Fast forward to social media marketing 2018
My recent series of blog posts for Our Social Times asked industry luminaries, practitioners and Our Social Times readers to help review 10 marketing predictions made in the Connected Marketing book I conceived and co-edited back in 2005.
The resulting feedback will be woven into a new book I’m producing, however I’d like to share one contribution now that particularly struck me – analyst and author Charlene Li pointed out the paradox that plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose:
“We have many different sites, technologies and business models today, but the fundamentals of marketing have remained the same – as have the challenges. We still value word-of-mouth referrals, constantly seek out how to improve the identification and deepening of relationships with influencers. And we still have a hard time measuring it all!”
This brings me to this Thursday’s Social Media Marketing conference that Our Social Times has invited me to host. To explore further the paradox raised by Charlene, I asked some of our speakers the following question, within the context of their presentation:
“What do you think will have changed and what will still be the same in five years time?”
Here are all the responses to date, with a summary of a few themes that I hope we’ll hear more about at the event:
Dave Chaffey, CEO & Co-Founder, Smart Insights
What will change: It’s not strategic, but what I’d like to see are more powerful tools to curate content across the sources so we get a summary of the best advice around a topic. I used to love Postrank in my Google Feedreader to show the content that’s really worth reading, but we lost that tool when Google acquired them and killed off Google Reader. Still, we have Feedly, Flipboard and similar.
What won’t change: Content Marketing Strategy will be at the heart of effective social media marketing. Your hear the HiPPOs say “We need a social media strategy”, but actually what they want is a way of engaging different personas and it’s the content that fuels this and you need a strategy to compete now that everyone knows about the importance of quality content.
Doug Kessler, Creative Director, Co-Founder, Velocity Partners Ltd
What will change: Social will dissolve into marketing; no-one will talk about it as a standalone discipline. There will be no social media events. Facebook will be dead. Google will be broken up by regulators. The NSA will actually own the most popular social channels. And we’ll all have ports in our heads for faster upload/download.
What won’t change: People will still care more about themselves than they do about brands. We’ll still have to earn our way into their lives and their conversations.
Katy Howell, CEO, Immediate Future
What will change: Smarter use of metrics, better benchmarks and increased social marketing skills will bring stronger performance marketing to social activation. The norm will be to gather key measures, evaluate, optimise and drive social to deliver value goals. And it will raise the bar on social media, taking it out of the fluffy and making it integral to customer communication and experience.
What won’t change: Even in five years, I think social will continue be an evolving media. The challenge will be staying on top of the rapidity of change!
Richard Jones, CEO, Engage Sciences
What will change: Don E. Schulz in his paper ‘Killing Brands Softly’ demonstrates that the last ten years have seen brand preference scores declining, coinciding with the rise of social networks and the proliferation of media channels. Brands were built on mass media and now that has fragmented, which has made it harder to pay your way to marketing success. Earned media in five years time will be the starting point, only once something is earned will it be possible to amplify it with paid media and show an ROI with your ad dollars. Websites will transform from the brand content vehicles of today, to social hub’s featuring earned media content, the curated content of fans, which the brand then amplifies across the web.
What won’t change: The best starting point for earned media traction is not purely your content, but content seeded by your advocates. The best social brands realise this today and that won’t change in five years time. It is has never been more important to know who your advocates are. I am not talking celebrity paid endorsements, I am talking about the Average Joe who loves you – this is your brand army. In five years, they will be more important to the CMO than paid celebrity brand endorsements. Expect budgets to flow in that direction, towards programmes supporting and stimulating advocates.
Jemima Gibbons, Social Media Strategist and author of ‘Monkeys with Typewriters’
What will change: In 2018, personalisation and brand experience will have been taken to their logical extremes: consumers will have far more control over the relationship – in fact, brands will be paying them to advertise in their social ‘space’. Consumers will be involved more closely in product and service development, to the point of co-creation.
What won’t change: Sadly, bad customer service will still exist – it just won’t be as mainstream as it is today.
Lisa Talia Moretti, Senior Social Strategist, FleishmanHillard
What will change: Clay Shirky famously said that publishing is not a job anymore. It’s a button. With the rise of self-publishing platforms, steadily, the voice of the fan and the consumer has risen to the top of our newsfeeds. In five years time, with more smartphones in more hands and an increasing number of people being able to connect to the Internet, we’ll start to see more vocal brand advocates weighing in on marketing and business decisions and being the gateway to a community or network a brand wants to crack. Step aside celebrity collaborations, fan 2.0 is coming through.
Dom Dwight, Head of Communications Development and Brand Ambassador, Yorkshire Tea, Bettys and Taylors
What will change: Five years is a long time for this subject – just look how different things were in 2008! That said, I think it’s safe to say the biggest change will be the almost total shift to mobile, and consumers interacting with companies via their smartphones (or smartglasses or whatever!) will be the norm rather than an interesting trend.
What won’t change is what will matter to consumers: excellent service and quality products that make their lives better. Only the brands that realise this and reflect it in the way they connect with consumers will get any real value out of interacting online.
Barney Worfolk-Smith, Head of Creative Solutions, Unruly Media
What won’t change: Be it in five years time or 50 years time, people will always be into things. Music, going out, a shared joke or an unexpected experience will always affect groups of people in the same way. I sincerely hope so anyway. What will continue to change at an exponential rate is the size of those groups of people and the places and ways in which they can interact with and be part of those things. Bringing this back to how brands can interact with these people through those fractured passion centres, it was put succinctly by Joe Kraus, the silicon valley pioneer of Excite: “The 20th century was about dozens of markets of millions of consumers. The 21st century is about millions of markets of dozens of consumers”.