If you’re not on social media, you’re missing out – at least, that’s what Ryan Holmes, CEO of Vancouver’s HootSuite Media Inc., is predicting for next year.
HootSuite, which raised about $165 million in Series B funding in August – quite a feat for a Canadian startup – runs a dashboard for users managing multiple social networks, so Holmes has a reason to be watching the social media space very carefully.
He recently wrote a post for Fortune’s blog on CNN, rounding up five of his predictions for the coming year.
1. We’ll see more ephemeral social networks taking the stage.
While upstarts like Snapchat are new to the social media scene, they’re appealing to users looking for a fun, spontaneous interaction, Holmes writes. Snapchat users send images of themselves that disappear seconds after recipients open them – and while that opens up the floor to sexting, it’s just not just about that. It’s about giving users less concern about images being broadcast to the world, he notes, and users, especially teens, seem to really gravitate towards that.
2. Learn to tweet – it’s going to be part of your job.
Holmes compares people who can’t tweet to people who can’t write emails. Yes, it is that bad, he says. It’s gotten to the point where many companies list social media expertise as a requirement in their job postings, and where some universities are offering certification programs in that area.
3. Consumers will expect companies to provide customer service via Facebook and Twitter – not by calling and getting put on hold.
It’s a common gripe among consumers – trying to get a human on the phone from an airline, credit card company, bank, etc. can mean a marathon wait time of being told to hold the line.
What we’re seeing now, Holmes writes, is customers going straight to social media and broadcasting their complaints and wrongs to the world. Companies will have to catch up and find ways of providing better customer service, he writes.
4. Social media will cross different channels.
Ominous-sounding point, but social networks have traditionally stayed behind walls on the Internet. They don’t seem to mix. For example, Holmes writes, if you’re searching for a restaurant on Yelp, why don’t tweets about the restaurant show up? Social media tools will make it simpler to cross these boundaries, with HootSuite and other companies providing these.
5. Marketers are going to use location-targeting more heavily on Facebook and on Twitter.
At some point in 2014, we’re going to see “some significant, if slightly creepy, advances in location-specific targeting,” Holmes writes. For example, Twitter can now target paid tweets towards users, based on their zip code – and Facebook has been doing that since 2011. So you’ll get more relevant ads – but you may also get many more of them.
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