Is Social Media Future Proof? Here's the Verdict! |

Is Social Media Future Proof? Here's the Verdict!


By Kevin Gibbons / June 24, 2009

Thanks to everyone who took part in our is social media future proof online poll, we received a great response and the results are now in!

We have published all results below, along with any comments and our own conclusions for each question. If you are reading this in an RSS reader or email please click through to view online.

Question 1) Which social media website is most likely to still be around in 2020?


  • NikkiPilkington: No reason why they won’t all still be around, just hopefully in advanced forms.
  • Zigmas: I suppose that the most professional social networks will live.
  • heidiboesdal: I don’t think any of these will be around in 2020
  • maverickny: I don’t think any of them will be around as a force. Most online trends last 5 yrs or so – look at Usenet, AOL and Yahoo as examples.

So what does this tell us?

Well firstly this predicts that Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn are the most likely social media websites to still be around in 2020. Based on this Twitter and Flickr still have a reasonably good chance of still being around too, while Digg only received one vote and no-one voted for MySpace. This was shortly followed by MySpace’s announcement to cut staff by a third, they should read SEOptimise – we saw it coming! :)

Question 2) In 2020 will social media be more important than search as a marketing channel?


  • Tad Chef: There is no answer to this question. By 2020 search and social will be one. You won’t even talk about social search. Search will always be social and this will be self-evident. People won’t understand that there was a time where search was solely determined by bots and not the wisdom of crowds.
  • John I voted for NO – because its still 11 years away and at the speed the net is evolving – there will be new methods, platforms for online marketing. Not very long ago – e-mail marketing was hot – but now its a thing of almost history. So is social media today – the hottest technique. But there will be newer platforms in the next few years time.
  • NikkiPilkington: It will be ‘differently important’ as it’s more about developing and keeping relationships alive.

So what does this tell us?

This poll had a mixed response, but it strongly suggests that social media does, and will continue to, play a major role as a marketing channel. Many people suggested by 2020 that search and social media may have merged, this could well be true and Twitter already appears to be heading in this direction by crawling links left in tweets and indexing external URLs. Although there’s certainly a lot of work which needs to be done to achieve this and become a major competitor to Google, it may take until 2020 to grab a significant slice of search market share!

Question 3) Which channels do you expect to deliver most new business leads in 2010?


  • NikkiPilkington: Search Marketing & Social Media will generate the most, but different types of leads with different needs I think

So what does this tell us?

The third question delivered a very interesting response, with search marketing overwhelmingly expected to deliver the most leads in 2010. Plus social media was still almost twice as popular as traditional marketing which received just 14% of votes. I would agree with these results, the quality of targeted traffic from the search engines makes this incredibly valuable in terms of converting into online sales and social media has become a very powerful tool in terms of indirectly advertising a site via quality content in order to build brand awareness and generate future sales.

Question 4) What are the main goals of your social media marketing campaigns?


  • WebTalentSEO: brand awareness/traffic generation for me
  • Carl: Gaining new customers
  • NikkiPilkington: All of the above :)

So what does this tell us?

Question four asked what are your main goals in a social media campaign? In many cases there are likely to be several of these goals at the same time, but the results showed that the most popular objective is to build brand awareness/generate traffic and to build/manage relationships. Again I would agree with this outcome, the main goal of a social media campaign in my experience is rarely direct sales. The real value is in building brand awareness and a well-respected reputation. When connecting with an industry online, perhaps using Twitter, it’s important that you contribute and interact with users to manage and build the relationships you’ve built. Another goal could be from an SEO perspecive, in an attempt to target bloggers, media or key influencers via linkbait.

Question 5) By 2020 will social media networking replace email use?


  • Ben Werdmuller: This might very well happen, but the chances of social media looking the same as it does now are nil (whereas email’s been around for decades and isn’t likely to change much).
  • Tad Chef: Email is dead already for a few years. Younger people don’t even bother unless they have to, they prefer IM etc.
  • MDiesel: Email “dead”? Not a chance. They said that about snail mail and as far as I see, snail mail still has its place. Businesses rely heavily on email to email docs, images, invoices, etc. No business is going to transfer their classified document on FB, LinkedIn, etc. And a lot of businesses still prefer face to face communication and phone use. For personal use, maybe social media will be the primary method of transferring messages but this is a separate world that is very small compared to non-personal use. BTW, email started in the business world decades before it hit the personal world.
  • Rich Kirk: I think Google Wave & derivatives/impersonators will replace email gradually due to its superb functionality for project management and through the ways in which it will incorporate elements of IM and social networking through apps etc. Nothing will kill email, however, we’ll just see the continuing divergence of communications channels, and a waning in the dominance of particular channels. I think we’ve already started to see this.

So what does this tell us?

Finally, will social media replace email? Social media is now taking a larger percentage of internet usage than email, but the response is still very mixed here. 46% think email will be replaced, but 54% think it will still be around in 2020. I would agree with Tad’s comment that the younger generation are more likely to use instant messaging, Facebook wall/message posts, Twitter etc and I would expect email to be less frequently used in the future. But I’m not so sure if email could ever be completely replaced. Professionally I think it would be very difficult to communicate with clients online without the use of email, but it will be very interesting to see how the launch of Google Wave affects this.

Thanks again to everyone who took part and please feel free to leave your own thoughts and conclusions in the comments below.

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