Whilst most people are concerned with social media engagement, it's actually content that makes the social media world go round. The numbers speak for themselves: 1 million links shared on Facebook every twenty minutes, 40 million photos uploaded to Instagram a day and 175 million tweets sent from Twitter every day. In our hyper-connected world, there's no doubt that social networking sites are firmly embedded in our personal lives. With 82% of adults online accessing them, it's clearly having an impact on the way we interact at home but what about in the office?
Prof Sir John Beddington's recent report has gone as far as to suggest that those who aren't on social networks will be marginalised from society. Whilst I certainly hope that's not the case, there's no doubt that they make it easier to organise our social lives. In fact, recent research from the University of Birmingham has shown that when social media access was analysed on their mobiles, it could pinpoint a person's location 24 hours in advance. And the launch of Facebook Graph enables us to search for friends based on the likes and recommendations they share.
Facebook has provided us with a platform to share and discuss content, whether it's photos or web links, and it's been hugely successful. It now deals with around 2.5 billion items of content shared every day, building a strong foundation for its global network. Savvy new social networks like Keek are following this example; providing services built around content. Even the social media goliath Twitter has jumped on the content bandwagon, launching its own content hosting app with Vine.
But surprisingly, despite being such prolific sharers of content in our personal lives, business social media platforms have been relatively slow to take off. Why is this? Well whilst there are a number of business social media platforms available, many just aren't integrated with business content. There's no point having social media functionality just for the sake of it, otherwise everyone just ends up talking about work rather than getting it done. Like Elvis Presley, business owners are desperate for "a little less conversation, a little more action please".
Business social media platforms need to take a lead from successful consumer platforms and build social media functionality around content from the start. There's no place for standalone social software anymore. It just provides a fire hose of information that no one has time to filter. By embedding social media from the beginning, it provides a platform to concentrate discussions. We are all familiar with commenting on friends photos and status updates on Facebook, but what about commenting on the latest draft of a report, or suggesting additions to a proposal.
Working like this enables us to streamline our communications far more effectively that using email. Recent research has shown that the use of email has already started to decline as we welcome more innovative communications tools into our offices. In the next year standalone social software is going to die. We can't afford to waste time on tools that don't do the job. Our tablets and smartphones have been easily integrated into the work place because they provide all in one solutions. Business software needs to do the same thing. It's not about following everything single online comment; it's about having conversations around the appropriate content so we can work together and get things done quicker.