Social Media Is Finally Growing Up

Until recently, social media platforms have needed to build and remain inside their walled gardens to avoid sharing their competitive intelligence.

Until recently, social media platforms have needed to build and remain inside their walled gardens to avoid sharing their competitive intelligence.

However, Facebook’s recent announcement that it would collaborate with third parties to verify its viewing metrics signifies the inevitable and long-awaited validation phase of social media.

Facebook is poised to reap the benefits of opening insights up to third-party verifiers because it will be tapping into what I like to call “believable data.” The social network will have a far more insightful understanding of how brands can activate on its platform. With this move, Facebook is enabling brands to better activate and drive products and services through its channels.

Compared with traditional broadcast and print media, social media is still very much in its infancy, but it’s growing up quickly–poised to become the most significant marketing channel for brands that want to engage in a meaningful, measurable way. And it couldn’t come at a more critical time.

We’ve already witnessed National Football League fans consuming games and ancillary content in unprecedented numbers via mobile devices and social platforms, often at the expense of traditional live broadcasts.

Through the first quarter of the season, the NFL’s television ratings were down 11 percent from last year. However, according to MVPindex, the league’s overall social engagement during this same time period was up 20 percent from 2015. It’s not surprising, then, that the NFL launched a pilot with Twitter to livestream eight games.

This is a microcosm of what is happening across the sports industry. As more over-the-top networks come in and push out traditional advertising channels, teams and brands will need to find a home to market to and engage with their fans. And the more data that is shared, the more apparent it will become that social media is the most powerful marketing platform available.

Social networks’ growing strength, combined with our more powerful means of analyzing the conversations going on there, will drive a shift in advertising dollars from traditional broadcast and print media to social platforms. Bringing brands clarity around social media–enabling them to understand its true value–will prompt them to spend more money with the right platform for their purposes.

What’s more, each social platform offers a unique form of engagement and various ways to leverage its offerings. Considering short-term, real-time opportunities? Think Twitter. Interested in longer-form, more personalized and deeper engagement? Turn to Facebook or Instagram, which offer advertisers an incredible filter about not only what matters most to subscribers, but also precious context about why it matters.

Social media’s unprecedented potential for deep, meaningful insight and personalization is creating compelling opportunities for brands. In this new era, the most successful brands and advertisers will listen to the entire ecosystem of an industry rather than just a portion of the conversation, which represents the typical result of today’s measurement reporting.

Providing an in-depth view into engagement-to-purchase potential represents an enormous opportunity, particularly considering the reach and frequency that are inherent to social media. As a result, brands can build more authentic relationships with properly targeted users.

As content consumption habits continue to evolve, brands will need access to real-time social media data and valuations they can trust. Whether it’s evaluating a celebrity brand ambassador and his/her share of voice or gauging the success of a specific social media activation, brands will increasingly rely on this data to understand the true return on investment of their social media strategies and to make more strategic business decisions.

Kyle Nelson is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of MVPindex, which ranks, measures and values more than 40,000 of the biggest influencers on social media in sports and entertainment.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.