Social Media has grown up (and is still growing) . It’s been over two decades since the first social networks popped up since then they have continued to evolve and provide consumers across the world new and meaningful ways to interact with people, events and brands that matter to them. As this revolutionary media like television before it has become an integral part of our daily lives, satisfying the human need for interaction. Social networking is now truly a global phenomenon, some may argue it can be a blueprint for digital democracy. Making headlines both online and offline, we saw the rise of Pinterest and Instagram and the fall of Facebook’s IPO. Other big news included Twitter’s restriction of API access, Facebook’s $1 billion splurge for Instagram, MySpace’s rise from the dead and more recently the backlash by users as the role of content providers is redefined by Instagram.
Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media report: ‘State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012’ provides answers to this where this steep growth is coming from, where it’s headed and the implication for social media marketers.

What is driving this bandwagon of continued growth of Social Media?

More people are using smartphones and tablets to access social media. The personal computer is still at the centre of the social networking experience, but consumers are increasingly looking to other devices to connect on social media. Time spent on mobile apps and the mobile web account for 63 percent of the year-over-year growth in overall time spent using social media.  There no surprise that Facebook will total a little more than $339 million in mobile ad sales this year, $851 million in 2013 and $1.2 billion in 2014, per new projections from eMarketer.
Also as new social media sites continue to emerge from the digital shadows. The number of social media networks consumers can choose from has exploded, and too many sites to count are adding social features or integration. While Facebook and Twitter continue to be among the most popular social networks, Pinterest emerged as one of the breakout stars in social media for 2012 capturing the hearts of predominately female users in the US, boasting the largest year-over-year increase in both this unique audience and time spent of any social network across PC, mobile web, and apps.

So that’s the fuel powering this Social Media bandwagon, where’s it headed?

Social TV is on the rise. The skyrocketing adoption and use of social media among consumers is transforming TV-watching into a more immediate and shared experience.  We highlighted some of the main convergences of TV and Social Media back in October. As of June 2012, more than 33 percent of Twitter users had actively tweeted about TV-related content. From global events like the Summer Olympics, to regional events like the Presidential debates in the U.S., consumers around the world used social media to engage with everyone from close friends to complete strangers, revolutionizing the television viewing experience.
Using social media as a customer service tool can transform perceptions about your brand. Social media has emerged as an important channel for customer service, with nearly half of U.S. consumers reaching out directly to brands and service providers to voice their satisfaction or complaints, or simply to ask questions. In fact, one in three social media users say they prefer to use social media rather than the phone for customer service issues. This makes it even more important to have social media management software incorporated within an organization to help manage the influx of messages aired in a public space.

So how does this impact Social Media marketing?

Social media enables consumers to generate and tap into the opinions of on an exponentially larger scale. While word-of-mouth has always been vital, its scope was previously limited to the people you knew and interacted with on a daily basis. Social media has removed that limitation and given new power to consumers. Consumers around the world are using social media to learn about other consumers’ experiences, find more information about brands, products and services, and to find deals and purchase incentives. In today’s world of online social circles it’s hard to imagine any business not joining the universal scramble for a free soapbox to a wider audience. Yet many small businesses don’t see how they can benefit from social media. Not everyone has had their eyes opened by the massive opportunities for engagement and new business that tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Yell.com Reviews – along with the various blogging platforms present.
It should be noted that consumer attitudes toward advertising on social media are still evolving. Though roughly one-third of social media users find ads on social networking sites more annoying than other types of Internet advertisements, research suggest that there are opportunities for marketers to engage with consumers via social media. More than a quarter of social media users say they are more likely to pay attention to an ad shared by one of their social connections. Additionally, more than a quarter of consumers are ok with seeing ads on social networking sites tailored to them based on their profile information. BIA/Kelsey report predicts Social Media Ads Go ‘Native,’ and will Hit $9.2b by 2016 these are contextual promotions that are baked into sites either via news feeds (e.g., Promoted Tweets) or in a more customized fashion this is claimed to total $1.53 billion this year while growing to $3.85 billion in 2016.

Vishal Pindoriya

Vishal Pindoriya is a social media enthusiast, strategist and writer. He lives in London, England and is particularly interested in the proliferation of social media around the world.

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