Commentary

Next Wave of Social Enhances Consumer Engagement

In 2013, we’ll see the next wave of social bring brands to a new level of consumer engagement. Our five predictions  are designed to help marketers navigate this environment and profit from it.

1.  Building Transparency And Loyalty

Brand transparency has been a topic of discussion since 2009, but many brands have been reactive and slow to adopt the type of naked exposure the market demands. Due to the access we now have through social channels, consumers demand will increase.

Brands willing to take risks and create social programs that offer inherent value to users while remaining open, will forge stronger relationships with consumers and build trust. According to a Nielsen Global Online Survey, “90% of online consumers worldwide trust recommendations from people they know, while 70% trust consumer opinions posted online.”

By understanding the social consumer’s purchase decisions, brands can begin to proactively create marketing programs that invite feedback and—potentially—offer rewards. This loyalty model iwill not only directly impact sales, but may even lead to new products based on feedback. 

2.   From Campaigns And Microsites To Long-term Solutions

In 2012 and earlier, campaigns and microsites were the go-to solutions for forward-thinking digital marketers. But there is one major problem with those solutions—unless they’re built on scalable frameworks, they have expiration dates. Many brands are still planning on a campaign-by-campaign basis, driving media to landing pages that will eventually be torn down. While there are instances this makes senses, it can be costly for the brand and risks losing followers.

In 2013, brands and agencies will leverage technology partners and consider more long-term evergreen frameworks that give lasting value to the consumer. With more flexible partners, creative teams can develop and innovate at scale, driving cost of building and rebuilding down and gaining more lasting insights, such as data points on consumers.

One brand is leading the way here with the My Starwood Travel Wish application. Starwood is allowing users to curate their own travel wish through a mobile device or the web. The application syncs users’ social accounts and incentivizes participation by offering significant hotel discounts.

3.  Continued Acquisitions And Technology Innovations

In 2012, several social media platforms were the target of multimillion dollar acquisitions: Oracle (Vitrue and Involver), Salesforce.com (Radian6 and Buddy Media) and Google (Wildfire).

In addition to the software giants, companies like Ford, American Express and Priceline have created innovation structures and venture arms close to the heart of Silicon Valley. Perhaps companies with consumer application solutions will be attractive to American Express and Ford, which can make an investment that not only nets returns financially but gives can broaden the horizon of industry solutions.

In 2013, companies building profitable social and mobile platforms will fall under the umbrella of three categories for acquisition targets: software giants, large companies with tech funds and agencies.

4.  Data And Retargeting

Everyone’s talking about big data. And who has all that data? Facebook, Google and now Amazon, which is getting into the game with a real-time bidding ad exchange. Even Twitter is rumored to launch a self-service ad platform in 2013.

This could get challenging for brands. They will need to quickly understand the landscape of partners that can help them leverage data for targeted marketing programs. There is a huge opportunity to integrate directly into the everyday social worlds of consumers. Benefits include viral referral programs, custom targeted audience segments, behavioral marketing, historical purchase profiles, and most importantly ROI.

5.  ROI from Social in 2013

As social becomes a validated marketing tool, we’ll see a greater focus on data and analytics to demonstrate ROI. In 2013, creative, account, strategy and media teams will need to collaborate on the vision of social programs, not only their execution with publishers, partners and platforms, but how they will tie into analytics.

Social commerce solutions will pave the way for industry-leading brands that can invest in applications that incentivize users in exchange for data. Gartner predicts 50% of all Web sales will come from social and mobile within the next few years. As such, brands need to position themselves to monetize each social experience and tie it back to metrics.

 

 

 

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