5 Trends in Social Media Impacting Business

Mike Johansson
Mike Johansson Lecturer at Rochester Institute of Technology and principal at Fixitology, RIT and Fixitology

Posted on May 7th 2013

5 Trends in Social Media Impacting Business
The universe of social media influencing business
The universe of social media affecting business


In response to a question about the "5 material trends you see shaping the future face of social media" I got to thinking: In 2013 what are those trends and fairly quickly I settled on…..

5 social media trends impacting business

  • The rise of the visual social media
  • Information comes from multiple channels, simultaneously
  • ‘Humanized’ brands are a consumer expectation
  • Big data and other privacy concerns
  • Social status measuring is evolving

1. I see you …

Brands are quickly realizing that “words tell, but images sell.” The rapid rise of visual social media such as Pinterest, Instagram, and the teen photo sensation Snapchat in 2012 – dubbed by some as ‘The Year of the Social Image’ continues.

Already in 2013 Twitter has launched its micro-video service Vine and YouTube’s usage continues to rise rapidly and YouTube’s Battle with TV is already over.

2. We need more hands …

Americans are spending more and more time on mobile and other computing devices. According to the social media research company NM Incite Americans’ time on these devices went up 21 percent from 2011 to 2012 (the most-current data at the time of this writing). That number is expected to continue to grow by 20 percent or more each year.

Multi-channel information consumption is becoming the norm. From watching TV while also being on a tablet, smartphone or laptop – brands are realizing opportunities exist in being on multiple channels at the same time. As consumers move to multiscreen modes of media consumptions, the advertising dollars will follow with well-managed multiscreen campaigns according to Spotlight on Multiscreen Video Advertising Convergence.

This has also led, for example, to social media being measured as part of a television show’s reach. For example in December, 2012, Nielsen, the TV ratings company, and Twitter today announced a multi-year agreement to create the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating for the U.S. market. It will measure a metric "around the reach of the TV conversation on Twitter" and is expected to become available, for the fall 2013 TV season.

3. Can brands and consumers co-exist in social?

Consumers are connecting with businesses and brands more and more. According to the Edison-Arbitron 2012 research report called The Social Habit the percentage of social networkers who follow brands online doubled from 2010 to 2012 from 16 percent to 33 percent. But at the same time a slight majority say they don’t want to be snooped on in social media.

Research from The Altimeter Group this year shows that 51 Percent of Consumers Don’t Want Brands Listening to Them on Social Media.

This adds to already complicated relationships between marketers and consumers on social media – summed up very well in the Consumers vs. Marketers – What Do We Really Want From Brands On Social Media?.

4. ‘Big Brother,’ big data and privacy worries

With so much time online consumers are increasingly concerned about the digital footprints they are leaving behind. For example, according to the Edison-Arbitron 2012 research report called The Social Habit 56 percent of 143 million Americans on Facebook are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about the privacy of their personal information on Facebook. 

The issue is well-summarized by the Stanford Law Review in Privacy in the Age of Big Data which essentially concludes that "the growing ubiquity of data collection and the increasingly robust uses of data enabled by powerful processors and unlimited storage" are concerning and calls for "a model where the benefits of data for businesses and researchers are balanced against individual privacy rights."

5. How do you measure up socially?

Americans officially have the social media habit according to the Edison-Arbitron 2012 research report The Social Habit which notes that approximately 58 million Americans (or 22 percent of the adult population) "visit social networks several times per day."

Brands are increasingly monitoring social media mentions of their brand and their industry and communities using tools such as Radian6 and others

Meanwhile the social media audit for brands is becoming an essential regular checkup (as described in 9 Ways to Measure Your Brand's Social Media Health).

In addition, tools for determining individual consumer’s social influence continue to get better, although most concede they have some way to go. These include: Klout, Kred and Peerindex.

So, what does all of this mean for businesses and brands? There are many, many questions still to be answered and the time may be coming where both consumers and brands need to reach a middle ground on what is good for both in social media.

What do you think?

Mike Johansson

Mike Johansson

Lecturer at Rochester Institute of Technology and principal at Fixitology, RIT and Fixitology

Mike is a strategist and teacher who helps businesses and students understand and get the most from social media. He currently is a Lecturer in the Department of Communication at the Rochester Institute of Technology where he teaches advertising, public relations and journalism (all with a social media twist). 

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