There are too many happenings everyday in the social media space for any single business owner to keep up with. Today's web is fast, and very, very innovative. The production never slows down. New tools and integrations are launched seemingly every other minute.
While I'd encourage you to sift through the headlines and social media app directories on a regular basis, I've put together a few currently unfolding storylines with big implications for business owners.
What do you think is the most interesting social media development of which we have yet to see the outcome? Let us know.
1. Why the Google Buzz Firehose Will Benefit You
Google Buzz launched to a lot of hype, but that kind of died down to some extent after a while. The privacy-related issues that it launched with didn't help. However, Google Buzz has steadily been making more moves to become more relevant to the social media universe. It already has a solid user base, and we've likely only seen the service's infancy.
A couple months ago, Google launched the Buzz API, which was a big step in the right direction. This gave developers tools to build applications around Buzz, or integrate Buzz into their existing applications, hence making Buzz more useful. Just as Twitter became more useful when more apps were built for it, Buzz has similar potential.
That potential has now increased greatly, as Google has launched the firehose for the Buzz API. This means that all public information from Buzz users is accessible by developers for use with their apps, which opens the door for many more opportunities. See how some are already using it here.
From the business owner's perspective, simply think of Buzz as another group of potential customers, in addition to Facebook and Twitter users, which will probably be integrated into many of the same apps that are already utilizing these other groups. So any promotional benefits you are seeing from said apps should increase with the addition of Buzz data, not to mention the fact that this and other factors will likely lead to the growth of Buzz itself. That brings me to the next point.
Do you think Google Buzz will become more useful to your business? Comment here.
2. Google Me
For weeks, Google has been rumored to be working on a new big social network to rival Facebook. The company of course does not comment on rumors, but has not denied the concept. Details are scarce, but "Google Me" as it's commonly being referred to, will likely utilize existing Google profile pages, which are tied to Google Buzz. As I discussed in a recent article, Google is making all YouTube users connect their accounts to a Google account, which could mean that all of these Google account holders become part of Google's massive social network by default.
Without knowing Google's exact plans, it's hard to say exactly what benefits will become available that aren't already there, but you can bet that the implications will be big, and it might make all of Google's social properties more beneficial to businesses. YouTube is one of the most popular sites in the world. Add that to everyone else with a Google account.
Will Google be able to rival Facebook in social media mind share? Comment here.
3. Virtual Goods Increase Purchase Intent
Virtual goods are becoming more popular within social networks, and businesses are already finding ways to utilize them to not only increase brand awareness and influence positive opinions about their products, but drive purchase intent.
Have you had success with virtual goods-based campaigns? Comment here.
Another hot trend in social media is checking in. You know, all of these geo-location services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite, Booyah, etc. More and more of them will continue to pop up, and let's not forget the really big names. Google has Google latitude, Twitter has Twitter Places, and Facebook will be launching something location-based one of these days soon.
Foursquare is already in talks with all of the major search engines. We don't know exactly will come of this, but it seems clear that search engines are interested in indexing this kind of data, and why wouldn't they be? Imagine if you as, as a business, could search for all of the people sharing their location in your area. That could be pretty powerful.
How would you use searchable, realtime location data? Comment here.
5. Social Media Hasn't Plateaued.
During the world cup, Twitter was breaking records for tweets. While this is related to a large-scale event, it just shows that a massive amount of people still care about Twitter, and that isn't changing anytime soon.
It was only earlier this year that Facebook announced it had surpassed 400 million users. The company is widely expected to announce that it's reached 500 million this week. I probably don't have to tell you that between these numbers, Facebook faced a huge amount of criticism in the media over privacy issues, with a lot of people talking about deleting their accounts. Facebook just kept on growing. That's not going to change anytime soon either. Facebook is becoming integrated into the very fiber of the web more and more each day (through social plug-ins, apps, etc.). There are more access points all the time (see Microsoft's new Outlook integration). It's getting harder to ignore if you're not already a user.
If that wasn't good enough news for businesses placing their fatih in social media, more consumers are actively using Facebook and Twitter to engage with brands. They're making email marketing campaigns (an already effective marketing channel) more effective.
How long do you think Facebook and Twitter will continue to grow? Share your thoughts.
The web is flooded with social media advice articles everyday. They can get redundant at times, and a lot of them say basically the same things. However, this massive amount of information is also a product of the sheer number of opportunities there are with this medium. That number also grows everyday as more apps, tools, and resources are created - including niche-specific opportunities. Local-specific. Networking-specific. E-commerce-specific. Brick and Mortar-specific.
What are some specific examples of social media opportunities you have found to be beneficial to your business? Share your ideas with other business owners.