2015-look-aheadAt this time of the year, as we wind down and look towards 2016, it has been customary to look at the year ahead and make some predictions.

Instead of publishing a “top 10” predictions for social in 2016, I thought I would look at one key prediction for social next year, and that is the embedding of social into all parts of an organisation, and the federation of social.

The evolution of social media in organisations

As “social media” appears to be mature, compared with 2008 when our peers were laughed at for “wasting time on twitter” by our corporate colleagues, nowadays social media is used in some form by almost all organisations I come into contact with.

In fact I find as I am invited into the boardrooms of some of the world’s largest organisations, I am seeing how seriously social is being treated by the c-suite.  They now know they need to do something more than just maintain a “presence” on social with a dedicated team, but they are not sure what.

In 2014 I have made it my personal mission to get social out of the marketing department, and into all parts of the organisation.

Two years ago, I looked at how social might appear with 5 key themes

1. Social Business: Not Just About Collaboration
Social is no longer just about collaboration; it’s about unlocking the engines of collective knowledge, differentiated expertise and rapid learning across the whole organisation. Social enables businesses to break down organisational and hierarchical silos and barriers. It provides employees an opportunity to share knowledge and locate expertise. In 2014, we’ll see social transform into an organisation’s enablement and learning platform.

2. Social Business’ New Role helping to build a smarter enterprise. For example, doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital are already moving in this direction with social; physicians across the globe are sharing peer-reviewed training videos and on-demand curricula to demonstrate the latest life-saving techniques in child care, building an ecosystem of well-trained health care professionals.

3. Tapping Behavioural Data to Drive Decision Making
Twitter + IBM announcement has cemented how important this is likely to be

4. The Rise of the Individual and “Marketing as a Service” – moving social beyond the marketing department
For most organisations, social networking has been a marketing machine, providing the ability to build armies of advocates for your brand. As we enter into the next phase of social, it will be less about how many “likes” you can get and more focused on the quality of those likes and who is doing the liking. Looking at customers as individuals instead of segments, marketers will now be able to deliver personalised experiences customised to individual or community needs.

5. Social Takes on Talent Management – HR gets their hands on social

I believe there has been some progress in each of these areas, but there is much to be done in 2016.

One company that I have been following closely in 2014 was paying lip service to social for most of the year – doing a great job on “social media marketing” but almost zero on embedding social into the rest of the organisation.

I’ve just seen an RFP that shows they are now getting serious about social, and I expect to be fielding many more RFPs in early 2016 as the messages of 2015 sink in, and companies start to properly invest in social for the long term, rather than seeing it as a campaign-led marketing channel.