Do brands have an opportunity to catch up as adoption slows?

Skyward growth rates have long been central to the story of social media, as have charts like this and comparisons to Rogers’ bell curve. Milestones like Facebook reaching 500 million users served as reminders that brands needed to catch up to consumers, and many have succeeded. Now that a recent eMarketer report proclaims that, “the days of double-digit growth in users are over” for social media, how should brands adjust their strategies? I asked five well-known social media experts the following question:

How can brands continue to perform in social media as the rate of social media adoption slows?

Mack Collier

As long as customers are using a tool to communicate online, companies, especially big brands, are going to have to monitor and be aware of how their customers are using these tools.  What companies need to focus on is how these tools work together.  Social media aren’t the only tools that customers use to communicate with each other.  And if their customers stop using Facebook, for example, then where will they start spending that time?  Companies need to become proactive about understanding how and why their customers are spending time online, so they can better anticipate their wants and needs.

Shel Israel

People representing brands online should keep in mind that social media is not mass media. It’s not about bigger and bigger or more and more. It’s about better quality of two-way conversations between people who sell goods and services and people who may or may not buy them.

If you are representing a major brand on line, you don’t need bigger audiences. You need better conversations.

Aaron Strout

While the growth of social media adoption begins to slow, companies can now look to get more out of their existing interactions with customers. To make a comparable sales analogy, businesses should start to look at growing “share of wallet” versus their “new customer base.” This isn’t a bad thing but it of course takes a little extra energy and know-how. Over time, the best companies will learn to deepen loyalty (and thus their financial relationships) with their customers as they master the art of social media engagement.

Mitch Joel

Value is value. All brands that provide valuable content will continually increase both their visibility and their ability to be found. The core of Social Media is not conversation or how many followers a brand has. The core of Social Media is to make whatever it is that you are doing as shareable and as findable as possible. The best media companies in the world grapple with the growth of their audience, and they defeat the issue by continually and consistently delivering valuable content that people share and spread. The net result is trust, loyalty and business.

Jason Falls

I think if there is a slowing of social adoption it gives brands a moment to catch their breath, assess what they have to give and share with their audience on the social web and start doing things that make sense for them. While you can spend a bunch of money and drive action around one-off promotions and gimmicks, you can also start talking to your customers and finding out what it is they need from you (or from others you can provide) and delivering that consistently.

What’s your take? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

4 Responses to “As social media adoption slows, what should brands do?”

  1. Exactly. Figuring out which metrics map to which goals, and limiting a brand’s pursuit of those social technologies that don’t map at all, will be key. I, for one, am looking forward to the maturity of the social space.

  2. Wesley

    Pressure to tie social media investments to marketing and business goals will grow. Companies active in other channels, especially those that have achieved sophistication there, will look to apply this to their social media practice. What interactions or content support awareness or increase loyalty? How is this measured? How does an organization continue to support as awareness in a company or service progresses to interest and intent? How far do social metrics viably extend into that cycle, and how can they continuously inform a company’s concept of value? These are questions marketers face as adoption slows and the space reaches, uhh, its late teenage years.

  3. That’s a great point, Denis. That involves an idea that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately–repurposing “stale” content into fresh, valuable content. For instance, thematically-selecting blog posts to bundle into standalone white papers.

  4. I believe the biggest opportunity is focusing clearing on what type of communications can be shifted, in part or entirely, from traditional media to social platforms – ideally in a way that saves boatloads of money in the process.

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