Media for moving information around.

    So now the VC’s and Companies must step their game up or be gone. I see agencies like Vitrue and Likeable at risk of closing down. I see Social Media Rock Stars having to find something new or risk becoming one of the masses again. Question is where will the breakthroughs come? Who will have the technology? Do the consumers care? We already see so much advertising do we want more? Will we behave like the futurists and creatives think? Check in’s are dead. No value there. Mobile might finally evolve properly.

    I coined ‘Social Media is a revolution in interpersonal communication’ Brands are not part of this statement. If brands disappeared from social no one would care except marketers and agencies. Brands won’t even care. We want to talk with each other. Not Kraft Mac and Cheese. Not TGI Fridays. We don’t. Proof is in the data. When I look at Brand Pages when I see Twitter volumes. Rounded down engagement is zero almost always. What is next? Stay tuned.

  13. zionaetzion says:

    You certainly make some excellent points.
    *The business aspects started with the Social Media sites advertising.
    *Blogger’s getting paid to advertise.
    *Membership on Social Media Sites.
    *Authors promoting their ideas and selling their books.
    *What about all the excellent courses on SEO.
    *Courses on relationship building.
    *Courses on how to keep your man by your side.
    *Landing pages
    *Building email lists
    *How to improve engagement strategy online
    *Social Causes
    * Grass-roots Political Campaigns

    The question is how does one decide who is allowed to use this platform
    for what?
    @Howie True… naive public is being over sold about what the SM can do for one.

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