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:
- Acquired Wildfire in August 2012
- Acquired Meebo in June 2012
- Acquired PostRank in June 2011
- Acquired Vitrue in May 2012
- Acquired Involver in July 2012
- Acquired Collective Intellect in June 2012
- Acquired Buddy Media in June 2012
- Acquired Radian6 in March 2011
- Acquired Efficient Frontier in November 2011
- Efficient Frontier acquired Context Optional in May 2011
- Acquired Omniture in 2009
- Acquired Efficient Frontier in November 2011
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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