If you’re like most people, you probably turn to Google when you have a social media question.
And if you’re like me, you probably try to find recently published articles and blog posts to look for your answer.
Because the social media landscape changes at lightning pace!
What works today might not work tomorrow.
So naturally, you want to find the most recent, relevant information.
But this lightning pace of change is frustrating.
It can make you feel like you just can’t keep up with times, that your information is always out of date, or that you need to constantly monitor the news.
Instead of writing a post that’s relevant today and out-of-date tomorrow, this article is about timeless principles you can apply to social media and business in general for decades to come.
1. Know the trends
James Altucher and Kevin Kelly are the two people I look to for understanding future trends.
Altucher is an entrepreneur, blogger, and finance and cryptocurrency expert.
He correctly predicted the emergence of a smart toilet and Facebook’s billion dollar valuation a decade before it happened.
Kevin Kelly co-founded Wired Magazine and has been reporting about and (correctly) predicting the future of tech since the emergence of the internet in 1993. (source)
Here are nine trends from these futurists that I believe are critical for the web entrepreneur’s success in the next 30 years:
- Deflation – The price of goods will diminish, the price of information and experiences will increase.
- Chemistry – Chemistry, not technology is the bottleneck in many fields.
- Employee-Free Society – Fewer and fewer will be employees, and more and more will be entrepreneurs and freelancers.
- Cognifying – Artificial Intelligence will be added to everything.
- Flowing – The massive increase in web content will result in everything organized into content flows or news feeds (with AI determining what’s at the top).
- Screening – Screens will appear in more and more places, and custom content will need to be created for all those screens.
- Accessing – People will care less about ownership and more about on-demand access for goods and services whenever and wherever they are.
- Sharing – Everyone will share everything online all the time.
- Filtering – “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” We will rely on like-minded influencers and AI to filter the unending flow of web content according to our tastes.
Want to know more about these trends?
Check out this post where I take a deep dive into the trends and how you can profit from them.
2. Respect the Platform
You don’t go to Starbucks and order a burger and fries, do you?
You’ve probably been to Starbucks, and you know what they do there.
You know they serve coffee and small breakfast items.
You know they have free WiFi.
And it’s the sort of place where people get their coffee drink and work on their laptop for hours.
So you know what to do there, what’s acceptable, what to order, etc.
Social media is no different.
What works on Pinterest doesn’t work on Twitter.
In other words, you need to create custom content for each platform.
Usually, this just means repurposing your content.
But sometimes it means creating new content from scratch to match that platform.
Of course, the tools to create this content will come and go.
But today, you can use Canva, a free and easy-to-use web app that helps you design beautiful images for all platforms.
Canva comes with plenty of templates in ideal dimensions for each platform to make your content creation quick and simple.
3. Follow people’s attention
Social media mogul Gary Vaynerchuk calls attention the currency of business.
With Americans spending 11+ hours a day in front of a screen, you can bet that whoever has their attention is making money from it.
So where does your target audience focus their attention?
Do they prefer being reached by email?
Are they on Snapchat?
Do they have any forums in which they participate or that they manage?
Do they have active Facebook groups?
These are the sorts of questions the internet entrepreneur should ask himself.
The web entrepreneur’s goal is to get his content in front of the people it’s designed to help.
Of course, your audience’s attention will shift with the times.
But you can track social media demographics to make sure you’re investing the most time in the platform where your audience focuses its attention.
For instance, if you target men with your product or service, Pinterest probably isn’t the best place to focus your social efforts because its users are mainly female.
4. Gather and Act on Data
According to the original growth-hacker, Sean Ellis, data is critical to growing your business.
The good news is, in the 21st century we can capture an unbelievable amount of data.
If you can use this data to drive your business decisions, you can improve the odds of your success.
I look forward to the data-gathering tools of the future.
But today, I recommend using Google Analytics to track website data and Mail Chimp to send emails and track email data.
Google Analytics is free, and Mail Chimp is great for the bootstrapping entrepreneur because it’s free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers.
You can also keep up with Rob Sober’s $0 data-gathering marketing stack here.
5. Leverage the influence of others
Every platform has ways to leverage the influence of others
- On Twitter, you can start conversations with other influencers and potentially get them to retweet you.
- On Pinterest, you can join group boards
- On Facebook and Instagram, you can exchange or buy shout-outs from larger accounts
- And on YouTube, you can do guest appearances on channels with larger followings.
The means and methods of leveraging influencers on social will change with the platforms and the times.
But if you can consistently figure out how to connect with influencers in a genuine and non-spammy way such that they promote your content, you should be able to increase your social growth rapidly.
6. Remember success is (and always will be) about relationships
On the web, it’s easy to forget that there’s a human being on the other end of that internet connection pulling out their wallet and buying what you’re selling.
The more you can humanize and personalize this transaction the more likely you will succeed for the long haul.
How do you do this?
You must establish real relationships with your customers and other influencers in your niche.
Email marketing is a great way to have your audience get to know you (and for you to get to know them).
And interacting with other influencers’ content helps you establish relationships with them.
This might mean commenting on their blog posts or YouTube videos.
Or it could mean sending them a thank-you email for posting great stuff.
Whatever it is, remember that no matter what happens in the foreseeable future, (human) relationships will be very important in every aspect of life.
As my marketing professor at USC told me once:
“If you prioritize money above all else, you’ll get nothing.
If you prioritize relationships above all else, you’ll get money and relationships.”
What business trends do you think are critical to the web entrepreneur’s success in the future?
I’d love to hear about them in the comments.