What Does Lithium Think of Social Business?

Following the series of asking vendors with Social Business credentials their thoughts on Social Business – Lithium is next.  Want to read the previous ones? OracleAttensityFuze DigitalMoxie SoftwareSAP, GetSatisfaction, and RightNow Technologies are already posted.

Question 1 Where is the Social world going to be in 12 months? 24 months?

Consumers will suffer from Social Fatigue Syndrome. We will see signs that consumers are tired of marketers trying to reach them through social channels without providing anything in return. The core issue is that most companies don’t know what to do once they’ve got a fan or a follower. “Special offers” don’t feel so special when you’ve gotten a hundred of them. Customer service through Twitter is more PR than service most of the time. Having the same e-commerce functionality inside Facebook doesn’t give the consumer a shopping experience that’s any more social. We’ll start to see this backlash over the next 12-24 months.

On the positive side, we’ll start to see some practitioners and agencies that “get it.” These will be companies that are in it for the long term, not just for campaign wins. They’ll create metrics that provide a meaningful picture of how well companies socially engage with customers. They’ll provide concrete direction for what to do with all those fans and followers.

Question 2: How can businesses not be left behind?

Here’s the best way to avoid being left behind: get down to business first. Be social second. Find a sizable business objective where a social approach can help you achieve it. “Social” as a concept is just vague and overwhelming. So the best way not to be left behind in “social” is to think about socializing what drives your business. Wanting to improve customer service? Then “social service” might be your way in. Hoping to drive the top line? Then perhaps “social commerce” is a reasonable entry point. Tackle what’s old in a new way.

Question 3: What is going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of social?

Eventually, social will go the way of the phrase ‘world wide web’. We won’t need a special moniker for social. It will cease to be new and differentiated because it will be an intrinsic part of how we engage with consumers. Many of the questions we now ask about social technologies will seem as absurd as asking about the ROI of the telephone or a corporate website. Offline and online channels will be more fully linked—though there will still be work to do on integrating data and analytics across these engagement points. Dynamic content created by social customers will replace the static content that we know online today. Essentially, information, service and expertise will be ‘on demand’ and incredibly personalized to a consumer’s needs.

Companies that can keep the pace and evolve with this social, demanding consumer will win.