The first wave of social marketing innovation is over. The second wave has started and it's going to matter even more.
I co-founded a social marketing company in 2006. It wasn't quite called "social" then (it was called "web 2.0"), but then, in 2007, the feeds and widgets of web 2.0 turned into the streams, tabs, and apps of social media and a whole wave of social marketing solutions was born from that shift.
Things have shifted again.
The first wave of social marketing innovation is complete, confirmed by the recent acquisitions of Buddy Media, Wildfire, Vitrue, Context Optional, and Involver. These are all great, innovative companies that hit their stride by addressing that shift back in 2007. And now they're all being integrated into more traditional CRM and CMS solutions.
Social Marketing's Heritage: Fan Acquisition, Conversation, and Contests
To illustrate the new shift that is happening in the market now, it helps to look back at the dynamics that defined the "Class of 2007" social media marketing solutions (SMMS):
In this first wave, a typical brand playbook for social marketing went something like this:
…and redirect questions about "measurable ROI" by focusing instead on "earned media" and "engagement."
Don't get me wrong. This was the right playbook for the first wave. And in many ways it has established the "table stakes" for brands' participation in social marketing. But it's no longer a real competitive advantage. The game has changed again.
Social Marketing's Future: Real Revenue Impact From Engaged Social Customers
This new wave is driven by brands' need to derive meaningful business value from their social customers, presence, and marketing efforts. To paraphrase what I hear from most CMOs talking about their social efforts today: "I've got a team that spends all day posting, tweeting, and pinning. Where's the return?"
And a whole crop of new solutions is emerging to answer that challenge. These companies combine social marketing and social commerce capabilities to link social product discovery (in places like Pinterest) to actual purchasing online and in-store.
In contrast to the first shift, these are the market dynamics that characterize this new class of solutions:
These new solutions represent not only a more diverse set of technologies and formats, but also a much keener focus on creating real, measurable value from social marketing efforts. For a glimpse into the future, take a look at what sites like Pinterest, The Fancy, and Fab are doing on the consumer side - and social marketing tools that focus on connecting social product discovery to purchasing decisions, online and off.
The Path to Social ROI: How We Get There
From the marketer's standpoint, the key theme in this shift is social activation. How many total fans or followers a brand has amassed in the first wave is important, but it's less important than how many of those social customers are actively:
This isn't a new idea - social marketers have been talking about "activation" from the beginning. However, until recently it has been difficult for them to apply significant budget and effort beyond the "conversation" stage. With recent changes in both the technology landscape and social customers' engagement with rich product content, the activation opportunity has arrived.
We can see the seeds of the solutions to come in the companies that are innovating quickly in the fields of social promotion and social commerce. Watch this space in the months to come, as the "Class of 2013" is right around the corner.
Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!
Kevin has been working with brands and retailers to build e-commerce and social media marketing solutions since 1995. As an entrepreneur and business development leader in growth-stage companies, he is most interested in developing new markets at the intersection of consumers, brands, and emerging technologies. Kevin currently leads marketing and product management at ShopIgniter, providers of Enterprise Social Commerce solutions to the F1000.
IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.
An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.
September 30, 2014
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT
October 23, 2014
1:00pm ET/10:00am PT