Social marketing is becoming a more mature discipline, there is no doubt about that. Social media spending as a percentage of marketing budgets will more than double over the next five years according to new findings from The CMO Survey. The B2C product sector, which includes companies such as Procter & Gamble and The Coca-Cola Company, expects the most dramatic increase, from 9.6 percent to 24.6 percent.
With more money comes deeper scrutiny of results. This influx of additional spending power for social marketing will require marketers to clearly set and monitor KPIs for delivering results. However, savvy marketers will need to look beyond just how they measure ROI, but how they actually influence ROI in the first place. The role of a marketer is to understand and implement the best framework of engagement for his or her company that will drive these results. For many brands this will involve deploying a more mature approach to social engagement, which will go beyond simply managing social media channels and conversations, to looking at how activation strategies can get a fan base to perform actions that drive measurable marketing results. I believe there is a fundamental difference between community management and community activation, and the best social marketing brands also understand this.
Working as the CEO of EngageSciences with global brands, retailers and media organizations, cumulatively having hundreds of millions of fans across 80 markets around the world, I have been lucky enough to clearly see emerging changes in social marketing strategy. I have distilled this into the 6 phases of social marketing maturity that categorise the journey and techniques brands employ. As a B2C business you will be in one or more of these core phases. The question is, are you still in the broad social media management category on the top row or have you progressed into employing effective activation strategies? To be competitive next year and to get results from social marketing, I believe brands need to be looking at activation frameworks, not just management tools. To continue the debate around this subject find me on Twitter @oldstriker
We’re now at the point in the evolution of social media marketing that most senior marketers understand that the acquisition of fan numbers is now a distracting and somewhat irrelevant objective. Instead social marketers are now looking at ways to engage their community, drive advocacy and achieve long-term loyalty from their customers.
“As opposed to trying to attract millions of eyeballs and monetize them with ads, branded social networks are less about profitability and more about creating loyal and engaged customers that will ultimately create revenue in more conventional ways.” Adam Ostrow, Editor in Chief at mashable.com
To date many of our customers have experienced fantastic success running a broad variety of campaigns through our social marketing activation platform. But today, the more socially savvy brands are starting to adopt new strategies that leverage the value of their advocates and achieve long-term commitment from their fan base.
MAKE YOUR ADVOCATES YOUR BEST MARKETERS
We have recently developed a new campaign type called Refer-a-Friend, where brands are able to drive commerce by rewarding their fans for recruiting and converting their friends to take part. But, this type of campaign mechanic can only be successful where brands are able to recognize and track of the behavior of individual fans and their referred friends.
In this example from Nokia, fans can open-up discounts on accessories by recruiting just one friend. If they recruit five friends, a new tier of rewards is made available. Finally, the most effective referrers are entered into a prize draw for a money can’t buy experience.
DRIVE LOYALTY ACROSS MULTIPLE CAMPAIGN TYPES
Taking engagement a step further, brands must find ways to encourage participation from their customers between commercial transactions, product usage and store visits. They can now do this by adopting multi-faceted loyalty programs to recruit new fans and provide a framework for long-term engagement.
By using a range of social campaign types, brands can use VIP clubs, ambassador programs, badges and tiered rewards to acknowledge the value of their active and influential fans and reward them with community recognition or even financial rewards.
After attaining a single Facebook permission from a fan, brands are able to deliver a loyalty program that runs across multiple campaigns. So, fans can take part in a combination of product reviews, unlocks, competitions and challenges to achieve rewards in the forms of points, badges, coupons or tiered rewards. And, continuity of engagement is achieved by enabling fans to participate in a single loyalty program that seamlessly works across Facebook, websites and mobile.
Developing a framework for social loyalty opens incredible possibilities for building a holistic view of the customer. This is especially the case for companies that run traditional loyalty card programs e.g. airlines, hospitality, convenience and the retail sectors.
With the addition of social loyalty data, these companies will be able to augment their view of the customer with a combination of real-world activities e.g. purchasing behavior, store visits, reward tiers, etc., combined with information gleaned from their social profile e.g. badges achieved, competitions entered, products reviewed, level of advocacy, number of referrals, etc.
This holistic view of an individual customer, made up from social and real-world activity provides a goldmine of data for brands to recognize these fans and develop ever-richer marketing campaigns that can segment their audience and tailor messaging on many more variables than previously possible.
So, if you currently run a loyalty program for your customers, why not take the opportunity to talk to us about developing a new social strand to your activities.
Facebook’s quarterly results announcement this week has given us an illuminating picture of the change in the way people access the site. Monthly active users are now at 1.1 billion, with 751 million users already accessing the site each month through smartphones and tablets, up 54% on last year. The company said the number of monthly users who logged on solely through mobile devices more than doubled to 189 million users from a year ago. This is a major shift and mobile is fast becoming the dominant method of connecting with the social network.
However, the shift has happened quickly and most companies that market to fans on social media have struggled to adapt. Many companies have been creating great apps to engage their fans, but their results have been hampered by an inability to address the needs of users connecting to campaigns through mobile. At EngageSciences we use SmartURLs and device detection to serve up a mobile view of these campaigns. Without this, mobile users are simply unable to connect to your custom apps. However, we are not the only company that serves their clients with this type of technology.
The complexity of the issue marketers face is in the detail. A lesser known fact is that, whilst these approaches allow mobile users to connect with your apps, people that are not fans when connecting through mobile are not required to become a fan to connect with your apps. Whilst desktop users can be provided with a ‘like gate’ prior to accessing the content, this has not been possible for mobile users. So whilst you might get engagement from mobile users with your campaign, you won’t be building your fan numbers and therefore these people won’t see your future posts. With the enormous numbers of people globally that have shifted to using mobile to access Facebook, this represents a significant problem for marketers. Until now.
We are pleased to announce that EngageSciences is the first company in the world to allow brands to create mobile like gates for their campaigns, with fully optimized apps, pages and loyalty programs for mobile users.
Contrary to the views of many industry pundits, Facebook didn’t launch the fabled mobile device. Instead it launched a Facebook “wrapper” that goes around Android (versions 4 and above) and brings the Facebook experience in front of your mobile app experience. It’s called Facebook Home and will be available from the 12th April. It will run on four current HTC & Samsung devices, with another two devices due to launch in conjunction with Facebook Home. Here’s the “official” launch trailer.
IS IT ANY GOOD AND WHAT DOES THE MARKET THINK?
Apparently, Facebook are looking to change the way people interact with their mobile devices and live their mobile lives. Where apps make sense for PCs and laptops, they must be subservient to the way that people use their phones. As Mark Zuckerberg pointed out during the announcement at Facebook’s campus, “You see your world through people, not apps. One of the most important things we do as people is stay connected to what’s going on in the world around us.” And, it does seem with Home that Facebook has come to the forefront of the Android experience, where updates from people are featured as full screen photos that fill your “Cover Feed” home screen. You’re also able to seamlessly communicate via “Chat Heads” through linked apps, rather than individual apps alerting you to new messages or updates.
It certainly makes commercial sense for Facebook to become more embedded on mobiles devices. According to their fourth quarter earnings, about 23% of the money it made through advertising came from adverts shown on smartphones. So having Facebook on users’ lock screen and home screen (in front of their apps), certainly paves the way for a wider variety of ads. And, these ads will be better targeted, because you’re less likely to log out of Facebook Home, it’s linked to more apps and Facebook will be able to capture more behavioural and locational data. Maybe there’s a longer play here for Facebook Premium, where users can pay $5.00 per month not to get ads (much like Spotify does, very effectively…)
Whilst Facebook executives state that advertising is not currently present on Facebook Home, you can guarantee they’ll have this on the short-term road map. Look at where they were 2 years ago with mobile advertising and where they are now. The markets clearly see the potential of Facebook being embedded into the mobile experience, the company’s stock price was up 3.24% at the time of writing this post.
IS THERE A DEMAND OUT THERE?
This is a big but, do people want really want Facebook to be a larger part of their mobile lifestyle? Or, do they want the freedom to dip in and out of different social and community apps? Will they be happy with the inevitable onslaught of targeted advertising? After all, who wants to see ads on their home screen?
Jan Dawson, senior telecoms analyst at Ovum, sums up the tension between what the users want and Facebook’s commercial objectives: ”That presents the biggest obstacle to success for this experiment: Facebook’s objectives and users’ are once again in conflict,” he stated. “Users don’t want more advertising or tracking, and Facebook wants to do more of both.”
HOW SHOULD BRANDS RESPOND?
There’s another big question, and this is one we’ll be scratching our heads about over the next few days. How will brands respond to Facebook Home? After all, Facebook’s users could shy away from liking a brand, knowing that branded content will appear on their home screens. Maybe they’re worried EdgeRank will be tweaked for Facebook Home to further prioritize friend updates over their branded updates. And, brands may feel more pressure to rely on targeted Facebook advertising as a means of reaching their audiences.
Our view however is that, as Facebook becomes more ingrained on mobiles, it’s more essential than ever that brands are developing an effective and well considered engagement and app strategy. And, the EngageSciences social marketing activation platform could be just the ticket.
If you’d like to discuss Facebook Home with us, please get in touch. Or if you have your own views on this new product launch, please comment on this post.
Customized Facebook apps provide unique opportunities for both marketers and fans. Currently, there are a lack of engaging applications on both artists’ and labels’ Facebook pages and most, if not all, of the apps are not tablet-accessible. With second screens becoming more popular than ever, it is crucial that all Facebook apps be accessible on all screens.
The music industry has readily available rich media, loyal fans, and interesting personalities. Music marketers are missing out on improving their marketing and social strategies by not including Facebook applications, and here is why.
DATA YOU CAN USE BEYOND SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
When Facebook fans enable applications, page admins have the opportunity to gather information about the user. There is also an opportunity to create a short survey before accessing a special deal or exclusive content. By finding out the location of your fan or what type of music they like best, marketers can follow up with a more personalized email marketing campaign. Fans expect authenticity and personalization, so gaining access to this specific data is key.
SHOW OFF YOUR ARTIST
Fans love seeing photos and watching videos, which is why Facebook apps are such a great opportunity. By creating a content hub through a Facebook application, not only will you be able to showcase this rich content but your fans are more likely to engage. Think about how many people go to YouTube to check out a new song. Imagine if you could keep fans on your Facebook page, where they could proceed to purchasing a song or merchandise.
GIVE YOUR FANS A REASON TO RETURN
Data still shows that Facebook is the most popular social network in the U.S. As many musicians have quickly adopted Twitter, many of their Facebook pages look as if they have been deserted. If marketing teams do not keep up with their Facebook pages, fans will be less likely to return. By providing fans with exclusive content hubs, including contests, they are more likely to visit your page more often and even make a purchase.
Brands and marketers are often intimidated by Facebook applications, since developing them can be challenging and costly. With the help of platforms such as EngageSciences, music marketers could have pre-built applications readily available. These applications are wide in variety and are capable of having multiple campaigns running at one time.
Applications will keep your Facebook presence fresh and more engaging for fans while offering rich data and the opportunity to drive sales. The implementation of applications into an artist’s Facebook presence can help marketers showcase their artist’s brand and deepen relationships with music lovers. Which is ultimately a win for fans, artists and marketers.
GUEST BLOGGER – NORA SNODDY
Nora Snoddy works as a social media professional in the tri-state area. Her blog, Tennessee Was A Guitar, focuses on music marketing strategy in addition to country music news and reviews. She believes that social media marketing can create unique opportunities for artists in every genre.
So, what was the next big thing at SXSW Interactive? Well, that’s what everybody was asking in the bars and at the convention center. Most people agree that unlike previous years, when the likes of FourSquare and Twitter were launched, there wasn’t one new technology that everybody was talking about. Yes, there were Google execs sporting the latest version of Google Glass that drew a lot of admiring glances from the crowds. But, not one big break through.
REWARDING SOCIAL ADVOCACY
That said, something caught our eyes that is a reflection of the importance of loyalty and advocacy for brands. Yappem rewards users for their advocacy, by giving them discounts for mentioning brands and products on social media. And, they are on to something. The truth is that fan acquisition is an outdated objective for social media marketing. Amongst forward thinking brands, loyalty and advocacy has now leap-frogged engagement as the ultimate goal.
Whilst Yappem is only available in the US at the moment, it’s a reflection that brands now understand the monetary value of a fan’s recommendations on social networks. We can certainly support this view, with Social Hub seeing an average 300% increase on time spent on the page by fans, a 300% increase in conversions on calls to actions on the page and a 30% increase in fans exploring the rest of the website.
To reflect changing objectives for social strategy, we are launching badging, loyalty and social VIP programs that reward brand advocacy across our customers’ most valuable segments of fans. In addition, refer-a-friend programs are being built into the platform that incentivize and reward fans that successfully get referrals from their friends.
Whilst there are a number of companies that offer badging and loyalty programs, these tactics are useless over the long-term if you can’t link them directly to an audience database that tracks the lifetime activity of individual fans across multiple social touch-points. This is why we’re getting a huge amount of interest from brands looking for loyalty frameworks that are a core part of our social marketing activation platform.
SXSW is the place where interactive and marketing professionals all meet-up in Austin, TX to find out about the “next new thing”, network and party. Yes, there are a few sore heads in the mornings, but the caliber of people, the brands and the new technologies keep you fresh and ready for more.
During SXSW Interactive we teamed-up with two other successful British exports, Brandwatch and Econsultancy, to hit the festival in style on board our SXSWRedBus. Guests were invited to network, drink Pimms, see the sights of Austin and listen to some thumping tunes. Everybody was kept up to date on SXSW trends, the bus route and pick-ups via the #SXSWRedBus hashtag.
Attendees at SXSW and those unfortunate enough not to make it to Austin could keep up to date with SXSW Interactive via some impressive data visualizations provided by Brandwatch and social content aggregated and published via the EngageSciences Social Hub. Thanks to Econsultancy for providing some outstanding content and hosting the page.
We also sponsored the SoDA Speaks Happy Hour at the Dogwood on the Monday evening. It was a prefect way to spend some time with our customers and partners. Check out this video from Brandwatch for a taste of that event and some footage from the SXSWRedBus.
THE SPOTIFY HOUSE
SXSW also provided the opportunity for us to hang-out at the Spotify House, listen to some tunes, relax with some beers and kick-back with our favorite customers. Certainly the best environment for a meeting we’ve had in a long time and beat the Arctic conditions in New York and London.
Take a look at another example of Social Hub that was developed to support Spotify’s presence at SXSW Music. Hopefully the first of a number of Spotify social hubs to support a series of festivals around the world.
Our presence at Social Media Week in New York kicked-off with a presentation at the Advertising & Marketing Hub at JWT. We were fortunate to have some leading social media strategists as speakers and panelists. These guys are blazing a trail for some truly fantastic brands and were on hand to impart some sound advice and answer some difficult questions. We were also joined by 180 audience members.
SPEAKERS: 1. Brad Spikes, Head of Social Media & Influencer Marketing at Nokia 2. Mike Hutney, Director Emerging Media at The Stelter Company 3. Richard Jones, CEO at EngageSciences
PANELISTS: 1. Varuni Jaipershad, Marketing Specialist – Social Media at HSN 2. Mark Curtis, CEO & Founder at enter:new media 3. Dan Bratone, SVP Americas at TBG Digital 4. Gretchen Ramsey, VP Strategy at MRM 5. Michael Wrigley, CMO at EngageSciences (Moderator)
There is a growing realization amongst brands that fan growth is an arcane method of measuring social media success. These days CMOs are looking for proof that social is effective, whether that’s brand awareness or socially referred commerce. The key questions are how do you engage your audience, identify your advocates and amplify the voice of these fans?
If a brand doesn’t know who their fans are, how on earth can they have a fruitful conversation with them?
But whilst it’s good to talk, conversations with fans are so much more rewarding if you know who you’re talking to and what they’re interested in. Brands need to be able to understand their relationship with their fans, what resonates with them and what they respond (and have responded) to. For those of you old enough to remember, ‘It’s good to talk’ was an advertising strapline made famous by BT in the 1980’s. In the age of social media, it’s not so much an advertising strapline as a must. If brands want to be relevant to today’s consumer they need to be talking to – and I stress ‘to’ not ‘at’ (a failing of so many brands on Facebook) – customers, prospects and influencers across social channels.
Curiously, this all sounds familiar… Not surprising really, because it’s the basic principles behind CRM applied to social. To truly engage fans we need to see and communicate with them as individuals rather than a generic group.
Too many brands proudly talk about the number of fans they have. But, that’s all they know: the number of fans. They understand nothing about the fans as individuals. Which means they don’t know who they’re talking to, what to say and how to say it. So how effective and engaging can their conversations really be?
Let’s cut to the chase. To be effective on social media, a brand must know and act on the following:
1) Who are the individuals that make up this fan number? 2) Who of these individuals are my real, active fans? 3) What content/messaging resonates with them? 4) What’s the most effective way to deliver that content?
1) A NAME NOT A NUMBER.
There is a wealth of information available about fans, but curiously, many brands haven’t thought about how to access this and then how to build up a profile of each individual fan. Or if they have, they haven’t got the right tools to do so. Simple fan profile data can surface up name, email address, location, age, sex, dormancy – all critical building blocks to identifying your fans and enabling a brand to create a true customer profile.
2) A FAN NOT A WALLFLOWER
Who from the individuals that make up your fanbase are actually real, active, vociferous and influential fans? Every interaction that a fan has with a brand socially should be tracked and those interactions appended to their fan profile so you’re building up a customer lifetime view of their behaviour. Do they comment on your posts; click on links; share your content; interact with your apps; invite their friends to interact; do they influence their friends?
A brand needs to understand who of those individuals are just wallflowers, which are engaged and interacting with them and which are advocates sharing your brand and promoting it to their friends. Know this and you unlock the key to creating more advocates and influencers and converting ‘spectators’ into engaged fans.
3) NOT QUITE LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION, BUT CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT.
So now you know who your fans are, you need to understand what content/messaging they respond to: what do they want to talk to you about? And which fan segments respond to which content. You might be looking to re-engage dormant fans, encourage engaged fans to become advocates or nurture your existing advocates. You might have a diverse product range or broad audience appeal. Regardless, a brand should be immediately able to see who’s responding to what content – otherwise how do you know what you should be talking to your fans and followers about. You don’t – it’s just spray and pray.
4) IT’S NOT (JUST) WHAT YOU SAY, IT’S HOW YOU SAY IT.
The final piece of the jigsaw is how do these individuals engage with your content. A valuable conversation is supposed to be interesting, reciprocal and stimulating. Brands need to deliver content in a range of ways that makes the conversation worthwhile for their fans. A mixture of conversation and interaction – posting of passive and interactive content. And the ability to see how a post or app performs – what’s the reach, how was it shared, clinks clicked on, apps interacted with, did it go viral?
SO IT’S SIMPLE…
You need a tool that enables you to create an audience record in a database around which you can build a rich profile of each and every fan. You can then identify and ‘talk’ to your fanbase in the most effective way. And, then you need the ability to track how each individual fan connects with your brand socially and what they connect with for the lifetime of their relationship with your brand.
After all, if only an average of 4.7% of your fanbase deliver pretty much all of your brands’ social reach and engagement – knowing who they are is fundamental. But we’ll save that for another time…
A final word – if this all makes absolute sense to you, it made a lot of sense to us when we founded EngageSciences, that’s why we built the only social media management system that is centred around the audience database and the customer lifetime view.
A recent Nielsen survey of 28,000 consumers with internet access highlighted some very interesting trends. Perhaps the most striking was the global impact on consumer purchase decisions because of social media websites/online reviews. Every major product category was impacted, with the results being highest in the AsiaPac region, but still substantial across Latin America, Europe and Middle-east Africa. This evolution in the way people make purchase decisions will change brand websites, as we know them today, beyond all recognition.
Simply put, the decision journey for consumers has changed and this change is global. The same survey highlighted the percentage of consumers that are active in different stages of this process. It is not only high, but it is impacting the very nature of the way people explore, refine and finalize brand purchasing decisions.
That’s why we believe that websites are the new frontier for social disruption. For brands to adapt to the new decision process, they need a major overhaul of all their digital marketing activities. Websites cannot be purely about product content anymore. They need to be a reflection of how people are interacting with that brands’ products and their marketing activities on multiple social channels. Websites need to accelerate the decision journey for the social consumer. Curation, advocacy and highlighting a brand’s fans are ways to adapt websites to the modern global social consumer. We believe this should be the number one priority for digital marketers in 2013. The data backs this up. It’s also a change that can be accomplished relatively easily with the right tools. So in terms of effort and reward, it is right up there for ROI modelling.
It is great seeing the very first steps in this change happen at the most innovative brand marketing companies. Check out these examples below from Nokia and Pepsi. The most important thing to understand about these pages is they are curating the social web and publishing that into these websites. It’s current interaction and advocacy around their brand. As a social consumer, it feeds into your decision journey. Brands are adding call to actions into this experience to get people to interact with social promotions that people share with their friends, creating more social engagement, the best of which will get reflected back on their website. If you are a digital marketer who wants to socialize your website to be ready for the global social consumer in 2013, but don’t know where to start, then you can watch a video here , which will give you a walk-through on how to get cracking. Brands have seen an average of a 300% increase in time onsite with these social pages and a 300% increase in click-throughs on embedded call to actions. These are the kind of results that highlight that if a brand adapts to the modern social consumer, the returns can be quick to measure. Make this your number one priority for 2013.
Unfortunately, the Jump event in New York was delayed because of Hurricane Sandy. The good news is that it has been rearranged to take place at the Metropolitan Pavilion on the 30th January. You can find out more here.
In the meantime, we’re scheduled to hold a webinar with Econsultancy on 11th December at 12.00pm EST.
In this webinar, Richard Jones CEO of EngageSciences and Stefan Tornquist, VP Research at Econsultancy will discuss practical advice and real-world examples that will enable marketers to boost their brand advocacy and achieve measurable ROI from their social marketing activities.
Social media has certainly received a lot of hype, but few companies have been able to demonstrate measurable returns on their social investments. This has been due to the fact that most brands have not yet implemented an optimized framework for their social campaigns. However, if you have the right tools and advice, it’s remarkably easy to develop a social marketing strategy that will drive measurable business returns, while integrating with traditional marketing channels and campaign data.
During the webinar, Richard will illustrate how social marketing has now reached an inflection point, where brands are able to achieve consistent results from their social marketing activities. He will highlight the platforms and processes marketers need to put in place to achieve recognition at the boardroom table. And he will outline the strategies that leading brands are implementing today, and the impressive results they’re achieving.
The social media marketers of today could be the CMOs of tomorrow, if they are able to help their organizations leverage the opportunity that marketing on social channels represents to the bottom line.
Now, normally people write these sorts of posts in December, but the nights are drawing in and it won’t be long before I’ll be gobbling turkey with all the trimmings, wearing a paper hat, sloshed on mulled wine and talking nonsense to an Auntie I haven’t seen since last Christmas.
So, I thought I would be amongst the first to put a stake in the ground and make some predictions for the social media marketing tools industry in 2013. Not all of which hold holiday cheer for all. So pulling no punches, here are my 7 predictions for the coming year:
#1 – THERE WILL BE A LOT OF LAYOFFS AMONGST SOCIAL MARKETING PLATFORM COMPANIES
VC money has been powering millions of dollars worth of marketing activity at social media marketing and management vendors like Buddy Media, Wildfire and Vitrue. Now that these first-generation vendors have been acquired by Salesforce.com, Google and Oracle respectively, these technologies will need to drive profit. That is a big change for the way these companies had been operating and will have a large impact for those that work for them.
As a case in point, Salesforce.com has had to lay off a lot of Radian6 staff recently to balance the books. So what will be the impact for their recent acquisition of Buddy Media? When writing about Buddy Media, Knowlton Thomas at TechVibes notes: “The most worrying thing for Salesforce CEO Marc Bennioff and Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow is that this snapshot shows that Buddy Media does not appear to be scaling toward profitability. Rather, it’s going backwards — losing more money on its revenues as it grows.” In fact, All Things Digital has calculated that Buddy Media has a burn rate of $3.5m per month.
Unfortunately when businesses are funded by VC money to land an acquisition, rather than being built as solid profitable operations, there are inevitably a lot of redundancies after those acquisitions happen as the acquirer looks for a return.
#2 – INNOVATION AMONGST FIRST-GENERATION PLATFORMS WILL BE PUSHED TO THE PERIPHERY
One of the most interesting things about the wave of consolidation that has happened in the social marketing and management tools space is that it happened unusually early. Typically the likes of Oracle and Salesforce.com wouldn’t buy companies that did under $10M in revenues last year and were still so early in their development cycles. The Facebook IPO and the surrounding hype, combined with the sheer speed of consumer adoption of multiple social networks around the world, caused so much noise that the executives from these enterprise software behemoths jumped in far earlier than is usual or even wise.
Innovation in the social media space is still very nascent, business models and technologies are still evolving. This is a space that is not settled. Much more innovation will be required in the short term to stay competitive, the networks themselves are in constant change and you are developing against that background, so the only thing that is constant is constant change.
If you are a start-up that brings great opportunity, your agility is matched to a fast changing landscape that requires speed of thought, decision making, building and testing. If you are a large company that just bought an unprofitable venture capital powered business that you are trying to assimilate, integrate and roll out across a large client base, then it is going to be a problem. A very, very big problem. How do you balance costs, focus on integration, roll out marketing and sales enablement to wider teams and keep innovating at the speed of light?
It is a simple fact that large enterprise software companies don’t innovate quickly. Command and control processes are too extended, decision making is fragmented and the power brokers are not day in and day out working at the coal face and able to respond at speed. Large enterprise companies just don’t work that way. They need settled technology that does not change too much to be sold by huge disparate sales forces and support teams. Innovation and change is a headache to manage.
Anyone who thinks that innovation in social marketing is going to speed up now that Buddy Media, Context Optional, Vitrue and Wildfire are at Saleforce.com, Adobe, Oracle and Google is badly mistaken. This consolidation will bring an emphasis on integration to other systems, and that is a good thing, but you will need the whole vendor product stack to take advantage and it will take at least two years for those companies to complete the integration at a product level. In the meantime however, innovation will happen at pace, the social marketing space requires it, things are moving so quickly and opportunities are opening up. It will just be delivered by the second-generation of vendors that are faster, leaner and more focused. In truth that has been happening for some time already, as the first-generation vendors were focused on an exit.
#3 – CRM VENDORS TAKE THE MARKETING OUT OF SOCIAL MARKETING
If we take a look at Salesforce.com’s and Oracle’s business model in this area, it’s fundamentally all about selling seats for CRM products. The tail very rarely wags the dog, so we can bet that the pressures internally will be for these social technologies to support the selling of CRM seats – the largest group of these being in call centers.
Many large brands that focus on using social media for marketing to B2C audiences may be rightly concerned if their provider has been assimilated into a CRM company. There will be an inevitable move towards supporting call center processes and very little innovation in terms of technology to support marketing goals. Also think through this – does anybody use their CRM system as their main marketing database? No. These are not platforms focused on marketing, that’s why these companies have never developed their marketing automation capabilities. There are not enough seat licenses in marketing. However you can definitely see that not having social customer insight and analytics would be a major weakness for CRM vendors moving forward, so they acquired technologies that would help them populate their CRM platforms. That is not a recipe for social marketing success. It’s a recipe for defending billions in CRM revenue from their competitors.
#4 – ADOBE SEES THE OPPORTUNITY TO OWN THE MARKET, BUT NEEDS THE TOOLS
As a bona fide provider of marketing solutions, Adobe has a great opportunity to do well in the space. Integrate social marketing and management capabilities into the Omniture suite to provide a broad marketing platform focused on ROI sounds like a great idea. The problem for Adobe is social marketing is about relationships. To really drive value, you need to optimize not just content and click-throughs, but people. To do this you need to keep a record of everyone that interacts with your social campaigns to build-up a lifetime view, and therefore understanding, of their behavior. You also need to put in place marketing goals and implement the correct tools and metrics to influence the development of each fan from a brand activation and commerce perspective. You need segmentation and targeting capabilities within your social marketing database to make use of this data. This area is not where Adobe’s platform focus lies today. They did not build that system. They are not marketing database specialists and they don’t offer CRM. They miss the view of the individual. With Adobe it will only be about optimizing the content in 2013 and that is only half the social marketing story.
#5 – WILDFIRE BECOMES A MARKETING PLATFORM FOCUSED ON GOOGLE+
The acquisition by Google of Wildfire a Facebook Marketing Platform was a very interesting move. Not least of all because Wildfire had received seed funding by Facebook and it had been trading on that relationship all its young life. Most of the brands that bought Wildfire did so, not because of its technology, but because of its sales people’s claims to be on the inside track of what was going on in Facebook because of the ‘special relationship’. It worked quite well to a point as a strategy.
The problem for the Wildfire client base is that the reason they bought into the platform has most definitely now vanished. Wildfire has already been effectively removed from the inner circle of Facebook Marketing API Developers through no longer being included in the Strategic Marketing API Developer group. There is no way Facebook are ever going to give the inside track on anything going on across the platform to Google. Not that Google probably cares, they have got some great talent that can be focused on developing social marketing campaigns and strategy for Google+. So you can expect Wildfire to concentrate on moving away from Facebook as a focus to Google+ with speed in 2013.
#6 – BRAND WEBSITES BECOME PORTALS INTO WHAT IS HAPPENING ON SOCIAL CHANNELS
Functionality to curate and publish social streams to websites will become a breakaway area of demand for social media marketing platform vendors in 2013. Shifting budgets and wider acceptance of social marketing will see pressure to expose more of a brand’s social interaction directly on corporate websites. Social marketers will see a transition of their role to editors of the conversation on the social web through curating social streams to illustrate how people are interacting with their brand and their campaigns. Increasingly corporate websites will be about an organization’s curated view of what is being published on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, Flickr and more. Rather than being the repository of owned marketing content. It will be the interplay of the display of owned and earned media that will shape the evolution of website design throughout 2013. Social marketers will see their influence in corporate web teams extend during the year. Here is an example of the first steps in this area Nokia #Switch Hub. Expect far more of this next year.
#7 – MARKETING DISCIPLINE WILL FINALLY BE NEEDED FOR SOCIAL MARKETING
Much of the evolution of the social web has been through community management. There will, however, be a shake out of social media managers who simply don’t understand core marketing principles. CMOs will not just be looking for ROI from social marketing, which will require an understanding of how to measure return, but they will also be looking to unlock social data to profile customers and drive segmentation and targeting of campaigns across multiple channels. Social marketing technology that is focused on engagement and content, but not profiling individuals and collecting data for segmentation purposes will be marginalized as the year progresses. Having the ability to push content, to manage the conversation and create campaigns or apps will not be enough without a user data repository. Think of how many email marketing systems today are unable to store data around a user. You can’t. They all died. Marketing discipline requires profiling, targeting and segmentation capabilities for campaigns and engagement. Social marketing will need to step up to the plate.
Well that is my top 7 for 2013. Controversial, perhaps. Accurate? Only time will tell. Biased? Of course! I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. Follow me on Twitter @oldstriker