Social Media Is About Collaboration

Mike MacEachern    March 27, 2017

So what is the future for social media?  Well, it seems daunting to try to predict the future even more so if you consider the exponential growth of technological innovation so I am going to try to look at the year ahead.   In the article “5 Trends That Will Transform Social Media in 2017”  it is suggested that  66% of adults globally, log on to Facebook every day.  It is clear that social media use continues to advance and using it to advance your business is also critically important.   Other things to pay attention to:

  • Not only is social media usage continuing to increase it is doing so across all demographics.
  • Employees are going to increasingly be encouraged to share business updates.
  • People want real-time “real-time” updates. Increasingly there will be an expectation from consumers for even quicker responses to their inquiries.
  • Decisions will be increasingly driven by analytics.  Social analytic tools continue to get more powerful and can provide valuable information even to beginning users of social media.  On this point, it is important to reflect on the data that is driving decisions.  In the article”  Are We Mining Data Instead of Answering Questions”, it is suggested that the biggest challenge in the big data world is understanding that data analysis is not the same as answering questions.  There are nuances in social data that compliment pure data in understanding what the data is saying.  For example counting the number of likes of a particular post is interesting but if the individual responds with a like and also says “because there were easy to follow lessons” that provides added value.
  • Social video content is important and will only get more important going forward.


I would add to this list in that I think there is a lot more opportunity to use social media for collaboration particularly between businesses and between organizations.  Consumers want to have the full range of services available to them conveniently and are expecting organizations and businesses to be working together to provide that service to them.

In the article “From Social Networks to Collaboration Networks:  The Next Evolution of Social Media for Business”, the author argues that the biggest opportunity for Social Networks is the opportunity for collaboration.   These collaborative networks breed co-creation, and most importantly the culture of collaboration.  “The new generation of Millennials and Generation C  (connected, computerized and community oriented) have embraced the collaborative mindset as their own.”  That means the old way of doing business by staying inside your own four walls to solve your problems, develop products and services in isolation have been replaced by a more collaborative approach.  I would go further to suggest that the new collaborative consumer will demand that the businesses it deals with also adopt and demonstrate a collaborative culture.  The article goes on to suggest that companies that adopt this collaborative culture will enjoy a competitive advantage.


I am interested in what does the Future Development of social media mean to the small town business and how are they adapting to gain the obvious benefits of being able to use social media as a business tool.   This led me to speak to Lachlan McGurk who together with his wife Sharon own Berns Flowers and Gifts in beautiful downtown Alliston.   When speaking to Lachlan the first thing he said is that they went to a great deal of trouble making their physical store look great and to making it inviting.  He feels that the same attention and effort has to be placed on your on-line presence.  The first impression is always the most important.  Lachlan has a technology background and you can see that they have used that to make the on-line experience to new visitors very enjoyable.  They utilize a 360 view of their store to allow on-line customers to get familiar with what they have to offer.  Bern’s has focused its social media efforts on Facebook and YouTube with short animated films.   Lachlan described how they have been using different social advertising options that allow them to track uniquely the performance of the ad.  By matching the conversion rate of the ads to the overall sales data collected they can arrive at understanding the Return on the Investments they are making.  In this manner, their small business has already made progress towards what is a described in our course content for the Future of Social media as data integration.


So, when we discussed the future of social media it was not surprising that Lachlan said a key is data.  “There are mass amounts of data being generated today and the amount of data is only going to increase in the future as people utilize handheld devices and social media more and more.  Customer expectations are also changing and there is a need to be a partner with the customer in meeting their needs.”   Small businesses have the added challenge of limited resources so collaboration with other businesses will be a key to leveraging resources to respond to the customer.  It also should be noted that the new generation of consumer has grown up in a sharing culture and there is an expectation culturally that businesses adapt to this change.  Businesses will no longer be able to survive living within their own four walls and will need to work together to be successful.


He offered a couple examples as to how local small businesses are leveraging technology and social media to adapt to these changes.  Berns Flowers and Gifts has teamed up with Taylor’s Jewellers, The Gibson Centre for Community Arts and Culture, The Hair Gallery and Spa, and Steingard Studios to create a one-stop shop for those planning a wedding.  The collaboration established through technology and social media is “The Wedding Dream Team.”  An entity that exists by pooling the resources of several small businesses.  Each share in contributing the resources required to maintain The Wedding Dream Team and to promote it to their customers.  This collaborative approach is in its infancy but it definitely will be a part of the future of social media for small businesses where they need to pool their resources to be competitive and respond to the changing needs of their customers.  The customers of tomorrow have grown up in a culture of collaboration and they will be expecting it in the businesses they choose to do business with.


A future development that is currently progressing to implementation is a collaboration of all downtown businesses to gather high-level data about the visitors to the downtown core of Alliston.  They are currently, progressing to try to make visitors lives in downtown more enjoyable by providing access to free wifi services.  Lachlan indicated that “by gathering and analyzing already available data being generated from social media and smartphone use businesses will be able to design offerings and respond more granularly to customer needs.”  Of course, the visitor will have the ultimate control of the level of detail available because there is a respect for privacy, but there is already a lot of data currently being generated at a very high level  that will help businesses to be more successful.


As the focus of this blog has been on Future Development of social media many of the examples provided are ideas that are in their infancy or progressing to implementation.  It will be interesting to see the success of these projects.  It is also clear that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive in small town Ontario as businesses continue to look at new ways to work together to be successful in an ever-changing world.

Lessons for Others

  • Collecting and analyzing social data will be increasingly important.  Social data provides added value beyond pure data as it provides context to the data being analyzed.  This can help the organization understand the meaning of the data and respond to changing consumer needs.
  • Tools are becoming easier to use to allow people to analyze larger amounts of data.The key is to remember that there is a lot of data available but we should first understand the questions we are trying to answer.  Data analysis for a purpose.
  • Collaboration for businesses and organizations will be important as the new generation of consumer has been brought up in a sharing culture.  There is an increasing expectation that businesses will work together to meet the individual’s needs.
  • Social efforts require dedicated resources as the demand to analyze data gathered from social sources and to respond to inquiries will only increase.  This information will continue to increase in importance for responding to consumer needs.

Organization: Bern's Flowers and Gifts
Industry: Retail
Name of Organization Contact: Lachlan McGurk

Authored by: Mike MacEachern

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Moore, K. (2011, Sept. 11) From Social Networks to Collaboration Networks: The Next Evolution of Social Media for Business, Forbes, Retrieved from

Grace, N. (2016, Sept. 9) 5 Trends That Will Transform Social Media in 2017, social media explorer, Retrieved from

Leetaru, K. (2016, Mar. 19) Are We Mining Data Instead of Answering Questions, Forbes, Retrieved from

Bern’s Flowers, Bern’s Flowers (2016, Dec. 1)Seasons Greetings(Video File) Retrieved from: