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Episode 8: The Future of Social Marketing

The future is unwritten. But our best glimpse into the future is often through people’s current behaviors. Andrew Delaney joins to talk about why he thinks conversations and user experience will be at the core of our collective social futures.


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Episode Transcription

Hi. I’m Matthew Brown from HubSpot, and this is Skill Up, the show where you’ll learn how to take your sales, marketing, and service skills to the next level.

It’s final rose ceremony for our Social Marketing season of Skill Up. And I gotta tell ya. For me? It’s looking like an emotional ride in the back of the van as I exit stage left, off into the sunset.

But this season’s been the best yet. [off mic] Can I say that?.. I can’t say that?.. [back to mic] Fine. No, fine. This season has definitely been the best yet.

We’ve heard from HubSpot’s ensemble of experts.. who covered everything from social strategy, to driving engagement on Twitter, even some new insights on social reporting. Or was it social insights? Not sure? It was one episode ago! Go back and have a listen… after, this one.

Because today, we’re talkin’ Dolores in Westworld, the flying cars of tomorrow, the vision of 2049 I was promised. We’re talking about the future. And thankfully, I have Andrew Delaney to guide us. Cue that name and title clip.

[ANDREW: Hi, I’m Andrew Delaney and I’m the senior social marketer at HubSpot.]

Nailed it.

From the very first question I asked… Who are some of your favorite brands on social?... I realized, Andrew doesn’t exactly fit the bill for your typical social marketer.

[ANDREW: Ooh, I feel like I shouldn't say this, but, uh, I don't really follow many brands.]

Well, I guess that brings us to the end of today’s episode! [cue music] Ha, no no. Stop the music.

Andrew has a good reason.

[ANDREW: My team does. Not me. It’s people like you and I. I take inspiration from people. Not inspiration from brand as a whole. But from society at large on social.]

Power to the people, Andrew. Let’s jump right into some musical segment melodies.

[cue segment music]
OK, so brands are often in a pay-to-play scenario when it comes to social. They pay for ads and boost posts. But on the organic side of social, brand pages are still a necessity for companies.

What are brand pages? Great. Question. You’re really getting the hang of this.

Brand pages are the accounts that are owned and operated by brands or companies themselves. Brands dictate the messaging, the creative, and the frequency of posting.

And in turn, pages help brands connect, engage with, and delight fans. You can post anything from photos to videos, job opportunities to events. Pages can even be a way to help drive traffic to different parts of your company’s own website.
[end segment music]

Great. We all on the same page? Because, it’s all about to change. Future episode!

[ANDREW: I see the value of brand pages overall diminishing.]

So everything we just covered, yea, going away.

[ANDREW: Each individual user will have more authority over what to say. Other people will not be as focused on what the brand will say. Need to be more clever and tactical. Focus more on their own voice.

Users are sharing less and less. And as they do, gives less of a reason to go to that page to see it. As groups become more popular on Facebook, the most value is the users talking to one another. Opportunity for brands to have a voice in there, ways to set that up, but the control will be more in the users’ hands.

People become influencers. How we see influencers are more like everyone. Word of mouth. People tend to trust influencers based on their static. Reach equals value, not true. Not engaged audience. But a small really engaged group is much more valuable. My respect for you and the work you do has much more promise. More followers do not mean more trust.]

[cue synth flourish]

[ANDREW: I think when it comes to the future of social media, there'll be two main types of networks we see. The ones that focus on privacy and others that focus on discovering and connecting with others.]

Ok, let’s break the two down. Networks focused on privacy and the ways we communicate with people, we already see some of that now. Snapchat and messages that expire...

[ANDREW: ...or talking in Messenger on a one-to-one basis. Those are really focused on people that you already know and can connect with.]

And then the second type of network focuses on broadening connections.

[ANDREW: Enabling you to speak to other people and meet new people who are not part of your existing trusted circle.]

We’re starting to see this with Tik-Tok, right? With its feed that defaults to other people on Tik-Tok, not the folks you follow.

[ANDREW: The playing field is level where on a lot of social platforms for a long time was all about growing your followers so that your organic reach could reach, you know, a given percentage of those followers in order to reach more people. You needed a bigger following on Tick-Tock. It's like every day that playing field is level and.

Content spreads in this really, I don't know, kind of unique sort of way where you could have 10 followers and get millions of views and if you had a Facebook page or an Instagram account, the chances of that happening are a lot slimmer and you see that happen on tick talk much more regularly. And I think that just gives a lot of say, new or younger creators or new brands.

It creates a lot of opportunities for them to really make big progress quickly, where more like the incumbent networks and platforms, that growth is much more difficult at this point.]

And it’s this sort of focus on discovery and distribution that Andrew sees as one-way networks will not only start to split but really start to do really well.

[cue synth flourish]

The whole idea behind social media is simple.

[ANDREW: The beauty for platforms is bringing people together to share ideas.]

So it’s this type of behavior system that’s likely not going to change. The question, then, is how will we evolve in staying connected and sharing ideas? Well, Andrew starts by looking at two things. One of which, you’re likely using this very moment.

[ANDREW: We have AirPods. You see people walking around the city all the time with these things. In talking to people, listening to music or podcasts, whatever they might be doing, I'm kind of waiting for someone to really leverage that hardware and do something really interesting that connects groups of people, to kind of like an always-on group chat, but a group chat focused on voice, not text.

In a group chat, as a spectator, like a live podcast. If I was in an audio group of people talking about social media, people would propose problems. Someone else might be able to hop in for 30 seconds and answer, give a solution, or a proposal to fix that problem, and then kind of hop out. And it could be like your own little support network.

There are a lot of Facebook groups I think is a big part of the future. I think we'll see that platform shift a lot more toward that. And I do find a lot of value in the groups that I'm a part of. I'm just kind of waiting for it to take that next step to that more kind of intimate experience where I can be speaking to different people. In real-time all the time.]

Something Andrew’s getting at here is how stale, that way I don’t say boring, certain types of social content can be.

[ANDREW: I spend an incredible amount of time watching live streams on Twitch, probably multiple hours a day. I don't really follow any of their creators, and I always watched different ones. Um, but to me, it's more exciting than recorded media.

Like I don't spend a lot of time watching TVs. Uh, TV shows or movies, I guess I do spend some time watching live sports and I draw a lot of similarities in a weird sort of way between Twitch and the live sports where if I'm watching like a professional American football game, I don't know what's going to happen.

I don't think anyone else does. And that's what I love about Twitch. The fact that like what's going to happen either in the game or walking around the city, nobody knows what is going to happen. And it's that like unexpected thing that I will wait hours for just seeing what it could become. Um, I think also.

There's a really interesting dynamic on Twitch between creators and their audience where with chat, the is able to really have a conversation with different people that are posting things as messages to them as an individual. And different people can leverage that in different ways, whether it be text on screen or reading our comments or having those comments or read aloud to the entire audience.

But then I think there's a second dynamic and it's the way the different audiences. I think there's a second dynamic and it's the way the audience, and I think there's a second dynamic, and it's the way audience members interact with other audience members. It's not just about talking to the creator, the creators, what you have in common, and it's about talking to other people that share that same interest.

Now, many of these now, many of these creators will have discord channels that allow the audience to talk to each other and talk to the creator, but it's still separate, right? Platform and I'm excited to see if in the future someone comes up with a way to merge these two things.

[cue synth flourish]

So to summarize: As brand pages continue to develop, the power will shift from brands to people. And folks of all sorts, of all social following, will become influencers -- highly-specialized and valuable in their own ways.

And as social continues to evolve, things like live-streaming will likely involve more seamless integrations with conversations and communities.

[ANDREW: It's that community you can get either through people you have a close relationship with or people you've never met. That I think is really interesting and I think different people strive for connection in different ways, and I think social tools that really enable that in the future will be really valuable.]

So with that, [clap and wipe hands] another season of Skill Up comes to a close. It’s been quite a trip. But you, me, and all these HubSpot experts, we’re all now well-versed in the art of social marketing. Look at us.

If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to the Skill Ups. We’ll have another new season loaded up into the podcast machine before you know it. Until then, you can check out all episodes of this season and previous seasons here in our show’s feed anytime. Or, you can always learn more at hubspot.com

So until next season, hey, I’ll see you there.