Social is now in everything we do online. Marketers now have the ability to leverage social signals across platforms, coordinate their efforts in a more deliberate way and better understand the return on their social investments. Which Social startups are changing the playing field and what’s it like to be a startup in the industry today? We spoke with Nimble, Social Chorus, Overblog, and Rallyverse to learn more.
What are your biggest challenges in 2012?
Jon Ferrara, CEO, Nimble, @Jon_Ferrara
Social media sites are a mixed blessing. On one hand, you can listen to your potential customers as they tell you and others on their networks what they like and don’t like, what they’re doing, what they want and what they need. That outpouring can give you tremendous insight into who would be receptive to learning about you and how you might help them. On the other hand, social media have buried you in communications and connections. You know what you need to do but you don’t have enough time to do it all. With all of the noise in your email inbox and your social networks, it’s hard to know where to focus your efforts.
Joe Doran, CEO and Founder, Rallyverse, @doran_joe
Helping our clients to find a balance between their brand building goals and the very real changes that are happening to marketing as a result of social media. For example, we firmly believe that social media is the best branding vehicle that’s ever existed in digital marketing. And it turns out that most marketers know a lot about branding. The trick is helping them to realize that what they know — and they know a lot — can work in new environments like social. They just need to use some different tools and techniques to get there.
Frederic Montagnon, COO Overblog, @fred_montagnon
…Generally speaking, the biggest challenge of all is to unclutter what reaches users and to convert massive flows of micro-contents into a real service. Frankly, you don’t need to be notified for all the content people you know are consuming. What brings real value is getting the right recommendations for you when you need it, saving time when you are looking for something or getting help when faced with a choice. That is the future of what social can do for us.
What’s tips would you give for companies looking into investing in new Social technologies?
Greg Shove, CEO, Social Chorus, @GregShove
Define a social media playbook that includes a short-list of partners that you would consider working with (ask your peers), and sets internal KPI’s that provide a measurement yardstick – since you will want to demonstrate progress to justify further spending.
Joe Doran: Don’t believe the hype. People talk about product suites and throw around big buzz words but don’t make the business of marketing and connecting with customers easier. Focus on what you are trying to do and invest in technologies that help you achieve those goals or help your people achieve them. For most of the brands we talk to, it is all about trying to find interesting and relevant content and sharing that content that drives engagement, sharing and most importantly brand preference. Enabling technologies that helps your social media team do its job faster and better are ones you should look to. If you can’t understand it, you probably don’t need it.
Where is the biggest growth area for Social in the next year? What seems to be dying down?
Joe Doran: The big thing in Social this year is making things more Visual. Visual is about more than just a Pinterest board or an Instagram account. It’s about telling your brand’s story through sharing interesting and relevant pictures and videos coupled with great content and context. The rise of social as a visual medium gets us back to what social is all about: sharing stories. And if you do it right and share great stories with visual imagery you can make a difference with your fans and followers. And all the metrics that you care about — fan acquisition, engagement, conversions — will all happen. But it all starts with sharing great content, and telling your story with images and video.
As far as what is out this year? The social marketing suites. Brands are focusing on their core problems and opportunities and securing best-of-breed solutions to help them share great content and drive engagement with their fans. Platforms that do a little bit of everything, check all the boxes but don’t solve important problems will fall out of favor.
Frederic Montagnon: Converting behavior, movement, expression into data, and crunching these data to provide new service is probably the next big step. Some call it the Internet of Things, but people have to be at the center, not the things. The things must serve the people.
Jon Ferrara: We see growth in companies needing a capable social relationship manager, an online solution that understands that the sales role has changed. The new social selling is about developing and nurturing relationships with prospects and customers who have already done their research on your products and services and don’t need a sales pitch. Today’s customers want to know you, the person representing the product online. Can you solve a problem of theirs? Make their lives a little better or easier or more productive or enjoyable? Why should they engage with you and not the competition? An effective social relationship manager accommodates that interaction wherever it occurs online… The era of social business is upon us and companies – from startups to Fortune 500s – that recognize and implement now will have the competitive edge in the future.
Greg Shove: The acquisition of ‘fans’ via contest, sweepstakes and other methods that drive quantity not quality. What’s next is a focus on getting others to tell the brand story – to refer their friends, endorse a product or post brand-inspired content. This has always been the promise of social media – story-telling. Brands will start to rely on their best advocates and fans to tell those stories.