Emerging trends in social media for businesses in 2013

With the exception of the Grand National I am not a betting man, however there are some predictions I am willing to put money on coming true in 2013. Having read some 2013 predictions from some social media aficionados I follow on Twitter I thought I’d share a few I agree with and believe will come true.

Number 1. Social media breaks out of the silo

Nestle has built a Command and Control Centre, Dell have had their Command Centre for two years, building on this John Bell at Ogilvy believes that “brands will establish regional centers responsible for listening and responding to communities… and multiple responsibilities around converting digital and social data into actionable insights”. Jeremy Goldman (entrepreneur and author of upcoming book Going-Social) predicts that social will break out of one of the silo’s it sits in today, “Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.” Why have we had to wait until 2013 for this to happen? According to John Bell the reason is “the complexity of organizations. Social listening and data analysis serves several established departments from marketing, communications, customer service and product development. That means multiple budget holders and business “owners” of the resource. Without a leadership mandate from above or a particularly charismatic leader in one discipline, it’s tough to get these centers off the ground.”

From my own personal experience of helping set up a command and control centre for a global FMCG company, I have witnessed first-hand how a company’s structure can keep social in a silo. Knowledge is the key driver that allows social to spread. Leaders from various departments are now beginning to understand that social media is not just a channel for customer complaints and crisis management; this is the main reason why I think my money is safe.

Number 2. Moving from Monitoring to Actionable Insights

A recent IBM CMO survey which is worth a read, found that while marketers continue to experiment with social media channels, 51 percent are not using this data to inform decisions about marketing offers and messages. This represents a missed opportunity for marketers looking to best meet the needs of today’s consumer. It’s no surprise that these opportunities haven’t been seized sooner when a recent study by BusinessNext Social found that only 1 in 5 CMOs on the Fortune 100 are active on social networks.

When Beth Comstock, from General Electric was asked for her thoughts regarding CMO participation in social she told Mark Fidelman from Forbes, “if you believe as I do, that social is going to continue to play an increasingly important role in shaping the way that people connect, live and work, then I think it’s imperative that you, as a CMO, use the technology. I believe in immersing yourself in something to truly understand it.”

As social spreads through the company more brands will demand actionable insights by leveraging technology and expertise to deliver robust metrics for measuring success. John Bell agrees “as business interest shifts from the desire to listen and learn from customers to driving advantage from “big data”, business leaders will find a renewed interest in making these social centers work. Brands are struggling with formalizing the best way to get insights out of listening. After investing in technology like Radian6 and Sysomos, they discovered that turning data into useful information and/or insights remained elusive.”

We, and I’m sure other agencies, have spent a lot of time this year producing sample reports to help clients understand how we get insights out of social media. As a result of these efforts we are seeing an increased level of interest from communications, insight and marketing teams. The flood gates have by no means opened, but once the gates are open there is no going back. That’s why I believe this is an odds-on favourite for 2013.

Number 3. Companies will develop a content marketing strategy

The Content Marketing Institute released their 2013 predictions report. The key themes is 2013 will be a good year for journalists. Marketing teams and creative agencies will hire more journalists as companies compete to create the most shareable and engaging content. I agree with Sarah Mitchell, a content marketing consultant that 2013 “is going to be the year of the web journalist. Why? Businesses and brands are waking up to the importance of creating their own content. Google is putting immense pressure on producing original, high-quality content. Who better to be on your payroll than someone who can tell a good story and crank out consistently good material? While traditional newspapers may be in trouble, journalists will easily transition to online, corporate environments”.

Let’s not forget the power of visual content. I agree with Karen Webber, Head of Marketing and Creative at NewsReach when she says “brand marketers will get increasingly creative with how they integrate elements such as infographics, animation, video, memes and photography in their content marketing strategies”.

When we are analysing consumer generated content we often come across absolute gems of creativity. Brands must not forget that inspiration for great content often comes from the consumer. Successful content curation in 2013 will marry consumer comments and ideas with creative expertise. As an example I once saw a tweet about a particular chocolate brand, when mixed with another ingredient was a “marriage made in heaven, like Kylie and Jason from Neighbours”. This could have evolved into a viral campaign inspired by the consumer.

Finally, this is more of a hope than a trend, I hope brands in 2013 not only produce great content but bring things back to basics by sharing this content and investing more on their .com and mobile sites. Brands need to get the eyeballs to come to their own platforms where they have more control over content and metrics. If you don’t believe me watch what I think is the best presentation on social media in 2012 by Katy Keim.