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

Digital Marketing

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


Digital Marketing

Posted on 27-09-2013


  • By Martin Ecclesford - 9:18 PM on September 27, 2013   Reply

    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.

    • By Jeremy Waite - 10:13 PM on September 27, 2013   Reply

      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.

  • By Jeremy Waite - 12:49 AM on September 28, 2013   Reply

    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.…

    • By Jerry Daykin - 1:52 PM on September 28, 2013   Reply

      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!

      • By Jeremy Waite - 11:42 AM on October 8, 2013   Reply

        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? 🙂

  • By exchange - 8:17 AM on September 29, 2013   Reply

    I’m not that much of a inter­net read­er to be hon­est but your sites real­ly nice,
    keep it up! I’ll go ahead and book­mark your web­site to come back lat­er.

    My web page … exchange

  • By achiu - 8:19 AM on October 1, 2013   Reply

    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?

    • By Jeremy Waite - 11:41 AM on October 8, 2013   Reply

      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.

  • By Eric Swain - 9:57 AM on October 8, 2013   Reply


    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.

Join the discussion