Social media used to be what online professionals were expected to work on in their scarce spare time. Then social media became "business critical" and the future of the business depended heavily upon the skilful handling of it. Today it seems like the almost deafening social media hype has peaked as organisations are learning in which scenarios social media are worthwhile engaging in and in which it frankly makes no sense at all.
As with most other industry buzzwords, social media as a term covers numerous things. To some extent social media took over from "web 2.0" and is used to cover initiatives both inside and outside the organisation. Today, many popular brand sites have been closely integrated with social features, e.g. Facebook functionality. As an example, Coca Cola, the top brand in the world, has a staggering 12 million fans on Facebook.
Social media tools and vendors seem omnipresent and the marketplace is utterly confusing. This has led to a high social media project failure rate. There is still too much emphasis on tools in the industry and too many buyers buy social software solutions without thinking about how they are going to implement it and what it will take to make the organization mature enough to handle it sensibly. Really, whether you buy tool A from vendor B or tool B from vendor C, is in itself not going to give the enterprise a competitive advantage. In order to avoid failure, you need to prepare the project properly and spend time on increasing digital literacy among your colleagues.
Analysts and consultants have been following in the tailwind of the vendors, eager to analyse social media trends and create dedicated social media strategies. In my experience, even organisations with several employees dedicated to work on social media have ended up simply integrating social media into their overall digital strategy.
Even if the initial social media hype has peaked, it will leave a lasting impact on the working lives of online professionals. On October 7th, I've been invited to Utrecht, Netherlands to the MobileMojo event by Dutch web pioneer Erik Hartman to share a collection of social media best practices from our community. Hope to see you there!