Will social media be defunct by 2020?
First off, social media manager, BREATHE. I'm not saying you're going to lose your job. I'm just quoting something that Guy Norwell, Expedian's head of marketing, digital strategy and social content, said during Social Media Week.
He was speaking at a session entitled 'Social in 2020', which focussed on how to win the future of social.
Guy believes that the main change in social over the past four years has been the fact that 'pay to play' has come more to the forefront - which has become all the more difficult with the launch of disposable content channels such as Snapchat, which can be hard to explain to the finance teams ("Yes, that's right, we need £50 to spend on a post people can only see for a few seconds...").
Clare Hoey, head of content marketing at Barclaycard, agreed: "Social is a paid channel and we need to invest in it!"
She added that it can be tough to explain that follower numbers are no longer something to focus on - even if you have one million followers, you will not reach them all through organic posts alone.
With paid taking centre stage on social, it becomes even more paramount to make content that people want to see.
This can mean A/B testing to see what style of content performs best: both in terms of writing and the creative element that accompanies it, be it an image or a video.
Clare pointed out that A/B testing this way means the possibility of failure - and that is fine. "If you never fail, you're playing it too safe," she reassured the audience.
And part of this trying and (potentially) failing includes testing new channels: be it Snapchat or Twitch. With the number of potential channels growing, the social-sphere grows too, along with the integration of social into the general marketing mix.
THIS is why Guy believes that the words 'social media' will be defunct by 2020.
"It's all about evolution: social comes into the heart of everything we do. We need to look at the macro and how consumers engage."
So, what does this mean for social media (erm, and our jobs)?
Social is no longer just for the "cool kid 21-year-olds from Shoreditch". It's morphed into part of the everyday and should be an integral part of any marketing plan. Chief marketing officers MUST have a key understanding of social - and woe on them if they don't know the number of characters a link takes up in a tweet.
But don't worry, social media manager, you're not out of a job just yet. We still need someone to oversee and drive the strategy forward.
By Ishbel Macleod, PR & Social Media Consultant.