“Social Media” is Dead. Long Live “Social Business”

In many ways, I think this was the week that marked a shift in the social media industry in the UK. We’ve had the excitement of Social Media Week London and I’ve been judging of The Drum’s Social Buzz awards, looking at the best work produced this year by some of the country’s top agencies.

All this week at Adobe we’ve also been monitoring every conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #SMWLDN, in order to see what everyone has been talking about. After looking at the data and reflecting on everything that’s been discussed, we’ve noticed some pretty important trends…

In previous years, conversations across the social web during social media week have focused on just Twitter and Facebook, with a few nods to whatever shiny new platform seemed most exciting at the time. Almost all the case studies were Facebook campaigns, and topics such as ROI and buying fans seemed to dominate conversations.

Three things seem to have changed this year:

1. Brands are not focusing on one platform anymore

In previous years, the most successful campaigns focused on just one platform. This year, many of the most successful social brands that we’ve heard from have been running fully integrated campaigns across multiple platforms at the same time. More importantly, we are seeing a shift towards data driven content. Instead of pushing out content that a brand thinks will get good engagement (like in years past the past), brands are looking to data sources to discover what their audiences actually want to see – and on which platform.

2. Social media professionals have realised that you CAN measure ROI

…and by ROI we mean Return on Investment, not Return on Impressions, Influence or Interactions or any other marketing related term beginning with “I”. There were a few sighs when somebody said you can’t measure ROI and we should talk about ROR instead (Return on Relationship). That feisty debate was soon put to bed, partly thanks to the provocative (if slightly offensive blog) Thisisnotaninsight, which seemed to be responsible for many of the Tumblr mentions during the week.

3. Big digital agencies have not only caught up with “social media” agencies but in many cases are now doing a much better job.

Many large agencies have been working with digital and traditional media for a long time, so it was refreshing to see talk of metrics measuring advertising recall and brand preference alongside engagement metrics and sales figures. Measuring social media against traditional media such as TV and press is a huge step forward for our industry. The reason that this is such a big deal is because it feels like “social media” has evolved into “social business”. No longer pushing out content to an audience (like traditional media such as print or TV), social is now driving more two-way conversations that are being proven to add real value to a business.

This is an important shift because it highlights that the most successful brands are not working in silos anymore. They have started to see proof that social conversations have an impact upon the whole organisation and therefore teams are getting bigger and more departments are working together. Not only is it great to see marketing and non-marketing teams working together, but it shows a trend towards more brand budgets being re-allocated from TV and press into social media programs. Evidence of this is seen in our playful little info-graphic which clearly shows that Facebook hasn’t dominated our conversations at social media week London this week.

Platform Mentions

Looking into the data, Twitter only accounts for half of the mentions (54%) and Facebook a surprising 16% with just 1,066 mentions. The fact that Tumblr had more mentions than Facebook also highlights a trend we noticed back in December when “Tumblr” overtook “blog” as one of the most searched terms on Google. The growth of Instagram this year (now 140m active users) was also impressive with 673 mentions.  We expected a bit more than 1.6% of the conversations to be about Vine since it feels like it’s been around for ever, but it’s worth remembering that Vine is still only 8 months old and has a passionate user base amongst its 40m users. It will be interesting to watch this battle develop over the next year, as we see more integrated campaigns and even higher mobile usage – with each platform fighting to prove its value within the marketing mix…

Social media is dead. Long live social business.

#SMWLDN 2013

#SMWLDN 2013

Jeremy Waite is Head of Social Strategy @Adobe and a passionate evangelist for @AdobeSocial. You can contact him on Twitter @JeremyWaite where he would be happy to continue this debate.

For more information about Adobe Social and other Marketing Cloud solutions visit http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/social.html


Head of Social Strategy @Adobe EMEA. Ex-giraffe keeper. Lover of cheese, Lego and cycling. Currently writing a book on social business called "The 80 Rules of Social Media".

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Posted in Digital Marketing, Social Media
9 comments on ““Social Media” is Dead. Long Live “Social Business”
  1. I suggest you read this excellent article on defining true social business:


    It would appear Adobe is much like other organisations in confusing socialising business with social business.

    • Jeremy Waite says:

      Thanks Martin. That is indeed a great article – I was actually chatting to Brian Solis about exactly this a few weeks ago. I don’t believe I am confusing social business with social business (presume you mean media), although I understand your concern. The word media often implies a one-way “push” strategy of distributing content – rather than the two-way conversation that it should be. My intent is to encourage more people to stop thinking about social media in silo’s and start thinking about it more holistically – exploring the impact it has when you place it at the heart of your organisation.

      Since you reference Mr. Solis, it’s worth looking at another great quote he followed up by saying, “Social media is more about psychology and sociology than it is about technology”. If people understood social media to mean this, then I wouldn’t have a problem. But sadly most of the social media week conversations we witnessed put the “media” into social in a very traditional (push) sense. Therefore talking about social in terms of “business”, in my opinion, takes the conversation away from just a chat about Facebook and Twitter. Something we should all be encouraged to do.

  2. Jeremy Waite says:

    Also interesting btw was that FourSquare didn’t register sufficient mentions. A deeper dive into the data showed 9 mentions of 4SQ, but given the new features that 4SQ launched this year – I’m surprised more people didn’t talk about it beyond the odd check-in. I’m not sure what this says more about – the audience at social media week or the platforms themselves? Discuss….

    • Jerry Daykin says:

      Nice summary… Though I’m not sure your G+ stats can be quite right ;) Their workshop and keynote sparked a few hundred tweets each that I saw alone, though a lot on the specific hashtag not the general week one… In fact I was surprised at the positive sentiment G+ seemed to be driving this year!

      • Jeremy Waite says:

        Agreed Jerry. I’d have loved to have done a real deep dive into the data across many platforms. Give me a shout – maybe we can look at doing something together? :)

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  4. achiu says:

    how do you track facebook’s mentions with #SMWLDN if a user’s profile is private, or the post is private. And obviously facebook users aren’t as used to hashtag as twitter users. Can these be the reason for the low mention rate in facebook compared to other platforms?

    • Jeremy Waite says:

      Thanks Achlu!

      This was a very basic data grab just to gauge the conversations people were having on Twitter about the different platforms. It was obvious that less people would be talking about Facebook on Twitter, but I was still surprised at how few there were. Facebook usually dominates the conversation at SMW.

      Regarding the monitoring, listening tools like Adobe Social track’s the mentions on many platforms (10m blog and forums), including Facebook but we only look at public data not private data. This small data sample though didn’t monitor the activity on any Facebook pages. Given the time and resource, that would have been a really interesting piece of research to compare. If you’d like any more explanation or info – drop me a message @JeremyWaite.

  5. Eric Swain says:


    I fear 4SQ has been too slow in “jumping the chasm,” in turning the momentum from innovators and early adopters into mass market acceptance. I think the early adopter interest has waned and so 4SQ will struggle to convince the early majority without them.

    I have no hard facts for this, just my own observances and gut feel. Maybe their new features will pull that back, but I know I don’t bother with 4SQ any more (after having spent years checking in)and I know many other “early adopters” who are doing the same.

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