What will be the next big thing? That we get smart about this big thing: social media?

Socialmedia Since I’ve been in the interactive marketing industry, I have seen so many predictions, even from leading research firms, that proved completely wrong, that I don’t often write about them anymore. 

When I worked for a publisher in the interactive marketing and ICT industry, we knew how much marketers loved data.

They needed forecasts and predictions to base their decisions upon and find a sense of security in a world of emerging media and fundamental changes.

And for online publishers that was a present from heaven.

In January, you wrote that research firm ‘abc’ predicted that the worldwide spend of ‘xyz’ would increase by ‘x%’ this year, in June you wrote that the firm had revised its forecasts, and probably you could do two more posts before the year was over with new data.

Memories of a former online publisher (if not interested, please skip to the next paragraph)

Every revised forecast was good for a new article, and you could link back to the previous ones: “earlier this year ‘abc’ predicted ‘xyz’ as you can read here”. 

Eyeballs, impressions, a good number of page visits per unique visitor, brag about it in the data you serve to potential advertisers who are happy to pay the CPM you want.

Two years later you could then make a special report about the ‘worst predictions from two years ago’. 

And of course at the beginning and at the end of each year, you had these nice lists with more data and forecasts.

That’s what online publishers do, you know? They know people love data, stats and predictions, and of course they write about them as much as they can. Now they can even do it in a thousand new formats: slideshare, niftly looking images, Flash, video, you name it.

Online publishers also always had all these nice tips and tricks to increase the number of impressions like letting you go through 16 pages to read a story or letting you go through 5 pages to finally get that white paper you so badly want or adding some kind of database where you can spend several days.

And now there are social media too!

Research firms sell their reports, they share data with publishers who write about them and the ‘audience’ is happy. Everybody happy! What a wonderful world! 

Avoiding the social media marketing bubble: is it possible?

I have to admit that it’s different as in the early years of Internet, long before the bubble. If you would find some reports from research firms from back then (many of them didn’t survive the dot com bubble, by the way) you would have the fun of your life. 

And, I must admit, I did a few stupid predictions myself. But things have changed for the better. 

Survey methodologies have improved, new platforms allow better predictions, and I guess, all the research firms that were around then, still remember how maybe the dot com bubble was not only caused by crazy overevaluations of Internet start-ups with no revenues but also by the glorious forecasts they made.

Why do I tell you all this? Because now and then I sense the atmosphere of those early years again. Too many gurus, overevaluations and predictions that sometimes are obviously too rosy.

I would hate to see a social media marketing bubble because of all this. I really hope that those that were around then learned a lesson and that those who weren’t realize what they do.

Social media marketing is great, but it’s marketing. And if you ask me what the next big thing will be: the same as now but then different but most of all: let’s start using this big thing in a smart way (while keeping an eye on what might be coming).

So, can we now focus on what matters? Not the next big thing but using social media marketing, in a smart, data-driven, customer-centric, valuable, relational and efficient way?

Bookmark and Share

Join me on Twitter

Join me on Facebook

Join me in the Social Marketing Forum

Subscribe to the newsletter