MyCustomer.com looks at the social media trends that will shape 2013 and what businesses should be focusing on to progress their strategies this year.
Social media certainly isn’t the new kid on the block anymore. And by the end of last year, it was clear that brands were beginning to grow in confidence on the platform, and find their voice. Last month, MyCustomer.com summarised some of the key trends that characterised social media in 2012 – ranging from the confusion surrounding the future of social commerce, to the emergence of new networks.
So what is in store for 2013? And what will it mean for your business? Here’s what some experts are saying, and how you can respond accordingly.
1. Businesses will continue to shift investments away from Facebook and back to on-domain communities
“In 2013, businesses that had previously shifted marketing funds away from their traditional dot-com domain towards Facebook will reverse that trend,” predicts Rob Howard, founder and CTO of Telligent. “Research from Forrester Research, Inc., and other leading analyst firms continues to validate the need for organisations to invest in their own websites and community experiences. Why? Consumers have different expectations and behaviours in consumer social media and branded communities.”
Katy Keim, CMO at Lithium, is in agreement. “Our enchantment with Facebook is eroding,” she says. “Only about 2% of Facebook fans will return to the page. And in the US, 60% of consumers said they find it annoying on Facebook to get a message from a brand. We have to question what that is doing for our brand engagement and business. Marketers are getting towards the end of the runway, and they have been in collection mode, but now they have to think about how they might do something different.”
2. Social media presence will become more focused as the need to scale increases
“It is not enough to just be on a social network and really try and engage with your customers. We’re seeing businesses start to think more clearly about what exactly is the business goal – are they trying to improve customer service; are they trying to improve word of mouth marketing; are they getting ideas for a product? They need to establish what is the real thrust of why they’re on these channels,” says Keim.
“And there is the issue of scale. Because if you’re on these social channels, and you’re committed, and you’re growing your team and you have a small call centre called the ‘social media team’ and you want to put this team on a real purpose and scale it and then add resources… well then you’d better be clear about what you’re going to get out of it from a business perspective! So I guess you could put this under the moniker of ‘it’s time to get serious and think about where exactly this is going to be used in the business – and what the heck it’s going to do for us!’”
3. The social media champions need to be brought into the broader strategy
“What we’ve seen evolve over the last 12 months is a social media team that is a success but siloed,” says Keim. “Renegades and mavericks within organisations have traditionally driven social media and said ‘lets get going because it has a useful role’. But now you can see the CMO or the head of customer service saying ‘where does this fit into my portfolio’? And for them to bring it forward they are not going to be able to talk about likes and followers, and anecdotes about what the customer is saying. They need to go forward into 2013 with strategies which outline what is the business proposition, what it is they are going to try and do with it, what is going to be invested, and what the end result is going to be. In some instances, the social media team is not equipped to deliver that full-on strategy and the executives are getting their hands a little dirtier to work out how they want to invest. But the lone wolf has to be brought into the broader strategy.”
4. Data ownership will become a concern
“For the past six or seven years, consumers have let information flow freely,” says Howard. “Google, Twitter and Facebook have been three of the biggest beneficiaries of this consumer-driven content bonanza. Now, businesses are recognising that the real value in social and Big Data is who owns the data. I expect that, in 2013, we will see businesses take a more active role in controlling who owns the data created in their communities and in their social media channels.”
5. Business is driving social media investment – but IT will start to have greater involvement
“In the SaaS world we’re seeing the business make the decision, and marketing is increasingly funding projects that may impact the customer relationship that might not even be directly related to marketing,” explains Keim. “We were in a customer council last year where executives were discussing how service is now really working with their marketing counterparts – more than they ever have. So we’re seeing the business funding these operations.”
However, she adds: “That being said, over the past quarter, we’ve seen IT – and particularly the CTO and CIO’s office – start to lead more of these conversations, perhaps because they’re fearful that the train is leaving the station with the proliferation of technologies that are out there in the enterprise now. They either need to figure out how to select and deploy those through the business or certainly be more flexible in those directions. So I think we’ll see IT more involved in 2013.”
And Rob Howard believes that as organisations make the transition to ‘social business’ so the role of chief information officer will regain influence.
“The importance of the role of the CIO has waned over the past several years,” he notes. “I anticipate that, in 2013, the CIO’s influence in the organisation will regain importance. Trends related to data ownership, the convergence between public (customer-facing or external-facing) and private (employee-facing or internal-facing) communities, and bring your own device (BYOD) to work will force businesses to rethink critical security, content ownership and other aspects of their digital businesses.”
What does that mean for you?
So what do these trends mean for your social media strategy?
Katy Keim says the three things businesses should be focusing on in 2013 are goals, champions and roles.
“The first thing that organisations need is a clearly defined business process,” she explains. “Ask a series of questions – what is the goal; what is the objective; who is the audience; and what does success mean (and not success in terms of participation, but in terms of cost reduction, revenue generation, etc.)? It needs a clear business purpose. It’s not enough to say we want to chat with customers or we want to be closer to customers. Tell me what success feels like.”
She continues: “Secondly, you have to have an executive-level champion. I don’t think these initiatives, given the amount of change and transformation they require in the company, can be sitting at a lower level, like just a manager function. They need to have someone who is championing it at the executive level.”
And finally she adds: “The other thing is ensuring you are staffing for success. These aren’t software projects that you deploy and then just hope that they flourish on their own. Clearly they are self-sustaining, but we want to work with our team to figure out how you are going to handle moderation, for instance. Do you want to outsource it or are you going to have a team? Who is going to be your community manager? How are you going to plug that into the rest of the marketing and service organisations? How are the analytics going to be looked at from the perspective of coming out of our system? Who is going to be paying attention to that to figure out how to optimise it?”
Goals, champions and roles: the three areas for your business to consider during your social media initiatives in 2013.