Social Media – top trends for 2017 and beyond. Chawm Ganguly

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Wither to Social Media? How do we ride the new boom to reach out and join the conversations happening around our brands, that too, in real time? What are the key areas that should concern us? How do we engage customers, both real and potential? How do we dominate the social media space? Can the act of aggregation be reduced and simplified to a point where it resembles a packet of ready to eat, instant noodles? Here are the areas that one should focus on to ride on to the dawn.Read on.

Content

Content was once the King. Today it is the King, the Queen, the Knight, the Bishop … the pawn. The core of Social Media effort is content and it is the one thing that differentiates the winners from the also-ran’s. And this is one trend that is here to stay – even get more and more pronounced over time. And no, we don’t have bots that are as advanced as the human ability to string words, yet. So to begin with, add a good content creator to the team, one who understands your business and has the necessary wherewithal to translate your words into customized messages that are not only platform centric, but also audience specific.

Employee ambassadors

Employees are the best ambassadors of the brands they serve, period. The emotional attachments that they have with their work – and yes, I am saying this after factoring in the disillusioned and the disgruntled – can never be matched by hired hands. Employee loyalty cannot be out sourced. Besides, endorsement from someone who is an insider, even considering the underlying vested interest, is much more acceptable to the general public than the plastic words of an aggregator. And the faster the managements understand this, the better, for their brands, their social media initiatives, et all. Read my lips, the term to watch out for will be Employee Advocacy.

Fake news

Fake News, Photoshopped images, bought followers, paid likes – they are not only passé, but will actually harm the brands that take this route to instant nirvana. The democratic nature of the social media space is perhaps its biggest attraction and those who are trying to take the silent majority for a ride are condemned to eternal damnation or being branded as trivial trolls, or both. Be Honest, a brand after all, will outlive the politicians who are spewing venom – the lies, damn lies and statistics.

Social messaging

Social Messaging is another area that will see an increasing amount of action. Not only are they cheap, convenient and accessible, they are also already widely used. Naturally, companies in search of eyeballs and engagements will jump on to the bandwagon and try to maximise the effective reach of their messages by dominating this space. With more APPs and better cohesion, the move towards instant messaging as a potent tool in the marketing warfare can only go up from the peaks they have already scaled.

Chatbots

Okai, our main claim to fame here in India is out cheap labour – a trained pool of English speaking, mobile wielding workforce that comes at bargain basement prices. Naturally, who says we need AI – bots if you may, when we have the real thing, that too, at a fraction of the cost? But the fact remains, our much vaunted workers are in fact a chimera – the good ones switch jobs before one can say Instagram and the bad ones are the rejects from a political party’s troll army, with all the communication skills of a Casanova from the Cow belt. So gather around as I tell you, the Chat Bots are coming. The faster we warm up to their mnemonics the better.

Training Skills

Even as we all get more and more integrated into the social media space and the companies take to it like chirpy birds to tweeter, the gap between those who know and those who know-not will widen. Training of Social Media aggregators will start to emerge as the key factor as entities will realise the need to skill up their employees in order to leverage their effectiveness in the social media space. Use of Social Media, as a business tool, will not merely be about unleashing your hoard of paid barbarians – they will have to be properly trained before they can ensure the fall of Rome.

CEOs of Instagram

Another trend – trickle that will take the shape of a tsunami – is of the top bosses going social. Okay, they are now mostly restricted to posting Buddha Quotes on their Linked-in walls, but believe me, they are not far from tasting blood. And once that happens, considering the herd mentality of our leaders, the deluge will force many a Social Media Noah to build the Arc. I for one, will not be surprised if they raise armies of mercenaries and let them loose on enemies, or even troll their way to ride over dissent. It won’t succeed, the social media is too democratic and empowering a space for the vainglorious to rule forever, but then again, the Corporate guys will try to ape the politicians who have taken this way to circumvent the public will.

And by the way, since we are already at it, here’s the last word: some mighty stars will fall from grace soon, even before the year is out. They owe their meteoric rise to Social Media and it will be here that they will be buried.

Watch this space. And remember, you read it here first.

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