NORTH CAROLINA, May 2, 2012 — Social media’s “Gold Rush” is quickly approaching its apex. Some companies are poised to grow exponentially. Others may be visiting a local “Cash For Gold” in the near future.
With no time to waste, I am interviewing ten leading minds in social media. All have different backgrounds and insights in to a changing landscape. When they speak, people listen.
Part 1 in this series is Tim Moore.
Tim is regularly called upon by the likes of ABC News, CNN, The New York Times Company and others as a social media reference. As CEO of CrushIQ his online influence assessments, strategy maps and implementation of best practices are in high demand.
He also has no idea that I worked a video of him wearing a fake mustache into this article.
In June, he will be launching the new platform Sparkstir. Details are not yet released to the public but early previews look promising.
1. What is the future of social media? What will we be talking about 12 months from now?
Based on behaviors over the past six months, it’s safe to say that discretionary sharing and portability are the future of conversational media. Connected consumers already are communicating, interacting and sharing mutual items of interest at levels we couldn’t imagine one year ago. I see this continuing to grow and the channels to facilitate it to appear at an accelerated rate.
For business applications, which is our primary interest at CrushIQ, the businesses that adapt and cater to the connected consumer are those that will remain in business over the long term. Twelve months from now, we will be talking about the companies who adapted as well as lamenting those who have become extinct and are out of business due to their reluctance to adjust. The longer companies resist interacting with the public, the greater their odds are for extinction and the shorter the window for any hope of recovery.
2. What trend do you watch more closely? The evolution of different tools or how people interact?
I study buyer behaviors, and document our case studies, try to isolate what the tipping point was in the decision or purchase process for them. The more case studies we examine, the more patterns emerge and frameworks, not templates, can be established.
These are principles of consumer engagement, not hard and fast rules. Humans are not lab rats, and there are a number of important issues that are being debated on the open web. Internet freedoms, online censorship, controversial privacy policies and future trickier topics will arise.
Another battle being fought is work media and social cognition. While some more conservative companies are limiting or even outright banning social media at work, others who have a grasp on the future are not only encouraging it, but emphasize it as a key work function. These companies see the connection between their employee’s engaging about their products or innovation online with their friends and followers, and understand how this influences people’s thinking and their positive impression of the company.
These likely will be hot topics for some time and will shape how the current channels mature and how new ones will be designed. At the core though, it will always come down to two simple continuous factors for business on the social web: As a business; 1) Do consumers trust you? 2) Are you offering them real value and treating them with respect? — This really isn’t rocket science.
3a. Is there a specific tool we should pay attention to more? Why?
This is difficult to answer, because my bookmarks are full of tools that do all kinds of really cool functions and analytics. This is such an exciting time. As of today, I am intrigued by Pinerly and Cyfe, both are tools that have powerful tracking and analytics for the Pinterest phenomenon. I’m not sure if these tools are going to remain THE tools for Pinterest stats but I think we should keep a look out for Pinterest Tracking tools and other reporting mechanisms on this emerging shopping preference by consumers. It’s fascinating to watch and learn. Oh, and I also have to mention Google+. I still believe that this channel is going to be a significant player in the evolution of search as we know it.
3b. How will our interactions on social media change/evolve?
This is happening every few weeks, our interactions are slowly becoming more visual and more portable in our everyday lives. Since numbers don’t lie, the data clearly shows that we are all migrating away from text and toward image based, simple to use interfaces and products that are fun to use.
This euphoria as a consumer is also moving us to act more promptly on our desires and purchase things that our friends have recommended or have liked, +1’d, pin’d, etc. Digital businesses should be implementing these components into all of their public channels.
4. We keep adding social channels that we check, update. Will it eventually condense or continue to grow larger?
We learn from the past, and that means that everything in this social / technology world will continue to change and evolve. There will always be new platforms, a new and better way to do things. We will continue to adopt new platforms and older ones will fall by the wayside - Look at the convergence of the mobile phones, Internet in the air, etc. It’s the cyclical nature of technology and even for us as humans.
We want to advance and we expect intelligent networks and channels to emerge and help us in our work, shopping, paying bills, keeping appointments, entertainment, keeping up with our children, and more. It’s clear, that a fresh paradigm is next to emerge that will simplify our online activity, have richer content and control, be more meaningful to our interests and lives. I don’t see larger being the answer.
5. What is the next big thing, biggest upcoming shift in social media?
I see two things, I see a complete evolution to search. The way we research things, most consumers that have not already warmed to social search, are going to want input from their trusted friends and family. I already see this happening on Google+.
The other, while not initially popular, will be some paid models of our favorite channels. With a paid subscription, they could be ad-free, have more customizable functions, add tighter and consolidated integration with our other preferred channels so that our music, movies, friend chat, relevant articles, GPS, local news alerts, are all in one individualized service that is across all platforms, Mac, PC, home and work computers and your mobile.
Ultimately, I see these all merging into a single mobile handset that is the control and docking station terminal to access it at anytime, anywhere. An always on connected consumer. Some of this is already in the works
6. What role does broadcast media (video) play in effective social media strategy? Will that change? Increase?
Based on the current trajectory and the digestion patterns for video, this is obviously the future and has to be considered when drafting a digital business strategy. Social is all about quick, brief information, fun and interactive. You can already see video being used and accepted as the ‘new telephone’ on Google+ Hangouts, Facebook’s Skype integration, even Livestream’s new broadcaster that streams HD video without a computer, (and a number of new startups that are pushing the video use envelope), are just beginning to use interactive video as the new communication/collaborative medium. As wireless networks’ speed and bandwidth increase, expect to see it gobbled up more and more using live, participatory technologies.
As promised, a ‘Stach-a-fied’ Tim Moore.
Jeff Barrett is a recognized leader in public relations, experiential marketing and social media. Co-Founder of Status Creative, 2011 PRNewswire Award Winner for “Best Use of Video In Social Media” and record holder for Most Strikeouts in Tee-Ball.
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