Social media has morphed into a world-changing phenomenon and its far-reaching impact on society brings profound challenges for government and business.
Soon it will be normal for businesses to anticipate consumers’ behaviour. Existing business models will be transformed by the power of online ‘crowds’. And influence in the online space will determine commercial and political success.
To stay relevant, governments and businesses need to acknowledge the fundamental impact that social media will have in three key areas – predictability, power and influence. Then, they need to prepare radical approaches to the way they plan, operate and communicate in this extraordinary new environment.
Our social media report looks in more detail at the impact of social media in three areas – predictability, power and influence – and explores the implications for government and business alike.
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Predictability: using social media data to anticipate human behaviour will become the norm
Billions of people now record and share their lives openly on social media. With expert analysis, businesses can use this data to identify trends and predict what consumers want, even before they are aware of it themselves. Clearly, being able to spot trends and anticipate demand earlier and more accurately than competitors confers significant advantage. To win in the market place then, businesses must become skilled at extracting intelligence from consumer data – and ensure they react fast to capitalise on the insight they gain.
Power: the power of the social media crowd will challenge the power of government and business
Social media gives people the power to mobilise more quickly, gain access to more information, exert more influence and gain wider reach than ever before. In the political sphere, the world has already seen this power posing a bold threat to established governments. Protesters used social media to empower supporters and unleash the force of the Arab Spring.
In the business sphere, social media’s ability to bring together groups or ‘crowds’ of people poses both opportunities and threats. It can create online communities to bring fresh thinking (through crowd sourcing) to businesses’ most complex challenges. But it can also make it easier for new challengers to enter the market by creating networks where entrepreneurs can find collaborators, develop ideas and attract funding for new ventures (crowd funding). Large businesses will need to become as agile and social-media savvy as these new competitors to maintain their market dominance.
Influence: the battle for social media influence will be a primary factor for success
Almost two billion of the world’s seven billion people now use social media and are influenced by the people to whom they are connected. Hyper-connected individuals can gain huge influence in this space. For example, through his Twitter account, pop star Justin Bieber can reach a network of nearly one billion people within 60 seconds.
These developments are making traditional sales and marketing channels redundant. Businesses that want to continue to persuade people to buy their products and services will need to acknowledge that crowd leaders increasingly hold the key to influencing consumers’ decisions. To succeed in future, businesses will need to find completely new ways to connect with and convince their target markets.
Action now will determine future winners and losers
Some businesses have already developed standalone social media strategies in response to the changes they see around them. Few, however, have embarked on the full-scale transformation that is needed. Will your organisation make the changes necessary to win influence over newly powerful social crowds? Will you succeed in turning the ability to predict what people want into winning commercial strategies? And how will you maintain dominance in a social space where everyone has the potential to be a crowd leader?
To find out how we can help your organisation use social media to predict and influence the future, contact us now.