Looking Back at 2013 As We Look Toward 2014
After such a tremendous year for us at Social Media Today, I can’t believe the end of 2013 is only eight days away. Perhaps it's also because this was the year we all waited for social media to die as some Nostradamuses suggested it would. Maybe we got caught up in some of the social failures, such as Lufthansa, JP Morgan Chase, and Kmart; nonetheless, 2013 is almost complete and while it is no longer SOCIAL AS WE KNEW IT, social, in its many forms of networking, listening and community, is not only still here but stronger than ever. Before we say goodbye to this year, let’s mull over a few things that shifted and have us looking toward new social horizons.
I couldn’t agree more with Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff that “behind every interaction on the Internet, we must not forget there’s a customer.” It is not that social media is dying. It’s just no longer driven by one social force such as Facebook or Pinterest; they are simply channels for content creation, interaction, and listening to our customers. The most important thing we’ve learned over the past 12 months is that our customers are socially-driven. But we must get there first and greet them when they enter social places each day—whether it’s on LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter, or on their mobile device or desktop. It’s up to us to make it a seamless experience for them.
This is just as true in business-to-business and complex sales, where the majority of decision-making is done before a salesperson is contacted. The only way for companies to enter a B2B conversation with a customer while the decision is being shaped is through content, which is not only "marketed" through social (search remains critical), but in its most effective form rises and is shaped by the conversations and opinions from online (and offline) communities of experts.
Customer-centric is the new social-centric. Social enterprise has to be enabled by seamless enterprise alignment. Remember, the customer is the bottom line. This is going to disrupt traditional measurements and diminish the importance of “shareholder value” as the key metric of business performance. Being able to provide the most seamless customer service will determine how we’re measured and valued.
Tech has moved on from social and is now poised on the bleeding edge of mobile. As Shel Israel says in “The future of tech for marketers is wearable and mobile," “Disruptive technologies are trying to change the world for the better. The big point is the coming together of them.”
In this recent interview about the book he co-authored with Robert Scoble, The Age of Context, he shared the example of how the average hotel has four computer systems: one for the restaurants, one for the spa and golf course, one for registration, and the fourth is social media listening to relevant conversations.” Israel says that while now those systems are in silos, in the age of context, all things will talk to each other and people, and all computer systems will talk to each other, and data systems will talk to each other in meaningful ways to increase efficiency and profits and make a much better experience for the customer.
“The end result is technologies are going to know us better than our spouses know us,” Israel says. “They will be able to predict what we want even before we know that we want it.”
These are a few main developments from 2013 to take into account so you can put closure to social-centric, and begin to set up for customer-centric social success in Q1. As you chew on the above, I will elaborate on how it relates to 2014:
The CEOs that don’t jump on board with this and look to their customers for help will do so at their demise.
Owyang is evangelizing the collaborative economy through his new venture, Crowd Companies and already 20 far-thinking brands like Intel, Cisco, and GE are on board to themselves collaborate about what this combination of extraordinary technologies combined with social means, and what it will mean for their businesses.
So my friends, if you thought 2014 was going to be a breather, a time to coast, forget about it. Book those meditation sessions, because you’re going to need them. What are your predictions? Leave a comment here to let us know what you are thinking about as 2014 rolls in.
(And be sure to mark your calendars for September 16-17, 2014, in Atlanta for The Social Shake-Up II. We’ll see how many predictions will be coming true.)
image: social media in 2014/shutterstock