Five things that I think defined some mega-shifts in the world of social media in 2013:
Virality is dead! Long live Social Media
When social networks first came into being, it was christened as earned media, and marketing gurus went at length to explain how digital brand strategy needs to encompass owned media, paid media and earned media. Now for all practical purposes, ‘virality’ is dead. You can buy ‘fans’ and ‘followers’. You can buy ‘likes’ and ‘views’. Pretty much every social media metric is up for sale. Useless content, with money behind it, can sit at the top of your timeline while un-promoted good content could be languishing. Social networking sites that promised a democratic consumer-brand relationship, have now all become IPO-enabled corporations with bottom line thinking. In effect, putting an end to the concept of earned media.
One World, One UX
The UX (user interface) for the top three SNS seems to be now converging. Facebook-introduced concept of trending, LinkedIn is trying very hard to make its wall the centre of communication for the community and Twitter now allows images to be seen in the timeline itself. While each SNS hangs on to its specific TG and objective, the UX across these SNS seems to be converging to a best-of-breed across these platforms.
Google gets off the social networking race
So, finally Google Plus has stopped positioning itself as a social network. Nobody and his uncle seem to be using Google Plus. It is instead trying to remain relevant to the concept of crowdsourcing of communication by introducing the concept of authorship and author rank.
Social Media Listening: A gold mine
Brands are finally waking up to the power of social media listening. For the first time in the history of brand kind, one can listen to real time conversation between authentic consumers. Brands are now beginning to use social media as a real time research tool.
Of the People, For the People and By the People
The outrage expressed by citizens on social networks during the Nirbhaya gang rape case galvanised the bureaucracy and the Government into action. The ruling class is beginning to realise how faceless commoners can quickly mobilise mass opinion. Talks by ministers of censoring social media are testament to its true power.
Hareesh Tibrewala is Joint CEO, Social Wavelength.