By Johnnie Campbell I took a breakfast lecture on Monday morning at the Royal Institution to hear Drew Benvie talk future trends i...

Social Media Week 2013 – What’s next? Future trends in social media for brand comms

By Johnnie Campbell

I took a breakfast lecture on Monday morning at the Royal Institution to hear Drew Benvie talk future trends in Social. I’ve found that it’s good to dust yourself in a sprinkle of apprehension and cynicism when attending a ‘crystal ball’ event such as this – thankfully the 8am start was just what was needed. I will say now though, that I was pleasantly surprised by the talk, and coming away from an event like this with scrupulous self-debate does nothing but help justify Social Media Week (buzzwords and ROI-theories aside).

So here’s the talk in a nutshell:

Monitoring the FTSE 100:
    • Drew's agency, Battenhall undertook a 6 month research project to monitor the FTSE 100 companies on social. Drew then used his connections at the FT to get this report published in print and online – a very clever move from them as they then targeted the struggling (super rich) companies for new business. Many were completely inactive and under real threat of 'hacktivism', especially the natural resources and energy companies as you'd imagine. 
    • The report essentially focused on Twitter; a slight oversight in my opinion, but understandable considering the constraints on info you can get from Facebook and others. It did however throw up a few interesting points:
      • 88 of the FTSE 100 companies use Twitter. Only 28 have more than 10,000 followers.
      • Only 27 of them are verified accounts – which could be a real problem for them in security terms. Drew raised the example of how the stock market can react to conversation on Twitter – with CEOs accidentally tweeting information which can drastically affect their stock price.
      • There were a few surprises in the FTSE research. Some brands doing well despite being boring as hell. Wood Group were a good example of this – using Twitter to share their research and discuss energy issues / new tech. Obviously they only had a small following, but were found to be the most engaging brand of the FTSE energy sector.
Facebook is big; Facebook is dying:
  • Well not quite, but it's starting to happen. With so much investment and scale behind the big names, current social channels will never die as quickly as the likes of MySpace and Bebo, but 'Generation C' (monikered by Google as young people born in the last 15 years or so) just don't use Facebook like we do / did.
  • The channels that seem to be performing the best in terms of growth are built with mobile at the heart of their offering. Facebook were just too slow to change, and missed out on young people's attention. It's going to be a real problem for them soon and may be one of the reasons they bought Instagram.
  • This particularly resonated with me, and I'm aware I've been ‘banging on’ about this for ages. Facebook still rules from a brand point of view and will do for a while. BUT, what happens when this generation grows up, and falls into the Nike / Adidas / Movie Industry target demographic? All of that advertising $$ won't be going on Promoted Page Posts they'll be going on sponsored snaps and Instagram ads. It's probably not as far away as we think.
  • This also made me think - if Facebook want to survive, do they rebrand? Or do they use their capital to buy out the market and let 'Facebook' as we know it, die?
The Internet of Things:
  • One of the biggest buzz phrases of this year, just as 'big data' was last year. Essentially the same thing really – but it's down to the advertising industry to make the leap into how brands communicate through toasters and fridges not the platforms themselves. Best look out for fridges that reward users for regularly buy the same product etc.
  • As more thing become connected to the internet, we are marketeers need to have a moral stance on what is and is not acceptable from a brand when advertising to consumers. Many Google glass apps have been banned already for privacy issues, and we need to be aware of where the line is – it could be very easy to damage a brand's reputation by being too intrusive for example.

Connecting physical to digital
  • Still the area which is taking longest to crack. Nothing seems natural in this space - QR codes, Augmented Reality were doomed to mediocrity by not partnering with the big boys in the industry.
  • Awareness through broadcast media and activation / support from digital media is still the most effective way of getting a message across. It's changing, but at a much slower rate than many may have thought.
  • Realistically how many consumers give enough of a shit to pull their phone out and scan a QR code? Well actually Tesco have seen great results in the Korean market with its Homeplus brand – where shoppers can scan for AND pay for items via QR codes on their billboards : – if it's working in APAC now, it could work in Europe soon?
    • Battenhall compiled social media audits of FTSE 100 companies and used their findings to try and win new business within the index.
    • Facebook is stagnant, if not dying – but Zuckerberg is unlikely to go down with the ship. It identified the following channels as 'relevant' for the next generation:
    • Keek,, Twitter, Tumblr, vine, whatsapp and instagram.
    • The internet of things is happening and we do need to be ready. But let's not get ridiculous, there will be a limit on what is and isn’t exceptable to grab data from / use as a marketing channel.
    • No one cares about augmenting their physical experience digitally at the moment, it's just a bit long. However, as seen by Tesco the APAC market, if it's done in a helpful rather than obtrusive manner, it can be hugely effective…on a small scale mind.

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