If growth in social networks is measured by the total number of users could it be that we are close to being as far we can go?
A recent study from the Association of National Advertisers as reported by eMarketer shows that there may not be much more room for the number of businesses using social networks for marketing.
The easy way to take this data is to say that growth for social media networks is plateaued and near complete.
There are two elements to consider here. The first is the idea that growth has plateaued. Since there are only a finite number of available businesses who are likely to use social media ultimately they will all get on board in some way. This has happened quite rapidly which is a testament to the power of social media.
The real question, however, is whether they have room to grow their efforts once they do get there. If anyone has been paying attention the resounding sentiment should be that there is plenty of room for growth. In fact, we have barely scratched the surface in trying to figure out exactly how to get the most of social networks through marketing. We are just getting past the idea of just ‘being there’. So has growth truly plateaued? Not really. It has actually just begun. Hopefully social networks as a whole are not making the same mistake that their users make when the total number of accounts or users are used as a true success metric. Social media has proven the wisdom in the ‘quality over quantity’ approach is more true than ever.
Which brings to the second point. How do marketers get their target markets engaged? Well, the chart above breaks out mobile and viral video as separate things v. the social networks themselves. There seems to be a direct relationship with the growth of mobile and video as social networks have taken off. Why is that? Well, content can’t be viral unless there is a distribution channel. Mobile usage and video and their success are directly connected to the success of social networks. Unless people have a way to get their messaging out it is just another piece of content. To silo these things may be missing the point, don’t you think?
So while social networks may have attracted most businesses there has been nominal progress in the true growth of the use of social networks from a marketing point of view. We are in the ‘trial and error as the norm’ phase of social media and its use as a marketing tool. Something this new has no hard and fast rules and, as a result, some are cautious to truly jump in. As the comfort level grows so will the real use of social networks to help marketers meet their goals.
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