“What’s Next?” asks @DrewB – Social Media Week Day 1

#smwWhatsNext: Drew Benvie kicks off Social Media Week London with a bit of future gazing – and a lot of cronuts..


With the launch of their report (battenhall.net/ftse100) on the FTSE 100’s use of social media – which found that whilst 88 of the 100 companies were using it, 18 hadn’t Tweeted in the last month – Battenhall, lead by Drew, presented some interesting case studies on the share index big hitters.

Burberry scored the number 1 spot, having turned their brand from chav-tastic to social-superpower over the last ten years. At London Fashion Week recently, they were given a crate of the brand new iPhones to test/show-off their features (such as slo-mo video). I can’t have been the only person in the audience slightly jealous..


The low scorers of the list have simply not tweeted at all, or in some cases may be suffering from cyber-squatting. Why a company of this kind of size or stature (or financial weight) wouldn’t have rectified this situation yet may be testament to the fact that we are still on a big learning and implementation curve when it comes to social. The majority of people who will have made it into the managerial and decision-making positions at this point in their career, made their path when the social movement was unknown. Perhaps this will change quite quickly with the launch of this report, if it gets enough coverage – it will be interesting to compare with this time next year.

“What’s Next”, in Drew’s view, is more “What’s big now but will get bigger”, citing 7 big social platforms as the ones-to-watch. Twitter is the main focus, but with nods to Asian social networks which are bigger yet currently relatively unknown in the West. And who do we look to for trend analysis? Generation-C. Recent research from Google is showing 80% of content curation and generation coming from young people, and they widely inform the popularly of emerging social platforms. Brands may not know about Keek and Ask-FM but boy do those young-folk embrace them.

The perennial question, ‘what of Facebook’, may have been addressed by @Tim’s prediction that the future of apps is in single-purpose design, with photography an essential element but not an actual focus. In other words, Facebook has got to a stage of trying to do too much at once and of course now it is so big, is no longer cool.

The really interesting thing now – highlighted by Drew – is the growing interconnectivity of physical life and the internet. Drew showed off his tracking bracelet which is monitoring his health step-by-step, and hit us with the mind boggling prediction that 10% of lightbulbs will be connected to the internet in a year in two years 56% will connect lighting to the internet (correction). My mind turns back to experience of the social care sector and what this means for the opportunities to assist or improve the daily lives of people who need a bit more help to get by.

So, aside from the mountain of cronuts (I made the mistake of having two..) and Iced Coffee brought up from Dorset by @JimmyIcedCoffee (lovely stuff – and they do pay tax) what are my thoughts out of this opening session?


Is Facebook dying?

It’s easy to throw this around based on the big player not being ‘cool’ anymore, but it is certainly not a good idea to discount the social network from your social strategies. Drew’s admission in the follow-on Q&A was that you must look at where your audience are and what works for your organisation. I would add that Facebook’s stature in the social market makes it one to keep a close eye on and a presence within – they have the ability to fast track innovation and spread messages to what is still a massive user-base. If it had an amazing reinvention of itself in the next year, it would be fascinating to see which companies suffered from abandoning ship too early.

Is what’s next, what’s now?

Perhaps the suggestion is after the boom of major platforms like Twitter and Instagram in the last couple of years, there may be a stagnation in development as we settle down and embed their use, before looking at the next idea. But I just wonder whether this is a bit naive. If there’s one thing that these platforms have proven, it’s that we are at the dawn of an instant age – instant sharing, instant insight, and potential instant change. If young people are finding new social networks and influencing their following and use so dramatically, it’s entirely possible that the next big thing will explode in the next six months. Maybe a more valuable approach is to be in tune with where your audience/customers are and where they are going. Perhaps people are what’s next?

Connecting Digital to Physical

Without doubt the interrelationship between digital communications and physical interaction with environments, brands and products is the next big playground. The winners will create innovative, engaging experiences with their customers and users, which create value or have some enhancement in their lives beyond a ‘nice-to-have’ digital involvement. Whether this means we’ll be doing our shopping on the way home from work via an interactive poster…remains to be seen.


Stick to one a day.

– Ben



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