Friday, October 9, 2009

Evolution of Social Media: The next phase

A powerful tool to understand customers and increase ROI. Next phase of Social Media will not monitor but merge business intelligence to analyze & take effective measures

Over the past few years social media has emerged as a powerful platform not only for connecting likeminded people online but also to understand specific preferences of different niche groups. There are a number of such examples. Not just the big brands but even the small and medium sized businesses are making their presence felt through this platform and are also introducing innovative marketing campaigns to leverage this highly lucrative platform. Few companies have been able to garner impressive ROI, one such example is of Dell, the company made more than 3 million USD using Twitter as a medium to reach out to its existing and potential customers. There are many other examples.

It seems that the life cycle evolution of social media is waiting for the next giant leap. One can classify the evolution of social media so far into three phases;

• First Phase: began with one or two sites and then graduated to networking sites like Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, Wikis, Blogs, Video and Picture sharing.

• Second Phase: Techies coined the term Web 2.0 to make their presence felt and interesting applications were introduced.

• Third Phase: The current phase, where digital marketing evolved from the web marketing era and became synonymous with an integrated digital marketing concept that imbibed web 2.0 and mobile marketing. Companies realized the potential and power of this combined Digital Marketing Concept and came up with innovative marketing campaigns. Thanks to the creative and digital agencies for these path-breaking concepts.

One common trait in all the innovative marketing campaigns is that despite huge engagements & participation by the target audiences that resulted in sales, companies used social media platforms to reach out to their customers and engage them with interesting tools instigating them to buy. Dell is a unique example where they approached the customers with the core objective of listening to their opinion and getting their feedback. An interesting fact is that the company used this information to align its marketing and sales approach to digital platforms.

It is clear that just Listening to the social media consumer is no longer enough. It is time for companies to think out of the box and not just use social media platforms to make their presence felt. They should get involved in different ways, such as product/services conceptualization and development, positioning, communication, offers/discounts etc. Basically, use social media to understand what people are talking about, understand their viewpoint and preferences, gather insights, identify their problems and opportunities, and reach out to them with much more efficient marketing strategy. Brands also need to be more flexible in how they approach social media, avoiding “One size fits all” approach to marketing.

Another important aspect is to merge the marketing concept with localized touch i.e. one should not forget that the basic definition of social media is community based networking. Although the platform is globally available; it is advisable to transform the global campaign with a localized digital marketing strategy e.g. in Asia and Europe, where every country has different and unique culture, socio-economic divides.

From a technology perspective, to complement this approach, Google has taken a path-breaking approach once again with SideWikis.


What’s in the Future?
The fourth phase: which is yet to begin can take forward the concept of SideWikis leading to the emergence of technologies based on human intelligence and will track and analyze all the opinions voiced by users on social media platforms. These tools will not only track comments but also act like a typical sales or BD executive who categorizes similar opinions and approach them with a right proposition.

Popular social media platforms like blogs, facebook, twitter, discussion boards etc. can be integrated with technologies that can carry out the following processes:
• Track user comments and opinions
• Understand requirements and talk like human minds
• Categorize the opinions and comments
• Create graphs and charts using business intelligence
• Provide a user interface for the BD and Sales executives to access list of potential targets with their exact requirements and approach them with the right sales or brand awareness or image enhancement proposition


One major example in this context is Crimson Hexagon's VoxTrot listening platform. Crimson Hexagon's VoxTrot listening platform provides companies with actionable insight into consumer opinion of their brand, product, or market. VoxTrot technology can identify opinion from large quantities of text, whether it's an in-house content repository or the vast blogosphere. Crimson Hexagon's VoxTrot Opinion Monitor has its roots in a statistical algorithm created by Gary King, a professor at Harvard University. Proven in research and commercial settings, the technology is patent-pending and already in use with global brands.

This technology analyzes the vast social internet (blog posts, forum messages, Tweets, etc.) by identifying statistical patterns in the words used to express opinions on different topics. It uses these patterns to calculate the percentage of opinion for reach opinion category, as defined by you, the business user. Competitive technologies, by contrast, simply count the number of mentions of different keywords or infer generic positive/negative sentiment. You can read about the technology in detail at following links:
- How a listening platform provides actionable insight
- Measuring brand equity in the age of big data

I would love to hear from you on this article, be it in response to what I have outlined here or your own thoughts on the subject. In case you have an opinion or viewpoint, let’s connect and discuss innovative options for the transformation of Social Media & Web 2.0 to the next level.

1 comment:

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