Social marketing goes beyond inviting customers to connect to you, charming them with memes and begging them to share your marketing material. Success in 2014 involves moment of truth, decision based dialogue between company and customer, providing them with paths for purposeful, decision based connections and commerce.
Although past the of peak of inflated expectations in 2014, 43% of marketers surveyed by Gartner say social marketing is a top activity that contributes to marketing’s success. Social marketing is connecting to every other channel and touchpoint — Web, mobile, paid media and in-store — integration that impacts every element of the marketing portfolio.
The social ops neighborhood boundaries cross into other neighborhoods such as mobility, web ops, design and ad ops, with its outer bounds defined by the emerging digital trends track. Social marketing is still in its infancy stage with new technologies and techniques being tried with both failure and success.
In 2014, the five most important stations in the social ops neighborhood will be:
1. Social Commerce: Used to convert a commerce transaction, social commerce uses techniques like product reviews, question-and-answer threads, configuration tools, social offers and incentives. Marketers are finding more ways to utilize communities and platforms to drive and measure purchase behavior that contribute to sales and bottom line business revenue. For these money making reasons, we will see more emphasis in social commerce in 2014.
2. Social Networks: These are destinations that offer a platform for interaction between company and customer. Social graphs of influence are established here. Marketers participate in established, but evolving networks, while examining emerging platforms to build connections with new users or strengthen current connections in new ways. In 2014, we will see both alternate and extensions of social networks in and outside Facebook and Twitter (See Digital Marketers Should Know About These Five Growing Social/Mobile Apps).
3. Social Analytics: Marketers use social analytics to gauge how the brand is perceived through social channels, evaluate the effectiveness of social engagement and programs, and uncover value through social interactions. For 2014, look for social analytics to move from monitoring and reporting to giving marketers more predictive and prescriptive recommendations for use in not only social marketing programs but for marketing overall.
4. Content Marketing: Content marketing references the tools and services used by marketers to create, curate and cultivate brand-related content across multiple channels (see “Adopt the 3 Cs of Content Marketing to Draw Audiences Into Your Orbit” ). High quality content is a major driver for social interaction, serving as the engine of many social marketing programs. In 2014, marketers will be seeking outsourced content services along with developing their in-house skills to scale for the deluge of multi-channel, real-time content they have become responsible for.
5. Social Marketing Management Platforms: These platforms supply the tools, templates, and services that enable the creation, maintenance and commercial presence in online social environments. This includes social applications and promotions for marketers and media companies. In 2014, mature social marketing programs will incorporate these platforms as a necessity, whether as stand-alone tools, or, as part of larger digital marketing hubs.
For more about Social Ops, see Julie Hopkins and my Guide to the Social Ops Neighborhood on Gartner’s Digital Marketing Transit Map (Clients only)