Four key trends shaping the future of social

Leading thinkers in marketing, social, digital, and future business gathered with over 500 industry peers at Social Commerce Summit Europe. Together with leaders from the world’s top brands, they shared ideas and trends that will shape the future of social as customer-centricity drives the next wave of organizational change. According to the thought leaders, the four trends below represent the themes driving social today.

Social is a paradigm shift. We’ve moved from channeled experiences and brand-controlled messages to empowered consumers in a channel-agnostic marketplace. Companies should recognise and accept the enormity of this change.

Social data reveals the why behind the buy. Customer conversations create an insight-rich gold mine for businesses. The awesome power of conversation will be felt in the insights gained and the actions inspired.

Becoming customer-centric demands organisational transformation. Capturing the full value of social data takes place across the entire organisation, often requiring cultural changes. Social data can drive change beyond marketing, impacting sales, customer service, and product development.

Context is king in social data. To be successful, internal and external social efforts must be designed and evaluated in relation to the larger context of business goals and historical shifts.

You can read a review of the conclusions here.

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It’s all gloom and doom says Europe’s political leadership but small biz’s just get on with life

Austerity, cutbacks, recession, depression, deficit, collapse, pain and more pain. That’s what we have to look forward to in 2012 according to our political leaders. Well all of us at Wanobe have a message for them: Get real!

We’ve lived with several years of belt tightening already, but while the banks and big firms have moaned and groaned, we small business owners have been rolling up our sleeves and getting on with the job. The vast majority of us cannot afford the luxury of losing confidence in the future, which is why we work so damn hard. Not for us the rhetoric of local and national politicians.

According to a study by Regus, Three fifths of small business employees will work over Christmas, and even those ‘on holiday’ will be in regular contact with work. The Regus survey revealed that some 71 per cent of people working for smaller firms will be checking work emails regularly on their mobile devices and two fifths will be expected to do some work by their employers.

There is a price to pay, of course. Regus regional director Celia Donne says that the survey sounds a note of caution to those who have taken holiday but plan to be in ‘online’ regardless. She says, ‘It is ironic that the very technology that affords us flexibility and freedom from the traditional fixed office set-up also blurs the distinction between work and home life.

Let it snow!

From all of us at Wanobe to all of you, the very best wishes for you and your
family!

Have a really happy holiday. And for 2012, we wish you a brilliant
year full of fun, success, happiness, health, love, sunshine, deep snow and
all you wish for.

Thanks for all you have done for us this year as contributors and investors!

May your sledge runners glide perfectly!

12 Crucial Consumer Trends for 2012

Life is tough, but most businesses are not staring into the abyss. And for the brave hearted there are always opportunities for entrepreneurs to deliver on changing consumer needs.  One of the world’s leading trend firms, trendwatching.com scans the globe for emerging consumer trends, insights and related hands-on business innovations and sends out a free monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 business professionals in 180+ countries. At wanobe we’re happy to bring you an overview of trendwatching.com’s 12 must-know consumer trends (in random order) for you to run with in the next 12 months.

1. RED CARPET
In 2012, all shapes, sizes and sectors of business, if not entire cities and nations, will roll out the red carpet for the new emperors; showering Chinese visitors and customers with tailored services, perks, attention and respect. (Including examples from Hilton, Starwood and Harrods.) More >>>

2. DIY HEALTH
Expect to see consumers take advantage of new technologies to discreetly and continuously track, manage and be alerted to any changes in their personal health. (Including examples from Jawbone, Ford and Lifelens.) More >>>

3. DEALER-CHIC
In 2012, consumers will continue to hunt for deals and discounts, but do so with relish if not pride. Deals are now about more than just saving money: it’s the thrill, the pursuit, the control, and the perceived smartness, and the status. (Including examples from American Express, Nokitum and Daitan.) More >>>

4. ECO-CYCOLOGY
Brands will increasingly take back all of their products for recycling, and do so responsibly and innovatively. (Including examples from Dell, Nike and Garnier.) More >>>

5. CASH-LESS
Will coins and notes completely disappear in 2012? No. But a cashless future is (finally) upon us, as major players such as MasterCard and Google work to build a whole new eco-system of payments, rewards and offers around new mobile technologies. (Including examples from Google, PayPal and Square.) More >>>

6. BOTTOM OF THE URBAN PYRAMID

The majority of consumerism is urban, yet in much of the world city life is chaotic, cramped and often none too pleasant. Nevertheless, the creativity and vibrancy of these aspiring consumers means that the opportunities for brands which cater to the them are unprecedented. (Including examples from PepsiCo, NCR and Aakash.) More >>>

7. IDLE SOURCING
Making it downright simple (or effortless) for consumers to contribute will be more popular than ever in 2012. Unlocked by the spread of ever smarter sensors in mobile phones, people will be able and (more) willing to broadcast information about where and what they are doing, to help improve products and services. (Including examples from Street Bump and Waze.) More >>>

8. FLAWSOME
Why to consumers, brands that behave more humanly, including exposing their flaws, will be awesome. More >>>

9. SCREEN CULTURE
Thanks to the continued explosion of touchscreen smartphones, tablets, and the ‘cloud’, 2012 will see a SCREEN CULTURE that is not only more pervasive, but more personal, more immersive and more interactive than ever. (Including examples from Sky, 8ta and Huawei.) More >>>

10. RECOMMERCE
It’s never been easier for savvy consumers to resell or trade in past purchases, and unlock the value in their current possessions. In 2012, ‘trading in’ is the new buying. (Including examples from Decathlon, Amazon and Levi’s.) More >>>

11. EMERGING MATURIALISM
While cultural differences continue to shape consumer desires, middle-class and/or younger consumers in (almost) every market will embrace brands that push the boundaries. Expect frank, risqué or non-corporate products, services and campaigns from emerging markets to be on the rise in 2012. (Including examples from Diesel, Johnson & Johnson and Sanitol.)More >>>

12. POINT & KNOW
Consumers are used to being able to find out just about anything that’s online or text-based, but 2012 will see instant visual information gratification brought into the real and visual world with objects and even people. (Including examples from Starbucks, eBay and Amazon.)More >>>

View all 12 full trend descriptions, including examples of brands from around the world already making the most of these trends at www.trendwatching.com/briefing

European Professional Services hit hard by bad debt

Accountants, lawyers and recruiters are suffering most in the current economic downturn in Europe, writing off three times than companies in the utilities sector, for example.

A survey of almost 6,000 businesses across Europe by credit management services groupIntrum Justitia shows significant differences in how industry sectors are hit by bad debt and late payments. Businesses in professional services on average have to write off 4.5 percent of all transactions whilst businesses in utilities only write off 1.5 percent. Intrum Justitia believes the situation will worsen in 2012, but that there are protective measures to be made by businesses, measures essential to boosting Europe, according to Intrum’s EPI 2011 Industry White Paper.

Our survey indicates that things will start turning worse before they turn for the better. Professional Services are often first hit by client budget cuts, which means they serve as a warning of what may lie ahead. Unfortunately, history tells us that other Industries are to show significantly higher bad debt next year,” says Intrum Justitia CEO, Lars Wollung.

Professional Services also see the largest increase in write offs from the previous year, up 12.5 percent. Transportation write offs are also increasing fast, 9.5 percent up from previous year, although from a rather modest level. Real Estate see write offs decreasing significantly, with over 5 percent.

”Although the picture painted in our report may seem grim there are measures companies can take to protect themselves. There is a lot that can be done to help the businesses in boosting Europe. We see that businesses that know their customers and implement efficient credit policies get paid earlier and have to write off a smaller percentage off sales, comments Lars Wollung.”

“Sofa Surfers” and “Bedroom Browsers” Driving Early Tablet Adoption

Wow, I’ve found and answer to the question I’ve been wondering about for ages: How are people using their Tablets in the digital publishing revolution launched by Apple with its amazing iPad. Well. according to a new European study by research firm CCS, almost 80% of the total 4,500 respondents to their survey said they’re using their tablets in the living room. And tablet usage among commuters is surprisingly low — just 15% take their tablet when travelling to and from work.

CCS Insight’s latest publication, Tablet User Survey, uncovers fascinating details about why people across Europe buy tablets like Apple’s iPad and what they do with them. Principal findings include:

  • The living room and the bedroom are the most popular places for people to use their tablet
  • Over 90% of owners use their tablet for at least an hour every day
  • Non-iPad users use their tablets more than buyers of iPads
  • More than half of tablet owners take their device on holiday, but just 15% use them while commuting

Sofa Surfers and Bedroom Browsers are the early adopters in the tablet market as consumers substitute laptops and netbooks for lighter, more portable devices they can use around the home.

Almost 80% of the total 4,500 respondents to the CCS survey said they’re using their tablets in the living room. In the UK and France, nearly seven in ten use it in the bedroom, while almost four in 10 Europeans log-on in the kitchen.

“Previously, people had to leave the room and sit down at a computer to use the Internet. A tablet offers a more convenient and social means of access, allowing users to join in with family activities while remaining on-line,” commented Martin Garner, Senior Vice President, Internet, at CCS Insight.

Tablet use on holiday is also popular, with 58% of owners packing the device in their suitcase. “The Internet is now so tightly built into many people’s daily lives that they want to continue the connected lifestyle when they take a break from work,” added Garner.

The survey also showed that only 7% of owners use their tablet mainly for work, compared with 60% who use it mainly for leisure. “This statistic will alarm tablet-makers that are trying to sell devices to the enterprise market,” said Garner. “Business customers will not engage with tablets until they see a vast improvement in enterprise software on tablets.”

Consumers in the UK are the heaviest users of tablets in the six European markets surveyed, averaging 2.8 hours a day. An overwhelming 95% of UK tablet owners use their device for at least an hour a day and 11% are online for more than five hours each day, according to the survey.

Interestingly, non-iPad owners are recording an average of 30 minutes more usage a day than people with Apple iconic device. This trend was evident in all markets surveyed. “We found that younger people are more likely to own cheaper non-Apple devices, and that these users tend to be most engaged with social networks,” said Garner.

Getting Britain trading again

Between 1998 and 2010, the majority of jobs in the UK were created by small firms, with smaller firms tripling their share of total employment, according to the not-for-profit lobbying group Forum of Private Business. It says these figures demonstrate that the Government needs to do much, much more to help small firms if it wants the private sector to lead the economic recovery.

The FPB has backed wanobe.com’s call for a Micro Business Owners Day and has been working hard to help the recovery with its campaign to Get Britain Trading.

The FPB says when it says help, they’re not talking handouts. What they’re calling for is a level playing field for small firms to be able to compete and a commonsense approach to tax administration and employment law.

The FPB launched the Get Britain Trading campaign in February this year, following calls from its members that small businesses were really struggling and no one seemed to be listening.
Its high laudable main aim is to get the Government to understand the massive contribution that small businesses make to the economy and to make it easier and more profitable for them to do business. The FPB believe this will not only benefit small firms, but in turn the economy and everyone who lives in Britain.
Wanobe.com applauds the FPB initiative, have your say below.