Let me talk about changes I have seen, over the last year, in how social media is being approached by organisations.
Reputation has never been more fickle. As recent examples in corporate and media circles have shown, social media has played an important role in amplifying important issues – sometimes using parody, sometimes through inane memes, sometimes through serious discussions that only ‘appear’ disintegrated but are actually bound in threads – social media is playing the new watchdog.
Controlling the medium, or the message, is clearly out of the question. The need for preparedness and participation in advance; to listen, identify key topics, nodes; to transparently acknowledge, participate and engage multiple stakeholders, if, forbid, an organisation was to find itself in midst of a crisis, are being acknowledged as the new reputation management concepts.
This growing impact on reputation and marketing has brought interest and intervention at the highest level. The number of CEOs driving the need has seen a dramatic rise over the last 6-9 months. This does three important things, a, it energizes the team into action; b, it brings greater rigor – the approach becomes far more strategic; and c, the chances of departments thinking and working together improve.
On the brand side, an important change, particularly in some of the high impact categories (typically high involvement products such as automobiles, consumer electronics, mobile etc.) has been the depth of engagement. From mere presence on social media channels, marketers are beginning to map, and intervene, at all stages of the purchase cycle.
There is a much greater emphasis on trying to understand how social media is influencing purchase, to how the customer voices feedback post purchase. An understanding that all social media channels are not the same; that blogs and forums have a different role than touch points like, Facebook or Twitter; or that buzz is the mere surface, that the magic of social media may, in fact, lie in mapping conversations, identifying evangelists and co-creating communication and products.
As social media impact is understood, and more marketing outlay directed in its direction, the emphasis is on scaling up, trying to gain critical mass. This has brought an acknowledgement that the key to scaling social media marketing interventions could be through use of technology and community generated content.
The understanding that creating content is going to be the key to success in engaging stakeholders; and that creating this content is not easy – enter technology and the community.
Over the last 6 months, Lead Gen is the word I have heard most often in sales meetings. It’s a new word in social media circles. As B2B marketers jump in, Lead Generation has become a key objective.
Driven by marketing leaders, B2B programmes are typically, focused and result driven, only the route in social media interventions is through thought leadership and content – reports, white papers, articles, expert and practice communities and Q&As.
Another important shift is the realization that the future of social is mobile. I have been reading more news on my mobile device, than on the notebook; spending more time on my phone, accessing Twitter and Facebook, than making voice calls. Marketers are beginning to realize this.
Clearly organisations and brands have caught up and the survey report corroborates that.
Next stops: E commerce and monetization.
2011 promises to be an exciting year for all of us.
Disclaimer: Views of authors are personal and do not represent the views of Blogworks, or any of its clients.