From seismic shifts to tsunamis - has social had its day?

End of the year, heading into another is always the time when the headlines shout ‘Review of the Year’ or ‘Trends for the Year Ahead’. At Antelope we are not about trend led analysis or trend led activity. We are in it for the long term and try to help our clients to be too.

However, as we come to another year closing, there are always seismic shifts we see happening that might have been trundling along for a while and then start thundering at us like tsunamis.

One such one we see happening in communication terms is the use of social media platforms. From a year of Facebook privacy scandals to talk about fake news, many in the communications industry are asking whether social media has had its day.

However, although as a personal platform the social networks grounds are being to feel shaky, it is interesting to see what is going on with them on a professional level. We have noticed three clear developments:

1. Alignment of personal and professional – the whole you

Where social media platforms used to be clearly defined by “personal” or “professional” networks, the integration of content across the different social media sites is becoming more and more frequent, and acceptable. Where users had one profile for their family, personal lives and friends and one for their job and professional thoughts, as we are becoming more “whole” on social, these are blurring into one.

Sharing your business successes with your friends is now seen as acceptable and likewise sharing personal achievements with colleagues is now seen as “bringing personality” into your feed. Obviously there are limitations on both – oversharing your personal life to your 500+ LinkedIn contacts will never be a good communications strategy and likewise forcing a pyramid sales strategy onto friends and family is likely not to make you more friends and influence people, but generally a more holistic approach that implies transparency and honesty about who you are is OK.

2. Use of social media platform to share best practice for sole trader and SMEs

Groups within social media platforms – whether that is a group message in Whatsapp or a closed group set up in Facebook – have been around for a while now. However, the increase of two elements seems to have resulted in a shift to really leveraging these groups. Firstly, the increase in those self -employed – be it in industries like construction and IT or marketing to mentoring. And secondly, the trend to support those within the same industry. We have definitely seem to have swung to the other end of the dog-eat-dog spectrum of the 80s and are seeing more collaborative working, sharing of best practice and an attitude to higher standards and practices across industries in general. Social media platforms allow us to cascade advice, examples of great practice and support to those who might be working in silos or who are not covered by associations, trade organisations or other nurturing bodies.

3. The need for a voice

Which brings us on to the need for a voice. 2018 has been the year of giving some of those suppressed, discouraged or even previously subdued to have their rightful voice. Social media platforms of course have always been a way to do this. Ignoring trolls who hide behind their profiles to voice their ugly thoughts, social media tends to be a great place to rally the troops, have the discussion and even bare your soul for the good of the nation. Closed groups – such as the one Sali Hughes has formed for those with estranged parents – allow those who want to talk to have a conversation in a “safe” social space.

As we head into a year that is bound to bring change – from political developments, to economic highs and lows – using our communication platforms to help us navigate these changes from both a personal and professional point of view, can’t be such a bad thing.