January is traditionally the time when bloggers and commentators like to predict what’s going to happen over the coming months; I’ve even been known to have a go myself.
But as I was trying to pull together my predictions for 2012, I couldn’t help but wonder whether I was wasting my time — after all, didn’t the Mayans predict that this year would in fact see the end of the world*? I figured that this was probably a litttle unlikely, but did wonder whether, perhaps, the Mayans has somehow predicted the end of social media.
The End of Social Media As We Know It?
Now, obviously I think it’s just as unlikely that Facebook, Twitter et al will all suddenly disappear as I do that Woody Harrelson will be engulfed by a volcano exploding underneath Yellowstone. But I do think that we, as marketers, will need to adjust our view of what does and doesn’t make up social media, and how we describe it.
For example, Facebook now has more than 800 million active monthly users, is the largest photo library the world has ever known, and is trying to replace email, though this last feat may be too much, even for Mark Zuckerberg. On the other hand, Pinterest, which is on many of the 2012 hot lists, essentially acts as an online pinboard, has an audience in the low millions, and currently appeals much more to women than men. And yet, they’re both defined as social media.
The only thing that these two sites really share is that they are both working to build, in Fred Wilson’s words, a large network of engaged users, as are Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and a thousand other websites and apps. And so, with this in mind, it’s time we stopped defining things by whether or not they’re social media. Because, in 2012, we should simply assume that all media are social, particularly if they’re digital or mobile (two other words that will cease to have meaning, but we’ll leave that for another day).
All Media Are Social
I’ve been saying this for a while now, but it’s more true now than ever. Twitter has been baked into the iPhone infrastructure, making it possible to build tweeting into any app. At the time of writing, Facebook is hardwired into more than 7 million sites and apps, making it the default log-in for millions of people and, with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner’s investigation out of the way, clearing the path for “likes” to be built into anything and everything. With Google+ still getting a massive push, expect to see similar levels of integration on Android devices soon.
All of this means that social is becoming a default, a hygiene factor. When hashtags are being built into news broadcasts and political discussion shows, you know that they’ve truly tipped.
2012 is likely to see a lot of people shooting off the latest buzz-phrase, SoLoMo, which describes how social, local & mobile are coming together. There’s also likely to be plenty of hype for Pinterest, as well as the likes of Turntable (even though it’s not available outside the U.S.) and Path (though it limits how social you can be). But rather than getting blinded by hype or jargon, we should all make the resolution that we will try to make everything we do social. If we do that, 2012 won’t see the end of social media, so much as the start of truly connected marketing.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.