The term social hub is used for central applications that bring together and integrate activities from different social media channels. A social hub can be, for example, a widget on a website which shows the number of follows on twitter, and fans on facebook or Google Plus, thus making the company’s reputation on social media more visible.
Another, more useful possibility of a social hub is the integration of user activities in the form of tweets, commentaries and mention of hashtags, in order to shift the company communications to social media and therefore improve customer service and make management of social media activities easier.
The reason for the introduction of social hubs is essentially due to the variety activities on social networks such as facebook, google plus, video platforms or twitter, as well as the fact that these activities are spread across many platforms. This scattering across different platforms is a disadvantage for companies who use social media, particularly for big companies that are active globally. This is because managing different social media channels requires resources, and it is more difficult for a company to react quickly to interactions from customers.
Social Hubs offer a solution to this problem in that they offer a central point over which all social media interactions can run. This applies to the user page of followers, fans and subscribers as well as for the social media manager in a company. From a hub, users see how engaged a company is in social media and by using a hub, social media managers can react quickly to interaction from users and thus improve customer service. Whether a company can use social media as the main point of customer loyalty is dependent on how quickly the company can react to customers on social media.
Social Hubs are used in many areas and have a variety of aims.
Social Hubs centralize the many interactions from different channels for private users. Social hubs are often used on smartphones – users therefore see not only the newest content, but they can use the respective message-service (e.g. Whatsapp or Threema), to react with friends and acquaintances. Almost all mobile phone providers offer their own social hubs on their respective devices (e.g. android, windows, iphone), which are already connected to the main social channels. Other custom-built Apps are also available for this purpose.
Social Hubs are also used commercially. If a company has contact with thousands of users on different social media platforms, the company will want other users to know about it. As integration of Facebook is only possible with small buttons, and it is not possible to see any content, social hubs are a solution. They unify many platforms, and the important content and contacts that show a potential customer that a company is particularly active and open with its users is visible. In this way, social hubs play an important role as a trust factor, because potential customers often equate a company’s interaction on social media with high quality customer service.
A further possible use of social hubs is for events and exhibitions in which lots of people participate. A social hub can be set up for a particular event in order to show all tweets, facebook-posts and Instagram-photos to do with the event. This can be done either with a special application, which would be programmed especially for the event, or using hashtags on particular platforms. However, the latter technically is not a social hub, but is rather a linking of content to a certain theme, connected through using hashtag.
To what extent a social hub impacts search engine optimization is still unclear. It can be assumed that search engines either can’t interpret these applications, or that they value social media as a positive signal. There are two likely reasons that would back up the latter point: on the one hand, social media data is exported through widgets, which come either directly from the provider of the platform or are programmed by a third party. Therefore, no code is used which the search engines can’t pick out. On the other hand, the evaluation of social media as a positive signal makes sense considering that social signals are an important ranking factor, or will be in the future. With the activity stream feed, Google provides a sort of social hub, which is connected via the WebSub protocol.