Opinion

Welcome to the second age of social

Greg ArmshawIn this guest post, Greg Armshaw observes that social media marketing as we know it is dead, and at last there could be some hope for social media delivering measurable ROI.

Social media marketing as we have known it is dying and it is not yet 10 years old.

The use of software to share content socially is clearly still growing, but the ways marketers have used the platforms for the last nine years to gain free “earned” media are becoming redundant.

This isn’t about the fact that organic reach on Facebook for brand pages with large follower counts is around 2% or less. This isn’t about the fact that the two highest growth open social media platforms in Asia (Instagram and Snapchat) do not facilitate frictionless re-sharing.

This is about the fact that the time spent using “social media” is increasing, but the platforms that are being used are closed.

We are now communicating on Whatsapp, Wechat, Facebook Messenger, Line and others to communicate with our friends and networks. This has two major implications:

1) The insight that we used to get from social listening about the conversation in a category, or to understand the buzz from a certain demographic is hidden from the third party listening ears. We are now listening to a very small segment of the social conversation.

2) Real-time marketing opportunities have significantly reduced, because the conversations that a brand might choose to join are just not being shared publicly.

This might not have been so clear to you if you follow US-based media for your digital marketing news. There, chat apps are not as dominant as they are in Asia, and platforms like Twitter have more robust daily usage with a lot of Instagram content cross-posted.

The first time I saw a social media practitioner discussing this openly, in an Asian context, was in this post by Simon Kemp of We Are Social. We are entering the age of commerce and customer service on social.

This is great for brands, because there might finally be some measurable ROI, but if you are a community manager you need to skill up in bot design and commerce platforms.

It’s time to welcome the second age of social.

Greg Armshaw is a consultant for Greg Armshaw & Associates, a mentor for Chinaccelerator, an advisor for CASBAA on over-the-top content services and the former head of digital strategy for McCann Asia.

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