I’m the type that most always looks forward to the New Year. It usually signifies a more open mindset in everyone—a personal mandate for change, however small.
Setting aside my own personal resolutions (ahem, less carbs, more joy), I look forward to 2013 with a special kind of anticipation. Why? We’re betting that 2013 will be a ‘break out’ year for social. It’s going to go from interesting to essential.
In the back half of 2012, we noticed a change afoot in our market. At industry events, in sales conversations, in analyst and media briefings, there was a decided shift in the conversation. We turned the corner from “should I” engage in social to “how do I” engage in social. Simply put, the time for experimentation is over. For those who intend to be fierce competitors in what Forrester calls the “Age of the Customer”, a serious social strategy is now becoming a must-have.
Our prediction: 2013 is the year to get serious about social.
Forget the Old Spice Guy. Congratulations Oreo you have a zillion likes within days, but I’m over it. And your viral video has me laughing so hard, I…well, did nothing actually.
Folks, it’s time to get down to business. The jury is no longer out on whether investments in social make sense. They make game-changing business sense. Leading-edge social brands have proven the serious impact of social: multi-millions in cost savings and revenue gains. Sephora Beauty Talk community members spend 10x more than average. Skype social customers resolve issues for 3 million customers per month. The more brands like these keep crushing it in social, the more they put pressure on the rest to figure it out.
2013 will be the year where the difference between winning and sinking brands will have everything to do with how serious they are about social. Sinkers will keep aiming for the wrong things—likes, fans, and followers. Winners will set their sights on the right things—serious things—which are business results. They’ll tap social for the real value it offers: interacting with customers at scale, increasing satisfaction, growing loyalty, and yes, more revenue.
If it’s not obvious by now, I’ll put it simply. 2013 is the year to:
1. Follow your head, not the herd.
Ask your head what following the herd onto popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is really doing for your business. Facebook engagement may have limitations, but your lukewarm results may be because your strategy was “I had to be there” rather than “I was trying to do a, b and c.” Lose the networks that don’t sync with your overall marketing or customer support strategy.
2. Own it, don’t outsource it.
Why so many spend millions of dollars on campaigns and advertising driving traffic to Mark Zuckerberg is a modern marketing mystery. You’ve invested in millions in your website and you own the experience fully. You can capture information, leads and move customers closer to your products and services right there. So own, it people. Winners put social customer experiences on-domain where they can guide behaviors that benefit the business.
3. Get out of the silo, get into a strategy.
Who owns social? Everybody. It’s a mindset and a customer strategy, so break out of your channel-centric mentality. Get others involved—across marketing, support and sales—and lead them on how they can get involved to be responsive and engaging with customers.
4. Stop dabbling, commit. Experimentation is great. Endless experimentation is cowardly. Make some bets—your customers expect more engagement from you online. If you don’t offer it, they’ll move on.
5. Flush the fuzzy metrics.
Enough already with the buzz, likes, comments, and high fives. If you can’t explain to your CEO what benefit your social strategy is driving (e.g.: reduced costs, greater loyalty, increased revenue), you aren’t talking a language anyone understands, cares about or takes seriously.
6. Don’t campaign, sustain.
There is no way can you scale internal teams to meet the demands of today’s social customers when a single Twitter campaign can bring an ocean of comments. Enable social customers to help each other, make customer care agents more effective, be systematic and prioritize your responses. Net/net is that any good strategy needs to be operationalized over time and this one does too.
Yes, this is the year. Get serious about social in 2013, because the alternative isn’t a winning option. Shift your mindset. Hold your program to higher standards. Be courageous. Count real results.