The Future of Social Media Marketing is (Almost) Here

Posted on Tuesday, September 18th, 2012 by Print This Post Print This Post

Categories - Featured, Social Media

Looking back over the past few years, one thing is clear: the future of social media marketing is not in a collection of specialized platforms but in a single, unified workspace that tightly integrates into a brand’s other marketing initiatives.

Right now, as you read this, there is a digital arms race going on as both old vanguards and Johnny-come-latelies battle to gain control of your online ad and software spend. Don’t believe me? Here are a few highlights:

  •  Google
    • Acquired Wildfire in August 2012
    • Acquired Meebo in June 2012
    • Acquired PostRank in June 2011
  • Oracle
    • Acquired Vitrue in May 2012
    • Acquired Involver in July 2012
    • Acquired Collective Intellect in June 2012
  • Salesforce
    • Acquired Buddy Media in June 2012
    • Acquired Radian6 in March 2011
  • Adobe
    • Acquired Efficient Frontier in November 2011
      • Efficient Frontier acquired Context Optional in May 2011
    • Acquired Omniture in 2009

What do all of these have in common? Aside from the massive price tags, they are all attempts by technology companies to expand their online reach. The goal being to entice savvy marketers to consolidate the numbers of platforms they use in their everyday work.

Think about how many different platforms social marketers must bounce between and—gasp!—find a way to integrate with reporting. There is software for publishing, app creation, ad management, analytics, social listening, influencer outreach, customer relationship management, and the list goes on; it’s enough to drive even the most even-keeled marketer crazy!

And all of this doesn’t even take into account acquisitions by the social networks themselves. Facebook has purchased Instagram, Gowalla, and Beluga, to name a few, while Twitter has bought out companies such as Summify, Posterous, and TweetDeck. It feels as though the landscape is getting more complex…yet simple at the same time!

But what does all this mean for online marketers?

The Holy Grail of Social Media Marketing Is Nigh

The growth of the social media industry depends on attribution and ROI; two things made easier by consolidating data sources. One of the biggest complaints I hear from people who work in the social space is they can’t get budgets to do what they want.

Learn how to harness the power of these powerful marketing suites and you’ll have all the ammunition directed at stakeholders. When your ad spends, custom tabs/apps, status updates and analytics are all coming from the same place, putting together a more holistic view of your total efforts will be easier than ever.

Always Hedge Your Social Bets

Google acquiring Wildfire almost two months ago made its intentions very clear: They want a piece of the social advertising pie. Whether or not Google+ is a big enough slice, it has its hands in the oven with this acquisition. All social marketers should take a cue from this – be nimble and never confuse a social platform with social media. Your moneymaker today may be your downfall tomorrow.

Data Heads vs. Creative Types – You Don’t Have to Choose

Facebook acquiring Instagram, Google acquiring Wildfire and Salesforce acquiring Buddy Media are all, to varying degrees, mergers of data-driven and creative companies. As social media marketing first started to explode, it was driven almost entirely by creative with no concept of measurement, and now we are in a period obsessed with data (sometimes overly so). Somewhere along the way, the two camps became very polarized; you’re either an analyst-type or a community management-type.

Truth is – People who succeed in the next five years will be both.

Stop Thinking of Yourself as “Just” a Social Marketer

Whether you are a social media marketer, landing page optimizer, or just an analytics person, you are soon going to be just another run-of-the-mill online marketer. We can all argue about what to call ourselves—inbound marketer seems to be the title du jour—but semantics aside we all need to work on improving our entire skillset. We can’t take advantage of consolidated technologies without having an expanded area of expertise.

Where do you see the future of social marketing going? Let us know in the comments below or contact the author directly on Twitter @davidcarrillo.

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7 Responses to “The Future of Social Media Marketing is (Almost) Here”

  1. Barbara says:

    It is exciting to be at the forefront of an emerging and growth marketing channel. There are so many questions abut where SMM will end up, how will it be valued in the overall online marketing mix, what will its place be in the full marketing mix. Consolidation, platform, measurement, titles/professional development path – so many questions and it is exciting to be a part of defining the answers.

  2. Caragh says:

    Great piece DC. I like the breakdowns on acquisitions…it’s like following a plot. Plus think the Data Heads vs Creative Types is spot on and a good approach to bear in mind.

  3. David Carrillo says:

    Thanks for reading Barbara and Caragh!

  4. David says:

    Really interesting synthesis of what is happening in the space.

  5. I think the standouts above are the differences between product & technology vs. talent / creative acquisitions.

    It’s one thing investing in IP to build a platform, and entirely another to offer ‘full service’ inclusive of the ideation and execution of Social Media campaigns.

    Good article DC.


  6. David Carrillo says:

    Thanks for reading Grant and DH!

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