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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Social media is good for smaller businesses

Social media is a great tool for smaller businesses to engage with new and existing customers, yet new research shows that almost 50 per cent of B2B businesses are not measuring return on investment when using social media.

PricewaterhouseCooper’s new paper ‘Uncovering B2B social media: Value, innovation and engagement’ reveals that, although B2B companies are investing financially in social media, they are not backing this up with clear strategies to their staff on the use of social media or by investing in the people resources necessary to make it work effectively. Fewer than 12 per cent of organisations surveyed have full time social media teams in place, according to an article on http://www.smallbusiness.co.uk.

Sean Mahdi, director in PwC’s digital transformation practice says, ‘Social media is changing the way people work, shop, receive service and relate to one another. Businesses also need to change the way they engage with customers, whose trust is increasingly invested in their peers, rather than in the brands with which they interact.

‘The results of our survey demonstrate that, although B2B is investing in social media, they appear to be doing so with limited strategies that don’t fully exploit social media in the way that B2C is doing.’

The report examines the ways social media can be used not only as a tool to drive sales, but also as an opportunity to create loyalty to a brand, demonstrate transparency and responsibility in all aspects of the businesses operations and to use it as a way to participate in a two way dialogue as opposed to the traditional one way communication model.

Mahdi adds, ‘As embracing social media represents a significant change to the way in which many organisations interact with their customers, a social media strategy is essential. Becoming a social business requires insight on many fronts: about your customers, about what your brand stands for; and about the additional value that you can provide your customers through social media engagement.’

The mad, mad world of social media

David without his sunglasses

Are you a research junkie? No? So why spend hours trawling the Internet for useful statistics and figures that promote the benefits of social media for companies, when the SMCC London App by TKGB – the UK custom publishing agency –  has done some of the fishing for you with some help from jeffesposito.com. For instance, did you know that 46% of Internet users worldwide interact with social media on a daily basis (TNS), while 25% of social media users are more likely to look into a brand advertising on social media (Adology)? Another interesting titbit is that 78.6% of consumers have apparently joined a company’s community to get more information on the company (Universal McCann?.

Our staggering mobile future

In 2009 some 300 million mobile apps were downloaded. In 2010 the number of apps downloaded rocketed to a staggering FIVE BILLION!

The surge in mobile social media platforms saw 347 percent growth inTwitter mobile usage, 200 million mobile Facebook users and 100 millionYouTube videos played on mobile devices every day, according to leading industry blog mobilefuture.org.

UK custom publishing company tkgb.co.uk in a recent report noted that today consumers are being offered a mindboggling array of applications and social media platforms that are pushing mobile growth to dizzying heights.

An independent study at the end of 2010 of over 5,000 US adult smartphone Internet users by Ipsos OTX, an independent market research firm, provided some useful insight for business into consumer mobile trends. For example, key findings included 71% of smartphone users search because of an ad they’ve seen either online or offline; 74% of smartphone shoppers make a purchase as a result of using their smartphones to help with shopping, and 88% of those who look for local information on their smartphones take action within a day.

Such figures indicate the potential value mobile offers to smaller business to engage and connect with their valued audiences, but questions remain about corporate social media and its mobile approach. Is the corporate app merely going to remain being about building relationships and generating loyalty or is there another dimension yet to be unveiled?

A Fortune Magazine report last year concluded that Fortune 500
companies today typically leverage social media technologies like blogs and Twitter in order to improve their communications approach, build internal knowledge and improve marketing, for example.

Yet research from McKinsey suggests that high end companies using social media or “collaborative Web 2.0 technologies” are also achieving higher profits, according to wallblog.co.uk. The blog notes the report says those companies that fail to implement social media could be making a “critical mistake”.