Corporate Eye

The Future of Marketing Communications and Social Media

According to a new report from Gartner, companies will learn to embrace social media in the future not only for external marketing and brand-building but also for internal communications.  Earlier this month, Gartner released its five predictions for social software in 2010 and beyond.  They are:

  • By 2014, social networking services will replace email as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20% of business users.
  • By 2012, over 50% of enterprises will use activity streams that include microblogging, but stand-alone enterprise microblogging will have less than 5% penetration.
  • Through 2012, over 70% of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail.
  • Within five years, 70% of collaboration and communications applications designed on PCs will be modeled after user experience lessons from smartphone collaboration applications.
  • Through 2015, only 25% of enterprises will routinely utilize social network analysis to improve performance and productivity.

You can get more details about the Gartner predictions in this press release.

In terms of marketing and branding, the most interesting prediction from Gartner is the first one listed above — within 4 years, social Web tools will replace email as the primary tool for communications for 20% of business users.  The shift is already happening as companies move marketing budgets from email marketing to social media initiatives.  I’m actually surprised that the 20% prediction isn’t higher.

The third prediction, that over 70% of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail through 2012, doesn’t surprise me though.  I can’t imagine that anyone will fully figure out the perfect way to leverage the social Web from an IT, marketing, or any other discipline’s perspective within the next two years.

I also find the fourth prediction listed above to be very interesting, which states that 70% of collaboration and communications applications designed on PCs will be modeled after lessons learned from smartphone applications within five years.  The move from computers to smartphones for an incredibly wide variety of tasks is already happening so quickly since the iPhone hit the market.  The 70% prediction doesn’t surprise me at all.  I wonder how many businesses are prepared for that shift?  If it’s not already on your radar screen, it should be.

emarketer_social_networks_policiesGartner also predicts that companies will become more open to employees using both business and personal social networks for business purposes, but with that change in policy will come the need for companies to create specific guidelines for use.  According to a study by Manpower (via eMarketer), only 20% of companies worldwide had formal policies for how employees could use social networking sites in 2009 (see the chart for a breakdown by region).

It’s amazing how quickly the social Web has caused the business landscape to change, and these predictions are just a small sampling of additional changes to come as more people and businesses around the world fully embrace the tools of social networking and collaboration.

What do you think of Gartner’s predictions?

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

Interesting information abou the future. I still think Fortune companies will continue to test social media with their marketing and brand managers.

A company will need a strategy to understand the ROI for social media and what metrics to measure for a success criteria. Firms will have to embrace and allow social media. The workforce that will replace the current baby boom generation has utilized technology their entire lives. For companies to retain talent they must offer the use of social media in the workplace.

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