Is there any doubt that social media exploded in 2007? The astounding growth of Facebook alone forced everyone – not just marketers, but corporations, investors, academia, and media – to pay attention to social media as a serious business and cultural phenomenon.
But here’s a bigger question: How will social media change the way we do business in 2008?
To shed some light on this, I spoke with Shiv Singh, our director of global strategic initiatives at Avenue A | Razorfish. Singh is responsible for building the agency’s social media capabilities and has discovered a major shift occurring – the rise of social media is creating a new form of marketing altogether, which he calls social influence marketing. This is about employing social media as part of the entire lifecycle of a marketing campaign, even beyond the campaign.
Here are 10 major social media developments you need to know about now:
Social influence marketing becomes the third dimension of marketing
Brand marketing and direct response used to be all that mattered. Not anymore. Social influence marketing requires new strategies, rules and tactics along with a lot of experimentation. We believe that over the long term, it is going to have a stronger affect on purchasing behavior than direct response and brand marketing.
Advertising on your consumer’s terms
Social influence marketing is also about the active advertiser engaging with consumers on their terms. The most immediate impact? Slick, big idea advertising will have less influence than marketing strategies that allow companies to participate in the online conversations.
Forget about the marketing funnel
Social media in all its forms is having a complex influence on the traditional marketing funnel and making it look more like a Kandinsky painting than a linear process. We’re going to see this transformation in 2008 as social media impacts purchasing behavior and the traditional marketing funnel.
Social networks matter more than websites
In 2008, consumers will continue to spend most of their time on social networks. Any company developing a new Web site, product or marketing campaign needs to think about how it integrates with key social networks. This can’t be an after thought anymore. Social influence marketing is about reaching these audiences on these networks.
Engagement metrics come to the forefront
Much of the Web’s success as a marketing platform is driven by its ability to capture strong metrics. New measurement models and corresponding tools will be needed to track whether social influence marketing is having a stronger effect on the purchasing cycle than brand marketing or direct response.
The Internet blends in with everything else
Consumers no longer see the Internet as a separate world. They expect seamless marketing both online and off. Every key consumer activity must contribute to the total experience.
Media companies continue to be at the forefront
Media companies are going to be at the forefront when it comes to taking advantage of social influence marketing trends. Whether it is in how they approach social media and deliver video in new formats via the Web, or how they seed media within the social networks, they’re going to be in the lead again. The reason is simple – they are the ones who have the most permission to play in this space.
Companies realize that communities matter again
Social networks are just another incarnation of online communities like America Online, Tripod and Geocities. Companies are going to spend money trying to understand adoption, user behavior, trust, and information flows in these communities. And as companies attempt to influence behavior on these networks, they are going to think hard about their own tone and how they should be participating.
Social influence marketing takes many different forms…
Companies and individuals will need to think hard about what social media means for them and for their networks, organizations and industries. For example, the way the travel industry will leverage social media should be very different from the financial sector.
…and it broadens influence
Social influence marketing is not just about user-generated content or marketing on social networks. It is going to affect how organizations innovate, develop ideas, recruit, measure performance and interact with all their constituents – customers, employees, partners and shareholders. Why? Because only by changing their organizations from the inside out, will companies be authentic when talking to the outside world.
Dave Friedman, president of the central region for Avenue A | Razorfish, is a monthly contributor to Chief Marketer. He may be reached at Dave.Friedman@avenuea-razorfish.com.