People have been asking me what changes I see coming down the pike for social media and social marketing as we move into 2014. While I don’t read tea leaves or have my own personal crystal ball, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more movement in three key areas:
ROR (Return on Relationship #RonR) will come more into focus: Companies are getting used to the idea that in order to see ROI in social marketing, the building blocks of relationship-building must be in place and functioning first. ROI isn’t a magic number in social that you can tie to a direct formula as in advertising or direct mail. People like myself and others who understand this have been beating the drum for quite some time now. It takes a while for new ideas that challenge entrenched thinking to take hold, but I think the tide is finally turning. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that the majority of brands finally “get it” and make 2014 the year they start putting #RonR in practice as a key ingredient for enhancing ROI.
Social is becoming more “social!”: It has taken some push-back from people who use social channels, but brands are finally figuring out the importance of #RonR in the space and that they can’t just turn social platforms into blast media channels. There has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of lazy marketers that still try to take short-cuts, but the rewards for good social behavior are just too big to ignore. Spammers are getting penalized, and good networkers and community builders are reaping benefits.
People in general are responding on social channels to things that move them emotionally. An inspiring quote, photos of loved ones, a request for prayers during a difficult time-these are the things that get likes, shares and comments, and not so much the silly antics of celebrities. Those antics have become less important than person-to-person connections.
Less Silos-More Social Integration: As businesses are carried on the tide of social change, it has become more and more apparent that things can’t go on as they did before. Mobile technology has changed the game completely, and now everyone has a computer in their pocket. Your customers look for you on social channels mainly via mobile devices. They do research, get peer reviews and buy right from their smartphones-and at the same time they’re texting, posting photos on Instagram, and checking email.
Businesses have to multi-task as well. They’re finding that the more they integrate social into their processes and departmental communications, and the more they empower their employees to act as social advocates and customer service reps, the better. Social media is part of the overall mix-not a separate line item any more. Moving into 2014, I think we’re going to see more and more companies wrapping everything they do in a social shell. Most importantly, I think you’ll see more brands blur the lines between marketing and customer service.
What changes do you see taking place as we move towards 2014? I would love to hear your thoughts.