Did Social Media Live up To the Expectations?

October 11, 2016 Focus area: Continuous Innovation

In 2010, Social Media was booming. Every respectable company or governmental organization needed a Twitter account, a Pinterest board and a social media department to contact customers. Social media consultants were advising companies in social media strategies and a congress was not a congress if there wasn’t at least one speaker on social media.


In that period all kind of impressive predictions were made, one of them was: social media would make the world more democratic. It would simplify reaching big audiences, even  with limited resources. Another prediction was that marketing analytics would be easier, because companies could use social media data. Thirdly social media would create a lot of new business value, as new business would arise. So did social media actually live up to these expectations?

The promise of social media

I think it did live up to the expectations. These days social media is just as important to our world as older technologies like text messaging or newspapers once were. To support my statement, I will look a little closer at the three social media promises mentioned above: democratization, marketing & analytics and the creation of new business.

1. Democratization

If more democracy is always a good thing, is something that I will not discuss here. It is clear however, that social media have democratized the world by giving more people a voice. The most noticeable example of this is the Arab spring, which could not have taken place without easy access to, cheap and ubiquitous ways of communication; Twitter and Facebook.

2. Analysis & Marketing

People in marketing got really excited about the promises of social media, and not without reason as we now know. For instance, Facebook and Twitter provide means to monitor what is being said about your brand, and it is an extra channel to reach your customers. The possibilities to personalize advertising on channels like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter are even greater. Something that will become even more advanced in the coming years.

3. New Business

And even the third promise was fulfilled by social media. A lot of new wealth and business opportunities have been created by social media. The social media companies are of course generating a lot of revenue, but they also function as a catalyst or a platform for all kinds of other businesses. For instance, Facebook is in many Asian countries the number one online platform for small businesses to reach their customers. And if you look at the gaming industry, games on social media are a billion euro business.

Old and new expectations

Messaging apps will be a platform for new products and services

We can conclude that social media actually delivered its fundamental promises like democratizing the internet, better marketing and new business opportunities. What is very exciting about this, is that we are only ten years into this technology. There is a whole new market developing around messaging apps now for instance. And there are new expectations, that messaging apps will potentially grow out to complete platforms for e-commerce, e-service and e-finance. China’s WeChat is a perfect example of this, starting as a communication app, it has now evolved into a platform hosting different services, even money transfer. By doing that, they are eating into the revenue of banks, even competing with other big tech players like WeTransfer. So social media already has been a big driver of change, but will continue to change society and organizations in the coming years. Delivering new business opportunities for innovative companies and threatening the position of the established order.