The Next Big Thing in Social Media (Hint: It’s Not What You Think)

Last week, I attended Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. It was great to reconnect with friends and colleagues, like my podcast
 co-host, Stan Smith! And, it was great to finally meet folks I had connected with online and meet new folks from around the world.

On the second day of the conference, I was talking to two ladies who lamented that they were hoping to hear about “the next big thing” in social media. They said they heard a lot of the same stuff they’ve heard before — create better content, amplify it through social media, etc.

But, they wanted to know, what’s next?
  Where are things heading with social media?

I’m sure they’re not the only people to ask this question. This is something that we all think about, isn’t it?
 We want to know what will be the next Instagram, Snapchat or Meerkat. We want to anticipate what’s coming next so we can be ahead of the curve and beat our competitors.

However, some interesting research shows something a bit different.

Why Marketers are Slow Adopters

During Michael Stelzner’s opening talk, he shared some research about social media marketing. One of the statistics that stood out to me was one that addressed how marketers respond to trends. Although I don’t recall the exact statistic, the vast majority of marketers are NOT early adopters.

When it comes to new social media channels, such as Ello or Meerkat, marketers aren’t typically the first to sign up. Instead, they wait and see.

At first, I was a bit surprised by this. But, the more I thought about it, I realized why this happens.

Although marketers need to have their finger on the pulse of the industry, they don’t dive headfirst into every new channel that hits the market.


There are dramatically more marketing channels available to us today than ever before and it takes considerable resources to master what we already have available to us.
 Chasing the next big thing only distracts us from our goals and strategy. I call this shiny object syndrome.

Stop Chasing the Next Big Thing

If you want to be successful with your social media marketing, you must do something a bit different.

Here’s what I recommend doing instead:

1. Execute better than anyone else.

Like the attendees I spoke to, I didn’t hear many ideas that were entirely new. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t huge opportunities to stand out.

One of the best ways to do that is to focus on executing better than anyone else. The reason why many businesses don’t succeed with their marketing is that they don’t follow through.

Joe Pulizzi
 gave a great talk about content marketing strategy. It’s something I already know quite well. But, he walked attendees through a 6-step process on how to use your content to stand out in a crowded niche.

He laid out the formula for success. He told everyone exactly what to do.

But, most people won’t be successful with it.


They won’t follow through.

If you want to beat your competitors, build a plan and then obsessively follow it. If you focus on executing better than anyone else, you’ll win because most companies don’t have the commitment or stamina to stick with it.

As Jay Baer said,

Don’t focus on the tools. Focus on HOW you use them.

2. Get inspiration from others.

Multiple speakers shared this popular phrase:

Good artists copy, the best artists steal.

Look to what others are doing. Most of the best ideas out there aren’t altogether new. They have just been copied or stolen from someone else.
 The next big thing for your company might be stealing an idea that has worked for a company in another industry.

For instance, during Gini Dietrich’s panel at the conference, Susan Beebe from Tyson Foods shared a fantastic idea you can use.
 Susan talked about an instance where an incorrect article about her company was ranking high in Google results. Although Tyson Foods had already written resources about this very topic, it was buried on page five.

So, what did they do to fix the problem?

They used Google Pay-Per-Click ads to drive traffic to the resource on THEIR site. Not only did this put Tyson’s information front and center when people were searching, but the traffic driven to that page eventually boosted the organic search results as well.

This is a great idea that you can steal and use for your organization.

Watch what other companies are doing and see how you can implement those ideas for your company.

3. Watch the trends.

Although you don’t need to obsess over the latest and greatest tools, it pays to watch marketing trends.

For instance, a number of speakers at Social Media Marketing World mentioned Meerkat, the live streaming Twitter video app that gained attention at South by Southwest. (Which now already seems to be decimated by Twitter’s rival app, Periscope. See? This world moves fast.)

Video has long been a growing trend in the social media space, so it makes sense to pay attention to what happens with Meerkat and other similar tools.

Am I working on a Meerkat or Periscope strategy for my clients or my company?


But, I am testing the tool and watching to see if it catches on. I’m looking at how others are using it and considering if there might be applications for us.

You should do that too. Read articles. Follow industry leaders. Listen to your customers. Pay attention to what people are talking about.

If you do that, you’ll have a good sense of what tools and trends are catching on. Then, you can test it out to see if it makes sense for your business.

What do you think? If you attended Social Media Marketing World, what did you learn?

P.S. If you want to stay on top of what’s happening in digital marketing, subscribe to our weekly Liftoff eLetter. We’ll make sure you never miss the important news and trends in the industry.

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Laura Click

Laura Click

Laura Click is brand strategist, speaker, podcaster and the founder of Blue Kite. Learn more about Laura and her work at Blue Kite.

2 replies on “The Next Big Thing in Social Media (Hint: It’s Not What You Think)”

Haha. My mother will be thrilled that I’ve been called a lady 😉

Great post. These are excellent suggestions, and you’re right Laura, usually chasing after the next big thing really is not the best way to connect with your customers (unless your customers are extremely early adopters).

I always say, push boundaries. Go where your customers area, where your competitors are a bit afraid to tread.

I currently work in the software industry, and so many companies are afraid of social media, as they believe it will be a place for your customers to complain about your software. But this just proves a more exciting challenge.

Firstly, customers will always complain about your software. No matter the software, it doesn’t work 100% correctly, 100% of the time. And with that in mind you can move forward to set the culture and tone on social media of what customers can expect from you.

It’s exciting times, a great discussion, and I’m glad we met at SMMW15 Laura.

Of course you’re a lady, Fiona! And a great one at that. 🙂 It was so great to meet you at SMMW15! Also, thanks for prompting this post.

Your points are spot on. Companies that are willing to go against the grain are the ones that win. It’s scary, but worth it.

And to you point about social media, listening to your customers is perhaps one of the best things you can do as a company. Instead of being afraid of complaints, we should embrace them so we can learn how to make the product or service better. Celebrate the fact that people actually have something to say about your product! I could go on and on, but there is tremendous value you in this (as you know).

Thanks for stopping by and for sharing the post as well!

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