Users seem to be outgrowing Facebook, a trend that is being helped along by the increasing popularity of numerous other social platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and as of very recently, Pokémon Go. But while Facebook has been the 900lb gorilla in the social media world for a long time, it has always had to share space with the likes of LinkedIn, Tumblr, and others that did one or two things better than Facebook could.
The future of networking platforms may be evolving still further according to entrepreneur and CEO of Intelliber, J Ranjan. He asserts that while users are grasping around looking for platforms that fit their needs, the companies that pay for ads on those platforms are looking for something better, too.
“Marketers live and die on the quality of the data they have access to and how effectively it can be utilized,” says Ranjan. “Gartner recently highlighted this issue, acknowledging that there is no data standard for tracking people across so many different networks, search engines, and video sites.”
That is why Ranjan believes the future of networking platforms will emphasize function in niche areas, like job searches, classified ads, user reviews, etc. If you want to post kitten pictures, pick any one of the dozens of competing social media networks out there. But if you want an app that can be a value add in all of the functional aspects of your life, you are presently torn between a litany of partial solutions.
I spoke with Ranjan about the rise of functional networking platforms and how this could impact the world of marketing.
Q: How can we tell if consumers are ready for a new age of comprehensive networking platforms?
Ranjan: Marketers are moving towards more comprehensive media strategies that reach consumers in any field and any location. That is becoming harder and harder as consumers are fragmenting across different networks leaving marketers chasing them and trying to learn how to communicate in the new medium. According to Gartner, 68% of marketing professionals think there should be a better platform that has a comprehensive value add across numerous departments and domains. Commerce on social media has skyrocketed, which is both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is that aggregating analytics in real time across so many platforms is incredibly difficult. But the opportunity is that consolidating many of those social and professional networking functions into one platform would allow marketers to calibrate their efforts to a degree that is impossible today.
Q: What does a functional networking platform do differently?
Ranjan: A functional networking platform is smarter than others because most of the current platforms are based on just one or two aspects of a person’s social or professional life. The target market for a functional networking platform is different and is diversified across broader categories. They are more niche, curated, and cater to specific and important actions like job searches, consumer reviews, behavioral analytics, competition tracking, etc. Functional networking platforms are similar to software as a service (SaaS). In the case of our platform, Socialyk, we are charging users on the basis of what they require. Maybe they are hiring or need market research surveys. We are more analytical and as a result can monetize across emerging economies, which is something that is not being done well today.
Q: Can Facebook or LinkedIn adjust to become more comprehensive, or does the solution have to come from the ground up?
Ranjan: No, this is well beyond Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and the platform has to come from ground up. Consider social automation platform commun.it or a long form content platform like Medium. Users are more likely to jump onto platforms where they can track their results and RoI and not just end up aimlessly spending endless sums of money. None of these are SaaS focused and hardly supplement the productivity of businesses on a full-funnel basis. This creates the need for a curated socio–commercial SaaS and big data-focused productivity platforms that will analyze user behavior and interests to facilitate market segmentation and research. Socialyk serves that purpose and enables users through its factor-based approach.
Q: How was Socialyk first conceived?
Ranjan: As marketers and technologists, myself and my partner Ashish have worked in various roles in marketing and campaigns. In those roles, we realized that the success rate of these platforms were drastically different across developed and developing economies. We had to figure out why that was and how that underlying reason might influence the future of networking. Our breakthrough came in understanding the fact that most of the platforms are developed based on the requirements in developed companies and focus on singular aspects instead of holistic solutions. We realized that none of the existing platforms were full funnel and SaaS focused and so we came up with Socialyk.
Q: What does the future of digital networking look like?
Ranjan: The future is going to have a less organic reach and platforms will be more curated, analytics-driven, functionally sound, and will see a further rise of platforms which are niche and cater to critical requirements like jobs, competitive advantages, and real time business opportunities for users.