I occasionally get asked about this social network or that social network, and whether I think it will still be around in X amount of years. The implied question is whether it’s a network worth investing time in.
Obviously, I don’t know. I follow news and trends as much as the next social media strategist, but I can’t tell whether Facebook is going to be in 10 years what myspace is now.
But here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter. What people – and particularly brands – should be focused on are users’ expectations.
Social networks will rise and fall, and some may stick it out over the long haul. What isn’t going to change is the base level of responsiveness and interactivity that users expect. In fact, it’s only going to go up: ten years ago, a brand didn’t have to answer questions on Facebook; five years ago it was a requirement; now, the expectation is that questions are answered within hours or less.
To be ready, brands need to shift their focus from building presences on networks to building infrastructure within their own organizations. Successful social media is about effectively communicating person to person. A million Facebook fans or Snapchat followers mean nothing if the brand with those followings doesn’t have the institutional knowledge to respond quickly and effectively to their communities.
Brands that have that infrastructure in place are the ones that will flourish – regardless of what social network pops up next.