Focus outbeats scutter: present and future of social media

Helge Ruff has been focusing on social media for eight years now. His special agency One Two Social serves clients including KFC, Süddeutsche Zeitung, MAN and Oddset. We spoke with him about the present and future of social networks.


DMEXCO: Ten years ago social media was the hot shit and five years ago euphoria knew no bounds. Where does social media stand today?

Helge Ruff: Social media has now become the standard communication channel and is part of people’s everyday lives. It is comparable to the advent of the Internet. In the beginning everyone was talking about euphoria and “new territory”, but now this medium is used entirely as a matter of course. Social media is increasingly replacing traditional media like TV. Especially for the younger target group up to age 35, the platforms are often the most frequently used communication and information channels.


DMEXCO: Does “the” social web actually exist, or has it long disintegrated into individual groups and filter bubbles?

Helge Ruff: A singular social web never actually existed. Even in the past it was not only about networking friends with each other. MySpace, for example, was designed to give people a platform to present themselves. Every single platform is subject to evolution and changes through user behavior. For example, because people are no longer as inclined to reveal as much of their private lives as they used to. Instead, they consume more. Or the shift of public communication towards likes and the increased use of messenger services. News feeds are used as a source of information and inspiration, which is why they are so interesting for companies. All this has an impact on the development of the platforms and they are constantly changing.


DMEXCO: At the recent at iCONSMr, Fabian Spielberger from warned against wanting to communicate on all possible platforms. Instead, brands should concentrate on the socials they can use intensively. Is he right?

Helge Ruff: That’s nothing new. We have always advised our customers to choose “focus over scatter” and “quality over quantity”. Just as it was 50 years ago, marketing should always first focus on the target group you want to reach. The choice of platforms is based on this. And then extremely high-quality and appropriate content is to be placed on the platform.


DMEXCO: Are there platforms you would advise your customers against?

Helge Ruff: That depends entirely on the customer. We advise our customers against any platform that is not appropriate for achieving the objectives and does not match the target group. However, I would not rule out any platform from the outset.


DMEXCO: Where do you see social media in five years?

Helge Ruff: That is a very difficult question! I think the current platforms will continue to exist in the future. Facebook has been pronounced dead umpteen times and if you were to ask around, you would find out that many of your acquaintances haven’t used Facebook for quite a while. However, the statistics show the opposite: continuing extremely intensive use.

New platforms will find it difficult to penetrate the market. After all, the current channels are already very deeply anchored in the users’ lives. The younger target group is particularly oriented towards influencers. However, since these influencers have put a lot of effort into extending their reach, they will not switch to new platforms very quickly, which makes market penetration much more difficult.


DMEXCO: What role do messenger platforms play?

Helge Ruff: I think messengers will gain a higher level of relevance. WeChat in Asia is providing quite a clear picture of the future. It’s no longer about text, but about extensive applications that make life easier for users. Payment systems will certainly become one of the major innovations. They offer companies entirely new opportunities to sell their products: buy flights, pay restaurant bills, send money to friends, etc. – all this can be done through just one application.