Living in the technology hub of America gives you a different perspective on all things digital. Some of the most innovative companies from around the world call Silicon Valley home, so it’s safe to assume you’ll bump into well-known executives while you’re here.
One of my most recent encounters was experienced while attending the Social Media Club’s (San Francisco chapter) recent event, Stories From the Frontline: Building a Social Media Business. Held at the TiE Conference Center in Santa Clara and sponsored by Cisco, the panel featured CEO of Yelp, Jeremy Stoppelman (@jeremys); Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, Augie Ray (@augieray); Managing Director of New Media at Paladin Advisors Group, Louis Gray (@louisgray); Partner at Mayfield Fund, Emily Melton (@emelton); Senior VP of Marketing at Visible Technologies, Blake Cahill (@bcahill); and moderator Ben Parr (@benparr), co-editor of Mashable.
As a collective group, the panelists agreed on various topics surrounding how social media has impacted businesses. Companies are still apprehensive to embrace new media for fear of eliminating the middle man, real-time needs and the industry’s seemingly early adoption stage. That said, it’s undeniable that the need is there. Gray of Paladin Advisors Group explained, if you’re not interested in social media, you’re not interested in growing your business revenue.
In reference to social media standards and measurement, a topic of discussion and uncertainty for some time now, none of the panelists had a definitive answer for what’s to come or best practice to offer. Here are a few key takeaways:
- Cahill at Visible Technologies says the key to establishing a measurement standard is to make social media an extension rather than using it as a silo technology.
- All panelists believe conversation sentiment is one of the most important measurements a business can evaluate.
Interestingly, the panelists also agreed that social media will be the norm in five years and embracing new strategies will be the key to a successful strategy. Instead of the typical business model where new concepts take years to develop, social media is on a short-term cycle with new tools being offered every six months.
Parr from Mashable rounded out the discussion by specifically asking the million dollar question, what’s the next big thing to come in social media for 2010? Here are a few concepts that the panelists agreed upon:
- Augmented reality and geo-location are key. It’s a new technology now, but it will transition from “cool” to the norm in the next two years.
- Discovery is a huge area for improvement. Reshaping traffic and sorting through the noise are things both consumers and businesses desperately need.
- Actionable Q&A sources are an area of opportunity. Search engines are becoming a thing of the past because they aren’t able to sort the way we need them to.
These are all valuable points and reasonable predictions. It’s likely that social media, as we know it, is experiencing its peak. As such, what’s coming next in digital is just around the corner. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube could be outdated in as little as six months. It’s an exciting time for businesses to watch and listen in order to jump in as early adopters. I, for one, am interested to see if these executive predictions come true.
-- Heather Arft