5 Social Media Insights For Businesses In 2017 And Beyond

In 2013 I recorded a video on behalf of Hootsuite in which I was introducing the concept of social mass media. Judging by the number of tweets and interactions we had on our post, I sense that we had struck a chord. We are wrapping up the 2016 version of our Hootsuite/Visionary Marketing barometer of social media use by marketers in France. The insights we are deriving from it are showing clear signs of a maturing market, and indications that there is still a long way to go. In this piece, I will make a few guesses at what this maturing social media landscape could look in 2017 and beyond.

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Insight #1: Some tools are born and others disappear

One thing struck me when looking at the results of our new barometer: the list of social media tools quoted by marketers is evolving. Exeunt Vine (definitely killed by Twitter this year), Viadeo or Xing (cornered to very definite geographies). Enter Periscope, Facebook Messenger, Facebook live and Snapchat. Snapchat is appealing more to B2C companies and is also attracting attention, but many businesses are still struggling with its unusual features and unwieldy interface. It will take time before the dust settles but a new social media giant may be born. My hunch is that businesses will be increasingly experimenting with live video. It has already become a usual tool in live event streaming. We are also experimenting with it as a means to increase engagement in webinars (thanks to this, in one afternoon we managed to get a record 117 job applications for the cloud computing arm of local telco Orange). As 2016 is nearing its end and speculations on the survival of Twitter abound, Periscope may well prove to be a real opportunity for the struggling social network we like so much.

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Figure 1: social media is one of the main tools for Word of Mouth Marketing, this needs to be remembered and understood

Insight #2: more Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) and UGC

The old mantra of brand engagement in social media has been often repeated but not always understood by brands. Most of them have struggled with this idea that users, be they employees, customers or the average Joe, would talk about their brands on their own social media pages rather than go to the brand’s account page. Social media is still seen as the old way of bringing eyeballs to an owned Web asset, rather than as a major WOMM tool. But things are changing and I see more and more businesses attracted to inbound marketing. B2B companies seem more mature in this area. Few B2B players have the means of investing in advertising. To them, UGC and WOMM is a credible alternative. Besides, inbound marketing is a major source of lead generation, mostly when it is coupled with marketing automation. As Facebook announced it would diminish the amount of advertisements in its timelines, Word of Mouth and UGC are bound to play an increasing role with brands.

Insight #3: social selling will thrive

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Technology changes our behaviour

David Shing, also known as Shingy, is a digital prophet. His job is to identify trends for brands, audiences and companies at large. He spoke at the SAS Forum 2015 which took place in Paris on November 5 2015. He delivered a great presentation. Right after the show I had the chance to ask him a few questions..

You are a digital prophet. Could you explain this term to us?

The idea is to look at the trends, to still them down from the industry for brands, for clients, for companies and for the industry itself.

So, you work for AOL. But people probably don’t always know what AOL is about now.

You are absolutely right. They don’t necessarily have to know about the core brand of AOL. They know about services and some of the brands I work with; such as Huffington Post and Engadget. There is some science that we own; people call them ‘love brands’. Within our industry, our job is to bring people to brands and brands to people. AOL Inc. is an organization that classes together all brands that actually deliver these ad solutions. And that is the idea of brands to people, people to brands.

You delivered an amazing and very inspirational pitch this morning, in which you said “technology changes our behaviour; it does not change our needs”. What do you mean by that?

Technology is something you are holding that has changed your behaviour. In fact, I saw a photography piece done recently: an artist who had taken out the divisors to see how people’s behaviours have changed. The result is amazing! We’ve had these touch screen devices for less than about 10 years now, and look how our behaviours have changed. I was thinking about it yesterday: I have all these photographs of people that are completely not interacting and they’re missing actual connection because they think they’re connecting elsewhere. We have a generation of people that are head down. We’re going to end up with some sort of syndrome
I’m sure! But this is almost a disconnection; that’s changing the behaviour of what we are
doing. Now does it change our need? No, we still need to connect. So a younger generation is actually connecting more digitally at physical events like sporting, because they still have a need to connect. They’re just doing it differently now, they’re doing it digitally.

You mentioned something that really struck my mind as well: “the current generation has more to do with their grandparents’ generation that they have with their parents”, how can you explain that?

The values that they have are definitely more in tune  with the grandparents’ generation. They understand consciousness, they understand things like organic and eco. Read more

How far can your Twitter bird chirp?

They say “word travels fast”, but today, it can travel the world in a few clicks. Have you ever wondered where your 140 characters on Twitter fly to? I recently re-activated my twitter account. I’ve been sharing and retweeting quite a lot of content with people from all around the world. Indeed, people from different origins follow my account now. Thus, making me curious to know where my followers come from. When I asked myself this question the other day, I decided to try different tools available online. These tools are as practical as scary. I decided to try and compare some of them. Let’s discover what different features they offer.

Mapmysocial:

Mapmysocial is a tool that allows a social media user to map their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare followers. It gathers followers’ profile pictures and positions them on the world map. This map can be then shared on social media in 2D or 3D. The use of this application is totally free. There is no obligation to follow mapmysocial on any platform, or publish a promotional post. All you have to do is sign in on the platform, through the mapmysocial website. This authorizes the website to access some of your account’s information.

Twitter map my social
www.mapmysocial.com

Tweepsmap:

Personally, I found this second tool to be great. It allows Twitter users to map their followers – even to a city level-, to observe their followers’ trending topics, and explore keywords (hashtags). This is useful to analyze further the engagement and effectiveness of a digital activity on Twitter. It also helps Twitter users to Read more

Interactive Intelligence conquers collaboration market from the cloud

The “unified communication space” is a weird space. It has been around for ages (I used to be in charge of that product line for Orange at the turn of the 21st century). Now a new player in that field is rising, and they are no newcomer. Interactive intelligence is coming from the call-centre world, vs. most players in that area, coming either from the Web world (pure-players) or the Telco world (convergence). A little while back, I interviewed Donald Brown who founded Interactive Intelligence 20 years ago in Indiana. He turned his business into a $ 450m revenue machine. The software vendor’s model has evolved into a cloud multi-tenant model filled with innovation and features at cloud prices, some of them quite amazing and incredibly cheap. The hoosier company has performed a complete turn-around and is now planning to take over the world of a) collaboration software b) PBX in the cloud c) turnkey cloud-based call-centres. Here is the result of my interview with the Indianapolis entrepreneur.

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The Cloud helps you build relationships with your customers

At the time you founded your company, Interactive Intelligence 20 years ago, there was no such thing as “the cloud”. Could you walk us through how you started by developing solutions for contact centres before turning your business into this huge software company?

Back in 1994, the internet was still in its infancy. So we built a communications platform on a Windows NT server. It was a system that could act as a PBX, IVR, ACD, Voicemail system and provide everything an organisation needed for communication.
Today, we are about 2,300 people around the world. About 3 years ago, we decided we needed to bite the bullet. So we developed an all new multi-tenant cloud solution based on Amazon Web Services. And we invested about $50M in it.

 

You decided to invest all this money on R&D and come up with a cloud-based solution. This made you change your business model, moving away from contact centres. Can you explain your new strategy?

We really see a convergence happening between employee/client collaboration, of business communications and customer engagement. The lines are blurring to the point that everybody in the organisation needs to be thinking about their role in customer engagement. In fact, collaboration technologies are increasingly being used in customer service.

When you had to start from scratch, did you eliminate your client server solution to go into the cloud on Amazon Web Services?

We did not omit our solution; we still sell it. There are large organisations that still prefer to buy and own a premise-based solution. But we also developed this all new multi-tenent cloud solution because we felt that’s where the future was going.

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Social Business, maturity and the driver’s seat

As we are making preparations for our 2015 State of Social Business in France report with Hootsuite and Adetem (to be published in late August), I came across Ed Terpening’s Altimeter group report today. I am relaying this report per below. Here are a few findings together with my comments:

  • Scaling is no longer an issue for the US businesses surveyed by Altimeter group in that report. The focus has shifted on “integration of social with digital”. I feel like re-living Groundhog day. In my eyes, social media has never made sense in isolation, and to me the issue isn’t even the integration of social within digital (a no-brainer) but the integration of social within all parts of the business. To a large extent, the kind of work I did at Orange a long time ago was about just that. I’m not certain that this is a sign of superior maturity from our friends across the pond,
  • Breaking down silos requires more engagement from leaders but that, in essence, isn’t new either. In my eyes, it not only requires that, but also a lot of courage on the part of intrapreneurs; and social media managers must be intrapreneurs. That, in essence, is also a sign that the grass isn’t much greener across the water,
  • HR programmes and employee advocacy are high on the agenda and I can confirm that we are seeing this happening on this side of the planet as well. There is a renewed interest for that kind of programmes, with large businesses launching employee advocacy and social learning programmes across the board and more often than not, trying to figure out how to do it. My hunch is that, very often, the issue is understood as one of learning skills and induction/teaching issue, whereas it is mostly a question of change management. Our way of handling has more to do with change management than teaching per se, even though training is of course, and more than ever, on the agenda,
  • Digital (and particularly social) advertising is on the rise – that isn’t new either – and I’m not certain that this is a good thing, but as I said in that Hootsuite video recorded in mid 2013, there isn’t much choice about that, because marketers are determined to spend their advertising dollars on social. My two cents again: I believe they should be spending more time and effort on word-of-mouth but I know that it’s hard for anyone to drive marketers from spending money. Those who understand these issues better than others are the ones who, in my mind, will reap the best harvests ever.
Social Business
more than ever, social business requires top management to be in the driver’s seat

Amongst other things I have also noticed the lag of B2B businesses but I see things happening in that area and even though it may be considered counter-intuitive I will continue to highlight that B2B is, in my eyes, a sector of choice for social media. Word of mouth is, in B2B, unavoidable because the issue of the true cost of digital/social advertising looms large on the agenda of B2B businesses. This forces them to find alternative strategies and it’s always in B2B that I find the most interesting and imaginative strategies. Call me stupid, but I think there is a huge potential there and so few agencies focus on those areas and so few have the means of investing in niche/complex subjects that this potential remains – as of today – vastly untapped. Read more