Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top 2011 Social Media Developments

In 2011 there were many significant developments in the social media raindance and that led to greater adoption of raindance marketing by major brands. We saw brands more aggressively incorporating social media extensions into their traditional marketing mix in an effort to stimulate consumer feedback and pursue direct customer relationship building. While social media activations used to be primarily used to drive consumers to a digital brand presence after strategic planning was done, we're now seeing more brands brainstorm around potential ideas that could live on social networks. This was definitely the year that many brands unveiled their apprehensions about social media and began exploring ways to be most effective in the use of so many social media tools. Here are five key developments I feel significantly impacted the social media raindance this year:

1).   Rise of the Blogger
Consumers trust bloggers, especially those who are perceived as influential and thought leaders in a topic, industry sector or product category. Bloggers can have a positive or negative impact on a brand campaign when they weigh in and stimulate discussions from their readers. Brands understand this and are incorporating influential bloggers in their marketing communications outreach, including the tactic of objectively-written sponsored posts.

2). The new 24-hour customer service
When consumers interact with a brand, they want to immediately share their experience (good or bad) with the brand. Travellers having frustrating experiences at airports immediately go on Twitter and post "their emotions" to an airline. Hotel guests overwhelmed by great examples of personable staff hospitality take a picture with the employee and post to a Facebook brand page. The brand chatter on social networks is relentless and many firms finally understood the value of monitoring social media and having a dedicated team of trained staff acknowledge customer interactions and build relationships by responding to customer needs in a timely fashion.

3).  Being social offline

We've seen the power, influence and reach of social networks like Facebook and Google+, but being able to share and be social outside of social networks was a game-changing development this year. Almost any type of content can be "liked" or shared on multiple social networks just by visiting an "offline" site. This has magnified word of mouth marketing and helped brands generate new customer leads.

4). Right place at the right time
The proliferation of smartphone usage has allowed rainmakers to extend social media into timely real-world physical experiences by leveraging location and behavior-based check-in platforms like Shopkick, GetGlue and Foursquare. Check-ins allow consumers to take advantage of special retailer incentives, many of which are based on the customer's history and loyalty to the brand. Geo-targeted raindance marketing, coupled with the expansion of mobile payment systems, will continue to give brands the opportunity to better know their customers and utilize more efficient CRM tactics.

5). Better analytics and metrics  
Nothing has frustrated rainmakers more than not having the ability to track the ROI of social media engagements and interactions. Better monitoring and metrics reporting in 2011 has led to an increased credibility in the true business value of effectively-planned and executed social media campaigns. Accountability will continue to play a key role in social media planning as it will help to identify the lift in earned media and tracked customer leads across diverse campaigns.

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