Last week I had the pleasure of joining some of the smartest minds in social media at Social Fresh East, a gathering of social media marketers and communication managers in Tampa, Florida. The third edition of the conference marked my first trip, and it was well worth the travel!
I had the opportunity to wrap up the conference with a look into the future of social media by talking about the slow ripples of fragmentation that have started to develop within social networks and the meteoric rise of interest based networks like Tumblr, Foursquare, Instagram, and the newest media darling, Pinterest, which recently became the fastest site ever to reach 10 million uniques.
I believe there is a growing shift in the nature of social media interactions. When Facebook first started to grow, the focus was very much on making connections to people you had relationships with "your friends" (your social graph). The truth is, we're not always going to be interested in everything your friends share, think or create, especially when the definition of a Facebook "friend" is becoming blurry. As a result of this, Facebook has become a bit of a social shopping mall -- something for everyone, but not everything someone may want.
It's hard to quantify in numbers, other than showing the growth of new interest-based social networks in members and uniques, and the slowing of unique visitor growth of Facebook in relative terms, but regardless the cause, users are starting to augment and even replace their Facebook content consumption with interest based social networks that are delivering content more targeted to their interests (the interest graph). As a result, brands are now starting to include them more often in their social marketing plans.
People seem to be more willing to trade the familiarity of people they know, for the serendipity of discovering content about things they are interested in. Indeed, if you take the collective of Tumblr, Foursquare, Pinterest and Instagram, each one is well designed for these moves in user behaviors.
A biproduct of this interest graph movement is the need to involve someone in their social strategy who can understand the value of content and the relationship with the platform they will be placed on. The need for content strategy that's "interesting" (i.e. akin to user interests) is higher than ever before, and how doing a content audit to see exactly what you have to work with is critical. I coined the term "content museums" to encourage marketers to consider each piece of content for it's individual merit, and considering the social networks as the museum that they will post to.
I wrapped my presentation by offering up some tips for how to adapt to these new networks, and what content to use where to take advantage of the communities already built.
Other speakers from a wide range of industry presented tips, trends and best practices for social media:
- Jesse Carlin from eMarketer offered some digital trends for 2012, including the growing movement towards curated and magnetic content.
- Eric Boggs from Argyle Social showed research showing that major retailers, in general, are not really utilizing social media effectively.
- Chuck Hemann of WCG shared how to integrate social listening into an entire organization rather than relying on Marketing and PR to be responsible for it.
- Kipp Bodnar of HubSpot explained how to use social media for lead generation.
- Scott Monty of Ford Motor Company, capped the first day with a keynote reviewing Ford's experiences with Google+ and how it can be used as a marketing and communications tool.
- A keynote by Jay Baer of Convince and Convert, who made the argument that linking Facebookwith e-mail benefits both.
- A best practices session on social media's newest superstar, Pinterest, by Shauna Causey of Nordstrom.
- A review of social media foundations with Jane Quigley of Strategy JQ.
- My favorite presentation of the day, as Adrian Parker, formerly of Radio Shack, soon of Intuit, shared his experience in needing to elevate his skills from social media operations to being a strategic leader in a short period of time.
- A keynote from Christopher Penn of What Counts, who talked about performance based social media.
- Chris Moody of Red Hat, talked about finding and harnessing the power of communities.
(Originally posted on the Official AOL Blog)