Social Networks: Innovation, Maturity, Change and You

Ever stop to think about how things change? I know that is trite to say but are your assumptions up to date about the way you use online tools and social networks?  Ever just stop to think about it?  Social networks are in constant change.  But, it is not just the software or networks that change.  How we use them changes with time.  Stop and think about your own interactions and behaviour, which is likely not a bad starting point for thinking about what your customers or other stakeholders might be doing too. Have you changed how you use certain apps and networks over time?  I have.

For people charged with social media adoption and how it is used in and across business, it can be important to just stop, take that breather to check assumptions and use patterns.  Look at yourself, your customers, the data over time.  Often a business adopts a course of action, staffs up for it, ensures organizational alignment around it, budgets for new efforts and deploys.   Done.  Businesses are often organized to take on an issue and move forward. 

However, the social business and media space (as well as others) are in constant change.   Sometimes, consideration for whether we are staffed, resourced and aligned around the right things changes fast and we forget to go back and look at assumptions.  In addition, for business leaders using and encouraging the adoption of social media at work and being organized to put all of that in place is a huge undertaking. Being positioned to constantly re-test assumptions or beta-test new things with a view to staying ahead of the curve (without always chasing the shiny new object) can be a tough balancing act. For example:

  •  What are the implications when you sit in a meeting with colleagues for your business and they want to talk Facebook content?  Is it time to talk Instagram instead?  
  • Are there new opportunities for you or various groups in your business to innovate on different social platforms — with your content and engagement strategies?  
  • Do you re-use the same content on various platforms in different ways?  should you?
  • Where and how do you experiment and really see what works….or is marketing content just being pushed out the door something akin to the old newspaper printing press?  

As I was writing this post, Scott Monty shared this image on Facebook and it reminded me of the concept of “always in beta” 

dorothy parker quote  HT Scott Monty

The Social Networks: Much has been written or blogged about in terms of Twitter and how it is not what it used to be. From real time news to self aggrandizement, says The New York Times.  Friends have lamented (and I tend to agree) the conversations and real to-and-fro that used to be on Twitter are now found on Facebook.  But get ready, Twitter will change things up again, apparently to look a lot more like Facebook.

Facebook, once a place for games and video and crazy apps is constantly changing its news feed…to give you a better experience (so they say), but also in a way that has many brands and companies confused.  They launched their new “paper” app too–a reimagined news feed and one more app for mobile devices ( if Facebook keeps releasing new apps, perhaps they will get to the point where they own the whole screen of your  mobile phone?).  I enjoyed the Scoble perspective.

When Google+ launched everyone was excited about the possibilities of video hangouts; who knew as time went on Google+ would emerge as platform for visuals, especially photography, while of course maintaining its stature related to SEO and search generally (and still no ads, bless them).  At the same time, Google+ has also become the “instrument of integration” so that Google knows lots about you — and can offer more to advertisers.  The New York Times notes, Google+ helps google know more about you than Facebook does.

And of course, LinkedIn made the move from being professional contacts and job seekers network into a full blown content machine with a solid business bent.  Shift Communications points out that LinkedIn, once the dark horse of social networks, is not just on a winning streak but on the growth path in some incredible ways.

Visuals and Video: Neflix started streaming and suffered a few setbacks along the way related to dvd rentals, but was known for great recommendations and licensed material; it now emerges with its own programing.  Whatever happened to the great recommendations and some of the awesome licensed television and film documentaries it used to carry? And, then there is Amazon prime and hulu, giving Netflix a good run for its space.

Not to be overlooked, are Instagram and Snapchat taking off for a variety of reasons.  Mashable reports, “I think it was the launch of the Stories feature (on snapchat)  that really solidified for us that there was a way to use this platform as marketers,” Sabrina Caluori, VP of social media and marketing at HBO. “Prior to the launch of that, we struggled to come up with creatives that could be impactful.”

The Filters Have an Impact Too:
Beyond the social networks and primary platforms themselves are the emerging field of filters.  Are you looking at how your content does or does not succeed in
the filtration process? Take a look at your content and how it is getting shared or commented on (in some cases) in the secondary aggregation/filter sites.  This can be an eye opener and another opportunity for engagement with fans or detractors.  

Ultimately it is about you and your network: To keep it all in perspective, there are all kinds of software, tech changes and new apps.  The shiny objects.  But ultimately, it is all about what you and your customers are doing, including how that may change over several weeks or months or years.

GapingVoid: Its the userIn some respects, “what the user does” is not always about the biggest reach — sometimes “what the user does” can also be about the meaningful connections in smaller, more focused communities –where your business achieves “word-of-mouth” and genuinely loyal and stronger customer relationships (or with other important stakeholders to your business).

Keeping an eye on all these balls — the social platforms, their changes, the filters, what your customers or stakeholders (or you) are doing — these are all important considerations that are in constant flux.  That’s why you also want an eye, at least a toe or foot, in the innovation stream too.   Sometimes a tough balance, but a balance that is important to keep in sight.

The image with this post was just a collection I threw together so that you could screen grab it, print it, ponder the different networks, mark it up, stare at it and think about how your use of social networks changes over time and how you think you might want to reconsider your business approaches.  Add more icons to the image and use it again.  Its really just there to say, play and think about how things change.  And here, thanks to Brian Solis and Jess3 is the annual conversations prism, if you want a more complicated scan of the horizon

Have some fun and maybe even re-asses where your efforts are today and what you want to think about for tomorrow.  And, feel free to share any brain waves or “ah ha” moments here… or with your friends elsewhere.

JESS3_BrianSolis_ConversationPrism4_WEB_1600x1200 (1)


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