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Is it time to ditch the term 'Social Media'?

'Social business' is now the new norm as brands focus on integrating social into the overall marketing mix, says Jeremy Waite of Adobe.

Last week marked an important shift in the social media industry. In fact, it was less 'Social Media Week' as many were expecting, but more 'Social Business Week' – a strong theme I saw running through the agency work we had the privilege to judge for The Drum’s Social Buzz Awards.

In previous years brands have been focusing solely on Twitter and Facebook, with a few inevitable nods to whatever other platforms happened to be on trend. But in 2013 it’s not just a conversation about a particular channel or a platform – it’s also about where social fits in above-the-line spend.

There is still some way to go, with many people still talking about social in a very traditional ‘content pushing’ sense. However, the more we encourage brands to stop thinking about social media in silos, the greater impact we will see it having on businesses.

Three things seem to have contributed to this shift:

1. The best campaigns use more than one platform

In the past, one platform seemed to be enough for brands to create a great social campaign. But this year the best social brands are telling us about fully integrated campaigns across multiple platforms at the same time. And more and more, brands are looking to data sources to get the facts on what their audiences want to see – and on which platform. Using historic data, brands are more likely to share content that will get good engagement, instead of second guessing.

2. Social media professionals have realised the importance of ROI

ROI should always mean “Return on Investment” and never Return on Impressions, Influence or Interactions, as some marketers try to convince their CIOs. In fact, one individual at SMW went as far as to suggest that we should be talking about Return on Relationship, but thankfully that argument was swiftly dismissed! In 2013 social media professionals are realising the need to prove their worth and that using soft language like this makes it seem like a soft profession and devalues the impact social can have on business results.

3. Big digital agencies have caught up with “social media” agencies

Big agencies have been working across print, online and broadcast media for years, and now social has been bought into that mix by the most successful brands, and they are the ones leading the way. Not only is it great to see marketing and non-marketing teams working together, but it shows a trend towards more brand budgets being re-allocated from TV and press into social programmes. And talk of metrics measuring advertising recall and brand preference alongside engagement metrics and sales figures seems like a great step forwards for our industry.

It is perhaps this last observation which makes it really feel like social media has evolved into social business this year. No longer pushing out content to an audience (like traditional media such as print or TV), social is driving more two-way conversations that are now consistently being proven to add real value to a business.

Jeremy Waite is head of social strategy at Adobe EMEA