The strength of social networks is directly associated with the context of the bond that is formed and connects these networks. We used to connect through church, school, and work, and much was built and fostered based on live, synchronous activities. In today's social media world, these connections are much more fragile than traditional networks. I believe "the business" doesn't understand how fragile networks are and how easily outside influence can change the dynamics of a network.
The emergence of social platforms has enabled us to extend these networks much faster and develop different methods of satisfying this need for community. Yet is really hard to measure a brand's influence or bias and how that impacts the "trueness" of the network.
From an industry perspective, we are in our infancy and can't even agree on terms, but I'm not too worried about that, since CRM has had a few hundred permutations since Y2K.
Think about how many terms we use in social marketing today: social marketing, social media, social influence marketing, social buzz, social CRM, social response management -- and it goes on. We are reinventing new terms to address this space in hopes that we isolate the values we bring to the business and consumer. But are we answering broad values by fragmenting the enterprise to take on how we interact with customers?
Last year's questions were: Who owns social? What networks will be around? And how can we monetize it? .
Today's questions are: Who are my influencers? What are they saying? How do we apply advertising principles to this channel? What can we monitor? And how do we manage this with today's resources?
The forward thinkers are asking: What is the real impact of social involvement with a brand as it relates to lifetime value? What channels drive the most value in this experience? How episodic will my social presence need to be? How can we create value in social networks without ruining the social network itself with outside influence? And lastly, how do we allocate people to manage this if I can't drive attribution to business value?
Social is more than a reach vehicle for marketers. It's more than a response management channel for customer service people. It's more than a perfect viral storm for salespeople. It's more than a listening platform for product and brand people.
The key challenges facing us will be:
· Semantic Filtering. We are not English or psychology mindsets in marketing and don't always know the context of conversations and use of language. You'll need to find solutions that support a more streamlined method of filtering conversations, understanding intent and filtering it in the context of the business and product situation/lifecycle.
· Response Analytics/Insight: Unstructured information is really difficult to mine, and it's even more difficult to interpret into actionable value outside of sentiment. This interpretation must compress the time it takes to interpret contextual intent to the time it takes to use it for some customer value purpose. This new information currency is perishable and will transcend transactional to provide a new paradigm of customer value and how it's viewed, reported and scored.
· Platforms must compress time and space. Since the business of social marketing is so new, it lacks the support and resource to manage it. While the networks and services are evolving each day, these platforms must support efficiencies in workflow, campaign management, analytics and content syndication.
Our world of marketing and customer relationship as we know it today is changing and the new paradigm of social marketing will be defined by velocity, not scale. As Jason Jennings titled his best seller, "It's not the big that eat the small, it's the fast that eat the slow."