The Future of Social Media

I recently came across this interesting article about the future of social media, specifically what social media will look like 2012. Some of the predictions mentioned include the change in privacy expectation, the complete decentralization of social networks and the rise of content aggregators. One prediction that stood out to me the most is that ratings will be everywhere:

“In today’s world, having a commerce site that doesn’t have user ratings could actually prove to be a detriment to sales. In the near future, brands and businesses will more frequently place user ratings and accept open feedback on their actual websites. User ratings will become so common that marketers should expect to find them woven into most digital experiences.”

This got me thinking. I didn’t realize how much I rely on ratings. Before I book a room at a hotel, I always read the online ratings/comments from people who have stayed there before. I love to cook and never try a recipe unless people have rated it highly. I also rely on ratings to determine places I’ll go such as restaurants and tourist attractions. I trust stranger’s ratings and opinions on an everyday basis.

I think it is very important for companies to allow open feedback from customers about their products and services. By knowing what the public thinks (whether is be positive or negative), companies can learn a lot and learn what they need to do to become a “purple cow”-stand out among all of the competitors. Do you agree? Is there an instance you can think of where open feedback could be detrimental? Do you often participate in online ratings and reviews?

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6 Responses to The Future of Social Media

  1. alevy says:

    I think this is a very interesting topic. It is interesting to think about how much we rely on online sites and open ended feedback to influence our daily decisions. I think it is vital to allow for public opinion, because as you said it can have a grave impact on the success of the business. I usually don’t participate in many online ratings, however I definitely utilize them for my benefit. When traveling (especially), reviews and ratings (and price of course)on hotels, restaurants and attractions help me base my opinion on where to stay and what to do in an unfamiliar place. Furthermore, I think it is an effective way to help companies improve their services.

    Starbucks, for example recently created a public online forum called My Starbucks Idea (http://mystarbucksidea.force.com/) where the public is able to post comments about their ideas for improving the company or simply to share a personal pleasant Starbucks experience. As one of the largest companies in corporate America, allowing the public to help enhance their business shows they care about their customers and will retain their consumer loyalty. This is vital as social media continues to become an integrated part of society because it creates an online community of strangers that can help each other as well as connect with others who share the same ideas.

  2. crandell says:

    I think this is a very important topic. Ratings play a large part in the evaluation portion of public relations. Companies are constantly looking to build their image and reputation. Ratings are a measurement of public relations efforts. Ratings build a company’s credibility that in turn increases stakeholders’ interest.

    I participate in online ratings when I come across a product or service that strikes me as particularly exceptional or unsatisfactory. By word of mouth I want others to experience the product or service or be forewarned.

  3. Carleen says:

    Social media seems to be evolving more quickly than mass media (even though the changes mass media are undergoing get all the attention). Your interesting post and the article it’s based on both highlight some important aspects of the changing direction for social media as it moves forward.

    It is no accident that the two most successful e-commerce sites, http://www.ebay.com and http://www.amazon.com, extensively utilize feedback systems for buyers and sellers to provide and receive information about the product and about other users. I agree with your point that, in the future, sites that do not incorporate user feedback mechanisms will suffer. Many sites, including http://www.yelp.com, exist entirely for the purpose of sharing, providing and receiving feedback and insights from other “real people” about businesses.

    A student’s class presentation this past Thursday emphasized that nearly everybody values and uses peer feedback, but only a few people view advertising as credible. The impact and presumed trustworthiness of user-generated content, over professional-generated content, will be a critical consideration as social media moves forward.

    For PR practitioners, the implications of changes in social media are intertwined with our efforts. We use social media on a daily basis, so we must develop a deep understanding of its intricacies and changes. We should capitalize on user-generated information and feedback while maintaining trust and credibility for the information we professionally produce.

    Transparency and openness are key. On a final, related note, it may be a constant temptation for PR specialists to post a seemingly innocuous comment intended to be viewed as feedback from another “real person,” when in actuality it is a carefully crafted, biased statement. Never do this! It is manipulative and dishonest, and it stands in violation of the spirit of social media and of public relations as a whole.

  4. srugeris says:

    I like number 4 on that list that says,

    “4. Rise of the content aggregators
    The amount of content online is growing at an exponential rate, and most online users have at least three online profiles from social networks to micro-blogging to social news sites. Our ability to manage this influx is challenging, and content aggregators will be the new demi-gods, bringing method to madness (and make a killing). Filtering and managing content will be big business for those who can get it right and provide easy-to-use services.”

    I think that this and the rating system would work to establish people as opinion leaders. Ten years ago barely anyone used email as a main source of communication. In five years from now it will be really interesting to see how much effort it takes to manage all our online social needs.

  5. aguido says:

    I do find that I search and read many online ratings for almost anything I plan to invest in. Apartment shopping recently for example led me to look at many rating sites so I could have a better understanding about what other people thought about the apartment complexes. To me, peer reviews are vital and tell me what some one of my mindset thinks about something. Generally, if they don’t like it, I am then predisposed to have some negative ideas about it.

    The only problem with a company relying on online ratings, however, is the fact that you don’t really know who is posting those reviews. Some angry customer with one bad experience might obtain multiple user names and do everything in his or her power to post as many bad ratings or reviews as possible. Then, your competitors may pose as innocent customers writing a review. With online, there isn’t a way to monitor whether the posts are legitimate or not.

  6. hmick says:

    I also never realized how much I look at ratings to base what I do on an everyday basis. When I am on a website like Expedia, trying to book a hotel somewhere, I always click “show best ratings” and then go from there. In a world that is starting to become so much smaller because of social networking, it doesn’t surprise me at all that we base our trust on what other strangers think about it. I think that it is very important for a company to listen to their customers’ feedback and really put it to good use. I don’t think that if one angry customer puts something on a rating system, that it should deface the whole program, but I think that whatever that angry customer has to say should be taken with just as much value as someone who has something positive to say, maybe even more.

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