Over the past nine months, it's been my pleasure to assist a new professional social media network and one of Europe's top new startups come to market in the United States and other prominent English-speaking markets around the world.
The growth has been tremendous, 11-million global users in under two years. This unique opportunity has enabled me to get direct insights from users which has given me a greater understanding of the value of customer feedback and how it can be used to shape customer experience in the future.
The incredible insights I've received from users from my extensive interactions with them has given me a view into how user demand will shape social media in the future.
Here are a few predictions based on my observations and numerous conversations with many of the 11-million users on beBee.
More top executives will be on social media
When it comes to social media most top executives in companies prefer to remain in the background. In fact, a study from CEO.com showed that 61% of CEOs in the Fortune 500 still have no presence on social media. Of the ones that have a presence most of them only have a LinkedIn account which they use infrequently if at all.
Instead, they let their marketing team use the company accounts to share stories and deliver the brand message.
However, research shows consumers today have a strong desire to create deeper connections with the brands they use and promote. A small percentage of CEOs have figured out a way to integrate their personal and business brands via social media and leverage it in a big way to market their companies.
beBee, Co-Founder and CEO, Javier Camara, is very active on the platform he created and regularly engages with his user base. Many of them have told me over and over how much they love seeing a top executive from the company drop by their posts to comment and engage with them on a personal level.
Another example of an executive that is leading this trend is the way T-Mobile CEO, John Legere interacts on Twitter. Legere's edgy tweets have become legendary. And with over 3-million followers he has a presence that is four times larger than the T-Mobile official company Twitter account. Legere's Twitter account is a massive traffic producing marketing arm for his company.
Hootsuite CEO and LinkedIn Influencer, Ryan Holmes, recently wrote about why it is important for CEOs to have a personal brand on social media:
"The greatest motivator for CEOs to get on social media may be simple necessity. Social media represents a cultural shift, not just a technological one, and it's already made the leap into the workplace. In the end, it's very difficult for a CEO to guide this transformation without 'getting' social media on some level--ideally a personal one."
These three CEOs realize that engagement with their community online is contributing to consumers falling in love with their brand. CEO interaction with customers on social makes them feel special and creates a strong emotional attachment to the brand.
Networking will become interest-based
Until now, most social networks encourage you to only connect with people you already know. From a networking standpoint, this approach is largely counterproductive because it puts the focus on the past. The people from your past may or may not be relevant to your current personal and business interests.
If you keep connecting and reconnecting with the same people in life, you can expect to get the same results from those connections that you've been getting.
In order to move forward, a more open approach to networking is needed that enables you to connect with people that can be a part of your future. These are the people that you haven't met yet.
What I've discovered is the best way to network in business is with those that share common professional and personal interests. Your hobby, favorite team, or outside business interests are great conversation starters and the key to developing stronger connections with the people you do business with.
Interest based networking via social media removes the physical barriers of traditional networking such as geographic location and travel costs.
The integration of your personal and business brands can lead to new opportunities. We all can agree that business is about relationships.
When you create a stronger connection with someone you'd like to work for or do business with via a personal interest, it gives you a leg up on the competition that has no connection with that person other than a sales pitch and a resume.