Research out from Forrester has predicted that the overall UK spend on social media marketing will double over the next 5 years from just under €400m in 2012 to over €800m in 2017 (I hate it when they talk about UK figures but put the data into Euros! I wonder if that will be in the ‘pull out of Europe’ plan. Will we just shift to dollars?!).
The European question is an important one though. Privacy legislation is set to come into effect in 2016, which could cut overall spending by 15% across Europe.
Potentially some grave concerns there. The report also states that defining ROI will get more difficult as social networks mature.
Personally, as much as I respect Forrester, I think there are some glaring holes in this report.
1) it is forecasting behaviours and spend for activity over 5 years in an industry that is known for its volatility. Who could have forecast the spread of Pinterest for instance? YouTube was only created in 2005 and over its first 5 years transformed the way we share and view video irrevocably. They’ve taken a best guess and that’s all
2) it is based on the way we interact with social media networks now. This is going to change significantly over the next 5 years, with ‘old’ giants falling and new enterprises appearing
3) it focuses on UK and Europe spend but that is only where spend originates as social media is global, by it’s very essence. Emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, China and Africa will change the dynamics. Firstly, they already use different networks to those in Europe (Baidu for instance) and secondly they communicate differently. In the Far East, smartphones have been around a lot longer than they have in Europe. In Brazil and Russia you have huge wealth inequalities that mean that approach and usage of social media will be different. And that’s just touching the surface. I’ve not even mentioned culture or their own privacy rules.
So, granted, reports like this serve well to give companies some stats and figures to put forward to investors and shareholders, but they give a false overview and don’t address the most interesting aspects of the future of social media, such as community creations and the growth of social communication networks. I’d be more interested in numbers and demographics of usage, split by country. And how business can be done globally via a social media channel.