Social Media is Sunsetting. Or Is It? part 2

Social Media has seen its sunrise, mid-day glory and is now sun-setting. Or is it?  Find out what that question means and what these experts think.

Sunset through the Willows.

As I wandered the HubSpot Inbound 2012 Sponsorship Pavilion I started chatting with Peter Kim and Ann Handley at the Wiley Publisher table.

We reminisced about the early days of Social Media (Twitter etc.) in Boston (a whopping 5 years ago) and marveled at how many of our friends had become well-known authors and speakers.

The conversation soon focused on how Social Media is being absorbed by Marketing, PR, SEO, Content Strategy, Customer Support and other established disciplines. Peter was pretty certain about this and I agreed.

Later I wondered whether there was any consensus across these disciplines so I asked a few folks that were at the conference, or maybe wish they were and some that weren’t to offer their thoughts. Here is what they were asked, minus the gracious introduction. 😉

The proposition is that Social Media is sun-setting. It is less and less of an individual entity each day as it gets absorbed into traditional Marketing, PR, SEO, Content Strategy, Customer Support and other established disciplines.

There are two questions.

1)      Could you explain why you agree or disagree?
2)      How would you describe what might be next? What’s the next big thing?

Below are responses from experienced professionals involved with content writing and strategy, SEO, PR, Video, Marketing and others. I love how each has their own relevant experience and perspective that really helps to redefine the question  and offer a range of answers. Social Media is not going away in totality. It is becoming another tool in the toolbox of marketing and other disciplines. That’s my view.


Ann Handley
Marketing Profs
Chief Content Officer
I don’t disagree with the notion that social media is increasingly part of a company’s marketing and customer support, and not a separate entity. That said, I have 3 comments:


Who is this Wrangler
Now who is the wrangler? Ann Handley’s boots lakeside.

1. I think there’s a huge gap between the socially-savvy businesses and socially-savvy-nots. Many of the nation’s largest companies have embraced social to some degree: …but I talk to a lot of smaller businesses who are still trying to grasp how to truly manage and engage in social. (A lot of them were in attendance at Hubspot last week, in fact.) They’ll get there… but they are only now noticing the sunrise, to continue Peter’s analogy.

2. Even among those who have embraced content and social tools, many still don’t truly use them effectively. Research from MarketingProfs shows that B2B marketers still struggling with creating engaging stuff: (See the “challenges” chart therein.)

3. The use of the word “sunset” as applies to social media feels pejorative to me, because it implies (to me) that something is over, final, dead. Lights out. Rather, I’d say its maturing. If it was a sun, it would be high in the sky — something that’s very much there — just not quite so awe-inspiring anymore… because it just is.


Jim Spencer
President and Chief Wrangler
Whether you need to move 10 posts or over 320,000 posts we will make sure that you site is successfully moved into your new host or CMS. In addition we help clients with design, social media and search marketing and paid search marketing services.

Is Social Media sun-setting? Of course it is. We have seen it’s hay day and like every other new media form that has come along it will also become another tool in the tool box of marketers and related fields.

Let’s look back to the mid 1800’s and consider the field of journalism. A few of our prominent (and surviving) newspapers were starting up. Think of the New York Times, for example.  Technological change brought the radio that delivered news with speed.  In 1923 Time magazine and other national weekly magazines followed.

By the 1930’s news was available from newspapers, magazines, radio and even newsreels in the movie theater.  Twenty years later, in the 1950’s, television arrived. We then see the rise of network television, cable television and then the Internet. Each form of media competed for audience and advertising revenue.

Brain Halligan talking with Jim Spencer

In their time, each was the “next big thing”.  The point is not that Social Media is Journalism. The point is that new forms of communication often come on the scene with a splash and then find their level. Or, as the newsreel, disappear entirely.

Social Media is finding its level. It is no longer the “big thing”.  It may not have reached a saturation point. Some may even argue that it is not widely adopted, despite Facebook having around a billion accounts. But it is evolving and finding its niche’s in non-profits, education, in business and in charity work.

Social Media is one of the many tools available. Social Media is joining the constellation of communication resources available. That is pretty cool.



Mike Wise
WebWisedom LLC
Consulting to the insurance industry on Social Tech with an emphasis on Sales and Marketing; frequent conference speaker; author; facilitator of Social Tech Boot Camps.


I agree that the term Social is sunsetting, albeit slowly, as it should. The term “Social” will likely see the same treatment as “e” and “dot com” did back in the early days of the Web. “Social” this and “Social” that is quickly becoming assumed. So if you create media in 2013 and beyond, it will be redundant and somewhat ‘old news’ to say Social Media. The same with Networks, Relevancy, Business, the Enterprise, and so on.

What’s next? Certainly the mobile evolution is in its infancy circa 2012. So there is plenty of room for adoption, creativity, and expansion in the mobile space. But I see mobile more as simply another screen versus a different concept altogether. Perhaps the next major milestone will be the electronic integration of the human mind with technology and devices. This seems to have the greatest potential for taking the human race on the next giant leap forward, hopefully for the betterment of all mankind.

My question for the audience is this: Why is it critically important for executives and senior leadership to master Social Tech in 2012 and ’13? Will it be necessary to be a Social Tech ninja in order to effectively participate in whatever is next?



Rob Ciampa
VP Sales and Marketing
With its powerful, cloud-based online video marketing software and consulting expertise, Pixability helps organizations drive more business and increase awareness with online video. Pixability is a video marketing company that helps organizations get the right video in front of the right audience to trigger the right action.

Hype aside, social media for businesses has never lived up to its potential. Why? Because many traditional marketers failed to effectively embrace not only social media, but also the underlying community it represented. Even worse, they abdicated social media accountability to people or agencies that lacked the “organizational context,” a true understanding of what the company does for its customers. The result was often a one-way dialogue, with limited substance that failed to energize the base of vocal customers and industry spokespeople.

Social media is far from dead, but it must be amplified with compelling, visual content. That’s why online video so nicely fits the bill. In fact, most people consider YouTube a video hosting platform when in actuality it’s the ultimate social media platform. Nothing will engage an audience deeper and develop a community faster than video. Skeptical? A video is ten times more likely to elicit a response than a blog post. Like they unfortunately did with social media, many traditional marketers are not fully embracing video, the most powerful communication vehicle there is.

Additional ref:


What do you think social media is doing? What’s next? Share in the comments below.

This is the second in a series. Subscribe by email or RSS so you are sure to get the next post in the series.

Read the first post in the Social Media is Sun-setting. Or Is It? series.

Read part 3 –

All photos by Jim Spencer, except as noted.

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7 thoughts on “Social Media is Sunsetting. Or Is It? part 2

  1. Great insights – though I think these insights may actually be as sun-setting as “social” is. I think everyone’s seen this evolution. SM’s been attacked for its lack of ROI for at least the last year. That’s the driving force behind this evolutionary shift that social’s going through right now. It’s maturing… it needs bigger shoes. It’s still the most powerful marketing tool for just about any business today. Unfortunately, as someone points out in the interviews, most small business owners are still trying to figure out how to connect their Twitter and Facebook accounts!

  2. Sorry but this makes no sense to me. Social media is a way of communicating, real time, many-to-many, primarily but not exclusively crowd sources. It is different from broadcast (television) and from print publication and from one-to-one media like the telephone.

    Marketing, PR etc relate to the “what” of communication not the “how” and it is no surprise that they now use social media.

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