Guest post by Hilary Smith

It’s obvious that social media is here to stay, and it’s become nigh impossible to find any individual or business that isn’t participating in some form of it. The benefits for any business are clear to see as you can communicate publicly with customers, combining advertisements and customer support into one organic, transparent conversation. The entire process opens up brand images to people as something that they can interact with the same way as they do their friends, which allows marketing to take a much less aggressive stance and instead be interesting and emotional.

facebook and the worldOne thing that gives businesses fits about social media, however, is its constantly changing landscape. Facebook and Twitter have been mainstays for years now, but new networks seem to spring up overnight, and Facebook for one never seems content to leave its layout well enough alone, creating new features that businesses have to stay on top of to continue optimizing their pages. So let’s take a look at where social media might be heading next, and how your business can make the most of those changes.

What to Expect From the New Wave of Social Media

The primary thing that has changed about the business-customer relationship since the rise of social media is that instead of advertisements becoming a simple fact of life that people understand they must endure to enjoy television, radio, or magazines, now people are engaging with businesses and the advertisements by choice.

With so many customers engaging with the brands they love, it’s going to create a much greater emphasis on cultivating personalities for brands, leading to a scenario where you might choose a brand of paper towels for your home based on which company you would be most likely to chat up at a party.

Another key change is taking the job of advertising and putting it into the hands of customers. An advertisement on a social media page might generate likes and comments, but a questioning prompt or collaborative design contest can create something people get excited about and share with their friends. By urging the people they know to interact with your brand the same way they do, it opens up a whole new door powered by word of mouth.

Which Brands Are Already One Step Ahead?

Many brands are already taking great strides to embracing this new era of social media marketing, and it can be helpful to find one that uses a style that might fit your company and emulate it.

One of the most prime examples of a “social” brand is the global fast food restaurant McDonald’s. Since embracing social media, McDonald’s has reverse-engineered its entire ad presence around the casual, friendly concept of being like its fans. From posting enticing pictures of food around meal times to featuring young, energetic, creative customers in its TV spots, McDonald’s understands how to capture the ethos of the average social media user.

Another great example is the king of coffee, Starbucks. Starbucks encourages users to follow them on social media not necessarily because they post unique, original content, but they do routinely offer daily specials and discounts available only to followers, and by incentivizing engaging them through these promotions, followers will still be around to receive the rest of the company’s communications.

While your business may not be as globally dominant as either of these two examples, they show two overarching concepts that can be put to use for your business effectively, either by relating to consumers’ sense of identity, or by relating to their budget.

As social media continues to grow and evolve, these strategies may no longer be viable ones, but you can count on companies that are innovating the social space now to continue to do so whenever the landscape changes.

Hilary Smith is an online writer who is currently focusing on becoming an expert in business communications. Her blog,, covers Internet telephony, virtual numbers and call forwarding solutions. How do you connect with your customers? Share your comments below!