Following the series of asking vendors with Social Business credentials their thoughts on Social Business – NetBase is next. Want to read the previous ones? Oracle, Attensity, Fuze Digital, Moxie Software, SAP, GetSatisfaction, RightNow Technologies, Lithium and bluekiwi are already posted.
Where is the Social world going to be in 12 months? 24 months?
As I see it, the Social Web has rapidly become the democratic voice of the consumer. As a result, the power in the consumer-to-brand, consumer-to-company relationship has shifted to consumers—even though they haven’t fully realized it yet. They’re still primarily talking to each other, but when they realize that organizations are really paying attention, many will take advantage of that power. We already saw a glimpse of this with the recent Gap logo fiasco.
Organizations, in turn, will realize that listening isn’t enough—they need to understand what consumers are saying so they can better serve them. It won’t be optional—consumers will expect it, their competitors will be doing it, and products and services that don’t reflect consumer input, and do it quickly, will lose out to those that do.
From a technology perspective, the Social world is rapidly moving into the mobile space. The democratic voice of the consumer will be a communications channel that’s active 24×7, giving any consumer anywhere instant access to information, feedback and real-time conversation. The Millennials and the generation after them—Gen Z or the Digital Natives—who were born with smartphones in their hands will rely on their mobile devices and on Social as their primary communications channel. Organizations who want to reach them will have to be there, too.
How can businesses not be left behind?
Every business will need a two-part Social strategy integrated into their business plan: First, a strategy for participating in the conversation with consumers; second, a strategy for understanding the conversation. To participate in the conversation, businesses will need to foster an open dialog with their customers, via a company blog, Facebook page, Twitter and all innovations to come. To understand consumers, they’ll need a means to analyze and understand consumers’ opinions and emotions so they can deliver products and services that match an individual’s needs. Personalization at every touchpoint is no longer a nice-to-have—consumers now expect it, and not delivering it is a competitive disadvantage.
What is going to happen in three years and beyond in the world of Social?
For both of those overarching activities—engaging with consumers and understanding what they have to say—there needs to be a defined set of standards and best practices. The issue of privacy will become more pressing: We’ve been dancing around it since the Internet became a high-profile communications channel, but there is still no agreed-upon, consistently followed code of conduct for organizations. The average Joe Social contributor today isn’t even aware that he or she is being listened to, let alone analyzed and understood. How will they react when they do realize that? In all likelihood, some will use Social media as a bullhorn and others will stop talking. In addition, very soon, communicating via Social will be as common as communicating via the phone—especially for Millennials and Digital Natives—and that will drive the development of privacy standards and a code of conduct.