Social Media Marketing: A Look Back, a Look Ahead
It's hard to believe it's been two years since Time named "You" its "Person of the Year." Yet as we wrap up 2008 and head into 2009, the consumer is still smack-dab in the middle of everything we do. And in 2008, marketers continued to follow consumers' leads, fully embracing the fact that they're playing an increasingly larger role in shaping brands and understanding just how powerful word-of-mouth and viral marketing can be. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the world of social media.
This week, in the first part of a two-part series, I examine some of the key social media trends of 2008. Then check back next week when I offer key social media trends that I predict will take off in 2009.
A strategy, not a tactic
Social media has most definitely matured, and this year we finally saw clients embrace it as a strategy, not a tactic. Before, clients said, "Get me on MySpace." While they realized they need to fish where the fish are, they didn't know how to — or necessarily care to — create a meaningful experience for consumers.
I'd argue that in 2008, marketers moved out of this reactionary mode, took a step back and started to think about how to provide people with meaningful ways to connect and interact with their brands without directly pushing product.
Taking a page from the consumer
Are marketers where they need to be in terms of social media? No, but they're in a better place than they were a year ago. Most marketers offer their customers the typical social media fan page but not much more. They haven't yet capitalized on social media's most powerful offering — distribution.
Every marketer should strive for viral and social distribution of content, yet very few create anything that people want to engage with, let alone share with their friends.
Take a page from consumers — the ones who are beating us all when it comes to creating compelling content.
Continued integration and collaboration
As we continue to follow consumers' leads, marketers increasingly look for strategic planning and innovative, fresh thinking from all of their agencies. This is especially true as interactive continues to become a more significant part of the marketing mix, working harder to achieve a client's marketing objectives.
For years, marketers had their main agencies handle strategic planning. The main agencies then briefed the interactive, direct and public relations agencies, and so on. This year, the trend has shifted. Most clients want all of their agencies looped in throughout the entire planning process.
But now, to prevent competition for business, at the outset of a project, marketing clients identify each agency's scope of work and then ask for ideas from all their agencies across all aspects of a project. The interactive agency might come up with PR ideas. The PR agency may come up with an interesting promotion. The promotional agency may have a great interactive idea.
This motivates agencies to think outside the box, unearth unexpected ideas and increase collaboration. We're entering an age of truly holistic integration. And it's not only benefiting clients, but consumers as well.