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Why you must invest to keep your digital environment compatible with the social media heavyweights

21 May 2015 | 10:43 am

Social Media Evolution - TechnologySocial Media is no longer the new kid on the block! As LinkedIn celebrates it’s 12th birthday and Twitter edges closer to giving us a decade of tweets – it’s hardly surprising that as they come of age, they are evolving.

And perhaps just like our own kid, the one thing that we can say of our much loved and trusted platform friends is that they will keep on surprising us, if not ‘delighting’ us!

They have to! It’s not easy keeping us - the global audience of the world - that wants a fully functioning service, whilst being engaged, entertained, informed and connected 24/7. But we seem to forget one important point – someone has to pay to keep the technology living and breathing – and on the whole it has been the platform providers!

They have taken all the risk, sunk their money into the nuts and bolts of the technology and even been forced to embrace security feature like no other to defend against cyber terrorists, hackers and generally malicious element of the underworld that appear to have their hearts set on spoiling everyone’s fun whilst extracting our credit card details.

And they have been paying for many years. Just as we have been getting more and more used to the idea that they are going to be with us forever (or at least the next few decades) our marketing plans have become hooked on their services. Could any of us ever imagine a day now where our brand doesn’t have it’s own Facebook Fan page, a twitter account, a YouTube channel or you had to actually use that old CV you keep stored in your personal folders on your desktop?

So whilst evolution is a necessary part of keeping the wheels of social media spinning, perhaps some were not as ‘delighted’ with the announcement that Facebook, with over 1.4 Billion users currently worldwide, on April 30th would be retiring their very important Graph API v1.0. So important in fact that a number of app developers and businesses who were reliant on the API went out of business overnight!

And whilst actress Kirsten Dunst is probably not aware that she shares her birthday with such a monumental evolutionary change at Facebook, impacting on the developer and app community worldwide, and she may not have required any extra bolstering on her public Fan page in the form of a ‘Like’ Gate (which belong to the archives too) – she may just have noticed that on her smart phone a few of her much loved downloaded apps just don’t work the same!

Much the same, as we in business are probably starting to feel a pinch of reality kicking in. That reality we are not able to control these platforms – they are not a supplier we can tell off when they inconvenience us, they are just like the shop keeper in the sweetie shop that you visited as a child – they have the product and the power.

These channels form the backbone of our communications & digital strategies, our websites and our customer service operations! When they change the rule book it has a big impact on us. So we must keep evolving ourselves, investing in our digital approaches, to stay in with a chance of remaining compatible with them.

So what does this mean to your business? Well you may have noticed that your website isn’t connecting to Facebook like it should, that your ability to login using Facebook has become problematic or worse - that bespoke company app that you had someone build for you only last year has become obsolete!

And the change isn’t all about Facebook login, some key features are also changing with Facebook Events becoming unavailable through third party apps following the API closure in recent weeks.

The other major platforms have also experienced and driven evolution of their own. Take the older brother of the platforms – LinkedIn.

Launched in 2003, LinkedIn has over 364M users worldwide and has fundamentally transformed how professionals not only do business together, but initiated a whole new industry of third party products and service across the recruitment arena.

But whilst Facebook have used ‘security’ as the rationale for their recent roll out of change, LinkedIn has in contrast, changed its developer programme explaining that the move is to safeguard ‘quality’.

The relatively new kid is Twitter. It has been around just 9 years and set the world alight with #hashtags and retweets, and hyperlinks worldwide. Twitter boasts over 300 million active users and if you were in from the start you will have experienced considerable change on the platform.

Twitter are very good at encouraging innovation and occasionally take the best ideas and integrate into their platform – just think URL shorteners and picture uploads which weren’t as accessible just a few years ago.

So no matter which platform your digital strategy is reliant on, the one thing to rely on is that you will have to keep investing to keep your technology compatible. And perhaps it is wise to think when budgeting for marketing communications or your next website investment, about how you can keep your own infrastructure compatible with the evolution of the social media channels.

Because one thing is for sure the ostrich head in the sand will not succeed in the digital landscape.

CrowdControlHQ is the UK’s leading social media risk management & compliance platform built for enterprise.

Michelle Leavesley

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