By: Jay Osterholm, Founder and CEO of The ODM Group
As we wind down 2011, I often like to reflect on the past year and prepare for what is ahead. 2011 was a great year for us as marketers. Never before have we had so many tools available to spread our messages to highly targeted users. Additionally, we found unprecedented levels of connectivity in a 24/7, always-on, mobile society. In 2012, there will be 5.25 million mobile users.
While 2011 may have been the “Year of Mobile,” we will go further next year. Consumers are expanding their uses of social media to more devices and incorporating it into daily tasks, and we, as marketers must follow. That is why 2012 needs to be, and will be, the “Year of Integration.”
We witnessed vast improvements in communication methods, technology, and business strategies this year. However, these changes are not complete. Currently we talk about mobile, social media, marketing, public relations, advertising, e-mail, etc. as if they are separate entities, each operating in their own silo.
If we do not learn to harness the power of integration in the coming year, our tactics and strategies will reach stagnant and ineffective levels, leading to decreased results for clients.
Business Becomes Social…Finally
Companies of all sizes will need to transform their mindsets to truly become social businesses, which is more than simply implementing a Facebook page or a YouTube channel. Social business refers to an adoption of social thought at every level of an organization.
To be a social business, companies must plan to have a long-term relationship with social media. Excelling at this requires companies to become customer-centric, and embrace and engage in conversations with customers where they are talking about the brands.
A study from Booz Allen and Buddy Media found that 57 percent of businesses surveyed plan to increase social media spending, and 38 percent of CEO’s label social media as a high priority. With careful planning, companies can integrate a social mindset into every aspect of business operations, and ultimately find results.
Big Data = Big Results
Social media sites are like the ears of the Internet. Maintaining an active presence on these sites is vital, but is also only the beginning in terms of leveraging the full potential of social media. Throughout 2011, we heard quiet murmurs about the power of social data, and the importance of monitoring our campaigns.
In 2012, we as marketers will move beyond awareness, and learn to adopt and incorporate social data in to our daily efforts. Furthermore, as companies grow to understand the mass amounts of data available, and how to act on the insights from those metrics, we will see a smaller emphasis on fan and follower numbers and a larger emphasis on influence, reach, and effectiveness.
Is it Better to be “Liked” or Have Influence?
Influence was a new word in 2011, initially introduced by Klout. This tool, and others, allows companies to understand a specific path of influence on their brand/product and vice versa.
To some extent, everyone now has some digital influence simply by maintaining an online presence. However, as companies pay less attention to followers and fan counts, higher emphasis will be placed on digital influence scores, the ability to monitor those who influence brands, and learning how to scale and measure the results of it.
Next year we expect to see more companies such as Klout infiltrating the marketplace offering different levels of metrics to fully understand the power of an influencer.
No, I do not mean the newest video game. Gamification refers to engaging people by applying game functionality to non-game situations, thus encouraging users to engage with a brand or business.
Throughout 2011, several companies incorporated game-like qualities into their marketing, web and mobile strategies such as virtual badges, trophies, points, and levels that subsequently allow brands to engage with users, build trust, and encourage participation.
Gamification has serious benefits to offer both B2C and B2B companies. Earlier this year, IBM unveiled some gaming techniques to attract new prospect and business leads. CityOne is IBM’s gaming application that educates professionals and prospects on ways to use technology and data in making decisions to run a ‘city’ or businesses in a more sustainable and eco-friendly way.
A rapidly expanding mobile network and a growing need for consumer engagement guarantee that our 2012 marketing campaigns will be infiltrated with badges, points, leaderboards, puzzles, and much more as we approach the New Year.
Learning to Share
Social media is based on social sharing. Every Facebook update, Twitter post, and YouTube video is sharing content with a network of individuals. This past month alone, 30 billion pieces of content were added to and shared on Facebook. Users are well adept at finding information and sharing it on their preferred networks.
In the future, users will be able to share, recommend, or review products and services on any site to a social network. For example, if you purchase an item online, you will immediately be able to share it across multiple social platforms instantly. In 2012, companies need to find unique and user-friendly ways to facilitate the sharing of content. (Click here to learn about the power of face-to-face communication).
A Better Mousetrap
Social television is here to stay. Many networks and companies experimented with social TV this year, offering special apps with behind-the scenes content, voting abilities, and full episodes in a mobile platform. Additionally, the majority of viewers are already very social when watching television. Nearly 86 percent of people access mobile Internet while watching TV, and that number will only expand in 2012.
Earlier this year, “The X Factor” became the first-ever reality-TV competition show to allow voting by Twitter. The results? A drastically expanded social footprint. On average, “The X Factor” received 110,000 social media comments per episode.
Next year, watching TV will being a full-fledged social experience. Marketing campaigns will feature commercials encouraging users to vote via Twitter and Facebook, check-in on TV shows, and share our opinions with people around the world in real-time using campaign specific hashtags.
Utilizing these methods will create a substantiated period of engagement, which outlives a 30-second commercial spot and creates a user-experience for brands. (link to iTV DMN story).
As we prepare for our 2012 marketing endeavors, it is essential that we embrace integration on all levels. Make your business social to the core, understand the importance of analytics, facilitate sharing and embrace new tactics and technologies. If done correctly, 2012 may not only be the “Year of Integration,” but also your most successful one yet.