8 years after its introduction – and a few name changes – Corporate Social Media can no longer be considered as an innovation. We have clearly hit the third wave of its implementation in Corporate environments, that is to say the structuring of collaborative web initiatives in order to scale in multi-billion dollar companies (and smaller companies. In this piece which will serve as a basis for my presentation in Bucharest at the ronewmedia digital conference due to take place on May 16th, 2012. I will use my 5 years of practice in that field at Orange and dwell on some of the major trends impacting Social Media and its management in large corporations. My presentation will highlight these trends which will be illustrated with real life examples taken from the field.
[diagram: 3 stages in social media, Kabla & Gourvennec, 2011]
First and foremost, it has to be confirmed that this is definitely the end of the beginning of social media in large enterprises. Almost 10 years after the invention of Web 2.0 and its deployment in enterprises, brands are no longer toying with the idea of jumping on the band waggon, but are rather busy at structuring and streamlining their initiatives. In our book (“social media talked to my boss” published in Paris in 2011, the English adaptation of which is in progress, the working title being “social media from the trenches”), Hervé Kabla and myself were already emphasising the need for a third stage in the implementation of social media (structuring).
This statement is even more true nowadays with the advent of a second wave of a very serious European economic crisis, to a certain extent a lot deeper and harder than the one that struck in 2009, even though the numbers related to the growth in GDP are – so far – less ominous. As a matter of fact, that crisis is beginning to wear thick on the allocation of marketing budgets (even though digital is still considered low cost by most) and to an extent it is a good opportunity to streamline our processes and curb a few excesses.
As we are working towards this streamlining phase, which is definitely on the agenda at Orange where I manage social media and digital for the group, I feel 10 major trends coming to the fore in 2012. Here they are, in random order, based on my experience in the field:
trend number 1: mobile devices/iPad (and not tablets) are becoming obligatory, whether you like it or lump it
this statement is less obvious than it may seem. I have noticed as I was attending many meetings with my peers in the digital world recently, that few actually knew how many of their users were looking at their websites via a mobile device. Facts and figures related to my website orange.com (anything between 1.2 and 1.5 million monthly uniques) are however very clear: since 2011, it’s more than 15% of our users who have gone mobile. Yet, something new has happened in that area. I mean the proportion of iPads (and I don’t mean tablets in general) which are being used by our readers. In essence, twice as many iPads as there are iPhones, in themselves by far the most used of smartphones as far as our readers are concerned! Without judging, the amount of the audience using android devices is very fragmented, non-iPad tablets being completely invisible in my statistics. These numbers are not neutral when it comes to designing websites or adapting social media platforms for brand purposes, and let alone when it comes to the socialisation of traditional websites which is another major trend which we have observed (per below).
Trend number 2: content marketing is no longer a gadget, it has become central to our strategies
I often tell the story about my beginnings at orange business services when I started to introduce business blogging and started recruiting experts among our ranks. The first few reactions which I got at the time were “we are not the New York Times!” Whereas I do agree with that statement and wouldn’t even venture to compare blogs to eminent news pages, everybody who’s been working in the web industry for at least a little while understands that the web is fuelled with content. Internet content, and particularly user generated content (UGC) has become central to our content driven strategies nowadays and is no longer debated. This is the case also at Orange where we have been able to impose many of these platforms such as orange – innovation.TV, the feed (UK), le collectif (France), as well as live.orange.com and very soon orange inside which will be available directly on the main orange.com portal (see our major trend devoted to curation). Not to mention the Orange Business Services blog which I created more than four years ago. These sources of information are now part of our communications landscape, are no longer seen as a gadget, and are directly incorporated within the enterprise and embedded in its DNA.
Trend number 3: social media has changed the way one hires new employees … for ever
Due to sociological, structural and organisational changes, the good old resume has become largely obsolete. In Canada alone more than 90% of jobseekers are using social media to find for a new employer. There is no reason why employers, this side of the Atlantic or anywhere else, should do anything else either. At a time when Monster is going through a rough patch, one could actually say that LinkedIn has killed the traditional resume and the way that one used to look for a job in the past. I won’t complain about it personally. I have always found degrading the practice of sending one’s curriculum vitae through the post so that it would end up in an unknown anonymous pile of 2000 resumes.
Social media and e-reputation now enable employees to “sell” themselves online, without having as if they were brands. Eight years after its release, LinkedIn is now slowly but surely becoming the world’s online and rich media resume. To a large extent this changes the way companies too are using social media, and the impact on HR strategies being driven by digital and how they attract new candidates is of paramount importance.
Tools like LinkedIn, Viadeo, Xing and Vkontakte in Russia and even Facebook are becoming unavoidable.
trend number 4: curation (in the noble sense of the term) can become a major asset for companies which are into content marketing
“curation”, is not a term of which I have always been fond. In the beginning, curation very often meant that people would actually steal your content using RSS feeds not quote the author and plonk the content back into their own blogs or platforms, without having to pay tribute to anyone. Whenever you came back to them they would answer something like “Oh! there is nothing I can do about it, this is just the platform you know; it’s automatic!” Even though the statement was feeble, there was indeed very little you could do about it. However, may be with a little help from the Google penguin (and before Panda) algorithm, one managed to do away with most of content aggregation platforms, and now original content is back on the agenda; content producers can at last reap the harvests they have sown. As a matter of fact, certain platforms have either disappeared or been taken over (like summify which was taken over by Twitter and for which new user registrations are now closed) while others have matured considerably. I would for instance dwell on the scoop’it platform, a Franco-American start-up, which has always taken great care at promoting original content through its curation technology rather than steal it. In early June 2012, Orange will release a new curation platform powered by Scoop’it in order to fuel is brand-new inside orange dynamic site. There will be a dual stage curation process on Insife Orange : first aggregating internal Orange content throughout the world (23 different RSS feeds) and second proposing external content curated by the team. Platform will be available at inside.orange.com.
Trend number 5: beyond the fan page
a year ago, I was already announcing that the future would not be for brands to develop bigger and bigger and bigger fan pages, even though some analysts are still stuck with a measurement of the number of fans on brand names therefore triggering a silly competition for which customers pay very little interest. Engagement rates on these fan bases are smaller and smaller, and the bigger the fan base, the smaller the engagement rate. With the advent of Facebook timeline, discussions are now even less visible on brand fan pages. The future will be about the capitalisation on such discussion platforms in order to create second to none content, which readers would want to share on their own spaces. This has now become reality on most content websites which already incorporate what is now known as Facebook opengraph and Facebook connect (not to mention Twitter and LinkedIn connect etc). Sharing buttons are now trivial and are not even part of the debate any more. Even though it has taken us a little bit of time to implement it (in fact we didn’t just change the website, we overhauled the entire platform), this vision is really central to the new orange.com website which we will release at the end of May, as well as it enhancements in mid June.
to be continued on Visionary Marketing …