Remember your first Facebook friend? How about sending out that very first Tweet? Chances are it wasn’t all that long ago so it will probably come as a surprise to learn how strongly invested major corporations are in social media. Consider this… during the initial stages of the Internet, it took many companies years to build a website and adopt email as part of their day to day business operations. Today, very few business owners would dare go without at least a minimal website and email. In comparison, adoption of social media is measured in months rather than years with major corporations throughout the nation averaging roughly 180 social media accounts…and 30 dedicated to Facebook alone! Why so many? According to industry experts that routinely work with Fortune 500 clients, multi-location targeting is one reason but the ability to highlight specific products or services, tap into critical topical areas and management specialized campaigns are all additional reasons for the rapid proliferation of social media sites. In fact, it’s not unusual to encounter a company with thousands of pages…which brings us to the next topic; how to effectively manage multiple social media accounts.
The Current Status of Social Media Management
A few weeks ago, we reported on the new Facebook features designed to assist with multiple admin accounts as well as the ability to schedule posted messages up to six months in advance with 15 minute increments. While this is certainly a step in the right direction, it still requires a tremendous amount of man-hours to manage the average social media site…much less multiple sites. For example, although it is currently possible to assign five different functional admin roles/responsibilities, many necessary responsibilities don’t fit into one of the five generalized categories leaving business owners faced with the dilemma of having to handle it on their own or assign others to handle it based upon Facebook requirements rather than in-house needs. Of course, the most effective method is outsourcing the entire thing but more on that in a few minutes!
The Future of Social Media Management
So, where is social media management heading? Certainly outsourcing and white-label offerings are growing by leaps and bounds but will upcoming changes and modifications create less demand or more? Contrary to popular opinion, technology enhancements are unlikely to put social media management firms out of business. In fact, most experts agree the trend is toward the opposite impact…increased utilization of outsourced services. There are several reasons for this shift but of greatest impact is the increased complexity associated with enhancements. While new technology, software and applications are designed to minimize the time and effort required to administer accounts the trade-off is access to even greater amounts of information, increased data analytics and a nearly exponential rise in details and decisions to be made on a constant basis. Without a doubt, it will soon become more than a full-time job…it will require numerous subject matter experts to handle the average multi-platform account. Additionally, a significant number of small business owners are already turning to multiple social media marketing accounts in order to fill the need for specialized campaigns or local area information.
On the Horizon
So, wondering what is on the horizon for social media management firms? Quite a lot. In fact, it’s a great time to consider outsourcing to a reputable firm or perhaps even adding on white labels services of your very own in preparation for what is sure to be continued growth and expansion. Although still far from becoming a day to day reality, here is a glimpse of what social media will look like in the future…
1. SMMS aka Social Media Management Systems. Remember the early days of the Internet when it required programming knowledge to create even the most basic website? Uploading content was a burdensome and time consuming endeavor; photographs were even worse and even the most rudimentary applications were all but milestone projects. Then came CMS or Content Management Systems designed to simply workflow, assign access controls and implement restrictions on a case by case basis. Similar systems are now in the works for social media although mum is the word on when these will be available to the general public.
2. Data, Data, Data. In real estate the mantra is “location, location, location” but for social media marketing and management firms, data is the virtual equivalent to a great location…and for good reason. Data is the cornerstone of all intelligence, analytics and decision-making for the entire endeavor. In the past, access to data was the main problem – those that controlled the data had a huge benefit over those that were forced to buy it or go without. Today, data is more important than ever but instead of having too little access…many business owners have too much. Making sense out of so much data isn’t easy and requires extensive experience and expertise to differentiate between “noise” and “nugget”. Get the right data and it can transform an average marketing plan into a goldmine. Fail to do so and suffer the consequences.
3. Earned, Owned & Paid Optimization. This has the potential to be the best or the worst thing to hit marketing depending on whether or not a business owner is prepared. Real-time social and mobile marketing will target clients anywhere, anytime…including on-site clients…via smartphones, google glasses and other upcoming modes of interacting. Business owners that do not have a presence will literally find it impossible to compete as clients receive real time data on competitor prices, alternative offers and other advertisements. It promises to be a brave new world of marketing but only those that are prepared will realize the excitement and vast opportunity.