Life in the Fast Lane - Social Predictions for 2013

By Richard Pasewark, CEO, Visible Technologies

This past year the social media and marketing world saw many evolutionary changes including the IPO of Facebook, market consolidation and increased adoption of social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram. As we move forward into 2013, companies of all sizes will realize the necessity of utilizing social media data and analytics to better serve, engage and help their customers. Simply participating in social media is no longer enough. Companies need a well thought-out social media strategy to stay ahead of the competition. Below is a snapshot of what the industry can expect to see this year and which areas companies should focus on when developing their marketing plans.

"If you build it, they will come"

As more and more of the large enterprise technology companies acquire social marketing tools and stitch together social media "suites", clients are increasingly assessing if these toolkits meet their needs. 2013 will be the year that marketing leaders determine what type of software and solutions they can count on - whether it's delivered from an independent vendor or the result of acquisitions. Many marketers need clear and clean solutions that meet immediate needs - as social media analytics and engagement continuously play a prominent role in their actions and effectiveness, they will need agile vendors to address their dynamic needs. 

English isn't the only language spoken in the world

The growth of social media in English speaking channels is enormous; yet we need to acknowledge the same rapid ascension of the social global movement, driven by mobile in many parts of the world. In 2013 it will be imperative for global brands to establish a multi-region, multi-language footprint in social channels to reach customers in all markets. Even though Facebook has been banned in countries like China, there is still a major adoption of social media use on homegrown sites such as Sino Wiebo. According to eMarketer, 54 percent of Internet users in China would make a purchase because a friend "liked" or follows the brand on a social network. That's too big of a figure for companies to ignore. In order to be successful it will be important for companies to monitor their activity on international social channels as well as in non-English speaking channels in order to penetrate new markets. In turn, software companies will need to focus their efforts on developing solutions that can accurately understand and measure the sentiment expressed in languages beyond English. With nearly 20 percent of the world's population speaking Mandarin or Arabic, both character-based languages, companies will also need to focus on identifying and reading these characters as well.

The rise of Pinterest will foster new technology that tracks the sharing of images (vs. text only)

The rise of visual social media like Pinterest will create a need for businesses to track the sharing of images versus just text. With the proliferation of images, videos and infographics going viral over the last few years, enterprises will begin to demand software to track these mainstream marketing and advertising methods. A fun example is the smiley face ;-), which is one of the most tweeted terms, making it imperative for companies to shift their technologies in this direction. With this will come new abilities added to search engines allowing users to copy and paste images to find a match versus relying on text-only options. This will open the gates of opportunity for other search engines to flourish if Google and Bing don't evolve with these changes. It will also open new avenues for analytics as data sharing and influence will have new dimensions of insight. 

Social media analytics will become the de facto source of customer input

Social media has already begun to pave the way of transformation in the customer service sector. As more and more customers voice their opinions online, companies have been forced to engage with consumers on their medium of choice. In 2013 we can expect this to continue and establish itself as the primary means of gaining customer feedback to improve customer experience. Data analyzed from social media sources will become a de facto way for companies to measure customer sentiment and satisfaction and be an essential channel to identify problem areas. Companies will no longer rely on surveys to gauge the success of their products and service, and will increasingly use social media analysis and community engagement to solicit and respond to customer input. 

Product development will begin to lean on social channels

Much as customer service teams began addressing customer issues via social channels this year, product development teams will begin to look to social media to determine their next move. In order to meet consumer needs in a constantly changing marketplace, product development teams will begin sourcing ideas and preferences from social chatter when determining which capabilities or enhancements to focus on. This in turn will give the customer more power, allowing them to have a say in what innovations they see next.

About Richard Pasewark

As Chief Executive Officer of Visible Technologies, Rich provides strategic leadership to bring value to clients and partners. Prior to this role, Rich was President of Cymfony, where he scaled the organization to meet the growing demand for insights delivered from Cymfony's technology and analyst services. Rich brings more than two decades of experience as a business leader, strategist, and software visionary for industry leaders such as Quark, Adobe and EDS. Rich values the opportunity to create new solutions in the emerging and continually evolving social media analytics market.