This article elaborates on the future of social media and web platforms, by emphasizing their rapid changes and new trends. As new and innovative services will be introduced, digital marketers are advised to keep themselves updated on the latest developments and future challenges.
Social media is not just a handful of websites, but it has become one big state of the Internet in recent years. Even though it is now an integrated and essential part of most of the marketing strategies, a lot of marketing teams still find it difficult to measure the return on the investment they make in social media marketing. Similarly, many businesses are still unable to take action based on social media insights. However, looking at how rapidly social media is progressing forward, it is safe to say that the social media future holds the key to the success of businesses and organizations. [tech.co]
Today, there are over 2 billion monthly active users of social media. Facebook is the market leader with a cumulative total of 1.71 billion active users. This means that over 23% of the global world population actively uses this social media platform. In the last few years, social media has drastically changed the way that digital marketing is done. Now, a majority of the marketing campaigns for small-scale and large-scale organizations are carried out via social media. [Katona & Sarvary, 2014]
According to an infographic by Morrison Foerster, 66% of businesses today have a dedicated social media analysis team working for them with 13.2% of their marketing budget being allocated to social media alone. The infographic also states that 54% of B2B marketers today have generated leads from social media. These numbers show exactly how influential social media has become for organizations today. It is an essential component of every marketing campaign in this modern era. [Keinänen & Kuivalainen, 2015]
Future Challenges and Objectives:
There have been many rapid changes in the social media landscape. According to the director of the CMO Survey, Christine Moorman, the biggest problem is that while social media can be a strategic marketing activity, many businesses still see it as an easy, joyful promotional exercise. [Leeflang, Verhoef, Dahlström & Freundt, 2013]
Many studies [Guesalaga, 2015] have identified the challenges for digital marketing at present or in the future. Some of them include:
- The ability to generate and take advantage of deeper customer insight.
- Assessing the effectiveness of marketing campaigns on social media platforms. This is because it is difficult to quantify the financial effect of these activities on the business or to figure out what the metric really measures. [historycooperative]
- Determining the different audiences for different social media sites and platforms.
- Managing the brand’s reputation in marketing environments, where social media has a huge impact.
- Strategies to gain maximum output from social media.
- Deciding which platforms to use since there is a vast range of available options now. [Anitsal, 2012]
Evolution of Social Media:
The history of social media itself dates back to the 1970s and 1980s when people would spend their time on online forums and dating sites. However, the most remarkable breakthrough in the history of social media surfaced after Web 2.0 was introduced and sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn emerged in 2003-2004. [aabacosmallbusiness] To illustrate this further, let us take a look at a statistic. In 1995, only 0.4% of the global population had access to the internet. Today, that number has risen to over 32.7% (approximately 2.2 billion people from around the world).
Ever since then, businesses have seized opportunities to market themselves through these highly popular online platforms. Before social media became as popular as it is today, marketers thought of social media branding as just another trend that would pass soon. However, when Facebook was first introduced back in 2004, it started attracting more and more attention from individuals around the world.
Ever since then, a good social media strategy is all that businesses need to market themselves (without having to spend millions of dollars on advertisements). Numerous social media marketing tools exist today solely for the purpose of monitoring and analyzing the success of brands on social media. These tools provide the social media metrics that are essential for a business to understand its social media standings. The most powerful social media software can even make recommendations for what your business should do next to market itself on social platforms.
In the early days, social media networking sites such as Facebook enabled users to interact with the people around them (such as college friends) by adding them to their profiles. As they progressed further, features such as instant messaging and real-time updates began to surface with the arrival of platforms such as Twitter. Today, social media combines the potential of artificial intelligence with powerful features to give a virtual experience of life.
Nowadays, more than 90% of marketing executives make use of social media for business as an integral part of their marketing strategies. This shows how drastically the scope of social media marketing has changed in the last decade. The introduction of features such as advertisements, sales portals, and business profiles by the likes of Facebook now allows marketers to take full advantage of the popularity of social media.
Future Social Media Trends
If the current trends continue, there are high chances that we will see many new and innovative social media platforms making a great impact. As the changes are quite rapid, digital marketers are advised to keep themselves updated on the latest development. Some of the trends to look for are:
Video and Live Streaming:
Video sharing websites like Vimeo and YouTube are already very popular, while Facebook has recently launched its own video platform. Similarly, Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine allow sharing of short videos, and services like Meerkat and Periscope are also emerging as live streaming services. All of these platforms can be leveraged by companies for marketing purposes.
Increasing usage of messaging and chatting platforms:
WhatsApp, Skype, and Snapchat are examples of the leading sites offering these services. They are particularly popular among the younger generation and as they grow, they are expected to provide more advertising opportunities.
Buying and Selling:
It will also be possible for users to watch for the trend of purchasing directly from social media platforms. These services are now provided by Instagram and Pinterest, while Facebook and other sites are working on this technology. Even though the technology is still developing, it can be predicted that it will enable brands to sell to customers on social media sites directly without sending them to a website first.
In this modern age, social media has become a vital tool for communicating with others. These social platforms are also essential for businesses and their marketing strategies today. This is because they provide an economical and effective manner for reaching out to millions of people in their target audience. In the future, it is expected that the growth of social media platforms (and their features) will make it increasingly difficult for businesses to keep track of their social media metrics. However, brands have generally evolved as social media has grown and it is expected that if these brands keep themselves updated with the latest trends, they will be successful in the future as well.
 Most famous social network sites worldwide as of September 2016. Statista. Retrieved on 12 October, 2016 from https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/
 Katona, Z., & Sarvary, M. (2014). B2B Social Media – “It’s communication, not marketing”. Berkeley: Barkeley-Haas case series.
 Keinänen, H., & Kuivalainen, O. (2015). Antecedents of social media B2B use in industrial marketing context: customers’ view. Journal of Business & Industrial marketing.
 Leeflang, P. S., Verhoef, C. P., Dahlström, P., & Freundt, T. (2013). Challenges and solutions for marketing in a digital era. European Management Journal, 1-12.
 Guesalaga, R. (2015). The use of social media in sales: Individual and organizational antecedents, and the role of customer engagement in social media. Elsevier.
 History Cooperative. The History of Social Media. Retrieved on 15 October, 2016 from http://historycooperative.org/the-history-of-social-media/
 Anitsal, M. (2012). The Evolution of Social Media as a Marketing Tool for Entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial Executive, Volume 17.
 King, A. The Evolution of Social Media Marketing. Aabaco Small Business. Retrieved on 16 October, 2016 fromhttps://www.aabacosmallbusiness.com/advisor/evolution-social-media-marketing-043109995.html