Modern Competitive Analysis: Try Social Media

Arif Johari

“The importance of understanding the impact of competitors’ social footprints compared to your own can’t be overstated… You’ll be in trouble quickly if you assume your only – or biggest – competition looks exactly like you.” – Paige Leidig, CMO, NetBase Solutions.

All brands operate in a competitive global environment. Some prefer to ignore the competition. Others are obsessed, using “under-the-radar” spying to track other players. If traditional wisdom still holds – that strong knowledge about competitors’ strengths and weaknesses positions you to make smart marketing strategy decisions – then it’s time to add social media to your competitive info-gathering toolkit.

“My competitors do more for me than my friends. I don’t need time. What I need is a deadline. My friends are too polite to point out my weaknesses, but my competitors go to great expense to advertise them. My competitors are diligent, efficient, and attentive and would take my business away from me if they could. They keep me alert. They force me to search for new ways to improve my products and services. If I had no competitors, I would be lazy, incompetent, and inattentive. I need the discipline they force upon me. I salute my competitors. They have been good to me. They make and keep me strong.” – Paul Lee Tan

Social listening is a critical component to any social seller’s toolkit

Through listening, not only can reps better understand their target audience and develop insights on a particular contact, they can also develop understanding about their competitors. Through careful listening, they may be able to uncover intelligence about a competitor and its products and services.

  • Many social media users are not shy and will not hesitate to share how they felt about a particular aspect of their deployment of a product, making social media a great way to understand their business model and customer service expectations.
  • Some may argue that it may not be smart to use social media to learn the truth about a vendor, but if you weed out the obvious trolls and paid influencers, you can be left with terrific insight into your competitive landscape.
  • Reviewing these sources on a regular basis helps you to get a baseline to start from and to evaluate trends and satisfaction ratings.
  • Join the groups that your competitors belong to, follow the same spaces that your competitors follow, and you’ll be able to understand your competitors a little better.
  • If competitors’ leave negative comments on articles or blogs, it’s important to not engage in conflict online. It can get so bad, so quickly, that it’s not worth it. If you (or someone in your organization) feel you really need to respond to the comments, make sure to take it offline.
  • You may also be tempted to respond to negative comments by writing negative comments in return. If you think about the brand you want to build and how you want to be perceived by your audience, it is not likely that you want to be known as someone who “doesn’t play well in the sandbox.” Don’t bash competitors, nor make negative or derogatory comments… it only looks poorly on you and builds up the competitor in your audience’s eyes. Your solutions and expertise should stand on their own merit, without having to disparage the competition.

Practical tips for using social media for competitive analysis

Start with five to 10 competitors, depending on your market size. Every sales person should know who they really compete with (individually) and their individual strengths.

Look at your competitors’ sales team. Learn how many are on LinkedIn and Twitter. Evaluate whether the sales executives have presence, and if sales reps have strong or poor professional profiles. If your competitors’ sales teams don’t seem to be organized for social selling, you can still glean some valuable info. If they are, you’ll have to dedicate more time and go deeper in your analysis.

Some questions to ask when evaluating your peers/competitors:

  • How do they present their unique selling proposition (USP)?
  • Are they posting regularly? How many times a week or a day?
  • Does their content seem to help their prospects and clients?
  • What is the engagement level of their posts: likes, comments, shares?
  • Are they participating at trade shows, networking events, or charity events?
  • Who are they connected to?

This will help you align the type of content that seems to be of interest to your prospects. You should be able to gauge your prospects’ challenges and figure out how to stand out from your competition.

Social selling has become such a hot topic that Coffee-Break with Game Changers is dedicating an entire series to exploring its various facets and promoting best practices for salespeople. To listen to other shows in this series, visit the SAP Radio area of the SAP News Center.

Comments

Arif Johari

About Arif Johari

He is a Communications lead, Digital Marketing generalist, and Social Selling advocate. He trains marketing and sales employees to become experts in Social Selling so that they’d leverage social media as a leads-generation tool. He is responsible for executing innovative marketing strategies to increase engagement in social media, customer community, and landing pages through content, events, and A/B testing. He is passionate in making the work processes of the marketing and sales team more efficient, so that they can generate more revenue in a shorter time.

The Future of Social Media: 50+ Experts Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice

The world of social media underwent major changes in 2012.

We saw the addition of Facebook Timelines for Fan Pages, the rise of Pinterest, revamped LinkedIn Company Pages, improved Twitter profile pages, and the increasing pressure to prove social media ROI.

As more companies begin leveraging social media for marketing, sales and customer service, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve.

On December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore will participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.  We hope you will join us and in the meantime please enjoy the following predications from over 50 thought leaders.

The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

1.  Jason Stein, Founder and President of 24/7 Laundry Service – @jasonwstein

Social media has completely blurred the lines between all aspects of marketing. We live in a world where Facebook posts double as paid ads, and people’s tweets are a form of journalism. As a result, in the new year brands will really embrace the concept of “converged media,” and see owned, earned and paid as a unified program. This is the future of B2C communications.

2.  Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing and Sales at Awareness, Inc. – @bostonmike

Small and mid-sized market will be revolutionized by social customer acquisition at scale. Specifically, new social profiling and scoring tools will allows marketers to analyze and apply custom segmentation logic to their social databases to meet specific customer acquisition and conversion goals. As a result companies will see a tangible social marketing ROI – increase in sales and customer retention.

3.  Natalie Bidnick, Account Supervisor and Social Media Strategist at The Marketing Zen Group – @NatalieBid

Social Media will become an essential – not optional – form of communicating with customers. More companies will use Facebok and Twitter to both listen to their customers, solicit feedback, and practice public crisis management.

4.  Zubin Mowlavi, CEO of Lucid Fusion – @ZubinMowlavi

2012 was the year of data and more specifically, data as it relates to the Social Interest Graph. People and companies shared content more than ever, and this data was organized around interests rather than personal relationships. This trend continues in 2013 with the Social Product Graph which highlights shifting the focus to the sharing and serving of actionable content around products of interest. By doing so, social media will become a social stream for product discovery and commerce, thereby driving sales.

5.  Jeremy Goldman, Entrepreneur, strategist, & author of the upcoming book, Going Social – @jeremarketer  

Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.

6.  Mike Wolfe, Founder & President, WAM Enterprises LLC – @WAMGolfs

Social Media will continue to grow in 2013 due to the increase usage of mobile technology, specifically smartphones. We can expect to see visual (images) to be a driving force and I believe an increase in internet video usage too.

7.  Patrick J. Sweeney II,­ featured contributor to Social Media Today and CNBC – @PJSweeney

The future of social media will evolve around the frictionless capturing of precious memories in the real world. When people are skiing, doing a triathlon, at a concert, or doing anything fun and engaging – mobile technology will enable them to capture the moment with very high quality pictures and video and instantly share online without lifting a finger. Brands will pay for or sponsor this infrastructure in order to have “product placement” on social media. See Cadbury at the Olympics for a great example.

8.  Kelby Brick, Esq., Vice President, Regulatory & Strategic Policy at Purple Communications, Inc. – @kelbybrick

In 2013 smart businesses will emphasize using social media for personal interactions and connections with their customers. This is different from 2012 where macro blasts were the norm. Personal connections result in a more loyal and valued customer base.

9.  Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21 – @CreativeIthink

The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary aged children.
Now that the majority of society has adopted social expectations have changed. Those expectations will dramatically affect customer service, marketing and sales.

Customer Service – People know they don’t have to wait on the phone to get help, they can tweet. This makes it easy for the customer to let the brand know about any and all problems. So any company who went ahead and distributed products with minor flaws in hopes that the customer wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of a return or exchange will have a rude awakening. Many companies have adopted social media as a customer service tool purely for the fact that they can look good in front of thousands of potential customers. This year companies will start adopting it out of necessity. If a customer who doesn’t want to talk to a machine or wait on hold for 20 minutes, they are going to reach out via social. If you
don’t answer and they HAVE to call, they are going to be highly irritated and more demanding, ultimately costing the company more money.

Marketing – Having a presence on social media has become (or will soon) as important as having a website. Not being on social means you’re missing out on big opportunities in search engine real estate and with your customers. More firms will add social media to their offerings and the smartest ones
already have. We should have realized by now that it’s not a stand along media channel, it’s an essential part of a successful media mix.

Sales – Social media has become a powerful tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can generate leads and drive buyer traffic to a specific product. Sales teams will evolve to include a digital lead generation
specialist and marketing strategies will be broadened as location isn’t as much of an issue when you’re running a powerful social platform.

10.  Joey Sargent, Principal, BrandSprout Advisors – @brandsprout

In 2013, we’ll see more social maturity in both B2C and B2B applications. Business will get “social smarts” and more fully integrate social media into their day-to-day operations across the organization. This means less social for social’s sake, and more focus on social media as a legitimate business tool to facilitate communication, engagement and loyalty.

11.  Beverly Solomon, Creative Director at musee-solomon

People are over saturated with social media. They will gradually remove themselves from all but a few networks, blogs, etc. So many ads come in everyday that they have lost their impact. Most
people just delete them before reading them.  Social media will function more to alert friends of rip-offs than to encourage sales.  Only the most clever sales campaigns will have any impact.  More and more advertisers will be leaving social media and returning to snail mail, print and other traditional ads.  Social media will continue to be a dating hook up, gossip fest and avenue for “gurus” to sell seminars. But real businesses will use social media less and less.

12.  Caroline Kornowicz, Social Media Manager for CliqStudios Cabinets – @CarolineSofiaK

The future of social media lies heavily in images, video and interaction for the user. It is exploring our senses further with sight, sound and touch. We are seeing current trends with infographs and statistics speak for themselves that an image or video provides higher engagement than plain text posts.

13.  Melissa Brodsky, co-founder of Smart Savvy Social – @smartsavvysoc

More and more brands will realize the importance and relevance of social media and begin to grow their online footprint. Also, I believe that Facebook will eventually burn too many bridges and a new network will become dominant, one that WANTS to help brands instead of only themselves.

14.  Brittany Dowell, Director of Publication Relations at Digital Talent Agents

Social media use is not going anywhere but up in 2013. Companies will hire more full-time employees dedicated solely to engaging with customers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. With customer service moving to more online interaction, we could see the need for traditional office space steadily decline.

15.  Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers – @jpretz

Going into 2013 social media will impact sales more than any other metric because of the continued integration as a marketing platform and the acceptance of users to be marketed to. In 2011, almost 70% of users said that no social media platform influenced their buying decision and in 2012, that was cut in half to 35%. In 2013, this number will be decreased significantly again because these sites have become an integral way to gain access to information on companies, promotions and products.

16.  Amanda Vega – @amandavega

Social media will continue to have direct and indirect impact on sales in 2013. Consumers will continue to expect an immediate response to their needs online, and a lack of timely response will have a hard-to-measure, but certain impact on brand satisfaction and recommendations.

17.  Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group and Author of “Cloud Surfing: A New Way
to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success” –
@tkspeaks

The greatest shift in Social media over the next year will be the maturing of “behavioral business models” that use a deep and comprehensive cross platform understanding of consumer and enterprise
online behaviors as the basis for predictive analytics about their interests and habits. Companies that own the broadest range of platforms such as Apple and Google will be able to track online consumer activity
in ways that create enormous value for retailers. The same is true of enterprise applications of social media where online B2B transactions are being collected and analyzed by companies such as E2Open, which have created a similar capability in projecting future behaviors of markets in order to dynamically alter supply chains in real time to meet the needs of consumers. This notion of using behavior to predict the future will be a critical contribution of social media in an increasingly uncertain world.

18.  Joey Beachum, Digital Content Specialist at Markstein Consulting – @MarksteinChats

As wireless technology advances and smartphones continue to proliferate (they’re projected to form 54% of the total mobile phone market in 2013), consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion. This gives sales professionals even more of an opportunity at something I call ‘mass direct access’: reaching out directly to consumers on an individual level, like with a traditional sales approach, yet on a mass scale. More socially-connected consumers equal more potential touch-points and more sales opportunities.

19.  Kurt Uhlir, Cofounder and Chief Servant at Buzztastic – @KurtUhlir

There is a great wave of un-liking/un-following that will hit brands, at the least we will see people unselect “show in newsfeed” on Facebook. Consumers want higher quality content than what most brands are offering. This is a huge opportunity for brands offering engaging content that know how to activate an audience.

20.  Aalap Shah, co-founder at SoMe Connect – @some_connect

A companies mobile/tablet strategy (or lack thereof will define sales & marketing success for brands and companies in 2013. Consumers can access apps that display social data and activity of their friends anywhere and at anytime and retailers and brands need to have a consistent and clear message to push across social media channels. Without a mobile strategy, most companies will see their sales go to competitors that are where their customers are consuming information.

21.  Ed McMasters, Director of Marketing & Communication at Flottman Company

The future of social media for B2B will be held in the hands of LinkedIn – the new advances of LinkedIn make it a true Business To Business relationship builder. People that have their profiles at 100% and
continue to update them will have the biggest advantages. Knowledge that posting monthly or bi-weekly updates to your profile puts you in front of clients and potential clients is just like advertising only a
lot less expensive. I am a firm believer that LinkedIn will be the Social Media BIG GUY of the future.

22.  Sheryl Johnson, Founder of BD-PRo Marketing Solutions – @BD_PRoMarketing

Social media is here to stay. I predict that social media will evolve into a powerful knowledge management system that leverages virtual connections while capturing valuable information. The biggest challenge moving forward is to create a method of harnessing and connecting this data from all sources in a meaningful, searchable way.

23.  Ty Kiisel, Director of Content Marketing at Lendio – @tykiisel

I don’ think there’s any question that social media has become a relevant part of many brand discussions over the last few years generally, and 2012 in particular. However, more and more marketing leaders are finding that being social just to be social isn’t gaining them the traction in the marketplace they might have hoped. 2013 will see a greater focus on the creation of relevant and substantive content creation initiatives that provide value to customers that will ultimately create greater affinity for those brands that are most successful.

24.  Valerie Jennings, CEO of Viral Bolt Media and Jennings Social Media Marketing – @valeriejennings

Sales and marketing will continue to be impacted by organic SEO and SMO via social media. One major change may be the shift away from exclusively focusing on Facebook as a business sales and marketing tool and moving into more advanced programs including sales and marketing strategies that generate sales on Pinterest, Google+ and even FourSquare. If these platforms do not support sales and marketing strategies, other platforms via social networks will evolve quickly in the marketplace until there is one sold and remarkably profitable solution.

25.  Vickens Moscova, Owner/President of VM Enterprises – @VickensMoscova

I predict more and more people will get focused on utilizing social media to build their own personal brands, while more brands and businesses will realize that the control of their brand has shifted to having consumers having more control over their choices.

26.  Joan Barrett, Owner of The Content Factory – @ContentFac

My prediction is that social media will continue to have a strong impact on SEO, especially with Google
Algorithms becoming more and more personalized. The more social shares an article or site has, the higher it is going to rank.

27.  Tom Corson-Knowles, best-selling author of How To Make Money With Twitter – @JuiceTom

In 2013, we’ll see a lot more companies turning to social media primarily for customer service. We’ve already seen American Airlines cut down their phone service and instead encouraging customers to talk on Twitter if they need customer support. A lot more big companies will follow this trend in an effort to reduce overhead and expand their social media presence.

28.  Jeff Browning, Sr Director, Online Strategy at F5 Networks – @jeffbrowning

2013 is the year social leaps beyond projection / syndication and becomes more about listening, understanding, and driving better products and relationships that drive business. Vendors and agencies that provide useful big data analytics (ideally blending the inside and outside the enterprise) will become big dollar rockstars. Over 50% of C-level will finally realize social does not equal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

29. Jim Caruso, marketing strategist & CEO at MediaFirst PR – @jimcaruso

Facebook will matter more for B2B, as will FB advertising, since stock price matters when you are a public company.  LinkedIn with matter more across industries and new players, like Pinterest, will continue to disrupt the big players in social media

30.  James Medd, Social Media Marketing Manager at Emailvision – @jamespmedd

In 2013, I predict brands will grow their investments in social customer service to better serve customers who engage with them through social media channels – who have been shown to spend 20% to 40% more than customers who are not socially engaged.

As social customer service matures, I expect to see more integration of technology platforms from traditional customer services with social monitoring and team collaboration. This will enable customers to receive the same level of support and information, regardless of their communication channel preference.

31.  Ryan Schram, CMO of IZEA – @ryanschram

Today’s consumer demands a genuine relationship with the brands they love; nowhere is that more apparent than in social, where soft-selling, brand-building, and real-time problem solving comes into the main more and more each day.   Brands are utilizing a diverse array of tools and resources to
maximize their presence on the social web, including the compensation of social influencers to promote products and services (known as Social Media Sponsorship).   The 2012 State of Social Media Sponsorship study indicated that almost 60% of brands have a stand-alone social marketing budget with that amount having increased dramatically since 2009.

32.  Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-Founder of Voices.com – @stephciccarelli

Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments will need to work together to engage, sell and retain customers who choose to interact with a brand online via social networks. Companies will need to view those managing their social media as being on the “front lines” of a brand’s online customer service efforts. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated social media manager who can share content and engage a community online but also be a means of support to those asking questions.

33.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING – @dimplethakkar

Start planning a serious budget for social media advertising in 2013. Make sure you skip the promotional tone in your ad copy to build trust with followers. Consumers have an amazing radar for bullshit and your brand has a small window to make a good [first] impression.

34.  Caitlin Connors, Social Media Director at Boomtown Internet Group – @boomtownig

Social media is an elusive program for companies because it changes with your goals and with your audience and especially with technology. I predict that companies who use social media correctly, with an outsourced company that understands their brands and goals perfectly, will be overwhelmed with how much it can positively impact leads/conversions/sales.  In 2013, hopefully more people who claim to have an understanding of SMO will be aware of what effects ROI and how to customize SMO for each company. If they don’t (as many don’t know), leads aren’t happening and CEOs and Executives are doubting the effect of SMO. Customer Service could greatly benefit from SMO in 2013 with Twitter API’s for sites to have an “Ask Us Now” option to live chat, and a full-time Twitter manager to answer incoming questions. Google Hangout and new conversation management tools are now all in place to be utilized to find people having products with brands and services and actively seek them out to answer their qualms.

35.  Kevin Ohashi, Founder of Review Signal – @kevinohashi

I think the most important trend is customer service over social media.  Companies are more actively monitoring what is being said about them and consumers will become more empowered to see and react to the ways companies are engaging their customers. Access to information is democratizing and
consumers will be able to make decisions based on company behavior, and customer service is the biggest touch point between most companies and consumers.

36.  Adam Itkoff, Strategist at Fueled Mobile Design, NYC – @adamitkoff

As we look at growing usage trends across multiple social media platforms, we can only assume that these mediums will become more crucial to both business and sales. No longer must we ask, do we participate in Twitter or Facebook, but rather, how can we leverage these platforms best?  Look especially for Twitter and Instragram to keep growing strong.

37.  Flynn Zaiger, Founder of Online Optimism – @onlineoptimism

Social Media will help E-Commerce begin to surpass actual brick and mortar sales numbers. Expect Amazon to team up with either Facebook or Twitter to release an app that allows you to both see if a product is cheaper online, and also if your friends approve of how it looks.

38.  Melinda Janicki, Online Business Growth Catalyst, Internet Marketing Strategist & Implementation Expert – @melindajanicki

As social media moves from a simple networking site into being at the fore front of technology and SEO, I predict social media to be a must have customer services tool. Much like email has brought tech support
and customer service to a new level social media will be a must with apps, groups, Google+ hangouts, even Twitter chat rooms.

39.  Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. – @griotsroll

Social media will replace the business website. If you don’t have a social media page with information on your products, services on your about page you are not in business. People will judge you on how they can get in contact with you through your social media page. Your “About” page will be more important than your website and you better have links to any other social media pages you have.

40.  David Drake, The Soho Loft – @TSLCCevents

US SMEs will start embracing social media strategies and crowd funding will drive this for startups and local business as crowd funding for equity is implemented as a law.  Social media strategies will become more readily available to consulting firms helping small medium-sized enterprises with the winners being local businesses learning the tools to embrace their eco system.

41.  Alex Schenker, President at www.WeRockYourWeb.com  – @WeRockYourWeb

Marketers will need to use fewer words and more voice, video and images to connect with today’s overly stimulated consumer (e.g. Pinterest, Voxer, YouTube).  More filters will allow consumers to better target/find what they are looking for which will lead to more qualified sales’ leads. As we become more inundated with content, it will become more vital to have filters on how we choose to consume the content.  Mobile devices will continue to drive social media communication so the social media of choice may depend on which device you hold and the successful marketing efforts will be customized to that
platform. For example, Google Chat is not directly accessible via an app on an iPhone so they will likely turn to iMessage which allows you to text several people at once, creating your own “social network” for each message you create.

42.  Raghu Bala, Board Member at Fanggle – @raghurambala

Vertical social platforms will emerge to enable people with similar interests to share information (text, images/pictures, video) on topics of mutual interest. The current metrics – ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ – will give way to more meaningful means of measuring engagement. I also see social media becoming more immersed in everyday activity. For instance, with Google Glass combined with voice to text, one can automatically tweet and attach an image more naturally than currently possible.

43.  Ziggi Yaxley, Social Media Specialist at Bozboz, UK. – @ziggidotcom

Social media is instant, personal and available to everyone. It’s the new way to do customer service and it’s a way to connect with current and potential customers in exciting and innovative ways. It’s human.
2013 will see more businesses investing in social media for the first time and socially-equipped businesses allocating more resource to running their social media more efficiently.

44.  Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys – @ValaAfshar

A truly social enterprise is not just about technology, it is about lifestyle. Enterprises that collaborate socially (and not just through social media) with their customers and employees are able to not only grow mindshare, but also their business.  For example, at Enterasys, we believe there is nothing more important than our customers – internally and externally – so if both are delighted, we know we are doing our job socially now and into the future.

45. Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate

For marketers specifically, social media will continue to be a force in driving traffic to websites. Marketers will use social the same way that they’ve used pay-per-click and banner advertising in the past. However,
marketers need to take a careful look at metrics such as conversion rates before dedicating a huge chunk of the budget to advertizing on social media sites.

46.  Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations – @wjcorbett

The hype proliferated by “marketing” people about the tremendous business generating benefits of social media for small business will wind down. The reality will set in that social media marketing is only
part of an a comprehensive marketing plan which includes a digital media strategy. Businesses, particularly those in the business to business space, will recognize that they are not getting and probably will not get the ROI they need to continue to focus significant time, energy, effort and funds on social media marketing.

47.  Carrie Peterson, Social Media Director at Internet Marketing Inc. – @CarrieSavvy

2013 will be the year of social media mobile and tablet application for marketers. As consumers become more and more socially savvy and are using their mobile devices for research and purchases, it is imperative that marketers hop on the mobile train with a solid strategy and targeted ad campaigns. These campaigns should integrate behavioral targeting, relevant content per the niche demographic, and social share features to maximize reach and social word of mouth.

49.  Eric Courville, Director of Marketing and Alliances

Social media channels are creating more demand and opportunity for immediate content from brands. To take full advantage, marketers in 2013 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed and the tools necessary to easily track the use of all digital assets.

50.  Jane Horowitz, Founder of More Than A Resume

Today’s college student and those about to enter college (our next wave into the workplace) will reshape, along with new technologies the workplace over the next decade.  The way this generation, (Millennials) communicate in their social lives will be introduced to the workplace, and then transform it; fostering new ways of sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve outcomes. Goodbye email and PowerPoint presentations. Hello file-sharing, multi-media presentations.  Everything we use and come into contact with will be converted into data that will be available at our fingertips to make informed and therefore smarter decisions. Marketing, sales and customer service professional will need critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

51.  Ryan Aynes, Founder & Managing Director at EDGE Collective – @ryanaynes

There will be a larger demand to quantify social media impact and how that is impacting business performance. As spending becomes tighter due to the economy and a higher level of financial accountability takes place across organizations, agencies pitching social media will have to come up with their own annotations for “like” value.

There will also be a higher demand for integrating the entire marketing process. This means ad-buying teams will have to work more closely with social. The most effective strategies will be integrated paid, owned, and earned. Consumer analysis from each end educates the other on consumer behavior, which builds better forward strategies.

Mobile strategy will become the norm and not just an additional option. As more ways to reach consumers opens up through mobile experiences, brands and agencies will make the appropriate modifications to add this into their strategy and planning.

52.  Devin Redmond, CEO and Co-founder at Social iQ Networks – @DevinHRed

It’s very common these days to walk into a business and find that different departments all have their own social accounts and social marketing tools to connect with customers, recruit employees, and drive marketing campaigns. That new reality and infrastructure has become a rapidly increasing sprawl that can be disharmonious and prone to risk for their company and their own efforts. This will lead to a push toward greater social infrastructure management as companies try to get a handle on social media sprawl to improve their efforts without having to worrying about mishaps, abuse, and social media mistakes.

53.  Rick Mathieson, author of Branding Unbound and The On-Demand Brand – @rickmathieson

Look for a nascent social media backlash to gain traction among consumers and the brands trying to connect with them. While 20% of Facebook users say they log on once or twice a day, 52% say they plan to spend less time there in the future ­ and that’s an emerging dynamic across the socialsphere. In 2013, look for a new emphasis on quality of engagement versus quantity.  When engaging in social media, look for the emphasis for many brands to finally move away from “How” the mechanics of going social to the “Why”,  by clarifying objectives and building social media strategies to meet them.

54.  Molly Glover Gallatin, VP of Marketing at Compass Labs – @CompassLabs

As marketers we need to stop being hyper-focused on the immediate ROI question around social media (I know, it’s hard!), and instead get our management team focused on another question: What have I learned today from my customers? The future will be best for those who stop marketing and speaking *at* their audience and start creating dialogues instead. Content strategy should include conversations – they are the most critical element of social media – hence, the “social,” and they increase brand affinity and tip the scales in your favor regarding revenue, as well.

Free Webcast:  Join us on December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, as Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.

Comments

Dr. Thorsten Wenzel

About Dr. Thorsten Wenzel

Thorsten Wenzel is Vice President and Global Head of Chemicals at SAP.

The Future of Social Media: 50+ Experts Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice

The world of social media underwent major changes in 2012.

We saw the addition of Facebook Timelines for Fan Pages, the rise of Pinterest, revamped LinkedIn Company Pages, improved Twitter profile pages, and the increasing pressure to prove social media ROI.

As more companies begin leveraging social media for marketing, sales and customer service, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve.

On December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore will participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.  We hope you will join us and in the meantime please enjoy the following predications from over 50 thought leaders.

The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

1.  Jason Stein, Founder and President of 24/7 Laundry Service – @jasonwstein

Social media has completely blurred the lines between all aspects of marketing. We live in a world where Facebook posts double as paid ads, and people’s tweets are a form of journalism. As a result, in the new year brands will really embrace the concept of “converged media,” and see owned, earned and paid as a unified program. This is the future of B2C communications.

2.  Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing and Sales at Awareness, Inc. – @bostonmike

Small and mid-sized market will be revolutionized by social customer acquisition at scale. Specifically, new social profiling and scoring tools will allows marketers to analyze and apply custom segmentation logic to their social databases to meet specific customer acquisition and conversion goals. As a result companies will see a tangible social marketing ROI – increase in sales and customer retention.

3.  Natalie Bidnick, Account Supervisor and Social Media Strategist at The Marketing Zen Group – @NatalieBid

Social Media will become an essential – not optional – form of communicating with customers. More companies will use Facebok and Twitter to both listen to their customers, solicit feedback, and practice public crisis management.

4.  Zubin Mowlavi, CEO of Lucid Fusion – @ZubinMowlavi

2012 was the year of data and more specifically, data as it relates to the Social Interest Graph. People and companies shared content more than ever, and this data was organized around interests rather than personal relationships. This trend continues in 2013 with the Social Product Graph which highlights shifting the focus to the sharing and serving of actionable content around products of interest. By doing so, social media will become a social stream for product discovery and commerce, thereby driving sales.

5.  Jeremy Goldman, Entrepreneur, strategist, & author of the upcoming book, Going Social – @jeremarketer  

Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.

6.  Mike Wolfe, Founder & President, WAM Enterprises LLC – @WAMGolfs

Social Media will continue to grow in 2013 due to the increase usage of mobile technology, specifically smartphones. We can expect to see visual (images) to be a driving force and I believe an increase in internet video usage too.

7.  Patrick J. Sweeney II,­ featured contributor to Social Media Today and CNBC – @PJSweeney

The future of social media will evolve around the frictionless capturing of precious memories in the real world. When people are skiing, doing a triathlon, at a concert, or doing anything fun and engaging – mobile technology will enable them to capture the moment with very high quality pictures and video and instantly share online without lifting a finger. Brands will pay for or sponsor this infrastructure in order to have “product placement” on social media. See Cadbury at the Olympics for a great example.

8.  Kelby Brick, Esq., Vice President, Regulatory & Strategic Policy at Purple Communications, Inc. – @kelbybrick

In 2013 smart businesses will emphasize using social media for personal interactions and connections with their customers. This is different from 2012 where macro blasts were the norm. Personal connections result in a more loyal and valued customer base.

9.  Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21 – @CreativeIthink

The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary aged children.
Now that the majority of society has adopted social expectations have changed. Those expectations will dramatically affect customer service, marketing and sales.

Customer Service – People know they don’t have to wait on the phone to get help, they can tweet. This makes it easy for the customer to let the brand know about any and all problems. So any company who went ahead and distributed products with minor flaws in hopes that the customer wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of a return or exchange will have a rude awakening. Many companies have adopted social media as a customer service tool purely for the fact that they can look good in front of thousands of potential customers. This year companies will start adopting it out of necessity. If a customer who doesn’t want to talk to a machine or wait on hold for 20 minutes, they are going to reach out via social. If you
don’t answer and they HAVE to call, they are going to be highly irritated and more demanding, ultimately costing the company more money.

Marketing – Having a presence on social media has become (or will soon) as important as having a website. Not being on social means you’re missing out on big opportunities in search engine real estate and with your customers. More firms will add social media to their offerings and the smartest ones
already have. We should have realized by now that it’s not a stand along media channel, it’s an essential part of a successful media mix.

Sales – Social media has become a powerful tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can generate leads and drive buyer traffic to a specific product. Sales teams will evolve to include a digital lead generation
specialist and marketing strategies will be broadened as location isn’t as much of an issue when you’re running a powerful social platform.

10.  Joey Sargent, Principal, BrandSprout Advisors – @brandsprout

In 2013, we’ll see more social maturity in both B2C and B2B applications. Business will get “social smarts” and more fully integrate social media into their day-to-day operations across the organization. This means less social for social’s sake, and more focus on social media as a legitimate business tool to facilitate communication, engagement and loyalty.

11.  Beverly Solomon, Creative Director at musee-solomon

People are over saturated with social media. They will gradually remove themselves from all but a few networks, blogs, etc. So many ads come in everyday that they have lost their impact. Most
people just delete them before reading them.  Social media will function more to alert friends of rip-offs than to encourage sales.  Only the most clever sales campaigns will have any impact.  More and more advertisers will be leaving social media and returning to snail mail, print and other traditional ads.  Social media will continue to be a dating hook up, gossip fest and avenue for “gurus” to sell seminars. But real businesses will use social media less and less.

12.  Caroline Kornowicz, Social Media Manager for CliqStudios Cabinets – @CarolineSofiaK

The future of social media lies heavily in images, video and interaction for the user. It is exploring our senses further with sight, sound and touch. We are seeing current trends with infographs and statistics speak for themselves that an image or video provides higher engagement than plain text posts.

13.  Melissa Brodsky, co-founder of Smart Savvy Social – @smartsavvysoc

More and more brands will realize the importance and relevance of social media and begin to grow their online footprint. Also, I believe that Facebook will eventually burn too many bridges and a new network will become dominant, one that WANTS to help brands instead of only themselves.

14.  Brittany Dowell, Director of Publication Relations at Digital Talent Agents

Social media use is not going anywhere but up in 2013. Companies will hire more full-time employees dedicated solely to engaging with customers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. With customer service moving to more online interaction, we could see the need for traditional office space steadily decline.

15.  Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers – @jpretz

Going into 2013 social media will impact sales more than any other metric because of the continued integration as a marketing platform and the acceptance of users to be marketed to. In 2011, almost 70% of users said that no social media platform influenced their buying decision and in 2012, that was cut in half to 35%. In 2013, this number will be decreased significantly again because these sites have become an integral way to gain access to information on companies, promotions and products.

16.  Amanda Vega – @amandavega

Social media will continue to have direct and indirect impact on sales in 2013. Consumers will continue to expect an immediate response to their needs online, and a lack of timely response will have a hard-to-measure, but certain impact on brand satisfaction and recommendations.

17.  Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group and Author of “Cloud Surfing: A New Way
to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success” –
@tkspeaks

The greatest shift in Social media over the next year will be the maturing of “behavioral business models” that use a deep and comprehensive cross platform understanding of consumer and enterprise
online behaviors as the basis for predictive analytics about their interests and habits. Companies that own the broadest range of platforms such as Apple and Google will be able to track online consumer activity
in ways that create enormous value for retailers. The same is true of enterprise applications of social media where online B2B transactions are being collected and analyzed by companies such as E2Open, which have created a similar capability in projecting future behaviors of markets in order to dynamically alter supply chains in real time to meet the needs of consumers. This notion of using behavior to predict the future will be a critical contribution of social media in an increasingly uncertain world.

18.  Joey Beachum, Digital Content Specialist at Markstein Consulting – @MarksteinChats

As wireless technology advances and smartphones continue to proliferate (they’re projected to form 54% of the total mobile phone market in 2013), consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion. This gives sales professionals even more of an opportunity at something I call ‘mass direct access’: reaching out directly to consumers on an individual level, like with a traditional sales approach, yet on a mass scale. More socially-connected consumers equal more potential touch-points and more sales opportunities.

19.  Kurt Uhlir, Cofounder and Chief Servant at Buzztastic – @KurtUhlir

There is a great wave of un-liking/un-following that will hit brands, at the least we will see people unselect “show in newsfeed” on Facebook. Consumers want higher quality content than what most brands are offering. This is a huge opportunity for brands offering engaging content that know how to activate an audience.

20.  Aalap Shah, co-founder at SoMe Connect – @some_connect

A companies mobile/tablet strategy (or lack thereof will define sales & marketing success for brands and companies in 2013. Consumers can access apps that display social data and activity of their friends anywhere and at anytime and retailers and brands need to have a consistent and clear message to push across social media channels. Without a mobile strategy, most companies will see their sales go to competitors that are where their customers are consuming information.

21.  Ed McMasters, Director of Marketing & Communication at Flottman Company

The future of social media for B2B will be held in the hands of LinkedIn – the new advances of LinkedIn make it a true Business To Business relationship builder. People that have their profiles at 100% and
continue to update them will have the biggest advantages. Knowledge that posting monthly or bi-weekly updates to your profile puts you in front of clients and potential clients is just like advertising only a
lot less expensive. I am a firm believer that LinkedIn will be the Social Media BIG GUY of the future.

22.  Sheryl Johnson, Founder of BD-PRo Marketing Solutions – @BD_PRoMarketing

Social media is here to stay. I predict that social media will evolve into a powerful knowledge management system that leverages virtual connections while capturing valuable information. The biggest challenge moving forward is to create a method of harnessing and connecting this data from all sources in a meaningful, searchable way.

23.  Ty Kiisel, Director of Content Marketing at Lendio – @tykiisel

I don’ think there’s any question that social media has become a relevant part of many brand discussions over the last few years generally, and 2012 in particular. However, more and more marketing leaders are finding that being social just to be social isn’t gaining them the traction in the marketplace they might have hoped. 2013 will see a greater focus on the creation of relevant and substantive content creation initiatives that provide value to customers that will ultimately create greater affinity for those brands that are most successful.

24.  Valerie Jennings, CEO of Viral Bolt Media and Jennings Social Media Marketing – @valeriejennings

Sales and marketing will continue to be impacted by organic SEO and SMO via social media. One major change may be the shift away from exclusively focusing on Facebook as a business sales and marketing tool and moving into more advanced programs including sales and marketing strategies that generate sales on Pinterest, Google+ and even FourSquare. If these platforms do not support sales and marketing strategies, other platforms via social networks will evolve quickly in the marketplace until there is one sold and remarkably profitable solution.

25.  Vickens Moscova, Owner/President of VM Enterprises – @VickensMoscova

I predict more and more people will get focused on utilizing social media to build their own personal brands, while more brands and businesses will realize that the control of their brand has shifted to having consumers having more control over their choices.

26.  Joan Barrett, Owner of The Content Factory – @ContentFac

My prediction is that social media will continue to have a strong impact on SEO, especially with Google
Algorithms becoming more and more personalized. The more social shares an article or site has, the higher it is going to rank.

27.  Tom Corson-Knowles, best-selling author of How To Make Money With Twitter – @JuiceTom

In 2013, we’ll see a lot more companies turning to social media primarily for customer service. We’ve already seen American Airlines cut down their phone service and instead encouraging customers to talk on Twitter if they need customer support. A lot more big companies will follow this trend in an effort to reduce overhead and expand their social media presence.

28.  Jeff Browning, Sr Director, Online Strategy at F5 Networks – @jeffbrowning

2013 is the year social leaps beyond projection / syndication and becomes more about listening, understanding, and driving better products and relationships that drive business. Vendors and agencies that provide useful big data analytics (ideally blending the inside and outside the enterprise) will become big dollar rockstars. Over 50% of C-level will finally realize social does not equal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

29. Jim Caruso, marketing strategist & CEO at MediaFirst PR – @jimcaruso

Facebook will matter more for B2B, as will FB advertising, since stock price matters when you are a public company.  LinkedIn with matter more across industries and new players, like Pinterest, will continue to disrupt the big players in social media

30.  James Medd, Social Media Marketing Manager at Emailvision – @jamespmedd

In 2013, I predict brands will grow their investments in social customer service to better serve customers who engage with them through social media channels – who have been shown to spend 20% to 40% more than customers who are not socially engaged.

As social customer service matures, I expect to see more integration of technology platforms from traditional customer services with social monitoring and team collaboration. This will enable customers to receive the same level of support and information, regardless of their communication channel preference.

31.  Ryan Schram, CMO of IZEA – @ryanschram

Today’s consumer demands a genuine relationship with the brands they love; nowhere is that more apparent than in social, where soft-selling, brand-building, and real-time problem solving comes into the main more and more each day.   Brands are utilizing a diverse array of tools and resources to
maximize their presence on the social web, including the compensation of social influencers to promote products and services (known as Social Media Sponsorship).   The 2012 State of Social Media Sponsorship study indicated that almost 60% of brands have a stand-alone social marketing budget with that amount having increased dramatically since 2009.

32.  Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-Founder of Voices.com – @stephciccarelli

Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments will need to work together to engage, sell and retain customers who choose to interact with a brand online via social networks. Companies will need to view those managing their social media as being on the “front lines” of a brand’s online customer service efforts. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated social media manager who can share content and engage a community online but also be a means of support to those asking questions.

33.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING – @dimplethakkar

Start planning a serious budget for social media advertising in 2013. Make sure you skip the promotional tone in your ad copy to build trust with followers. Consumers have an amazing radar for bullshit and your brand has a small window to make a good [first] impression.

34.  Caitlin Connors, Social Media Director at Boomtown Internet Group – @boomtownig

Social media is an elusive program for companies because it changes with your goals and with your audience and especially with technology. I predict that companies who use social media correctly, with an outsourced company that understands their brands and goals perfectly, will be overwhelmed with how much it can positively impact leads/conversions/sales.  In 2013, hopefully more people who claim to have an understanding of SMO will be aware of what effects ROI and how to customize SMO for each company. If they don’t (as many don’t know), leads aren’t happening and CEOs and Executives are doubting the effect of SMO. Customer Service could greatly benefit from SMO in 2013 with Twitter API’s for sites to have an “Ask Us Now” option to live chat, and a full-time Twitter manager to answer incoming questions. Google Hangout and new conversation management tools are now all in place to be utilized to find people having products with brands and services and actively seek them out to answer their qualms.

35.  Kevin Ohashi, Founder of Review Signal – @kevinohashi

I think the most important trend is customer service over social media.  Companies are more actively monitoring what is being said about them and consumers will become more empowered to see and react to the ways companies are engaging their customers. Access to information is democratizing and
consumers will be able to make decisions based on company behavior, and customer service is the biggest touch point between most companies and consumers.

36.  Adam Itkoff, Strategist at Fueled Mobile Design, NYC – @adamitkoff

As we look at growing usage trends across multiple social media platforms, we can only assume that these mediums will become more crucial to both business and sales. No longer must we ask, do we participate in Twitter or Facebook, but rather, how can we leverage these platforms best?  Look especially for Twitter and Instragram to keep growing strong.

37.  Flynn Zaiger, Founder of Online Optimism – @onlineoptimism

Social Media will help E-Commerce begin to surpass actual brick and mortar sales numbers. Expect Amazon to team up with either Facebook or Twitter to release an app that allows you to both see if a product is cheaper online, and also if your friends approve of how it looks.

38.  Melinda Janicki, Online Business Growth Catalyst, Internet Marketing Strategist & Implementation Expert – @melindajanicki

As social media moves from a simple networking site into being at the fore front of technology and SEO, I predict social media to be a must have customer services tool. Much like email has brought tech support
and customer service to a new level social media will be a must with apps, groups, Google+ hangouts, even Twitter chat rooms.

39.  Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. – @griotsroll

Social media will replace the business website. If you don’t have a social media page with information on your products, services on your about page you are not in business. People will judge you on how they can get in contact with you through your social media page. Your “About” page will be more important than your website and you better have links to any other social media pages you have.

40.  David Drake, The Soho Loft – @TSLCCevents

US SMEs will start embracing social media strategies and crowd funding will drive this for startups and local business as crowd funding for equity is implemented as a law.  Social media strategies will become more readily available to consulting firms helping small medium-sized enterprises with the winners being local businesses learning the tools to embrace their eco system.

41.  Alex Schenker, President at www.WeRockYourWeb.com  – @WeRockYourWeb

Marketers will need to use fewer words and more voice, video and images to connect with today’s overly stimulated consumer (e.g. Pinterest, Voxer, YouTube).  More filters will allow consumers to better target/find what they are looking for which will lead to more qualified sales’ leads. As we become more inundated with content, it will become more vital to have filters on how we choose to consume the content.  Mobile devices will continue to drive social media communication so the social media of choice may depend on which device you hold and the successful marketing efforts will be customized to that
platform. For example, Google Chat is not directly accessible via an app on an iPhone so they will likely turn to iMessage which allows you to text several people at once, creating your own “social network” for each message you create.

42.  Raghu Bala, Board Member at Fanggle – @raghurambala

Vertical social platforms will emerge to enable people with similar interests to share information (text, images/pictures, video) on topics of mutual interest. The current metrics – ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ – will give way to more meaningful means of measuring engagement. I also see social media becoming more immersed in everyday activity. For instance, with Google Glass combined with voice to text, one can automatically tweet and attach an image more naturally than currently possible.

43.  Ziggi Yaxley, Social Media Specialist at Bozboz, UK. – @ziggidotcom

Social media is instant, personal and available to everyone. It’s the new way to do customer service and it’s a way to connect with current and potential customers in exciting and innovative ways. It’s human.
2013 will see more businesses investing in social media for the first time and socially-equipped businesses allocating more resource to running their social media more efficiently.

44.  Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys – @ValaAfshar

A truly social enterprise is not just about technology, it is about lifestyle. Enterprises that collaborate socially (and not just through social media) with their customers and employees are able to not only grow mindshare, but also their business.  For example, at Enterasys, we believe there is nothing more important than our customers – internally and externally – so if both are delighted, we know we are doing our job socially now and into the future.

45. Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate

For marketers specifically, social media will continue to be a force in driving traffic to websites. Marketers will use social the same way that they’ve used pay-per-click and banner advertising in the past. However,
marketers need to take a careful look at metrics such as conversion rates before dedicating a huge chunk of the budget to advertizing on social media sites.

46.  Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations – @wjcorbett

The hype proliferated by “marketing” people about the tremendous business generating benefits of social media for small business will wind down. The reality will set in that social media marketing is only
part of an a comprehensive marketing plan which includes a digital media strategy. Businesses, particularly those in the business to business space, will recognize that they are not getting and probably will not get the ROI they need to continue to focus significant time, energy, effort and funds on social media marketing.

47.  Carrie Peterson, Social Media Director at Internet Marketing Inc. – @CarrieSavvy

2013 will be the year of social media mobile and tablet application for marketers. As consumers become more and more socially savvy and are using their mobile devices for research and purchases, it is imperative that marketers hop on the mobile train with a solid strategy and targeted ad campaigns. These campaigns should integrate behavioral targeting, relevant content per the niche demographic, and social share features to maximize reach and social word of mouth.

49.  Eric Courville, Director of Marketing and Alliances

Social media channels are creating more demand and opportunity for immediate content from brands. To take full advantage, marketers in 2013 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed and the tools necessary to easily track the use of all digital assets.

50.  Jane Horowitz, Founder of More Than A Resume

Today’s college student and those about to enter college (our next wave into the workplace) will reshape, along with new technologies the workplace over the next decade.  The way this generation, (Millennials) communicate in their social lives will be introduced to the workplace, and then transform it; fostering new ways of sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve outcomes. Goodbye email and PowerPoint presentations. Hello file-sharing, multi-media presentations.  Everything we use and come into contact with will be converted into data that will be available at our fingertips to make informed and therefore smarter decisions. Marketing, sales and customer service professional will need critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

51.  Ryan Aynes, Founder & Managing Director at EDGE Collective – @ryanaynes

There will be a larger demand to quantify social media impact and how that is impacting business performance. As spending becomes tighter due to the economy and a higher level of financial accountability takes place across organizations, agencies pitching social media will have to come up with their own annotations for “like” value.

There will also be a higher demand for integrating the entire marketing process. This means ad-buying teams will have to work more closely with social. The most effective strategies will be integrated paid, owned, and earned. Consumer analysis from each end educates the other on consumer behavior, which builds better forward strategies.

Mobile strategy will become the norm and not just an additional option. As more ways to reach consumers opens up through mobile experiences, brands and agencies will make the appropriate modifications to add this into their strategy and planning.

52.  Devin Redmond, CEO and Co-founder at Social iQ Networks – @DevinHRed

It’s very common these days to walk into a business and find that different departments all have their own social accounts and social marketing tools to connect with customers, recruit employees, and drive marketing campaigns. That new reality and infrastructure has become a rapidly increasing sprawl that can be disharmonious and prone to risk for their company and their own efforts. This will lead to a push toward greater social infrastructure management as companies try to get a handle on social media sprawl to improve their efforts without having to worrying about mishaps, abuse, and social media mistakes.

53.  Rick Mathieson, author of Branding Unbound and The On-Demand Brand – @rickmathieson

Look for a nascent social media backlash to gain traction among consumers and the brands trying to connect with them. While 20% of Facebook users say they log on once or twice a day, 52% say they plan to spend less time there in the future ­ and that’s an emerging dynamic across the socialsphere. In 2013, look for a new emphasis on quality of engagement versus quantity.  When engaging in social media, look for the emphasis for many brands to finally move away from “How” the mechanics of going social to the “Why”,  by clarifying objectives and building social media strategies to meet them.

54.  Molly Glover Gallatin, VP of Marketing at Compass Labs – @CompassLabs

As marketers we need to stop being hyper-focused on the immediate ROI question around social media (I know, it’s hard!), and instead get our management team focused on another question: What have I learned today from my customers? The future will be best for those who stop marketing and speaking *at* their audience and start creating dialogues instead. Content strategy should include conversations – they are the most critical element of social media – hence, the “social,” and they increase brand affinity and tip the scales in your favor regarding revenue, as well.

Free Webcast:  Join us on December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, as Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.

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Simon Davies

About Simon Davies

Simon Davies is a London-based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues, and solutions. He works explores new markets and disruptive technologies and communicates those recent developments to a wide, public audience. Simon is also a contributor at socialbarrel.com, socialnomics.net, and tech.co. Follow Simon @simontheodavies on Twitter.

The Future of Social Media: 50+ Experts Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice

The world of social media underwent major changes in 2012.

We saw the addition of Facebook Timelines for Fan Pages, the rise of Pinterest, revamped LinkedIn Company Pages, improved Twitter profile pages, and the increasing pressure to prove social media ROI.

As more companies begin leveraging social media for marketing, sales and customer service, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve.

On December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore will participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.  We hope you will join us and in the meantime please enjoy the following predications from over 50 thought leaders.

The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

1.  Jason Stein, Founder and President of 24/7 Laundry Service – @jasonwstein

Social media has completely blurred the lines between all aspects of marketing. We live in a world where Facebook posts double as paid ads, and people’s tweets are a form of journalism. As a result, in the new year brands will really embrace the concept of “converged media,” and see owned, earned and paid as a unified program. This is the future of B2C communications.

2.  Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing and Sales at Awareness, Inc. – @bostonmike

Small and mid-sized market will be revolutionized by social customer acquisition at scale. Specifically, new social profiling and scoring tools will allows marketers to analyze and apply custom segmentation logic to their social databases to meet specific customer acquisition and conversion goals. As a result companies will see a tangible social marketing ROI – increase in sales and customer retention.

3.  Natalie Bidnick, Account Supervisor and Social Media Strategist at The Marketing Zen Group – @NatalieBid

Social Media will become an essential – not optional – form of communicating with customers. More companies will use Facebok and Twitter to both listen to their customers, solicit feedback, and practice public crisis management.

4.  Zubin Mowlavi, CEO of Lucid Fusion – @ZubinMowlavi

2012 was the year of data and more specifically, data as it relates to the Social Interest Graph. People and companies shared content more than ever, and this data was organized around interests rather than personal relationships. This trend continues in 2013 with the Social Product Graph which highlights shifting the focus to the sharing and serving of actionable content around products of interest. By doing so, social media will become a social stream for product discovery and commerce, thereby driving sales.

5.  Jeremy Goldman, Entrepreneur, strategist, & author of the upcoming book, Going Social – @jeremarketer  

Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.

6.  Mike Wolfe, Founder & President, WAM Enterprises LLC – @WAMGolfs

Social Media will continue to grow in 2013 due to the increase usage of mobile technology, specifically smartphones. We can expect to see visual (images) to be a driving force and I believe an increase in internet video usage too.

7.  Patrick J. Sweeney II,­ featured contributor to Social Media Today and CNBC – @PJSweeney

The future of social media will evolve around the frictionless capturing of precious memories in the real world. When people are skiing, doing a triathlon, at a concert, or doing anything fun and engaging – mobile technology will enable them to capture the moment with very high quality pictures and video and instantly share online without lifting a finger. Brands will pay for or sponsor this infrastructure in order to have “product placement” on social media. See Cadbury at the Olympics for a great example.

8.  Kelby Brick, Esq., Vice President, Regulatory & Strategic Policy at Purple Communications, Inc. – @kelbybrick

In 2013 smart businesses will emphasize using social media for personal interactions and connections with their customers. This is different from 2012 where macro blasts were the norm. Personal connections result in a more loyal and valued customer base.

9.  Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21 – @CreativeIthink

The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary aged children.
Now that the majority of society has adopted social expectations have changed. Those expectations will dramatically affect customer service, marketing and sales.

Customer Service – People know they don’t have to wait on the phone to get help, they can tweet. This makes it easy for the customer to let the brand know about any and all problems. So any company who went ahead and distributed products with minor flaws in hopes that the customer wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of a return or exchange will have a rude awakening. Many companies have adopted social media as a customer service tool purely for the fact that they can look good in front of thousands of potential customers. This year companies will start adopting it out of necessity. If a customer who doesn’t want to talk to a machine or wait on hold for 20 minutes, they are going to reach out via social. If you
don’t answer and they HAVE to call, they are going to be highly irritated and more demanding, ultimately costing the company more money.

Marketing – Having a presence on social media has become (or will soon) as important as having a website. Not being on social means you’re missing out on big opportunities in search engine real estate and with your customers. More firms will add social media to their offerings and the smartest ones
already have. We should have realized by now that it’s not a stand along media channel, it’s an essential part of a successful media mix.

Sales – Social media has become a powerful tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can generate leads and drive buyer traffic to a specific product. Sales teams will evolve to include a digital lead generation
specialist and marketing strategies will be broadened as location isn’t as much of an issue when you’re running a powerful social platform.

10.  Joey Sargent, Principal, BrandSprout Advisors – @brandsprout

In 2013, we’ll see more social maturity in both B2C and B2B applications. Business will get “social smarts” and more fully integrate social media into their day-to-day operations across the organization. This means less social for social’s sake, and more focus on social media as a legitimate business tool to facilitate communication, engagement and loyalty.

11.  Beverly Solomon, Creative Director at musee-solomon

People are over saturated with social media. They will gradually remove themselves from all but a few networks, blogs, etc. So many ads come in everyday that they have lost their impact. Most
people just delete them before reading them.  Social media will function more to alert friends of rip-offs than to encourage sales.  Only the most clever sales campaigns will have any impact.  More and more advertisers will be leaving social media and returning to snail mail, print and other traditional ads.  Social media will continue to be a dating hook up, gossip fest and avenue for “gurus” to sell seminars. But real businesses will use social media less and less.

12.  Caroline Kornowicz, Social Media Manager for CliqStudios Cabinets – @CarolineSofiaK

The future of social media lies heavily in images, video and interaction for the user. It is exploring our senses further with sight, sound and touch. We are seeing current trends with infographs and statistics speak for themselves that an image or video provides higher engagement than plain text posts.

13.  Melissa Brodsky, co-founder of Smart Savvy Social – @smartsavvysoc

More and more brands will realize the importance and relevance of social media and begin to grow their online footprint. Also, I believe that Facebook will eventually burn too many bridges and a new network will become dominant, one that WANTS to help brands instead of only themselves.

14.  Brittany Dowell, Director of Publication Relations at Digital Talent Agents

Social media use is not going anywhere but up in 2013. Companies will hire more full-time employees dedicated solely to engaging with customers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. With customer service moving to more online interaction, we could see the need for traditional office space steadily decline.

15.  Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers – @jpretz

Going into 2013 social media will impact sales more than any other metric because of the continued integration as a marketing platform and the acceptance of users to be marketed to. In 2011, almost 70% of users said that no social media platform influenced their buying decision and in 2012, that was cut in half to 35%. In 2013, this number will be decreased significantly again because these sites have become an integral way to gain access to information on companies, promotions and products.

16.  Amanda Vega – @amandavega

Social media will continue to have direct and indirect impact on sales in 2013. Consumers will continue to expect an immediate response to their needs online, and a lack of timely response will have a hard-to-measure, but certain impact on brand satisfaction and recommendations.

17.  Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group and Author of “Cloud Surfing: A New Way
to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success” –
@tkspeaks

The greatest shift in Social media over the next year will be the maturing of “behavioral business models” that use a deep and comprehensive cross platform understanding of consumer and enterprise
online behaviors as the basis for predictive analytics about their interests and habits. Companies that own the broadest range of platforms such as Apple and Google will be able to track online consumer activity
in ways that create enormous value for retailers. The same is true of enterprise applications of social media where online B2B transactions are being collected and analyzed by companies such as E2Open, which have created a similar capability in projecting future behaviors of markets in order to dynamically alter supply chains in real time to meet the needs of consumers. This notion of using behavior to predict the future will be a critical contribution of social media in an increasingly uncertain world.

18.  Joey Beachum, Digital Content Specialist at Markstein Consulting – @MarksteinChats

As wireless technology advances and smartphones continue to proliferate (they’re projected to form 54% of the total mobile phone market in 2013), consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion. This gives sales professionals even more of an opportunity at something I call ‘mass direct access’: reaching out directly to consumers on an individual level, like with a traditional sales approach, yet on a mass scale. More socially-connected consumers equal more potential touch-points and more sales opportunities.

19.  Kurt Uhlir, Cofounder and Chief Servant at Buzztastic – @KurtUhlir

There is a great wave of un-liking/un-following that will hit brands, at the least we will see people unselect “show in newsfeed” on Facebook. Consumers want higher quality content than what most brands are offering. This is a huge opportunity for brands offering engaging content that know how to activate an audience.

20.  Aalap Shah, co-founder at SoMe Connect – @some_connect

A companies mobile/tablet strategy (or lack thereof will define sales & marketing success for brands and companies in 2013. Consumers can access apps that display social data and activity of their friends anywhere and at anytime and retailers and brands need to have a consistent and clear message to push across social media channels. Without a mobile strategy, most companies will see their sales go to competitors that are where their customers are consuming information.

21.  Ed McMasters, Director of Marketing & Communication at Flottman Company

The future of social media for B2B will be held in the hands of LinkedIn – the new advances of LinkedIn make it a true Business To Business relationship builder. People that have their profiles at 100% and
continue to update them will have the biggest advantages. Knowledge that posting monthly or bi-weekly updates to your profile puts you in front of clients and potential clients is just like advertising only a
lot less expensive. I am a firm believer that LinkedIn will be the Social Media BIG GUY of the future.

22.  Sheryl Johnson, Founder of BD-PRo Marketing Solutions – @BD_PRoMarketing

Social media is here to stay. I predict that social media will evolve into a powerful knowledge management system that leverages virtual connections while capturing valuable information. The biggest challenge moving forward is to create a method of harnessing and connecting this data from all sources in a meaningful, searchable way.

23.  Ty Kiisel, Director of Content Marketing at Lendio – @tykiisel

I don’ think there’s any question that social media has become a relevant part of many brand discussions over the last few years generally, and 2012 in particular. However, more and more marketing leaders are finding that being social just to be social isn’t gaining them the traction in the marketplace they might have hoped. 2013 will see a greater focus on the creation of relevant and substantive content creation initiatives that provide value to customers that will ultimately create greater affinity for those brands that are most successful.

24.  Valerie Jennings, CEO of Viral Bolt Media and Jennings Social Media Marketing – @valeriejennings

Sales and marketing will continue to be impacted by organic SEO and SMO via social media. One major change may be the shift away from exclusively focusing on Facebook as a business sales and marketing tool and moving into more advanced programs including sales and marketing strategies that generate sales on Pinterest, Google+ and even FourSquare. If these platforms do not support sales and marketing strategies, other platforms via social networks will evolve quickly in the marketplace until there is one sold and remarkably profitable solution.

25.  Vickens Moscova, Owner/President of VM Enterprises – @VickensMoscova

I predict more and more people will get focused on utilizing social media to build their own personal brands, while more brands and businesses will realize that the control of their brand has shifted to having consumers having more control over their choices.

26.  Joan Barrett, Owner of The Content Factory – @ContentFac

My prediction is that social media will continue to have a strong impact on SEO, especially with Google
Algorithms becoming more and more personalized. The more social shares an article or site has, the higher it is going to rank.

27.  Tom Corson-Knowles, best-selling author of How To Make Money With Twitter – @JuiceTom

In 2013, we’ll see a lot more companies turning to social media primarily for customer service. We’ve already seen American Airlines cut down their phone service and instead encouraging customers to talk on Twitter if they need customer support. A lot more big companies will follow this trend in an effort to reduce overhead and expand their social media presence.

28.  Jeff Browning, Sr Director, Online Strategy at F5 Networks – @jeffbrowning

2013 is the year social leaps beyond projection / syndication and becomes more about listening, understanding, and driving better products and relationships that drive business. Vendors and agencies that provide useful big data analytics (ideally blending the inside and outside the enterprise) will become big dollar rockstars. Over 50% of C-level will finally realize social does not equal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

29. Jim Caruso, marketing strategist & CEO at MediaFirst PR – @jimcaruso

Facebook will matter more for B2B, as will FB advertising, since stock price matters when you are a public company.  LinkedIn with matter more across industries and new players, like Pinterest, will continue to disrupt the big players in social media

30.  James Medd, Social Media Marketing Manager at Emailvision – @jamespmedd

In 2013, I predict brands will grow their investments in social customer service to better serve customers who engage with them through social media channels – who have been shown to spend 20% to 40% more than customers who are not socially engaged.

As social customer service matures, I expect to see more integration of technology platforms from traditional customer services with social monitoring and team collaboration. This will enable customers to receive the same level of support and information, regardless of their communication channel preference.

31.  Ryan Schram, CMO of IZEA – @ryanschram

Today’s consumer demands a genuine relationship with the brands they love; nowhere is that more apparent than in social, where soft-selling, brand-building, and real-time problem solving comes into the main more and more each day.   Brands are utilizing a diverse array of tools and resources to
maximize their presence on the social web, including the compensation of social influencers to promote products and services (known as Social Media Sponsorship).   The 2012 State of Social Media Sponsorship study indicated that almost 60% of brands have a stand-alone social marketing budget with that amount having increased dramatically since 2009.

32.  Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-Founder of Voices.com – @stephciccarelli

Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments will need to work together to engage, sell and retain customers who choose to interact with a brand online via social networks. Companies will need to view those managing their social media as being on the “front lines” of a brand’s online customer service efforts. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated social media manager who can share content and engage a community online but also be a means of support to those asking questions.

33.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING – @dimplethakkar

Start planning a serious budget for social media advertising in 2013. Make sure you skip the promotional tone in your ad copy to build trust with followers. Consumers have an amazing radar for bullshit and your brand has a small window to make a good [first] impression.

34.  Caitlin Connors, Social Media Director at Boomtown Internet Group – @boomtownig

Social media is an elusive program for companies because it changes with your goals and with your audience and especially with technology. I predict that companies who use social media correctly, with an outsourced company that understands their brands and goals perfectly, will be overwhelmed with how much it can positively impact leads/conversions/sales.  In 2013, hopefully more people who claim to have an understanding of SMO will be aware of what effects ROI and how to customize SMO for each company. If they don’t (as many don’t know), leads aren’t happening and CEOs and Executives are doubting the effect of SMO. Customer Service could greatly benefit from SMO in 2013 with Twitter API’s for sites to have an “Ask Us Now” option to live chat, and a full-time Twitter manager to answer incoming questions. Google Hangout and new conversation management tools are now all in place to be utilized to find people having products with brands and services and actively seek them out to answer their qualms.

35.  Kevin Ohashi, Founder of Review Signal – @kevinohashi

I think the most important trend is customer service over social media.  Companies are more actively monitoring what is being said about them and consumers will become more empowered to see and react to the ways companies are engaging their customers. Access to information is democratizing and
consumers will be able to make decisions based on company behavior, and customer service is the biggest touch point between most companies and consumers.

36.  Adam Itkoff, Strategist at Fueled Mobile Design, NYC – @adamitkoff

As we look at growing usage trends across multiple social media platforms, we can only assume that these mediums will become more crucial to both business and sales. No longer must we ask, do we participate in Twitter or Facebook, but rather, how can we leverage these platforms best?  Look especially for Twitter and Instragram to keep growing strong.

37.  Flynn Zaiger, Founder of Online Optimism – @onlineoptimism

Social Media will help E-Commerce begin to surpass actual brick and mortar sales numbers. Expect Amazon to team up with either Facebook or Twitter to release an app that allows you to both see if a product is cheaper online, and also if your friends approve of how it looks.

38.  Melinda Janicki, Online Business Growth Catalyst, Internet Marketing Strategist & Implementation Expert – @melindajanicki

As social media moves from a simple networking site into being at the fore front of technology and SEO, I predict social media to be a must have customer services tool. Much like email has brought tech support
and customer service to a new level social media will be a must with apps, groups, Google+ hangouts, even Twitter chat rooms.

39.  Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. – @griotsroll

Social media will replace the business website. If you don’t have a social media page with information on your products, services on your about page you are not in business. People will judge you on how they can get in contact with you through your social media page. Your “About” page will be more important than your website and you better have links to any other social media pages you have.

40.  David Drake, The Soho Loft – @TSLCCevents

US SMEs will start embracing social media strategies and crowd funding will drive this for startups and local business as crowd funding for equity is implemented as a law.  Social media strategies will become more readily available to consulting firms helping small medium-sized enterprises with the winners being local businesses learning the tools to embrace their eco system.

41.  Alex Schenker, President at www.WeRockYourWeb.com  – @WeRockYourWeb

Marketers will need to use fewer words and more voice, video and images to connect with today’s overly stimulated consumer (e.g. Pinterest, Voxer, YouTube).  More filters will allow consumers to better target/find what they are looking for which will lead to more qualified sales’ leads. As we become more inundated with content, it will become more vital to have filters on how we choose to consume the content.  Mobile devices will continue to drive social media communication so the social media of choice may depend on which device you hold and the successful marketing efforts will be customized to that
platform. For example, Google Chat is not directly accessible via an app on an iPhone so they will likely turn to iMessage which allows you to text several people at once, creating your own “social network” for each message you create.

42.  Raghu Bala, Board Member at Fanggle – @raghurambala

Vertical social platforms will emerge to enable people with similar interests to share information (text, images/pictures, video) on topics of mutual interest. The current metrics – ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ – will give way to more meaningful means of measuring engagement. I also see social media becoming more immersed in everyday activity. For instance, with Google Glass combined with voice to text, one can automatically tweet and attach an image more naturally than currently possible.

43.  Ziggi Yaxley, Social Media Specialist at Bozboz, UK. – @ziggidotcom

Social media is instant, personal and available to everyone. It’s the new way to do customer service and it’s a way to connect with current and potential customers in exciting and innovative ways. It’s human.
2013 will see more businesses investing in social media for the first time and socially-equipped businesses allocating more resource to running their social media more efficiently.

44.  Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys – @ValaAfshar

A truly social enterprise is not just about technology, it is about lifestyle. Enterprises that collaborate socially (and not just through social media) with their customers and employees are able to not only grow mindshare, but also their business.  For example, at Enterasys, we believe there is nothing more important than our customers – internally and externally – so if both are delighted, we know we are doing our job socially now and into the future.

45. Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate

For marketers specifically, social media will continue to be a force in driving traffic to websites. Marketers will use social the same way that they’ve used pay-per-click and banner advertising in the past. However,
marketers need to take a careful look at metrics such as conversion rates before dedicating a huge chunk of the budget to advertizing on social media sites.

46.  Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations – @wjcorbett

The hype proliferated by “marketing” people about the tremendous business generating benefits of social media for small business will wind down. The reality will set in that social media marketing is only
part of an a comprehensive marketing plan which includes a digital media strategy. Businesses, particularly those in the business to business space, will recognize that they are not getting and probably will not get the ROI they need to continue to focus significant time, energy, effort and funds on social media marketing.

47.  Carrie Peterson, Social Media Director at Internet Marketing Inc. – @CarrieSavvy

2013 will be the year of social media mobile and tablet application for marketers. As consumers become more and more socially savvy and are using their mobile devices for research and purchases, it is imperative that marketers hop on the mobile train with a solid strategy and targeted ad campaigns. These campaigns should integrate behavioral targeting, relevant content per the niche demographic, and social share features to maximize reach and social word of mouth.

49.  Eric Courville, Director of Marketing and Alliances

Social media channels are creating more demand and opportunity for immediate content from brands. To take full advantage, marketers in 2013 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed and the tools necessary to easily track the use of all digital assets.

50.  Jane Horowitz, Founder of More Than A Resume

Today’s college student and those about to enter college (our next wave into the workplace) will reshape, along with new technologies the workplace over the next decade.  The way this generation, (Millennials) communicate in their social lives will be introduced to the workplace, and then transform it; fostering new ways of sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve outcomes. Goodbye email and PowerPoint presentations. Hello file-sharing, multi-media presentations.  Everything we use and come into contact with will be converted into data that will be available at our fingertips to make informed and therefore smarter decisions. Marketing, sales and customer service professional will need critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

51.  Ryan Aynes, Founder & Managing Director at EDGE Collective – @ryanaynes

There will be a larger demand to quantify social media impact and how that is impacting business performance. As spending becomes tighter due to the economy and a higher level of financial accountability takes place across organizations, agencies pitching social media will have to come up with their own annotations for “like” value.

There will also be a higher demand for integrating the entire marketing process. This means ad-buying teams will have to work more closely with social. The most effective strategies will be integrated paid, owned, and earned. Consumer analysis from each end educates the other on consumer behavior, which builds better forward strategies.

Mobile strategy will become the norm and not just an additional option. As more ways to reach consumers opens up through mobile experiences, brands and agencies will make the appropriate modifications to add this into their strategy and planning.

52.  Devin Redmond, CEO and Co-founder at Social iQ Networks – @DevinHRed

It’s very common these days to walk into a business and find that different departments all have their own social accounts and social marketing tools to connect with customers, recruit employees, and drive marketing campaigns. That new reality and infrastructure has become a rapidly increasing sprawl that can be disharmonious and prone to risk for their company and their own efforts. This will lead to a push toward greater social infrastructure management as companies try to get a handle on social media sprawl to improve their efforts without having to worrying about mishaps, abuse, and social media mistakes.

53.  Rick Mathieson, author of Branding Unbound and The On-Demand Brand – @rickmathieson

Look for a nascent social media backlash to gain traction among consumers and the brands trying to connect with them. While 20% of Facebook users say they log on once or twice a day, 52% say they plan to spend less time there in the future ­ and that’s an emerging dynamic across the socialsphere. In 2013, look for a new emphasis on quality of engagement versus quantity.  When engaging in social media, look for the emphasis for many brands to finally move away from “How” the mechanics of going social to the “Why”,  by clarifying objectives and building social media strategies to meet them.

54.  Molly Glover Gallatin, VP of Marketing at Compass Labs – @CompassLabs

As marketers we need to stop being hyper-focused on the immediate ROI question around social media (I know, it’s hard!), and instead get our management team focused on another question: What have I learned today from my customers? The future will be best for those who stop marketing and speaking *at* their audience and start creating dialogues instead. Content strategy should include conversations – they are the most critical element of social media – hence, the “social,” and they increase brand affinity and tip the scales in your favor regarding revenue, as well.

Free Webcast:  Join us on December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, as Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.

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Henry Bailey

About Henry Bailey

Henry Bailey is global vice president of Utilities Industry Business Unit for SAP. He leads a team of customer focused professionals creating end-2-end solutions across the 5 key market categories; Core Applications, Cloud Computing, Mobile Platforms, Business Intelligence and Database Technologies with HANA.

The Future of Social Media: 50+ Experts Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice

The world of social media underwent major changes in 2012.

We saw the addition of Facebook Timelines for Fan Pages, the rise of Pinterest, revamped LinkedIn Company Pages, improved Twitter profile pages, and the increasing pressure to prove social media ROI.

As more companies begin leveraging social media for marketing, sales and customer service, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve.

On December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore will participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.  We hope you will join us and in the meantime please enjoy the following predications from over 50 thought leaders.

The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

1.  Jason Stein, Founder and President of 24/7 Laundry Service – @jasonwstein

Social media has completely blurred the lines between all aspects of marketing. We live in a world where Facebook posts double as paid ads, and people’s tweets are a form of journalism. As a result, in the new year brands will really embrace the concept of “converged media,” and see owned, earned and paid as a unified program. This is the future of B2C communications.

2.  Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing and Sales at Awareness, Inc. – @bostonmike

Small and mid-sized market will be revolutionized by social customer acquisition at scale. Specifically, new social profiling and scoring tools will allows marketers to analyze and apply custom segmentation logic to their social databases to meet specific customer acquisition and conversion goals. As a result companies will see a tangible social marketing ROI – increase in sales and customer retention.

3.  Natalie Bidnick, Account Supervisor and Social Media Strategist at The Marketing Zen Group – @NatalieBid

Social Media will become an essential – not optional – form of communicating with customers. More companies will use Facebok and Twitter to both listen to their customers, solicit feedback, and practice public crisis management.

4.  Zubin Mowlavi, CEO of Lucid Fusion – @ZubinMowlavi

2012 was the year of data and more specifically, data as it relates to the Social Interest Graph. People and companies shared content more than ever, and this data was organized around interests rather than personal relationships. This trend continues in 2013 with the Social Product Graph which highlights shifting the focus to the sharing and serving of actionable content around products of interest. By doing so, social media will become a social stream for product discovery and commerce, thereby driving sales.

5.  Jeremy Goldman, Entrepreneur, strategist, & author of the upcoming book, Going Social – @jeremarketer  

Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.

6.  Mike Wolfe, Founder & President, WAM Enterprises LLC – @WAMGolfs

Social Media will continue to grow in 2013 due to the increase usage of mobile technology, specifically smartphones. We can expect to see visual (images) to be a driving force and I believe an increase in internet video usage too.

7.  Patrick J. Sweeney II,­ featured contributor to Social Media Today and CNBC – @PJSweeney

The future of social media will evolve around the frictionless capturing of precious memories in the real world. When people are skiing, doing a triathlon, at a concert, or doing anything fun and engaging – mobile technology will enable them to capture the moment with very high quality pictures and video and instantly share online without lifting a finger. Brands will pay for or sponsor this infrastructure in order to have “product placement” on social media. See Cadbury at the Olympics for a great example.

8.  Kelby Brick, Esq., Vice President, Regulatory & Strategic Policy at Purple Communications, Inc. – @kelbybrick

In 2013 smart businesses will emphasize using social media for personal interactions and connections with their customers. This is different from 2012 where macro blasts were the norm. Personal connections result in a more loyal and valued customer base.

9.  Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21 – @CreativeIthink

The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary aged children.
Now that the majority of society has adopted social expectations have changed. Those expectations will dramatically affect customer service, marketing and sales.

Customer Service – People know they don’t have to wait on the phone to get help, they can tweet. This makes it easy for the customer to let the brand know about any and all problems. So any company who went ahead and distributed products with minor flaws in hopes that the customer wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of a return or exchange will have a rude awakening. Many companies have adopted social media as a customer service tool purely for the fact that they can look good in front of thousands of potential customers. This year companies will start adopting it out of necessity. If a customer who doesn’t want to talk to a machine or wait on hold for 20 minutes, they are going to reach out via social. If you
don’t answer and they HAVE to call, they are going to be highly irritated and more demanding, ultimately costing the company more money.

Marketing – Having a presence on social media has become (or will soon) as important as having a website. Not being on social means you’re missing out on big opportunities in search engine real estate and with your customers. More firms will add social media to their offerings and the smartest ones
already have. We should have realized by now that it’s not a stand along media channel, it’s an essential part of a successful media mix.

Sales – Social media has become a powerful tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can generate leads and drive buyer traffic to a specific product. Sales teams will evolve to include a digital lead generation
specialist and marketing strategies will be broadened as location isn’t as much of an issue when you’re running a powerful social platform.

10.  Joey Sargent, Principal, BrandSprout Advisors – @brandsprout

In 2013, we’ll see more social maturity in both B2C and B2B applications. Business will get “social smarts” and more fully integrate social media into their day-to-day operations across the organization. This means less social for social’s sake, and more focus on social media as a legitimate business tool to facilitate communication, engagement and loyalty.

11.  Beverly Solomon, Creative Director at musee-solomon

People are over saturated with social media. They will gradually remove themselves from all but a few networks, blogs, etc. So many ads come in everyday that they have lost their impact. Most
people just delete them before reading them.  Social media will function more to alert friends of rip-offs than to encourage sales.  Only the most clever sales campaigns will have any impact.  More and more advertisers will be leaving social media and returning to snail mail, print and other traditional ads.  Social media will continue to be a dating hook up, gossip fest and avenue for “gurus” to sell seminars. But real businesses will use social media less and less.

12.  Caroline Kornowicz, Social Media Manager for CliqStudios Cabinets – @CarolineSofiaK

The future of social media lies heavily in images, video and interaction for the user. It is exploring our senses further with sight, sound and touch. We are seeing current trends with infographs and statistics speak for themselves that an image or video provides higher engagement than plain text posts.

13.  Melissa Brodsky, co-founder of Smart Savvy Social – @smartsavvysoc

More and more brands will realize the importance and relevance of social media and begin to grow their online footprint. Also, I believe that Facebook will eventually burn too many bridges and a new network will become dominant, one that WANTS to help brands instead of only themselves.

14.  Brittany Dowell, Director of Publication Relations at Digital Talent Agents

Social media use is not going anywhere but up in 2013. Companies will hire more full-time employees dedicated solely to engaging with customers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. With customer service moving to more online interaction, we could see the need for traditional office space steadily decline.

15.  Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers – @jpretz

Going into 2013 social media will impact sales more than any other metric because of the continued integration as a marketing platform and the acceptance of users to be marketed to. In 2011, almost 70% of users said that no social media platform influenced their buying decision and in 2012, that was cut in half to 35%. In 2013, this number will be decreased significantly again because these sites have become an integral way to gain access to information on companies, promotions and products.

16.  Amanda Vega – @amandavega

Social media will continue to have direct and indirect impact on sales in 2013. Consumers will continue to expect an immediate response to their needs online, and a lack of timely response will have a hard-to-measure, but certain impact on brand satisfaction and recommendations.

17.  Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group and Author of “Cloud Surfing: A New Way
to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success” –
@tkspeaks

The greatest shift in Social media over the next year will be the maturing of “behavioral business models” that use a deep and comprehensive cross platform understanding of consumer and enterprise
online behaviors as the basis for predictive analytics about their interests and habits. Companies that own the broadest range of platforms such as Apple and Google will be able to track online consumer activity
in ways that create enormous value for retailers. The same is true of enterprise applications of social media where online B2B transactions are being collected and analyzed by companies such as E2Open, which have created a similar capability in projecting future behaviors of markets in order to dynamically alter supply chains in real time to meet the needs of consumers. This notion of using behavior to predict the future will be a critical contribution of social media in an increasingly uncertain world.

18.  Joey Beachum, Digital Content Specialist at Markstein Consulting – @MarksteinChats

As wireless technology advances and smartphones continue to proliferate (they’re projected to form 54% of the total mobile phone market in 2013), consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion. This gives sales professionals even more of an opportunity at something I call ‘mass direct access’: reaching out directly to consumers on an individual level, like with a traditional sales approach, yet on a mass scale. More socially-connected consumers equal more potential touch-points and more sales opportunities.

19.  Kurt Uhlir, Cofounder and Chief Servant at Buzztastic – @KurtUhlir

There is a great wave of un-liking/un-following that will hit brands, at the least we will see people unselect “show in newsfeed” on Facebook. Consumers want higher quality content than what most brands are offering. This is a huge opportunity for brands offering engaging content that know how to activate an audience.

20.  Aalap Shah, co-founder at SoMe Connect – @some_connect

A companies mobile/tablet strategy (or lack thereof will define sales & marketing success for brands and companies in 2013. Consumers can access apps that display social data and activity of their friends anywhere and at anytime and retailers and brands need to have a consistent and clear message to push across social media channels. Without a mobile strategy, most companies will see their sales go to competitors that are where their customers are consuming information.

21.  Ed McMasters, Director of Marketing & Communication at Flottman Company

The future of social media for B2B will be held in the hands of LinkedIn – the new advances of LinkedIn make it a true Business To Business relationship builder. People that have their profiles at 100% and
continue to update them will have the biggest advantages. Knowledge that posting monthly or bi-weekly updates to your profile puts you in front of clients and potential clients is just like advertising only a
lot less expensive. I am a firm believer that LinkedIn will be the Social Media BIG GUY of the future.

22.  Sheryl Johnson, Founder of BD-PRo Marketing Solutions – @BD_PRoMarketing

Social media is here to stay. I predict that social media will evolve into a powerful knowledge management system that leverages virtual connections while capturing valuable information. The biggest challenge moving forward is to create a method of harnessing and connecting this data from all sources in a meaningful, searchable way.

23.  Ty Kiisel, Director of Content Marketing at Lendio – @tykiisel

I don’ think there’s any question that social media has become a relevant part of many brand discussions over the last few years generally, and 2012 in particular. However, more and more marketing leaders are finding that being social just to be social isn’t gaining them the traction in the marketplace they might have hoped. 2013 will see a greater focus on the creation of relevant and substantive content creation initiatives that provide value to customers that will ultimately create greater affinity for those brands that are most successful.

24.  Valerie Jennings, CEO of Viral Bolt Media and Jennings Social Media Marketing – @valeriejennings

Sales and marketing will continue to be impacted by organic SEO and SMO via social media. One major change may be the shift away from exclusively focusing on Facebook as a business sales and marketing tool and moving into more advanced programs including sales and marketing strategies that generate sales on Pinterest, Google+ and even FourSquare. If these platforms do not support sales and marketing strategies, other platforms via social networks will evolve quickly in the marketplace until there is one sold and remarkably profitable solution.

25.  Vickens Moscova, Owner/President of VM Enterprises – @VickensMoscova

I predict more and more people will get focused on utilizing social media to build their own personal brands, while more brands and businesses will realize that the control of their brand has shifted to having consumers having more control over their choices.

26.  Joan Barrett, Owner of The Content Factory – @ContentFac

My prediction is that social media will continue to have a strong impact on SEO, especially with Google
Algorithms becoming more and more personalized. The more social shares an article or site has, the higher it is going to rank.

27.  Tom Corson-Knowles, best-selling author of How To Make Money With Twitter – @JuiceTom

In 2013, we’ll see a lot more companies turning to social media primarily for customer service. We’ve already seen American Airlines cut down their phone service and instead encouraging customers to talk on Twitter if they need customer support. A lot more big companies will follow this trend in an effort to reduce overhead and expand their social media presence.

28.  Jeff Browning, Sr Director, Online Strategy at F5 Networks – @jeffbrowning

2013 is the year social leaps beyond projection / syndication and becomes more about listening, understanding, and driving better products and relationships that drive business. Vendors and agencies that provide useful big data analytics (ideally blending the inside and outside the enterprise) will become big dollar rockstars. Over 50% of C-level will finally realize social does not equal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

29. Jim Caruso, marketing strategist & CEO at MediaFirst PR – @jimcaruso

Facebook will matter more for B2B, as will FB advertising, since stock price matters when you are a public company.  LinkedIn with matter more across industries and new players, like Pinterest, will continue to disrupt the big players in social media

30.  James Medd, Social Media Marketing Manager at Emailvision – @jamespmedd

In 2013, I predict brands will grow their investments in social customer service to better serve customers who engage with them through social media channels – who have been shown to spend 20% to 40% more than customers who are not socially engaged.

As social customer service matures, I expect to see more integration of technology platforms from traditional customer services with social monitoring and team collaboration. This will enable customers to receive the same level of support and information, regardless of their communication channel preference.

31.  Ryan Schram, CMO of IZEA – @ryanschram

Today’s consumer demands a genuine relationship with the brands they love; nowhere is that more apparent than in social, where soft-selling, brand-building, and real-time problem solving comes into the main more and more each day.   Brands are utilizing a diverse array of tools and resources to
maximize their presence on the social web, including the compensation of social influencers to promote products and services (known as Social Media Sponsorship).   The 2012 State of Social Media Sponsorship study indicated that almost 60% of brands have a stand-alone social marketing budget with that amount having increased dramatically since 2009.

32.  Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-Founder of Voices.com – @stephciccarelli

Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments will need to work together to engage, sell and retain customers who choose to interact with a brand online via social networks. Companies will need to view those managing their social media as being on the “front lines” of a brand’s online customer service efforts. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated social media manager who can share content and engage a community online but also be a means of support to those asking questions.

33.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING – @dimplethakkar

Start planning a serious budget for social media advertising in 2013. Make sure you skip the promotional tone in your ad copy to build trust with followers. Consumers have an amazing radar for bullshit and your brand has a small window to make a good [first] impression.

34.  Caitlin Connors, Social Media Director at Boomtown Internet Group – @boomtownig

Social media is an elusive program for companies because it changes with your goals and with your audience and especially with technology. I predict that companies who use social media correctly, with an outsourced company that understands their brands and goals perfectly, will be overwhelmed with how much it can positively impact leads/conversions/sales.  In 2013, hopefully more people who claim to have an understanding of SMO will be aware of what effects ROI and how to customize SMO for each company. If they don’t (as many don’t know), leads aren’t happening and CEOs and Executives are doubting the effect of SMO. Customer Service could greatly benefit from SMO in 2013 with Twitter API’s for sites to have an “Ask Us Now” option to live chat, and a full-time Twitter manager to answer incoming questions. Google Hangout and new conversation management tools are now all in place to be utilized to find people having products with brands and services and actively seek them out to answer their qualms.

35.  Kevin Ohashi, Founder of Review Signal – @kevinohashi

I think the most important trend is customer service over social media.  Companies are more actively monitoring what is being said about them and consumers will become more empowered to see and react to the ways companies are engaging their customers. Access to information is democratizing and
consumers will be able to make decisions based on company behavior, and customer service is the biggest touch point between most companies and consumers.

36.  Adam Itkoff, Strategist at Fueled Mobile Design, NYC – @adamitkoff

As we look at growing usage trends across multiple social media platforms, we can only assume that these mediums will become more crucial to both business and sales. No longer must we ask, do we participate in Twitter or Facebook, but rather, how can we leverage these platforms best?  Look especially for Twitter and Instragram to keep growing strong.

37.  Flynn Zaiger, Founder of Online Optimism – @onlineoptimism

Social Media will help E-Commerce begin to surpass actual brick and mortar sales numbers. Expect Amazon to team up with either Facebook or Twitter to release an app that allows you to both see if a product is cheaper online, and also if your friends approve of how it looks.

38.  Melinda Janicki, Online Business Growth Catalyst, Internet Marketing Strategist & Implementation Expert – @melindajanicki

As social media moves from a simple networking site into being at the fore front of technology and SEO, I predict social media to be a must have customer services tool. Much like email has brought tech support
and customer service to a new level social media will be a must with apps, groups, Google+ hangouts, even Twitter chat rooms.

39.  Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. – @griotsroll

Social media will replace the business website. If you don’t have a social media page with information on your products, services on your about page you are not in business. People will judge you on how they can get in contact with you through your social media page. Your “About” page will be more important than your website and you better have links to any other social media pages you have.

40.  David Drake, The Soho Loft – @TSLCCevents

US SMEs will start embracing social media strategies and crowd funding will drive this for startups and local business as crowd funding for equity is implemented as a law.  Social media strategies will become more readily available to consulting firms helping small medium-sized enterprises with the winners being local businesses learning the tools to embrace their eco system.

41.  Alex Schenker, President at www.WeRockYourWeb.com  – @WeRockYourWeb

Marketers will need to use fewer words and more voice, video and images to connect with today’s overly stimulated consumer (e.g. Pinterest, Voxer, YouTube).  More filters will allow consumers to better target/find what they are looking for which will lead to more qualified sales’ leads. As we become more inundated with content, it will become more vital to have filters on how we choose to consume the content.  Mobile devices will continue to drive social media communication so the social media of choice may depend on which device you hold and the successful marketing efforts will be customized to that
platform. For example, Google Chat is not directly accessible via an app on an iPhone so they will likely turn to iMessage which allows you to text several people at once, creating your own “social network” for each message you create.

42.  Raghu Bala, Board Member at Fanggle – @raghurambala

Vertical social platforms will emerge to enable people with similar interests to share information (text, images/pictures, video) on topics of mutual interest. The current metrics – ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ – will give way to more meaningful means of measuring engagement. I also see social media becoming more immersed in everyday activity. For instance, with Google Glass combined with voice to text, one can automatically tweet and attach an image more naturally than currently possible.

43.  Ziggi Yaxley, Social Media Specialist at Bozboz, UK. – @ziggidotcom

Social media is instant, personal and available to everyone. It’s the new way to do customer service and it’s a way to connect with current and potential customers in exciting and innovative ways. It’s human.
2013 will see more businesses investing in social media for the first time and socially-equipped businesses allocating more resource to running their social media more efficiently.

44.  Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys – @ValaAfshar

A truly social enterprise is not just about technology, it is about lifestyle. Enterprises that collaborate socially (and not just through social media) with their customers and employees are able to not only grow mindshare, but also their business.  For example, at Enterasys, we believe there is nothing more important than our customers – internally and externally – so if both are delighted, we know we are doing our job socially now and into the future.

45. Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate

For marketers specifically, social media will continue to be a force in driving traffic to websites. Marketers will use social the same way that they’ve used pay-per-click and banner advertising in the past. However,
marketers need to take a careful look at metrics such as conversion rates before dedicating a huge chunk of the budget to advertizing on social media sites.

46.  Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations – @wjcorbett

The hype proliferated by “marketing” people about the tremendous business generating benefits of social media for small business will wind down. The reality will set in that social media marketing is only
part of an a comprehensive marketing plan which includes a digital media strategy. Businesses, particularly those in the business to business space, will recognize that they are not getting and probably will not get the ROI they need to continue to focus significant time, energy, effort and funds on social media marketing.

47.  Carrie Peterson, Social Media Director at Internet Marketing Inc. – @CarrieSavvy

2013 will be the year of social media mobile and tablet application for marketers. As consumers become more and more socially savvy and are using their mobile devices for research and purchases, it is imperative that marketers hop on the mobile train with a solid strategy and targeted ad campaigns. These campaigns should integrate behavioral targeting, relevant content per the niche demographic, and social share features to maximize reach and social word of mouth.

49.  Eric Courville, Director of Marketing and Alliances

Social media channels are creating more demand and opportunity for immediate content from brands. To take full advantage, marketers in 2013 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed and the tools necessary to easily track the use of all digital assets.

50.  Jane Horowitz, Founder of More Than A Resume

Today’s college student and those about to enter college (our next wave into the workplace) will reshape, along with new technologies the workplace over the next decade.  The way this generation, (Millennials) communicate in their social lives will be introduced to the workplace, and then transform it; fostering new ways of sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve outcomes. Goodbye email and PowerPoint presentations. Hello file-sharing, multi-media presentations.  Everything we use and come into contact with will be converted into data that will be available at our fingertips to make informed and therefore smarter decisions. Marketing, sales and customer service professional will need critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

51.  Ryan Aynes, Founder & Managing Director at EDGE Collective – @ryanaynes

There will be a larger demand to quantify social media impact and how that is impacting business performance. As spending becomes tighter due to the economy and a higher level of financial accountability takes place across organizations, agencies pitching social media will have to come up with their own annotations for “like” value.

There will also be a higher demand for integrating the entire marketing process. This means ad-buying teams will have to work more closely with social. The most effective strategies will be integrated paid, owned, and earned. Consumer analysis from each end educates the other on consumer behavior, which builds better forward strategies.

Mobile strategy will become the norm and not just an additional option. As more ways to reach consumers opens up through mobile experiences, brands and agencies will make the appropriate modifications to add this into their strategy and planning.

52.  Devin Redmond, CEO and Co-founder at Social iQ Networks – @DevinHRed

It’s very common these days to walk into a business and find that different departments all have their own social accounts and social marketing tools to connect with customers, recruit employees, and drive marketing campaigns. That new reality and infrastructure has become a rapidly increasing sprawl that can be disharmonious and prone to risk for their company and their own efforts. This will lead to a push toward greater social infrastructure management as companies try to get a handle on social media sprawl to improve their efforts without having to worrying about mishaps, abuse, and social media mistakes.

53.  Rick Mathieson, author of Branding Unbound and The On-Demand Brand – @rickmathieson

Look for a nascent social media backlash to gain traction among consumers and the brands trying to connect with them. While 20% of Facebook users say they log on once or twice a day, 52% say they plan to spend less time there in the future ­ and that’s an emerging dynamic across the socialsphere. In 2013, look for a new emphasis on quality of engagement versus quantity.  When engaging in social media, look for the emphasis for many brands to finally move away from “How” the mechanics of going social to the “Why”,  by clarifying objectives and building social media strategies to meet them.

54.  Molly Glover Gallatin, VP of Marketing at Compass Labs – @CompassLabs

As marketers we need to stop being hyper-focused on the immediate ROI question around social media (I know, it’s hard!), and instead get our management team focused on another question: What have I learned today from my customers? The future will be best for those who stop marketing and speaking *at* their audience and start creating dialogues instead. Content strategy should include conversations – they are the most critical element of social media – hence, the “social,” and they increase brand affinity and tip the scales in your favor regarding revenue, as well.

Free Webcast:  Join us on December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, as Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.

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Ulf Guttmann

About Ulf Guttmann

Ulf Guttmann is a Solution Manager with a focus on solution management and go-to-market for SAP’s Industrial Machinery and Components Buisness Unit. With over 26 years of SAP experience, Guttmann is well versed in the aftermarket service, enterprise asset management, sales, and marketing solution areas.

The Future of Social Media: 50+ Experts Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice

The world of social media underwent major changes in 2012.

We saw the addition of Facebook Timelines for Fan Pages, the rise of Pinterest, revamped LinkedIn Company Pages, improved Twitter profile pages, and the increasing pressure to prove social media ROI.

As more companies begin leveraging social media for marketing, sales and customer service, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve.

On December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore will participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.  We hope you will join us and in the meantime please enjoy the following predications from over 50 thought leaders.

The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

1.  Jason Stein, Founder and President of 24/7 Laundry Service – @jasonwstein

Social media has completely blurred the lines between all aspects of marketing. We live in a world where Facebook posts double as paid ads, and people’s tweets are a form of journalism. As a result, in the new year brands will really embrace the concept of “converged media,” and see owned, earned and paid as a unified program. This is the future of B2C communications.

2.  Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing and Sales at Awareness, Inc. – @bostonmike

Small and mid-sized market will be revolutionized by social customer acquisition at scale. Specifically, new social profiling and scoring tools will allows marketers to analyze and apply custom segmentation logic to their social databases to meet specific customer acquisition and conversion goals. As a result companies will see a tangible social marketing ROI – increase in sales and customer retention.

3.  Natalie Bidnick, Account Supervisor and Social Media Strategist at The Marketing Zen Group – @NatalieBid

Social Media will become an essential – not optional – form of communicating with customers. More companies will use Facebok and Twitter to both listen to their customers, solicit feedback, and practice public crisis management.

4.  Zubin Mowlavi, CEO of Lucid Fusion – @ZubinMowlavi

2012 was the year of data and more specifically, data as it relates to the Social Interest Graph. People and companies shared content more than ever, and this data was organized around interests rather than personal relationships. This trend continues in 2013 with the Social Product Graph which highlights shifting the focus to the sharing and serving of actionable content around products of interest. By doing so, social media will become a social stream for product discovery and commerce, thereby driving sales.

5.  Jeremy Goldman, Entrepreneur, strategist, & author of the upcoming book, Going Social – @jeremarketer  

Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.

6.  Mike Wolfe, Founder & President, WAM Enterprises LLC – @WAMGolfs

Social Media will continue to grow in 2013 due to the increase usage of mobile technology, specifically smartphones. We can expect to see visual (images) to be a driving force and I believe an increase in internet video usage too.

7.  Patrick J. Sweeney II,­ featured contributor to Social Media Today and CNBC – @PJSweeney

The future of social media will evolve around the frictionless capturing of precious memories in the real world. When people are skiing, doing a triathlon, at a concert, or doing anything fun and engaging – mobile technology will enable them to capture the moment with very high quality pictures and video and instantly share online without lifting a finger. Brands will pay for or sponsor this infrastructure in order to have “product placement” on social media. See Cadbury at the Olympics for a great example.

8.  Kelby Brick, Esq., Vice President, Regulatory & Strategic Policy at Purple Communications, Inc. – @kelbybrick

In 2013 smart businesses will emphasize using social media for personal interactions and connections with their customers. This is different from 2012 where macro blasts were the norm. Personal connections result in a more loyal and valued customer base.

9.  Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21 – @CreativeIthink

The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary aged children.
Now that the majority of society has adopted social expectations have changed. Those expectations will dramatically affect customer service, marketing and sales.

Customer Service – People know they don’t have to wait on the phone to get help, they can tweet. This makes it easy for the customer to let the brand know about any and all problems. So any company who went ahead and distributed products with minor flaws in hopes that the customer wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of a return or exchange will have a rude awakening. Many companies have adopted social media as a customer service tool purely for the fact that they can look good in front of thousands of potential customers. This year companies will start adopting it out of necessity. If a customer who doesn’t want to talk to a machine or wait on hold for 20 minutes, they are going to reach out via social. If you
don’t answer and they HAVE to call, they are going to be highly irritated and more demanding, ultimately costing the company more money.

Marketing – Having a presence on social media has become (or will soon) as important as having a website. Not being on social means you’re missing out on big opportunities in search engine real estate and with your customers. More firms will add social media to their offerings and the smartest ones
already have. We should have realized by now that it’s not a stand along media channel, it’s an essential part of a successful media mix.

Sales – Social media has become a powerful tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can generate leads and drive buyer traffic to a specific product. Sales teams will evolve to include a digital lead generation
specialist and marketing strategies will be broadened as location isn’t as much of an issue when you’re running a powerful social platform.

10.  Joey Sargent, Principal, BrandSprout Advisors – @brandsprout

In 2013, we’ll see more social maturity in both B2C and B2B applications. Business will get “social smarts” and more fully integrate social media into their day-to-day operations across the organization. This means less social for social’s sake, and more focus on social media as a legitimate business tool to facilitate communication, engagement and loyalty.

11.  Beverly Solomon, Creative Director at musee-solomon

People are over saturated with social media. They will gradually remove themselves from all but a few networks, blogs, etc. So many ads come in everyday that they have lost their impact. Most
people just delete them before reading them.  Social media will function more to alert friends of rip-offs than to encourage sales.  Only the most clever sales campaigns will have any impact.  More and more advertisers will be leaving social media and returning to snail mail, print and other traditional ads.  Social media will continue to be a dating hook up, gossip fest and avenue for “gurus” to sell seminars. But real businesses will use social media less and less.

12.  Caroline Kornowicz, Social Media Manager for CliqStudios Cabinets – @CarolineSofiaK

The future of social media lies heavily in images, video and interaction for the user. It is exploring our senses further with sight, sound and touch. We are seeing current trends with infographs and statistics speak for themselves that an image or video provides higher engagement than plain text posts.

13.  Melissa Brodsky, co-founder of Smart Savvy Social – @smartsavvysoc

More and more brands will realize the importance and relevance of social media and begin to grow their online footprint. Also, I believe that Facebook will eventually burn too many bridges and a new network will become dominant, one that WANTS to help brands instead of only themselves.

14.  Brittany Dowell, Director of Publication Relations at Digital Talent Agents

Social media use is not going anywhere but up in 2013. Companies will hire more full-time employees dedicated solely to engaging with customers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. With customer service moving to more online interaction, we could see the need for traditional office space steadily decline.

15.  Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers – @jpretz

Going into 2013 social media will impact sales more than any other metric because of the continued integration as a marketing platform and the acceptance of users to be marketed to. In 2011, almost 70% of users said that no social media platform influenced their buying decision and in 2012, that was cut in half to 35%. In 2013, this number will be decreased significantly again because these sites have become an integral way to gain access to information on companies, promotions and products.

16.  Amanda Vega – @amandavega

Social media will continue to have direct and indirect impact on sales in 2013. Consumers will continue to expect an immediate response to their needs online, and a lack of timely response will have a hard-to-measure, but certain impact on brand satisfaction and recommendations.

17.  Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group and Author of “Cloud Surfing: A New Way
to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success” –
@tkspeaks

The greatest shift in Social media over the next year will be the maturing of “behavioral business models” that use a deep and comprehensive cross platform understanding of consumer and enterprise
online behaviors as the basis for predictive analytics about their interests and habits. Companies that own the broadest range of platforms such as Apple and Google will be able to track online consumer activity
in ways that create enormous value for retailers. The same is true of enterprise applications of social media where online B2B transactions are being collected and analyzed by companies such as E2Open, which have created a similar capability in projecting future behaviors of markets in order to dynamically alter supply chains in real time to meet the needs of consumers. This notion of using behavior to predict the future will be a critical contribution of social media in an increasingly uncertain world.

18.  Joey Beachum, Digital Content Specialist at Markstein Consulting – @MarksteinChats

As wireless technology advances and smartphones continue to proliferate (they’re projected to form 54% of the total mobile phone market in 2013), consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion. This gives sales professionals even more of an opportunity at something I call ‘mass direct access’: reaching out directly to consumers on an individual level, like with a traditional sales approach, yet on a mass scale. More socially-connected consumers equal more potential touch-points and more sales opportunities.

19.  Kurt Uhlir, Cofounder and Chief Servant at Buzztastic – @KurtUhlir

There is a great wave of un-liking/un-following that will hit brands, at the least we will see people unselect “show in newsfeed” on Facebook. Consumers want higher quality content than what most brands are offering. This is a huge opportunity for brands offering engaging content that know how to activate an audience.

20.  Aalap Shah, co-founder at SoMe Connect – @some_connect

A companies mobile/tablet strategy (or lack thereof will define sales & marketing success for brands and companies in 2013. Consumers can access apps that display social data and activity of their friends anywhere and at anytime and retailers and brands need to have a consistent and clear message to push across social media channels. Without a mobile strategy, most companies will see their sales go to competitors that are where their customers are consuming information.

21.  Ed McMasters, Director of Marketing & Communication at Flottman Company

The future of social media for B2B will be held in the hands of LinkedIn – the new advances of LinkedIn make it a true Business To Business relationship builder. People that have their profiles at 100% and
continue to update them will have the biggest advantages. Knowledge that posting monthly or bi-weekly updates to your profile puts you in front of clients and potential clients is just like advertising only a
lot less expensive. I am a firm believer that LinkedIn will be the Social Media BIG GUY of the future.

22.  Sheryl Johnson, Founder of BD-PRo Marketing Solutions – @BD_PRoMarketing

Social media is here to stay. I predict that social media will evolve into a powerful knowledge management system that leverages virtual connections while capturing valuable information. The biggest challenge moving forward is to create a method of harnessing and connecting this data from all sources in a meaningful, searchable way.

23.  Ty Kiisel, Director of Content Marketing at Lendio – @tykiisel

I don’ think there’s any question that social media has become a relevant part of many brand discussions over the last few years generally, and 2012 in particular. However, more and more marketing leaders are finding that being social just to be social isn’t gaining them the traction in the marketplace they might have hoped. 2013 will see a greater focus on the creation of relevant and substantive content creation initiatives that provide value to customers that will ultimately create greater affinity for those brands that are most successful.

24.  Valerie Jennings, CEO of Viral Bolt Media and Jennings Social Media Marketing – @valeriejennings

Sales and marketing will continue to be impacted by organic SEO and SMO via social media. One major change may be the shift away from exclusively focusing on Facebook as a business sales and marketing tool and moving into more advanced programs including sales and marketing strategies that generate sales on Pinterest, Google+ and even FourSquare. If these platforms do not support sales and marketing strategies, other platforms via social networks will evolve quickly in the marketplace until there is one sold and remarkably profitable solution.

25.  Vickens Moscova, Owner/President of VM Enterprises – @VickensMoscova

I predict more and more people will get focused on utilizing social media to build their own personal brands, while more brands and businesses will realize that the control of their brand has shifted to having consumers having more control over their choices.

26.  Joan Barrett, Owner of The Content Factory – @ContentFac

My prediction is that social media will continue to have a strong impact on SEO, especially with Google
Algorithms becoming more and more personalized. The more social shares an article or site has, the higher it is going to rank.

27.  Tom Corson-Knowles, best-selling author of How To Make Money With Twitter – @JuiceTom

In 2013, we’ll see a lot more companies turning to social media primarily for customer service. We’ve already seen American Airlines cut down their phone service and instead encouraging customers to talk on Twitter if they need customer support. A lot more big companies will follow this trend in an effort to reduce overhead and expand their social media presence.

28.  Jeff Browning, Sr Director, Online Strategy at F5 Networks – @jeffbrowning

2013 is the year social leaps beyond projection / syndication and becomes more about listening, understanding, and driving better products and relationships that drive business. Vendors and agencies that provide useful big data analytics (ideally blending the inside and outside the enterprise) will become big dollar rockstars. Over 50% of C-level will finally realize social does not equal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

29. Jim Caruso, marketing strategist & CEO at MediaFirst PR – @jimcaruso

Facebook will matter more for B2B, as will FB advertising, since stock price matters when you are a public company.  LinkedIn with matter more across industries and new players, like Pinterest, will continue to disrupt the big players in social media

30.  James Medd, Social Media Marketing Manager at Emailvision – @jamespmedd

In 2013, I predict brands will grow their investments in social customer service to better serve customers who engage with them through social media channels – who have been shown to spend 20% to 40% more than customers who are not socially engaged.

As social customer service matures, I expect to see more integration of technology platforms from traditional customer services with social monitoring and team collaboration. This will enable customers to receive the same level of support and information, regardless of their communication channel preference.

31.  Ryan Schram, CMO of IZEA – @ryanschram

Today’s consumer demands a genuine relationship with the brands they love; nowhere is that more apparent than in social, where soft-selling, brand-building, and real-time problem solving comes into the main more and more each day.   Brands are utilizing a diverse array of tools and resources to
maximize their presence on the social web, including the compensation of social influencers to promote products and services (known as Social Media Sponsorship).   The 2012 State of Social Media Sponsorship study indicated that almost 60% of brands have a stand-alone social marketing budget with that amount having increased dramatically since 2009.

32.  Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-Founder of Voices.com – @stephciccarelli

Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments will need to work together to engage, sell and retain customers who choose to interact with a brand online via social networks. Companies will need to view those managing their social media as being on the “front lines” of a brand’s online customer service efforts. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated social media manager who can share content and engage a community online but also be a means of support to those asking questions.

33.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING – @dimplethakkar

Start planning a serious budget for social media advertising in 2013. Make sure you skip the promotional tone in your ad copy to build trust with followers. Consumers have an amazing radar for bullshit and your brand has a small window to make a good [first] impression.

34.  Caitlin Connors, Social Media Director at Boomtown Internet Group – @boomtownig

Social media is an elusive program for companies because it changes with your goals and with your audience and especially with technology. I predict that companies who use social media correctly, with an outsourced company that understands their brands and goals perfectly, will be overwhelmed with how much it can positively impact leads/conversions/sales.  In 2013, hopefully more people who claim to have an understanding of SMO will be aware of what effects ROI and how to customize SMO for each company. If they don’t (as many don’t know), leads aren’t happening and CEOs and Executives are doubting the effect of SMO. Customer Service could greatly benefit from SMO in 2013 with Twitter API’s for sites to have an “Ask Us Now” option to live chat, and a full-time Twitter manager to answer incoming questions. Google Hangout and new conversation management tools are now all in place to be utilized to find people having products with brands and services and actively seek them out to answer their qualms.

35.  Kevin Ohashi, Founder of Review Signal – @kevinohashi

I think the most important trend is customer service over social media.  Companies are more actively monitoring what is being said about them and consumers will become more empowered to see and react to the ways companies are engaging their customers. Access to information is democratizing and
consumers will be able to make decisions based on company behavior, and customer service is the biggest touch point between most companies and consumers.

36.  Adam Itkoff, Strategist at Fueled Mobile Design, NYC – @adamitkoff

As we look at growing usage trends across multiple social media platforms, we can only assume that these mediums will become more crucial to both business and sales. No longer must we ask, do we participate in Twitter or Facebook, but rather, how can we leverage these platforms best?  Look especially for Twitter and Instragram to keep growing strong.

37.  Flynn Zaiger, Founder of Online Optimism – @onlineoptimism

Social Media will help E-Commerce begin to surpass actual brick and mortar sales numbers. Expect Amazon to team up with either Facebook or Twitter to release an app that allows you to both see if a product is cheaper online, and also if your friends approve of how it looks.

38.  Melinda Janicki, Online Business Growth Catalyst, Internet Marketing Strategist & Implementation Expert – @melindajanicki

As social media moves from a simple networking site into being at the fore front of technology and SEO, I predict social media to be a must have customer services tool. Much like email has brought tech support
and customer service to a new level social media will be a must with apps, groups, Google+ hangouts, even Twitter chat rooms.

39.  Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. – @griotsroll

Social media will replace the business website. If you don’t have a social media page with information on your products, services on your about page you are not in business. People will judge you on how they can get in contact with you through your social media page. Your “About” page will be more important than your website and you better have links to any other social media pages you have.

40.  David Drake, The Soho Loft – @TSLCCevents

US SMEs will start embracing social media strategies and crowd funding will drive this for startups and local business as crowd funding for equity is implemented as a law.  Social media strategies will become more readily available to consulting firms helping small medium-sized enterprises with the winners being local businesses learning the tools to embrace their eco system.

41.  Alex Schenker, President at www.WeRockYourWeb.com  – @WeRockYourWeb

Marketers will need to use fewer words and more voice, video and images to connect with today’s overly stimulated consumer (e.g. Pinterest, Voxer, YouTube).  More filters will allow consumers to better target/find what they are looking for which will lead to more qualified sales’ leads. As we become more inundated with content, it will become more vital to have filters on how we choose to consume the content.  Mobile devices will continue to drive social media communication so the social media of choice may depend on which device you hold and the successful marketing efforts will be customized to that
platform. For example, Google Chat is not directly accessible via an app on an iPhone so they will likely turn to iMessage which allows you to text several people at once, creating your own “social network” for each message you create.

42.  Raghu Bala, Board Member at Fanggle – @raghurambala

Vertical social platforms will emerge to enable people with similar interests to share information (text, images/pictures, video) on topics of mutual interest. The current metrics – ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ – will give way to more meaningful means of measuring engagement. I also see social media becoming more immersed in everyday activity. For instance, with Google Glass combined with voice to text, one can automatically tweet and attach an image more naturally than currently possible.

43.  Ziggi Yaxley, Social Media Specialist at Bozboz, UK. – @ziggidotcom

Social media is instant, personal and available to everyone. It’s the new way to do customer service and it’s a way to connect with current and potential customers in exciting and innovative ways. It’s human.
2013 will see more businesses investing in social media for the first time and socially-equipped businesses allocating more resource to running their social media more efficiently.

44.  Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys – @ValaAfshar

A truly social enterprise is not just about technology, it is about lifestyle. Enterprises that collaborate socially (and not just through social media) with their customers and employees are able to not only grow mindshare, but also their business.  For example, at Enterasys, we believe there is nothing more important than our customers – internally and externally – so if both are delighted, we know we are doing our job socially now and into the future.

45. Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate

For marketers specifically, social media will continue to be a force in driving traffic to websites. Marketers will use social the same way that they’ve used pay-per-click and banner advertising in the past. However,
marketers need to take a careful look at metrics such as conversion rates before dedicating a huge chunk of the budget to advertizing on social media sites.

46.  Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations – @wjcorbett

The hype proliferated by “marketing” people about the tremendous business generating benefits of social media for small business will wind down. The reality will set in that social media marketing is only
part of an a comprehensive marketing plan which includes a digital media strategy. Businesses, particularly those in the business to business space, will recognize that they are not getting and probably will not get the ROI they need to continue to focus significant time, energy, effort and funds on social media marketing.

47.  Carrie Peterson, Social Media Director at Internet Marketing Inc. – @CarrieSavvy

2013 will be the year of social media mobile and tablet application for marketers. As consumers become more and more socially savvy and are using their mobile devices for research and purchases, it is imperative that marketers hop on the mobile train with a solid strategy and targeted ad campaigns. These campaigns should integrate behavioral targeting, relevant content per the niche demographic, and social share features to maximize reach and social word of mouth.

49.  Eric Courville, Director of Marketing and Alliances

Social media channels are creating more demand and opportunity for immediate content from brands. To take full advantage, marketers in 2013 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed and the tools necessary to easily track the use of all digital assets.

50.  Jane Horowitz, Founder of More Than A Resume

Today’s college student and those about to enter college (our next wave into the workplace) will reshape, along with new technologies the workplace over the next decade.  The way this generation, (Millennials) communicate in their social lives will be introduced to the workplace, and then transform it; fostering new ways of sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve outcomes. Goodbye email and PowerPoint presentations. Hello file-sharing, multi-media presentations.  Everything we use and come into contact with will be converted into data that will be available at our fingertips to make informed and therefore smarter decisions. Marketing, sales and customer service professional will need critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

51.  Ryan Aynes, Founder & Managing Director at EDGE Collective – @ryanaynes

There will be a larger demand to quantify social media impact and how that is impacting business performance. As spending becomes tighter due to the economy and a higher level of financial accountability takes place across organizations, agencies pitching social media will have to come up with their own annotations for “like” value.

There will also be a higher demand for integrating the entire marketing process. This means ad-buying teams will have to work more closely with social. The most effective strategies will be integrated paid, owned, and earned. Consumer analysis from each end educates the other on consumer behavior, which builds better forward strategies.

Mobile strategy will become the norm and not just an additional option. As more ways to reach consumers opens up through mobile experiences, brands and agencies will make the appropriate modifications to add this into their strategy and planning.

52.  Devin Redmond, CEO and Co-founder at Social iQ Networks – @DevinHRed

It’s very common these days to walk into a business and find that different departments all have their own social accounts and social marketing tools to connect with customers, recruit employees, and drive marketing campaigns. That new reality and infrastructure has become a rapidly increasing sprawl that can be disharmonious and prone to risk for their company and their own efforts. This will lead to a push toward greater social infrastructure management as companies try to get a handle on social media sprawl to improve their efforts without having to worrying about mishaps, abuse, and social media mistakes.

53.  Rick Mathieson, author of Branding Unbound and The On-Demand Brand – @rickmathieson

Look for a nascent social media backlash to gain traction among consumers and the brands trying to connect with them. While 20% of Facebook users say they log on once or twice a day, 52% say they plan to spend less time there in the future ­ and that’s an emerging dynamic across the socialsphere. In 2013, look for a new emphasis on quality of engagement versus quantity.  When engaging in social media, look for the emphasis for many brands to finally move away from “How” the mechanics of going social to the “Why”,  by clarifying objectives and building social media strategies to meet them.

54.  Molly Glover Gallatin, VP of Marketing at Compass Labs – @CompassLabs

As marketers we need to stop being hyper-focused on the immediate ROI question around social media (I know, it’s hard!), and instead get our management team focused on another question: What have I learned today from my customers? The future will be best for those who stop marketing and speaking *at* their audience and start creating dialogues instead. Content strategy should include conversations – they are the most critical element of social media – hence, the “social,” and they increase brand affinity and tip the scales in your favor regarding revenue, as well.

Free Webcast:  Join us on December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, as Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.

Comments

Timo Elliott

About Timo Elliott

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist for SAP and a passionate advocate of innovation, digital business, analytics, and artificial intelligence. He was the eighth employee of BusinessObjects and for the last 25 years he has worked closely with SAP customers around the world on new technology directions and their impact on real-world organizations. His articles have appeared in publications such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, ZDNet, The Guardian, and Digitalist Magazine. He has worked in the UK, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Silicon Valley, and currently lives in Paris, France. He has a degree in Econometrics and a patent in mobile analytics. 

The Future of Social Media: 50+ Experts Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice

The world of social media underwent major changes in 2012.

We saw the addition of Facebook Timelines for Fan Pages, the rise of Pinterest, revamped LinkedIn Company Pages, improved Twitter profile pages, and the increasing pressure to prove social media ROI.

As more companies begin leveraging social media for marketing, sales and customer service, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve.

On December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore will participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.  We hope you will join us and in the meantime please enjoy the following predications from over 50 thought leaders.

The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

1.  Jason Stein, Founder and President of 24/7 Laundry Service – @jasonwstein

Social media has completely blurred the lines between all aspects of marketing. We live in a world where Facebook posts double as paid ads, and people’s tweets are a form of journalism. As a result, in the new year brands will really embrace the concept of “converged media,” and see owned, earned and paid as a unified program. This is the future of B2C communications.

2.  Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing and Sales at Awareness, Inc. – @bostonmike

Small and mid-sized market will be revolutionized by social customer acquisition at scale. Specifically, new social profiling and scoring tools will allows marketers to analyze and apply custom segmentation logic to their social databases to meet specific customer acquisition and conversion goals. As a result companies will see a tangible social marketing ROI – increase in sales and customer retention.

3.  Natalie Bidnick, Account Supervisor and Social Media Strategist at The Marketing Zen Group – @NatalieBid

Social Media will become an essential – not optional – form of communicating with customers. More companies will use Facebok and Twitter to both listen to their customers, solicit feedback, and practice public crisis management.

4.  Zubin Mowlavi, CEO of Lucid Fusion – @ZubinMowlavi

2012 was the year of data and more specifically, data as it relates to the Social Interest Graph. People and companies shared content more than ever, and this data was organized around interests rather than personal relationships. This trend continues in 2013 with the Social Product Graph which highlights shifting the focus to the sharing and serving of actionable content around products of interest. By doing so, social media will become a social stream for product discovery and commerce, thereby driving sales.

5.  Jeremy Goldman, Entrepreneur, strategist, & author of the upcoming book, Going Social – @jeremarketer  

Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.

6.  Mike Wolfe, Founder & President, WAM Enterprises LLC – @WAMGolfs

Social Media will continue to grow in 2013 due to the increase usage of mobile technology, specifically smartphones. We can expect to see visual (images) to be a driving force and I believe an increase in internet video usage too.

7.  Patrick J. Sweeney II,­ featured contributor to Social Media Today and CNBC – @PJSweeney

The future of social media will evolve around the frictionless capturing of precious memories in the real world. When people are skiing, doing a triathlon, at a concert, or doing anything fun and engaging – mobile technology will enable them to capture the moment with very high quality pictures and video and instantly share online without lifting a finger. Brands will pay for or sponsor this infrastructure in order to have “product placement” on social media. See Cadbury at the Olympics for a great example.

8.  Kelby Brick, Esq., Vice President, Regulatory & Strategic Policy at Purple Communications, Inc. – @kelbybrick

In 2013 smart businesses will emphasize using social media for personal interactions and connections with their customers. This is different from 2012 where macro blasts were the norm. Personal connections result in a more loyal and valued customer base.

9.  Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21 – @CreativeIthink

The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary aged children.
Now that the majority of society has adopted social expectations have changed. Those expectations will dramatically affect customer service, marketing and sales.

Customer Service – People know they don’t have to wait on the phone to get help, they can tweet. This makes it easy for the customer to let the brand know about any and all problems. So any company who went ahead and distributed products with minor flaws in hopes that the customer wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of a return or exchange will have a rude awakening. Many companies have adopted social media as a customer service tool purely for the fact that they can look good in front of thousands of potential customers. This year companies will start adopting it out of necessity. If a customer who doesn’t want to talk to a machine or wait on hold for 20 minutes, they are going to reach out via social. If you
don’t answer and they HAVE to call, they are going to be highly irritated and more demanding, ultimately costing the company more money.

Marketing – Having a presence on social media has become (or will soon) as important as having a website. Not being on social means you’re missing out on big opportunities in search engine real estate and with your customers. More firms will add social media to their offerings and the smartest ones
already have. We should have realized by now that it’s not a stand along media channel, it’s an essential part of a successful media mix.

Sales – Social media has become a powerful tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can generate leads and drive buyer traffic to a specific product. Sales teams will evolve to include a digital lead generation
specialist and marketing strategies will be broadened as location isn’t as much of an issue when you’re running a powerful social platform.

10.  Joey Sargent, Principal, BrandSprout Advisors – @brandsprout

In 2013, we’ll see more social maturity in both B2C and B2B applications. Business will get “social smarts” and more fully integrate social media into their day-to-day operations across the organization. This means less social for social’s sake, and more focus on social media as a legitimate business tool to facilitate communication, engagement and loyalty.

11.  Beverly Solomon, Creative Director at musee-solomon

People are over saturated with social media. They will gradually remove themselves from all but a few networks, blogs, etc. So many ads come in everyday that they have lost their impact. Most
people just delete them before reading them.  Social media will function more to alert friends of rip-offs than to encourage sales.  Only the most clever sales campaigns will have any impact.  More and more advertisers will be leaving social media and returning to snail mail, print and other traditional ads.  Social media will continue to be a dating hook up, gossip fest and avenue for “gurus” to sell seminars. But real businesses will use social media less and less.

12.  Caroline Kornowicz, Social Media Manager for CliqStudios Cabinets – @CarolineSofiaK

The future of social media lies heavily in images, video and interaction for the user. It is exploring our senses further with sight, sound and touch. We are seeing current trends with infographs and statistics speak for themselves that an image or video provides higher engagement than plain text posts.

13.  Melissa Brodsky, co-founder of Smart Savvy Social – @smartsavvysoc

More and more brands will realize the importance and relevance of social media and begin to grow their online footprint. Also, I believe that Facebook will eventually burn too many bridges and a new network will become dominant, one that WANTS to help brands instead of only themselves.

14.  Brittany Dowell, Director of Publication Relations at Digital Talent Agents

Social media use is not going anywhere but up in 2013. Companies will hire more full-time employees dedicated solely to engaging with customers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. With customer service moving to more online interaction, we could see the need for traditional office space steadily decline.

15.  Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers – @jpretz

Going into 2013 social media will impact sales more than any other metric because of the continued integration as a marketing platform and the acceptance of users to be marketed to. In 2011, almost 70% of users said that no social media platform influenced their buying decision and in 2012, that was cut in half to 35%. In 2013, this number will be decreased significantly again because these sites have become an integral way to gain access to information on companies, promotions and products.

16.  Amanda Vega – @amandavega

Social media will continue to have direct and indirect impact on sales in 2013. Consumers will continue to expect an immediate response to their needs online, and a lack of timely response will have a hard-to-measure, but certain impact on brand satisfaction and recommendations.

17.  Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group and Author of “Cloud Surfing: A New Way
to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success” –
@tkspeaks

The greatest shift in Social media over the next year will be the maturing of “behavioral business models” that use a deep and comprehensive cross platform understanding of consumer and enterprise
online behaviors as the basis for predictive analytics about their interests and habits. Companies that own the broadest range of platforms such as Apple and Google will be able to track online consumer activity
in ways that create enormous value for retailers. The same is true of enterprise applications of social media where online B2B transactions are being collected and analyzed by companies such as E2Open, which have created a similar capability in projecting future behaviors of markets in order to dynamically alter supply chains in real time to meet the needs of consumers. This notion of using behavior to predict the future will be a critical contribution of social media in an increasingly uncertain world.

18.  Joey Beachum, Digital Content Specialist at Markstein Consulting – @MarksteinChats

As wireless technology advances and smartphones continue to proliferate (they’re projected to form 54% of the total mobile phone market in 2013), consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion. This gives sales professionals even more of an opportunity at something I call ‘mass direct access’: reaching out directly to consumers on an individual level, like with a traditional sales approach, yet on a mass scale. More socially-connected consumers equal more potential touch-points and more sales opportunities.

19.  Kurt Uhlir, Cofounder and Chief Servant at Buzztastic – @KurtUhlir

There is a great wave of un-liking/un-following that will hit brands, at the least we will see people unselect “show in newsfeed” on Facebook. Consumers want higher quality content than what most brands are offering. This is a huge opportunity for brands offering engaging content that know how to activate an audience.

20.  Aalap Shah, co-founder at SoMe Connect – @some_connect

A companies mobile/tablet strategy (or lack thereof will define sales & marketing success for brands and companies in 2013. Consumers can access apps that display social data and activity of their friends anywhere and at anytime and retailers and brands need to have a consistent and clear message to push across social media channels. Without a mobile strategy, most companies will see their sales go to competitors that are where their customers are consuming information.

21.  Ed McMasters, Director of Marketing & Communication at Flottman Company

The future of social media for B2B will be held in the hands of LinkedIn – the new advances of LinkedIn make it a true Business To Business relationship builder. People that have their profiles at 100% and
continue to update them will have the biggest advantages. Knowledge that posting monthly or bi-weekly updates to your profile puts you in front of clients and potential clients is just like advertising only a
lot less expensive. I am a firm believer that LinkedIn will be the Social Media BIG GUY of the future.

22.  Sheryl Johnson, Founder of BD-PRo Marketing Solutions – @BD_PRoMarketing

Social media is here to stay. I predict that social media will evolve into a powerful knowledge management system that leverages virtual connections while capturing valuable information. The biggest challenge moving forward is to create a method of harnessing and connecting this data from all sources in a meaningful, searchable way.

23.  Ty Kiisel, Director of Content Marketing at Lendio – @tykiisel

I don’ think there’s any question that social media has become a relevant part of many brand discussions over the last few years generally, and 2012 in particular. However, more and more marketing leaders are finding that being social just to be social isn’t gaining them the traction in the marketplace they might have hoped. 2013 will see a greater focus on the creation of relevant and substantive content creation initiatives that provide value to customers that will ultimately create greater affinity for those brands that are most successful.

24.  Valerie Jennings, CEO of Viral Bolt Media and Jennings Social Media Marketing – @valeriejennings

Sales and marketing will continue to be impacted by organic SEO and SMO via social media. One major change may be the shift away from exclusively focusing on Facebook as a business sales and marketing tool and moving into more advanced programs including sales and marketing strategies that generate sales on Pinterest, Google+ and even FourSquare. If these platforms do not support sales and marketing strategies, other platforms via social networks will evolve quickly in the marketplace until there is one sold and remarkably profitable solution.

25.  Vickens Moscova, Owner/President of VM Enterprises – @VickensMoscova

I predict more and more people will get focused on utilizing social media to build their own personal brands, while more brands and businesses will realize that the control of their brand has shifted to having consumers having more control over their choices.

26.  Joan Barrett, Owner of The Content Factory – @ContentFac

My prediction is that social media will continue to have a strong impact on SEO, especially with Google
Algorithms becoming more and more personalized. The more social shares an article or site has, the higher it is going to rank.

27.  Tom Corson-Knowles, best-selling author of How To Make Money With Twitter – @JuiceTom

In 2013, we’ll see a lot more companies turning to social media primarily for customer service. We’ve already seen American Airlines cut down their phone service and instead encouraging customers to talk on Twitter if they need customer support. A lot more big companies will follow this trend in an effort to reduce overhead and expand their social media presence.

28.  Jeff Browning, Sr Director, Online Strategy at F5 Networks – @jeffbrowning

2013 is the year social leaps beyond projection / syndication and becomes more about listening, understanding, and driving better products and relationships that drive business. Vendors and agencies that provide useful big data analytics (ideally blending the inside and outside the enterprise) will become big dollar rockstars. Over 50% of C-level will finally realize social does not equal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

29. Jim Caruso, marketing strategist & CEO at MediaFirst PR – @jimcaruso

Facebook will matter more for B2B, as will FB advertising, since stock price matters when you are a public company.  LinkedIn with matter more across industries and new players, like Pinterest, will continue to disrupt the big players in social media

30.  James Medd, Social Media Marketing Manager at Emailvision – @jamespmedd

In 2013, I predict brands will grow their investments in social customer service to better serve customers who engage with them through social media channels – who have been shown to spend 20% to 40% more than customers who are not socially engaged.

As social customer service matures, I expect to see more integration of technology platforms from traditional customer services with social monitoring and team collaboration. This will enable customers to receive the same level of support and information, regardless of their communication channel preference.

31.  Ryan Schram, CMO of IZEA – @ryanschram

Today’s consumer demands a genuine relationship with the brands they love; nowhere is that more apparent than in social, where soft-selling, brand-building, and real-time problem solving comes into the main more and more each day.   Brands are utilizing a diverse array of tools and resources to
maximize their presence on the social web, including the compensation of social influencers to promote products and services (known as Social Media Sponsorship).   The 2012 State of Social Media Sponsorship study indicated that almost 60% of brands have a stand-alone social marketing budget with that amount having increased dramatically since 2009.

32.  Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-Founder of Voices.com – @stephciccarelli

Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments will need to work together to engage, sell and retain customers who choose to interact with a brand online via social networks. Companies will need to view those managing their social media as being on the “front lines” of a brand’s online customer service efforts. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated social media manager who can share content and engage a community online but also be a means of support to those asking questions.

33.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING – @dimplethakkar

Start planning a serious budget for social media advertising in 2013. Make sure you skip the promotional tone in your ad copy to build trust with followers. Consumers have an amazing radar for bullshit and your brand has a small window to make a good [first] impression.

34.  Caitlin Connors, Social Media Director at Boomtown Internet Group – @boomtownig

Social media is an elusive program for companies because it changes with your goals and with your audience and especially with technology. I predict that companies who use social media correctly, with an outsourced company that understands their brands and goals perfectly, will be overwhelmed with how much it can positively impact leads/conversions/sales.  In 2013, hopefully more people who claim to have an understanding of SMO will be aware of what effects ROI and how to customize SMO for each company. If they don’t (as many don’t know), leads aren’t happening and CEOs and Executives are doubting the effect of SMO. Customer Service could greatly benefit from SMO in 2013 with Twitter API’s for sites to have an “Ask Us Now” option to live chat, and a full-time Twitter manager to answer incoming questions. Google Hangout and new conversation management tools are now all in place to be utilized to find people having products with brands and services and actively seek them out to answer their qualms.

35.  Kevin Ohashi, Founder of Review Signal – @kevinohashi

I think the most important trend is customer service over social media.  Companies are more actively monitoring what is being said about them and consumers will become more empowered to see and react to the ways companies are engaging their customers. Access to information is democratizing and
consumers will be able to make decisions based on company behavior, and customer service is the biggest touch point between most companies and consumers.

36.  Adam Itkoff, Strategist at Fueled Mobile Design, NYC – @adamitkoff

As we look at growing usage trends across multiple social media platforms, we can only assume that these mediums will become more crucial to both business and sales. No longer must we ask, do we participate in Twitter or Facebook, but rather, how can we leverage these platforms best?  Look especially for Twitter and Instragram to keep growing strong.

37.  Flynn Zaiger, Founder of Online Optimism – @onlineoptimism

Social Media will help E-Commerce begin to surpass actual brick and mortar sales numbers. Expect Amazon to team up with either Facebook or Twitter to release an app that allows you to both see if a product is cheaper online, and also if your friends approve of how it looks.

38.  Melinda Janicki, Online Business Growth Catalyst, Internet Marketing Strategist & Implementation Expert – @melindajanicki

As social media moves from a simple networking site into being at the fore front of technology and SEO, I predict social media to be a must have customer services tool. Much like email has brought tech support
and customer service to a new level social media will be a must with apps, groups, Google+ hangouts, even Twitter chat rooms.

39.  Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. – @griotsroll

Social media will replace the business website. If you don’t have a social media page with information on your products, services on your about page you are not in business. People will judge you on how they can get in contact with you through your social media page. Your “About” page will be more important than your website and you better have links to any other social media pages you have.

40.  David Drake, The Soho Loft – @TSLCCevents

US SMEs will start embracing social media strategies and crowd funding will drive this for startups and local business as crowd funding for equity is implemented as a law.  Social media strategies will become more readily available to consulting firms helping small medium-sized enterprises with the winners being local businesses learning the tools to embrace their eco system.

41.  Alex Schenker, President at www.WeRockYourWeb.com  – @WeRockYourWeb

Marketers will need to use fewer words and more voice, video and images to connect with today’s overly stimulated consumer (e.g. Pinterest, Voxer, YouTube).  More filters will allow consumers to better target/find what they are looking for which will lead to more qualified sales’ leads. As we become more inundated with content, it will become more vital to have filters on how we choose to consume the content.  Mobile devices will continue to drive social media communication so the social media of choice may depend on which device you hold and the successful marketing efforts will be customized to that
platform. For example, Google Chat is not directly accessible via an app on an iPhone so they will likely turn to iMessage which allows you to text several people at once, creating your own “social network” for each message you create.

42.  Raghu Bala, Board Member at Fanggle – @raghurambala

Vertical social platforms will emerge to enable people with similar interests to share information (text, images/pictures, video) on topics of mutual interest. The current metrics – ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ – will give way to more meaningful means of measuring engagement. I also see social media becoming more immersed in everyday activity. For instance, with Google Glass combined with voice to text, one can automatically tweet and attach an image more naturally than currently possible.

43.  Ziggi Yaxley, Social Media Specialist at Bozboz, UK. – @ziggidotcom

Social media is instant, personal and available to everyone. It’s the new way to do customer service and it’s a way to connect with current and potential customers in exciting and innovative ways. It’s human.
2013 will see more businesses investing in social media for the first time and socially-equipped businesses allocating more resource to running their social media more efficiently.

44.  Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys – @ValaAfshar

A truly social enterprise is not just about technology, it is about lifestyle. Enterprises that collaborate socially (and not just through social media) with their customers and employees are able to not only grow mindshare, but also their business.  For example, at Enterasys, we believe there is nothing more important than our customers – internally and externally – so if both are delighted, we know we are doing our job socially now and into the future.

45. Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate

For marketers specifically, social media will continue to be a force in driving traffic to websites. Marketers will use social the same way that they’ve used pay-per-click and banner advertising in the past. However,
marketers need to take a careful look at metrics such as conversion rates before dedicating a huge chunk of the budget to advertizing on social media sites.

46.  Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations – @wjcorbett

The hype proliferated by “marketing” people about the tremendous business generating benefits of social media for small business will wind down. The reality will set in that social media marketing is only
part of an a comprehensive marketing plan which includes a digital media strategy. Businesses, particularly those in the business to business space, will recognize that they are not getting and probably will not get the ROI they need to continue to focus significant time, energy, effort and funds on social media marketing.

47.  Carrie Peterson, Social Media Director at Internet Marketing Inc. – @CarrieSavvy

2013 will be the year of social media mobile and tablet application for marketers. As consumers become more and more socially savvy and are using their mobile devices for research and purchases, it is imperative that marketers hop on the mobile train with a solid strategy and targeted ad campaigns. These campaigns should integrate behavioral targeting, relevant content per the niche demographic, and social share features to maximize reach and social word of mouth.

49.  Eric Courville, Director of Marketing and Alliances

Social media channels are creating more demand and opportunity for immediate content from brands. To take full advantage, marketers in 2013 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed and the tools necessary to easily track the use of all digital assets.

50.  Jane Horowitz, Founder of More Than A Resume

Today’s college student and those about to enter college (our next wave into the workplace) will reshape, along with new technologies the workplace over the next decade.  The way this generation, (Millennials) communicate in their social lives will be introduced to the workplace, and then transform it; fostering new ways of sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve outcomes. Goodbye email and PowerPoint presentations. Hello file-sharing, multi-media presentations.  Everything we use and come into contact with will be converted into data that will be available at our fingertips to make informed and therefore smarter decisions. Marketing, sales and customer service professional will need critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

51.  Ryan Aynes, Founder & Managing Director at EDGE Collective – @ryanaynes

There will be a larger demand to quantify social media impact and how that is impacting business performance. As spending becomes tighter due to the economy and a higher level of financial accountability takes place across organizations, agencies pitching social media will have to come up with their own annotations for “like” value.

There will also be a higher demand for integrating the entire marketing process. This means ad-buying teams will have to work more closely with social. The most effective strategies will be integrated paid, owned, and earned. Consumer analysis from each end educates the other on consumer behavior, which builds better forward strategies.

Mobile strategy will become the norm and not just an additional option. As more ways to reach consumers opens up through mobile experiences, brands and agencies will make the appropriate modifications to add this into their strategy and planning.

52.  Devin Redmond, CEO and Co-founder at Social iQ Networks – @DevinHRed

It’s very common these days to walk into a business and find that different departments all have their own social accounts and social marketing tools to connect with customers, recruit employees, and drive marketing campaigns. That new reality and infrastructure has become a rapidly increasing sprawl that can be disharmonious and prone to risk for their company and their own efforts. This will lead to a push toward greater social infrastructure management as companies try to get a handle on social media sprawl to improve their efforts without having to worrying about mishaps, abuse, and social media mistakes.

53.  Rick Mathieson, author of Branding Unbound and The On-Demand Brand – @rickmathieson

Look for a nascent social media backlash to gain traction among consumers and the brands trying to connect with them. While 20% of Facebook users say they log on once or twice a day, 52% say they plan to spend less time there in the future ­ and that’s an emerging dynamic across the socialsphere. In 2013, look for a new emphasis on quality of engagement versus quantity.  When engaging in social media, look for the emphasis for many brands to finally move away from “How” the mechanics of going social to the “Why”,  by clarifying objectives and building social media strategies to meet them.

54.  Molly Glover Gallatin, VP of Marketing at Compass Labs – @CompassLabs

As marketers we need to stop being hyper-focused on the immediate ROI question around social media (I know, it’s hard!), and instead get our management team focused on another question: What have I learned today from my customers? The future will be best for those who stop marketing and speaking *at* their audience and start creating dialogues instead. Content strategy should include conversations – they are the most critical element of social media – hence, the “social,” and they increase brand affinity and tip the scales in your favor regarding revenue, as well.

Free Webcast:  Join us on December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, as Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.

Comments

The Future of Social Media: 50+ Experts Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice

The world of social media underwent major changes in 2012.

We saw the addition of Facebook Timelines for Fan Pages, the rise of Pinterest, revamped LinkedIn Company Pages, improved Twitter profile pages, and the increasing pressure to prove social media ROI.

As more companies begin leveraging social media for marketing, sales and customer service, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve.

On December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore will participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.  We hope you will join us and in the meantime please enjoy the following predications from over 50 thought leaders.

The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

1.  Jason Stein, Founder and President of 24/7 Laundry Service – @jasonwstein

Social media has completely blurred the lines between all aspects of marketing. We live in a world where Facebook posts double as paid ads, and people’s tweets are a form of journalism. As a result, in the new year brands will really embrace the concept of “converged media,” and see owned, earned and paid as a unified program. This is the future of B2C communications.

2.  Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing and Sales at Awareness, Inc. – @bostonmike

Small and mid-sized market will be revolutionized by social customer acquisition at scale. Specifically, new social profiling and scoring tools will allows marketers to analyze and apply custom segmentation logic to their social databases to meet specific customer acquisition and conversion goals. As a result companies will see a tangible social marketing ROI – increase in sales and customer retention.

3.  Natalie Bidnick, Account Supervisor and Social Media Strategist at The Marketing Zen Group – @NatalieBid

Social Media will become an essential – not optional – form of communicating with customers. More companies will use Facebok and Twitter to both listen to their customers, solicit feedback, and practice public crisis management.

4.  Zubin Mowlavi, CEO of Lucid Fusion – @ZubinMowlavi

2012 was the year of data and more specifically, data as it relates to the Social Interest Graph. People and companies shared content more than ever, and this data was organized around interests rather than personal relationships. This trend continues in 2013 with the Social Product Graph which highlights shifting the focus to the sharing and serving of actionable content around products of interest. By doing so, social media will become a social stream for product discovery and commerce, thereby driving sales.

5.  Jeremy Goldman, Entrepreneur, strategist, & author of the upcoming book, Going Social – @jeremarketer  

Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.

6.  Mike Wolfe, Founder & President, WAM Enterprises LLC – @WAMGolfs

Social Media will continue to grow in 2013 due to the increase usage of mobile technology, specifically smartphones. We can expect to see visual (images) to be a driving force and I believe an increase in internet video usage too.

7.  Patrick J. Sweeney II,­ featured contributor to Social Media Today and CNBC – @PJSweeney

The future of social media will evolve around the frictionless capturing of precious memories in the real world. When people are skiing, doing a triathlon, at a concert, or doing anything fun and engaging – mobile technology will enable them to capture the moment with very high quality pictures and video and instantly share online without lifting a finger. Brands will pay for or sponsor this infrastructure in order to have “product placement” on social media. See Cadbury at the Olympics for a great example.

8.  Kelby Brick, Esq., Vice President, Regulatory & Strategic Policy at Purple Communications, Inc. – @kelbybrick

In 2013 smart businesses will emphasize using social media for personal interactions and connections with their customers. This is different from 2012 where macro blasts were the norm. Personal connections result in a more loyal and valued customer base.

9.  Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21 – @CreativeIthink

The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary aged children.
Now that the majority of society has adopted social expectations have changed. Those expectations will dramatically affect customer service, marketing and sales.

Customer Service – People know they don’t have to wait on the phone to get help, they can tweet. This makes it easy for the customer to let the brand know about any and all problems. So any company who went ahead and distributed products with minor flaws in hopes that the customer wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of a return or exchange will have a rude awakening. Many companies have adopted social media as a customer service tool purely for the fact that they can look good in front of thousands of potential customers. This year companies will start adopting it out of necessity. If a customer who doesn’t want to talk to a machine or wait on hold for 20 minutes, they are going to reach out via social. If you
don’t answer and they HAVE to call, they are going to be highly irritated and more demanding, ultimately costing the company more money.

Marketing – Having a presence on social media has become (or will soon) as important as having a website. Not being on social means you’re missing out on big opportunities in search engine real estate and with your customers. More firms will add social media to their offerings and the smartest ones
already have. We should have realized by now that it’s not a stand along media channel, it’s an essential part of a successful media mix.

Sales – Social media has become a powerful tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can generate leads and drive buyer traffic to a specific product. Sales teams will evolve to include a digital lead generation
specialist and marketing strategies will be broadened as location isn’t as much of an issue when you’re running a powerful social platform.

10.  Joey Sargent, Principal, BrandSprout Advisors – @brandsprout

In 2013, we’ll see more social maturity in both B2C and B2B applications. Business will get “social smarts” and more fully integrate social media into their day-to-day operations across the organization. This means less social for social’s sake, and more focus on social media as a legitimate business tool to facilitate communication, engagement and loyalty.

11.  Beverly Solomon, Creative Director at musee-solomon

People are over saturated with social media. They will gradually remove themselves from all but a few networks, blogs, etc. So many ads come in everyday that they have lost their impact. Most
people just delete them before reading them.  Social media will function more to alert friends of rip-offs than to encourage sales.  Only the most clever sales campaigns will have any impact.  More and more advertisers will be leaving social media and returning to snail mail, print and other traditional ads.  Social media will continue to be a dating hook up, gossip fest and avenue for “gurus” to sell seminars. But real businesses will use social media less and less.

12.  Caroline Kornowicz, Social Media Manager for CliqStudios Cabinets – @CarolineSofiaK

The future of social media lies heavily in images, video and interaction for the user. It is exploring our senses further with sight, sound and touch. We are seeing current trends with infographs and statistics speak for themselves that an image or video provides higher engagement than plain text posts.

13.  Melissa Brodsky, co-founder of Smart Savvy Social – @smartsavvysoc

More and more brands will realize the importance and relevance of social media and begin to grow their online footprint. Also, I believe that Facebook will eventually burn too many bridges and a new network will become dominant, one that WANTS to help brands instead of only themselves.

14.  Brittany Dowell, Director of Publication Relations at Digital Talent Agents

Social media use is not going anywhere but up in 2013. Companies will hire more full-time employees dedicated solely to engaging with customers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. With customer service moving to more online interaction, we could see the need for traditional office space steadily decline.

15.  Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers – @jpretz

Going into 2013 social media will impact sales more than any other metric because of the continued integration as a marketing platform and the acceptance of users to be marketed to. In 2011, almost 70% of users said that no social media platform influenced their buying decision and in 2012, that was cut in half to 35%. In 2013, this number will be decreased significantly again because these sites have become an integral way to gain access to information on companies, promotions and products.

16.  Amanda Vega – @amandavega

Social media will continue to have direct and indirect impact on sales in 2013. Consumers will continue to expect an immediate response to their needs online, and a lack of timely response will have a hard-to-measure, but certain impact on brand satisfaction and recommendations.

17.  Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group and Author of “Cloud Surfing: A New Way
to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success” –
@tkspeaks

The greatest shift in Social media over the next year will be the maturing of “behavioral business models” that use a deep and comprehensive cross platform understanding of consumer and enterprise
online behaviors as the basis for predictive analytics about their interests and habits. Companies that own the broadest range of platforms such as Apple and Google will be able to track online consumer activity
in ways that create enormous value for retailers. The same is true of enterprise applications of social media where online B2B transactions are being collected and analyzed by companies such as E2Open, which have created a similar capability in projecting future behaviors of markets in order to dynamically alter supply chains in real time to meet the needs of consumers. This notion of using behavior to predict the future will be a critical contribution of social media in an increasingly uncertain world.

18.  Joey Beachum, Digital Content Specialist at Markstein Consulting – @MarksteinChats

As wireless technology advances and smartphones continue to proliferate (they’re projected to form 54% of the total mobile phone market in 2013), consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion. This gives sales professionals even more of an opportunity at something I call ‘mass direct access’: reaching out directly to consumers on an individual level, like with a traditional sales approach, yet on a mass scale. More socially-connected consumers equal more potential touch-points and more sales opportunities.

19.  Kurt Uhlir, Cofounder and Chief Servant at Buzztastic – @KurtUhlir

There is a great wave of un-liking/un-following that will hit brands, at the least we will see people unselect “show in newsfeed” on Facebook. Consumers want higher quality content than what most brands are offering. This is a huge opportunity for brands offering engaging content that know how to activate an audience.

20.  Aalap Shah, co-founder at SoMe Connect – @some_connect

A companies mobile/tablet strategy (or lack thereof will define sales & marketing success for brands and companies in 2013. Consumers can access apps that display social data and activity of their friends anywhere and at anytime and retailers and brands need to have a consistent and clear message to push across social media channels. Without a mobile strategy, most companies will see their sales go to competitors that are where their customers are consuming information.

21.  Ed McMasters, Director of Marketing & Communication at Flottman Company

The future of social media for B2B will be held in the hands of LinkedIn – the new advances of LinkedIn make it a true Business To Business relationship builder. People that have their profiles at 100% and
continue to update them will have the biggest advantages. Knowledge that posting monthly or bi-weekly updates to your profile puts you in front of clients and potential clients is just like advertising only a
lot less expensive. I am a firm believer that LinkedIn will be the Social Media BIG GUY of the future.

22.  Sheryl Johnson, Founder of BD-PRo Marketing Solutions – @BD_PRoMarketing

Social media is here to stay. I predict that social media will evolve into a powerful knowledge management system that leverages virtual connections while capturing valuable information. The biggest challenge moving forward is to create a method of harnessing and connecting this data from all sources in a meaningful, searchable way.

23.  Ty Kiisel, Director of Content Marketing at Lendio – @tykiisel

I don’ think there’s any question that social media has become a relevant part of many brand discussions over the last few years generally, and 2012 in particular. However, more and more marketing leaders are finding that being social just to be social isn’t gaining them the traction in the marketplace they might have hoped. 2013 will see a greater focus on the creation of relevant and substantive content creation initiatives that provide value to customers that will ultimately create greater affinity for those brands that are most successful.

24.  Valerie Jennings, CEO of Viral Bolt Media and Jennings Social Media Marketing – @valeriejennings

Sales and marketing will continue to be impacted by organic SEO and SMO via social media. One major change may be the shift away from exclusively focusing on Facebook as a business sales and marketing tool and moving into more advanced programs including sales and marketing strategies that generate sales on Pinterest, Google+ and even FourSquare. If these platforms do not support sales and marketing strategies, other platforms via social networks will evolve quickly in the marketplace until there is one sold and remarkably profitable solution.

25.  Vickens Moscova, Owner/President of VM Enterprises – @VickensMoscova

I predict more and more people will get focused on utilizing social media to build their own personal brands, while more brands and businesses will realize that the control of their brand has shifted to having consumers having more control over their choices.

26.  Joan Barrett, Owner of The Content Factory – @ContentFac

My prediction is that social media will continue to have a strong impact on SEO, especially with Google
Algorithms becoming more and more personalized. The more social shares an article or site has, the higher it is going to rank.

27.  Tom Corson-Knowles, best-selling author of How To Make Money With Twitter – @JuiceTom

In 2013, we’ll see a lot more companies turning to social media primarily for customer service. We’ve already seen American Airlines cut down their phone service and instead encouraging customers to talk on Twitter if they need customer support. A lot more big companies will follow this trend in an effort to reduce overhead and expand their social media presence.

28.  Jeff Browning, Sr Director, Online Strategy at F5 Networks – @jeffbrowning

2013 is the year social leaps beyond projection / syndication and becomes more about listening, understanding, and driving better products and relationships that drive business. Vendors and agencies that provide useful big data analytics (ideally blending the inside and outside the enterprise) will become big dollar rockstars. Over 50% of C-level will finally realize social does not equal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

29. Jim Caruso, marketing strategist & CEO at MediaFirst PR – @jimcaruso

Facebook will matter more for B2B, as will FB advertising, since stock price matters when you are a public company.  LinkedIn with matter more across industries and new players, like Pinterest, will continue to disrupt the big players in social media

30.  James Medd, Social Media Marketing Manager at Emailvision – @jamespmedd

In 2013, I predict brands will grow their investments in social customer service to better serve customers who engage with them through social media channels – who have been shown to spend 20% to 40% more than customers who are not socially engaged.

As social customer service matures, I expect to see more integration of technology platforms from traditional customer services with social monitoring and team collaboration. This will enable customers to receive the same level of support and information, regardless of their communication channel preference.

31.  Ryan Schram, CMO of IZEA – @ryanschram

Today’s consumer demands a genuine relationship with the brands they love; nowhere is that more apparent than in social, where soft-selling, brand-building, and real-time problem solving comes into the main more and more each day.   Brands are utilizing a diverse array of tools and resources to
maximize their presence on the social web, including the compensation of social influencers to promote products and services (known as Social Media Sponsorship).   The 2012 State of Social Media Sponsorship study indicated that almost 60% of brands have a stand-alone social marketing budget with that amount having increased dramatically since 2009.

32.  Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-Founder of Voices.com – @stephciccarelli

Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments will need to work together to engage, sell and retain customers who choose to interact with a brand online via social networks. Companies will need to view those managing their social media as being on the “front lines” of a brand’s online customer service efforts. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated social media manager who can share content and engage a community online but also be a means of support to those asking questions.

33.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING – @dimplethakkar

Start planning a serious budget for social media advertising in 2013. Make sure you skip the promotional tone in your ad copy to build trust with followers. Consumers have an amazing radar for bullshit and your brand has a small window to make a good [first] impression.

34.  Caitlin Connors, Social Media Director at Boomtown Internet Group – @boomtownig

Social media is an elusive program for companies because it changes with your goals and with your audience and especially with technology. I predict that companies who use social media correctly, with an outsourced company that understands their brands and goals perfectly, will be overwhelmed with how much it can positively impact leads/conversions/sales.  In 2013, hopefully more people who claim to have an understanding of SMO will be aware of what effects ROI and how to customize SMO for each company. If they don’t (as many don’t know), leads aren’t happening and CEOs and Executives are doubting the effect of SMO. Customer Service could greatly benefit from SMO in 2013 with Twitter API’s for sites to have an “Ask Us Now” option to live chat, and a full-time Twitter manager to answer incoming questions. Google Hangout and new conversation management tools are now all in place to be utilized to find people having products with brands and services and actively seek them out to answer their qualms.

35.  Kevin Ohashi, Founder of Review Signal – @kevinohashi

I think the most important trend is customer service over social media.  Companies are more actively monitoring what is being said about them and consumers will become more empowered to see and react to the ways companies are engaging their customers. Access to information is democratizing and
consumers will be able to make decisions based on company behavior, and customer service is the biggest touch point between most companies and consumers.

36.  Adam Itkoff, Strategist at Fueled Mobile Design, NYC – @adamitkoff

As we look at growing usage trends across multiple social media platforms, we can only assume that these mediums will become more crucial to both business and sales. No longer must we ask, do we participate in Twitter or Facebook, but rather, how can we leverage these platforms best?  Look especially for Twitter and Instragram to keep growing strong.

37.  Flynn Zaiger, Founder of Online Optimism – @onlineoptimism

Social Media will help E-Commerce begin to surpass actual brick and mortar sales numbers. Expect Amazon to team up with either Facebook or Twitter to release an app that allows you to both see if a product is cheaper online, and also if your friends approve of how it looks.

38.  Melinda Janicki, Online Business Growth Catalyst, Internet Marketing Strategist & Implementation Expert – @melindajanicki

As social media moves from a simple networking site into being at the fore front of technology and SEO, I predict social media to be a must have customer services tool. Much like email has brought tech support
and customer service to a new level social media will be a must with apps, groups, Google+ hangouts, even Twitter chat rooms.

39.  Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. – @griotsroll

Social media will replace the business website. If you don’t have a social media page with information on your products, services on your about page you are not in business. People will judge you on how they can get in contact with you through your social media page. Your “About” page will be more important than your website and you better have links to any other social media pages you have.

40.  David Drake, The Soho Loft – @TSLCCevents

US SMEs will start embracing social media strategies and crowd funding will drive this for startups and local business as crowd funding for equity is implemented as a law.  Social media strategies will become more readily available to consulting firms helping small medium-sized enterprises with the winners being local businesses learning the tools to embrace their eco system.

41.  Alex Schenker, President at www.WeRockYourWeb.com  – @WeRockYourWeb

Marketers will need to use fewer words and more voice, video and images to connect with today’s overly stimulated consumer (e.g. Pinterest, Voxer, YouTube).  More filters will allow consumers to better target/find what they are looking for which will lead to more qualified sales’ leads. As we become more inundated with content, it will become more vital to have filters on how we choose to consume the content.  Mobile devices will continue to drive social media communication so the social media of choice may depend on which device you hold and the successful marketing efforts will be customized to that
platform. For example, Google Chat is not directly accessible via an app on an iPhone so they will likely turn to iMessage which allows you to text several people at once, creating your own “social network” for each message you create.

42.  Raghu Bala, Board Member at Fanggle – @raghurambala

Vertical social platforms will emerge to enable people with similar interests to share information (text, images/pictures, video) on topics of mutual interest. The current metrics – ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ – will give way to more meaningful means of measuring engagement. I also see social media becoming more immersed in everyday activity. For instance, with Google Glass combined with voice to text, one can automatically tweet and attach an image more naturally than currently possible.

43.  Ziggi Yaxley, Social Media Specialist at Bozboz, UK. – @ziggidotcom

Social media is instant, personal and available to everyone. It’s the new way to do customer service and it’s a way to connect with current and potential customers in exciting and innovative ways. It’s human.
2013 will see more businesses investing in social media for the first time and socially-equipped businesses allocating more resource to running their social media more efficiently.

44.  Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys – @ValaAfshar

A truly social enterprise is not just about technology, it is about lifestyle. Enterprises that collaborate socially (and not just through social media) with their customers and employees are able to not only grow mindshare, but also their business.  For example, at Enterasys, we believe there is nothing more important than our customers – internally and externally – so if both are delighted, we know we are doing our job socially now and into the future.

45. Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate

For marketers specifically, social media will continue to be a force in driving traffic to websites. Marketers will use social the same way that they’ve used pay-per-click and banner advertising in the past. However,
marketers need to take a careful look at metrics such as conversion rates before dedicating a huge chunk of the budget to advertizing on social media sites.

46.  Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations – @wjcorbett

The hype proliferated by “marketing” people about the tremendous business generating benefits of social media for small business will wind down. The reality will set in that social media marketing is only
part of an a comprehensive marketing plan which includes a digital media strategy. Businesses, particularly those in the business to business space, will recognize that they are not getting and probably will not get the ROI they need to continue to focus significant time, energy, effort and funds on social media marketing.

47.  Carrie Peterson, Social Media Director at Internet Marketing Inc. – @CarrieSavvy

2013 will be the year of social media mobile and tablet application for marketers. As consumers become more and more socially savvy and are using their mobile devices for research and purchases, it is imperative that marketers hop on the mobile train with a solid strategy and targeted ad campaigns. These campaigns should integrate behavioral targeting, relevant content per the niche demographic, and social share features to maximize reach and social word of mouth.

49.  Eric Courville, Director of Marketing and Alliances

Social media channels are creating more demand and opportunity for immediate content from brands. To take full advantage, marketers in 2013 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed and the tools necessary to easily track the use of all digital assets.

50.  Jane Horowitz, Founder of More Than A Resume

Today’s college student and those about to enter college (our next wave into the workplace) will reshape, along with new technologies the workplace over the next decade.  The way this generation, (Millennials) communicate in their social lives will be introduced to the workplace, and then transform it; fostering new ways of sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve outcomes. Goodbye email and PowerPoint presentations. Hello file-sharing, multi-media presentations.  Everything we use and come into contact with will be converted into data that will be available at our fingertips to make informed and therefore smarter decisions. Marketing, sales and customer service professional will need critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

51.  Ryan Aynes, Founder & Managing Director at EDGE Collective – @ryanaynes

There will be a larger demand to quantify social media impact and how that is impacting business performance. As spending becomes tighter due to the economy and a higher level of financial accountability takes place across organizations, agencies pitching social media will have to come up with their own annotations for “like” value.

There will also be a higher demand for integrating the entire marketing process. This means ad-buying teams will have to work more closely with social. The most effective strategies will be integrated paid, owned, and earned. Consumer analysis from each end educates the other on consumer behavior, which builds better forward strategies.

Mobile strategy will become the norm and not just an additional option. As more ways to reach consumers opens up through mobile experiences, brands and agencies will make the appropriate modifications to add this into their strategy and planning.

52.  Devin Redmond, CEO and Co-founder at Social iQ Networks – @DevinHRed

It’s very common these days to walk into a business and find that different departments all have their own social accounts and social marketing tools to connect with customers, recruit employees, and drive marketing campaigns. That new reality and infrastructure has become a rapidly increasing sprawl that can be disharmonious and prone to risk for their company and their own efforts. This will lead to a push toward greater social infrastructure management as companies try to get a handle on social media sprawl to improve their efforts without having to worrying about mishaps, abuse, and social media mistakes.

53.  Rick Mathieson, author of Branding Unbound and The On-Demand Brand – @rickmathieson

Look for a nascent social media backlash to gain traction among consumers and the brands trying to connect with them. While 20% of Facebook users say they log on once or twice a day, 52% say they plan to spend less time there in the future ­ and that’s an emerging dynamic across the socialsphere. In 2013, look for a new emphasis on quality of engagement versus quantity.  When engaging in social media, look for the emphasis for many brands to finally move away from “How” the mechanics of going social to the “Why”,  by clarifying objectives and building social media strategies to meet them.

54.  Molly Glover Gallatin, VP of Marketing at Compass Labs – @CompassLabs

As marketers we need to stop being hyper-focused on the immediate ROI question around social media (I know, it’s hard!), and instead get our management team focused on another question: What have I learned today from my customers? The future will be best for those who stop marketing and speaking *at* their audience and start creating dialogues instead. Content strategy should include conversations – they are the most critical element of social media – hence, the “social,” and they increase brand affinity and tip the scales in your favor regarding revenue, as well.

Free Webcast:  Join us on December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, as Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.

Comments

The Future of Social Media: 50+ Experts Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice

The world of social media underwent major changes in 2012.

We saw the addition of Facebook Timelines for Fan Pages, the rise of Pinterest, revamped LinkedIn Company Pages, improved Twitter profile pages, and the increasing pressure to prove social media ROI.

As more companies begin leveraging social media for marketing, sales and customer service, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve.

On December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore will participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.  We hope you will join us and in the meantime please enjoy the following predications from over 50 thought leaders.

The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

1.  Jason Stein, Founder and President of 24/7 Laundry Service – @jasonwstein

Social media has completely blurred the lines between all aspects of marketing. We live in a world where Facebook posts double as paid ads, and people’s tweets are a form of journalism. As a result, in the new year brands will really embrace the concept of “converged media,” and see owned, earned and paid as a unified program. This is the future of B2C communications.

2.  Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing and Sales at Awareness, Inc. – @bostonmike

Small and mid-sized market will be revolutionized by social customer acquisition at scale. Specifically, new social profiling and scoring tools will allows marketers to analyze and apply custom segmentation logic to their social databases to meet specific customer acquisition and conversion goals. As a result companies will see a tangible social marketing ROI – increase in sales and customer retention.

3.  Natalie Bidnick, Account Supervisor and Social Media Strategist at The Marketing Zen Group – @NatalieBid

Social Media will become an essential – not optional – form of communicating with customers. More companies will use Facebok and Twitter to both listen to their customers, solicit feedback, and practice public crisis management.

4.  Zubin Mowlavi, CEO of Lucid Fusion – @ZubinMowlavi

2012 was the year of data and more specifically, data as it relates to the Social Interest Graph. People and companies shared content more than ever, and this data was organized around interests rather than personal relationships. This trend continues in 2013 with the Social Product Graph which highlights shifting the focus to the sharing and serving of actionable content around products of interest. By doing so, social media will become a social stream for product discovery and commerce, thereby driving sales.

5.  Jeremy Goldman, Entrepreneur, strategist, & author of the upcoming book, Going Social – @jeremarketer  

Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.

6.  Mike Wolfe, Founder & President, WAM Enterprises LLC – @WAMGolfs

Social Media will continue to grow in 2013 due to the increase usage of mobile technology, specifically smartphones. We can expect to see visual (images) to be a driving force and I believe an increase in internet video usage too.

7.  Patrick J. Sweeney II,­ featured contributor to Social Media Today and CNBC – @PJSweeney

The future of social media will evolve around the frictionless capturing of precious memories in the real world. When people are skiing, doing a triathlon, at a concert, or doing anything fun and engaging – mobile technology will enable them to capture the moment with very high quality pictures and video and instantly share online without lifting a finger. Brands will pay for or sponsor this infrastructure in order to have “product placement” on social media. See Cadbury at the Olympics for a great example.

8.  Kelby Brick, Esq., Vice President, Regulatory & Strategic Policy at Purple Communications, Inc. – @kelbybrick

In 2013 smart businesses will emphasize using social media for personal interactions and connections with their customers. This is different from 2012 where macro blasts were the norm. Personal connections result in a more loyal and valued customer base.

9.  Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21 – @CreativeIthink

The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary aged children.
Now that the majority of society has adopted social expectations have changed. Those expectations will dramatically affect customer service, marketing and sales.

Customer Service – People know they don’t have to wait on the phone to get help, they can tweet. This makes it easy for the customer to let the brand know about any and all problems. So any company who went ahead and distributed products with minor flaws in hopes that the customer wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of a return or exchange will have a rude awakening. Many companies have adopted social media as a customer service tool purely for the fact that they can look good in front of thousands of potential customers. This year companies will start adopting it out of necessity. If a customer who doesn’t want to talk to a machine or wait on hold for 20 minutes, they are going to reach out via social. If you
don’t answer and they HAVE to call, they are going to be highly irritated and more demanding, ultimately costing the company more money.

Marketing – Having a presence on social media has become (or will soon) as important as having a website. Not being on social means you’re missing out on big opportunities in search engine real estate and with your customers. More firms will add social media to their offerings and the smartest ones
already have. We should have realized by now that it’s not a stand along media channel, it’s an essential part of a successful media mix.

Sales – Social media has become a powerful tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can generate leads and drive buyer traffic to a specific product. Sales teams will evolve to include a digital lead generation
specialist and marketing strategies will be broadened as location isn’t as much of an issue when you’re running a powerful social platform.

10.  Joey Sargent, Principal, BrandSprout Advisors – @brandsprout

In 2013, we’ll see more social maturity in both B2C and B2B applications. Business will get “social smarts” and more fully integrate social media into their day-to-day operations across the organization. This means less social for social’s sake, and more focus on social media as a legitimate business tool to facilitate communication, engagement and loyalty.

11.  Beverly Solomon, Creative Director at musee-solomon

People are over saturated with social media. They will gradually remove themselves from all but a few networks, blogs, etc. So many ads come in everyday that they have lost their impact. Most
people just delete them before reading them.  Social media will function more to alert friends of rip-offs than to encourage sales.  Only the most clever sales campaigns will have any impact.  More and more advertisers will be leaving social media and returning to snail mail, print and other traditional ads.  Social media will continue to be a dating hook up, gossip fest and avenue for “gurus” to sell seminars. But real businesses will use social media less and less.

12.  Caroline Kornowicz, Social Media Manager for CliqStudios Cabinets – @CarolineSofiaK

The future of social media lies heavily in images, video and interaction for the user. It is exploring our senses further with sight, sound and touch. We are seeing current trends with infographs and statistics speak for themselves that an image or video provides higher engagement than plain text posts.

13.  Melissa Brodsky, co-founder of Smart Savvy Social – @smartsavvysoc

More and more brands will realize the importance and relevance of social media and begin to grow their online footprint. Also, I believe that Facebook will eventually burn too many bridges and a new network will become dominant, one that WANTS to help brands instead of only themselves.

14.  Brittany Dowell, Director of Publication Relations at Digital Talent Agents

Social media use is not going anywhere but up in 2013. Companies will hire more full-time employees dedicated solely to engaging with customers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. With customer service moving to more online interaction, we could see the need for traditional office space steadily decline.

15.  Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers – @jpretz

Going into 2013 social media will impact sales more than any other metric because of the continued integration as a marketing platform and the acceptance of users to be marketed to. In 2011, almost 70% of users said that no social media platform influenced their buying decision and in 2012, that was cut in half to 35%. In 2013, this number will be decreased significantly again because these sites have become an integral way to gain access to information on companies, promotions and products.

16.  Amanda Vega – @amandavega

Social media will continue to have direct and indirect impact on sales in 2013. Consumers will continue to expect an immediate response to their needs online, and a lack of timely response will have a hard-to-measure, but certain impact on brand satisfaction and recommendations.

17.  Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group and Author of “Cloud Surfing: A New Way
to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success” –
@tkspeaks

The greatest shift in Social media over the next year will be the maturing of “behavioral business models” that use a deep and comprehensive cross platform understanding of consumer and enterprise
online behaviors as the basis for predictive analytics about their interests and habits. Companies that own the broadest range of platforms such as Apple and Google will be able to track online consumer activity
in ways that create enormous value for retailers. The same is true of enterprise applications of social media where online B2B transactions are being collected and analyzed by companies such as E2Open, which have created a similar capability in projecting future behaviors of markets in order to dynamically alter supply chains in real time to meet the needs of consumers. This notion of using behavior to predict the future will be a critical contribution of social media in an increasingly uncertain world.

18.  Joey Beachum, Digital Content Specialist at Markstein Consulting – @MarksteinChats

As wireless technology advances and smartphones continue to proliferate (they’re projected to form 54% of the total mobile phone market in 2013), consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion. This gives sales professionals even more of an opportunity at something I call ‘mass direct access’: reaching out directly to consumers on an individual level, like with a traditional sales approach, yet on a mass scale. More socially-connected consumers equal more potential touch-points and more sales opportunities.

19.  Kurt Uhlir, Cofounder and Chief Servant at Buzztastic – @KurtUhlir

There is a great wave of un-liking/un-following that will hit brands, at the least we will see people unselect “show in newsfeed” on Facebook. Consumers want higher quality content than what most brands are offering. This is a huge opportunity for brands offering engaging content that know how to activate an audience.

20.  Aalap Shah, co-founder at SoMe Connect – @some_connect

A companies mobile/tablet strategy (or lack thereof will define sales & marketing success for brands and companies in 2013. Consumers can access apps that display social data and activity of their friends anywhere and at anytime and retailers and brands need to have a consistent and clear message to push across social media channels. Without a mobile strategy, most companies will see their sales go to competitors that are where their customers are consuming information.

21.  Ed McMasters, Director of Marketing & Communication at Flottman Company

The future of social media for B2B will be held in the hands of LinkedIn – the new advances of LinkedIn make it a true Business To Business relationship builder. People that have their profiles at 100% and
continue to update them will have the biggest advantages. Knowledge that posting monthly or bi-weekly updates to your profile puts you in front of clients and potential clients is just like advertising only a
lot less expensive. I am a firm believer that LinkedIn will be the Social Media BIG GUY of the future.

22.  Sheryl Johnson, Founder of BD-PRo Marketing Solutions – @BD_PRoMarketing

Social media is here to stay. I predict that social media will evolve into a powerful knowledge management system that leverages virtual connections while capturing valuable information. The biggest challenge moving forward is to create a method of harnessing and connecting this data from all sources in a meaningful, searchable way.

23.  Ty Kiisel, Director of Content Marketing at Lendio – @tykiisel

I don’ think there’s any question that social media has become a relevant part of many brand discussions over the last few years generally, and 2012 in particular. However, more and more marketing leaders are finding that being social just to be social isn’t gaining them the traction in the marketplace they might have hoped. 2013 will see a greater focus on the creation of relevant and substantive content creation initiatives that provide value to customers that will ultimately create greater affinity for those brands that are most successful.

24.  Valerie Jennings, CEO of Viral Bolt Media and Jennings Social Media Marketing – @valeriejennings

Sales and marketing will continue to be impacted by organic SEO and SMO via social media. One major change may be the shift away from exclusively focusing on Facebook as a business sales and marketing tool and moving into more advanced programs including sales and marketing strategies that generate sales on Pinterest, Google+ and even FourSquare. If these platforms do not support sales and marketing strategies, other platforms via social networks will evolve quickly in the marketplace until there is one sold and remarkably profitable solution.

25.  Vickens Moscova, Owner/President of VM Enterprises – @VickensMoscova

I predict more and more people will get focused on utilizing social media to build their own personal brands, while more brands and businesses will realize that the control of their brand has shifted to having consumers having more control over their choices.

26.  Joan Barrett, Owner of The Content Factory – @ContentFac

My prediction is that social media will continue to have a strong impact on SEO, especially with Google
Algorithms becoming more and more personalized. The more social shares an article or site has, the higher it is going to rank.

27.  Tom Corson-Knowles, best-selling author of How To Make Money With Twitter – @JuiceTom

In 2013, we’ll see a lot more companies turning to social media primarily for customer service. We’ve already seen American Airlines cut down their phone service and instead encouraging customers to talk on Twitter if they need customer support. A lot more big companies will follow this trend in an effort to reduce overhead and expand their social media presence.

28.  Jeff Browning, Sr Director, Online Strategy at F5 Networks – @jeffbrowning

2013 is the year social leaps beyond projection / syndication and becomes more about listening, understanding, and driving better products and relationships that drive business. Vendors and agencies that provide useful big data analytics (ideally blending the inside and outside the enterprise) will become big dollar rockstars. Over 50% of C-level will finally realize social does not equal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

29. Jim Caruso, marketing strategist & CEO at MediaFirst PR – @jimcaruso

Facebook will matter more for B2B, as will FB advertising, since stock price matters when you are a public company.  LinkedIn with matter more across industries and new players, like Pinterest, will continue to disrupt the big players in social media

30.  James Medd, Social Media Marketing Manager at Emailvision – @jamespmedd

In 2013, I predict brands will grow their investments in social customer service to better serve customers who engage with them through social media channels – who have been shown to spend 20% to 40% more than customers who are not socially engaged.

As social customer service matures, I expect to see more integration of technology platforms from traditional customer services with social monitoring and team collaboration. This will enable customers to receive the same level of support and information, regardless of their communication channel preference.

31.  Ryan Schram, CMO of IZEA – @ryanschram

Today’s consumer demands a genuine relationship with the brands they love; nowhere is that more apparent than in social, where soft-selling, brand-building, and real-time problem solving comes into the main more and more each day.   Brands are utilizing a diverse array of tools and resources to
maximize their presence on the social web, including the compensation of social influencers to promote products and services (known as Social Media Sponsorship).   The 2012 State of Social Media Sponsorship study indicated that almost 60% of brands have a stand-alone social marketing budget with that amount having increased dramatically since 2009.

32.  Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-Founder of Voices.com – @stephciccarelli

Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments will need to work together to engage, sell and retain customers who choose to interact with a brand online via social networks. Companies will need to view those managing their social media as being on the “front lines” of a brand’s online customer service efforts. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated social media manager who can share content and engage a community online but also be a means of support to those asking questions.

33.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING – @dimplethakkar

Start planning a serious budget for social media advertising in 2013. Make sure you skip the promotional tone in your ad copy to build trust with followers. Consumers have an amazing radar for bullshit and your brand has a small window to make a good [first] impression.

34.  Caitlin Connors, Social Media Director at Boomtown Internet Group – @boomtownig

Social media is an elusive program for companies because it changes with your goals and with your audience and especially with technology. I predict that companies who use social media correctly, with an outsourced company that understands their brands and goals perfectly, will be overwhelmed with how much it can positively impact leads/conversions/sales.  In 2013, hopefully more people who claim to have an understanding of SMO will be aware of what effects ROI and how to customize SMO for each company. If they don’t (as many don’t know), leads aren’t happening and CEOs and Executives are doubting the effect of SMO. Customer Service could greatly benefit from SMO in 2013 with Twitter API’s for sites to have an “Ask Us Now” option to live chat, and a full-time Twitter manager to answer incoming questions. Google Hangout and new conversation management tools are now all in place to be utilized to find people having products with brands and services and actively seek them out to answer their qualms.

35.  Kevin Ohashi, Founder of Review Signal – @kevinohashi

I think the most important trend is customer service over social media.  Companies are more actively monitoring what is being said about them and consumers will become more empowered to see and react to the ways companies are engaging their customers. Access to information is democratizing and
consumers will be able to make decisions based on company behavior, and customer service is the biggest touch point between most companies and consumers.

36.  Adam Itkoff, Strategist at Fueled Mobile Design, NYC – @adamitkoff

As we look at growing usage trends across multiple social media platforms, we can only assume that these mediums will become more crucial to both business and sales. No longer must we ask, do we participate in Twitter or Facebook, but rather, how can we leverage these platforms best?  Look especially for Twitter and Instragram to keep growing strong.

37.  Flynn Zaiger, Founder of Online Optimism – @onlineoptimism

Social Media will help E-Commerce begin to surpass actual brick and mortar sales numbers. Expect Amazon to team up with either Facebook or Twitter to release an app that allows you to both see if a product is cheaper online, and also if your friends approve of how it looks.

38.  Melinda Janicki, Online Business Growth Catalyst, Internet Marketing Strategist & Implementation Expert – @melindajanicki

As social media moves from a simple networking site into being at the fore front of technology and SEO, I predict social media to be a must have customer services tool. Much like email has brought tech support
and customer service to a new level social media will be a must with apps, groups, Google+ hangouts, even Twitter chat rooms.

39.  Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. – @griotsroll

Social media will replace the business website. If you don’t have a social media page with information on your products, services on your about page you are not in business. People will judge you on how they can get in contact with you through your social media page. Your “About” page will be more important than your website and you better have links to any other social media pages you have.

40.  David Drake, The Soho Loft – @TSLCCevents

US SMEs will start embracing social media strategies and crowd funding will drive this for startups and local business as crowd funding for equity is implemented as a law.  Social media strategies will become more readily available to consulting firms helping small medium-sized enterprises with the winners being local businesses learning the tools to embrace their eco system.

41.  Alex Schenker, President at www.WeRockYourWeb.com  – @WeRockYourWeb

Marketers will need to use fewer words and more voice, video and images to connect with today’s overly stimulated consumer (e.g. Pinterest, Voxer, YouTube).  More filters will allow consumers to better target/find what they are looking for which will lead to more qualified sales’ leads. As we become more inundated with content, it will become more vital to have filters on how we choose to consume the content.  Mobile devices will continue to drive social media communication so the social media of choice may depend on which device you hold and the successful marketing efforts will be customized to that
platform. For example, Google Chat is not directly accessible via an app on an iPhone so they will likely turn to iMessage which allows you to text several people at once, creating your own “social network” for each message you create.

42.  Raghu Bala, Board Member at Fanggle – @raghurambala

Vertical social platforms will emerge to enable people with similar interests to share information (text, images/pictures, video) on topics of mutual interest. The current metrics – ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ – will give way to more meaningful means of measuring engagement. I also see social media becoming more immersed in everyday activity. For instance, with Google Glass combined with voice to text, one can automatically tweet and attach an image more naturally than currently possible.

43.  Ziggi Yaxley, Social Media Specialist at Bozboz, UK. – @ziggidotcom

Social media is instant, personal and available to everyone. It’s the new way to do customer service and it’s a way to connect with current and potential customers in exciting and innovative ways. It’s human.
2013 will see more businesses investing in social media for the first time and socially-equipped businesses allocating more resource to running their social media more efficiently.

44.  Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys – @ValaAfshar

A truly social enterprise is not just about technology, it is about lifestyle. Enterprises that collaborate socially (and not just through social media) with their customers and employees are able to not only grow mindshare, but also their business.  For example, at Enterasys, we believe there is nothing more important than our customers – internally and externally – so if both are delighted, we know we are doing our job socially now and into the future.

45. Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate

For marketers specifically, social media will continue to be a force in driving traffic to websites. Marketers will use social the same way that they’ve used pay-per-click and banner advertising in the past. However,
marketers need to take a careful look at metrics such as conversion rates before dedicating a huge chunk of the budget to advertizing on social media sites.

46.  Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations – @wjcorbett

The hype proliferated by “marketing” people about the tremendous business generating benefits of social media for small business will wind down. The reality will set in that social media marketing is only
part of an a comprehensive marketing plan which includes a digital media strategy. Businesses, particularly those in the business to business space, will recognize that they are not getting and probably will not get the ROI they need to continue to focus significant time, energy, effort and funds on social media marketing.

47.  Carrie Peterson, Social Media Director at Internet Marketing Inc. – @CarrieSavvy

2013 will be the year of social media mobile and tablet application for marketers. As consumers become more and more socially savvy and are using their mobile devices for research and purchases, it is imperative that marketers hop on the mobile train with a solid strategy and targeted ad campaigns. These campaigns should integrate behavioral targeting, relevant content per the niche demographic, and social share features to maximize reach and social word of mouth.

49.  Eric Courville, Director of Marketing and Alliances

Social media channels are creating more demand and opportunity for immediate content from brands. To take full advantage, marketers in 2013 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed and the tools necessary to easily track the use of all digital assets.

50.  Jane Horowitz, Founder of More Than A Resume

Today’s college student and those about to enter college (our next wave into the workplace) will reshape, along with new technologies the workplace over the next decade.  The way this generation, (Millennials) communicate in their social lives will be introduced to the workplace, and then transform it; fostering new ways of sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve outcomes. Goodbye email and PowerPoint presentations. Hello file-sharing, multi-media presentations.  Everything we use and come into contact with will be converted into data that will be available at our fingertips to make informed and therefore smarter decisions. Marketing, sales and customer service professional will need critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

51.  Ryan Aynes, Founder & Managing Director at EDGE Collective – @ryanaynes

There will be a larger demand to quantify social media impact and how that is impacting business performance. As spending becomes tighter due to the economy and a higher level of financial accountability takes place across organizations, agencies pitching social media will have to come up with their own annotations for “like” value.

There will also be a higher demand for integrating the entire marketing process. This means ad-buying teams will have to work more closely with social. The most effective strategies will be integrated paid, owned, and earned. Consumer analysis from each end educates the other on consumer behavior, which builds better forward strategies.

Mobile strategy will become the norm and not just an additional option. As more ways to reach consumers opens up through mobile experiences, brands and agencies will make the appropriate modifications to add this into their strategy and planning.

52.  Devin Redmond, CEO and Co-founder at Social iQ Networks – @DevinHRed

It’s very common these days to walk into a business and find that different departments all have their own social accounts and social marketing tools to connect with customers, recruit employees, and drive marketing campaigns. That new reality and infrastructure has become a rapidly increasing sprawl that can be disharmonious and prone to risk for their company and their own efforts. This will lead to a push toward greater social infrastructure management as companies try to get a handle on social media sprawl to improve their efforts without having to worrying about mishaps, abuse, and social media mistakes.

53.  Rick Mathieson, author of Branding Unbound and The On-Demand Brand – @rickmathieson

Look for a nascent social media backlash to gain traction among consumers and the brands trying to connect with them. While 20% of Facebook users say they log on once or twice a day, 52% say they plan to spend less time there in the future ­ and that’s an emerging dynamic across the socialsphere. In 2013, look for a new emphasis on quality of engagement versus quantity.  When engaging in social media, look for the emphasis for many brands to finally move away from “How” the mechanics of going social to the “Why”,  by clarifying objectives and building social media strategies to meet them.

54.  Molly Glover Gallatin, VP of Marketing at Compass Labs – @CompassLabs

As marketers we need to stop being hyper-focused on the immediate ROI question around social media (I know, it’s hard!), and instead get our management team focused on another question: What have I learned today from my customers? The future will be best for those who stop marketing and speaking *at* their audience and start creating dialogues instead. Content strategy should include conversations – they are the most critical element of social media – hence, the “social,” and they increase brand affinity and tip the scales in your favor regarding revenue, as well.

Free Webcast:  Join us on December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, as Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.

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Bhavya Kamaraj

About Bhavya Kamaraj

Bhavya Kamaraj is an Industry Value Advisor for SAP ANZ. She has over 6.5 years of work experience in Financial Services - as a Developer, Techno-Functional Banking Consultant and Industry Value Advisor. During this tenure in the Industry, she have gained rich experience in SAP Development, SAP Consulting, Management Consulting, Value Advisory, Enterprise Architecture, Design Thinking and Business Development.

The Future of Social Media: 50+ Experts Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice

The world of social media underwent major changes in 2012.

We saw the addition of Facebook Timelines for Fan Pages, the rise of Pinterest, revamped LinkedIn Company Pages, improved Twitter profile pages, and the increasing pressure to prove social media ROI.

As more companies begin leveraging social media for marketing, sales and customer service, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve.

On December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore will participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.  We hope you will join us and in the meantime please enjoy the following predications from over 50 thought leaders.

The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

1.  Jason Stein, Founder and President of 24/7 Laundry Service – @jasonwstein

Social media has completely blurred the lines between all aspects of marketing. We live in a world where Facebook posts double as paid ads, and people’s tweets are a form of journalism. As a result, in the new year brands will really embrace the concept of “converged media,” and see owned, earned and paid as a unified program. This is the future of B2C communications.

2.  Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing and Sales at Awareness, Inc. – @bostonmike

Small and mid-sized market will be revolutionized by social customer acquisition at scale. Specifically, new social profiling and scoring tools will allows marketers to analyze and apply custom segmentation logic to their social databases to meet specific customer acquisition and conversion goals. As a result companies will see a tangible social marketing ROI – increase in sales and customer retention.

3.  Natalie Bidnick, Account Supervisor and Social Media Strategist at The Marketing Zen Group – @NatalieBid

Social Media will become an essential – not optional – form of communicating with customers. More companies will use Facebok and Twitter to both listen to their customers, solicit feedback, and practice public crisis management.

4.  Zubin Mowlavi, CEO of Lucid Fusion – @ZubinMowlavi

2012 was the year of data and more specifically, data as it relates to the Social Interest Graph. People and companies shared content more than ever, and this data was organized around interests rather than personal relationships. This trend continues in 2013 with the Social Product Graph which highlights shifting the focus to the sharing and serving of actionable content around products of interest. By doing so, social media will become a social stream for product discovery and commerce, thereby driving sales.

5.  Jeremy Goldman, Entrepreneur, strategist, & author of the upcoming book, Going Social – @jeremarketer  

Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.

6.  Mike Wolfe, Founder & President, WAM Enterprises LLC – @WAMGolfs

Social Media will continue to grow in 2013 due to the increase usage of mobile technology, specifically smartphones. We can expect to see visual (images) to be a driving force and I believe an increase in internet video usage too.

7.  Patrick J. Sweeney II,­ featured contributor to Social Media Today and CNBC – @PJSweeney

The future of social media will evolve around the frictionless capturing of precious memories in the real world. When people are skiing, doing a triathlon, at a concert, or doing anything fun and engaging – mobile technology will enable them to capture the moment with very high quality pictures and video and instantly share online without lifting a finger. Brands will pay for or sponsor this infrastructure in order to have “product placement” on social media. See Cadbury at the Olympics for a great example.

8.  Kelby Brick, Esq., Vice President, Regulatory & Strategic Policy at Purple Communications, Inc. – @kelbybrick

In 2013 smart businesses will emphasize using social media for personal interactions and connections with their customers. This is different from 2012 where macro blasts were the norm. Personal connections result in a more loyal and valued customer base.

9.  Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21 – @CreativeIthink

The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary aged children.
Now that the majority of society has adopted social expectations have changed. Those expectations will dramatically affect customer service, marketing and sales.

Customer Service – People know they don’t have to wait on the phone to get help, they can tweet. This makes it easy for the customer to let the brand know about any and all problems. So any company who went ahead and distributed products with minor flaws in hopes that the customer wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of a return or exchange will have a rude awakening. Many companies have adopted social media as a customer service tool purely for the fact that they can look good in front of thousands of potential customers. This year companies will start adopting it out of necessity. If a customer who doesn’t want to talk to a machine or wait on hold for 20 minutes, they are going to reach out via social. If you
don’t answer and they HAVE to call, they are going to be highly irritated and more demanding, ultimately costing the company more money.

Marketing – Having a presence on social media has become (or will soon) as important as having a website. Not being on social means you’re missing out on big opportunities in search engine real estate and with your customers. More firms will add social media to their offerings and the smartest ones
already have. We should have realized by now that it’s not a stand along media channel, it’s an essential part of a successful media mix.

Sales – Social media has become a powerful tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can generate leads and drive buyer traffic to a specific product. Sales teams will evolve to include a digital lead generation
specialist and marketing strategies will be broadened as location isn’t as much of an issue when you’re running a powerful social platform.

10.  Joey Sargent, Principal, BrandSprout Advisors – @brandsprout

In 2013, we’ll see more social maturity in both B2C and B2B applications. Business will get “social smarts” and more fully integrate social media into their day-to-day operations across the organization. This means less social for social’s sake, and more focus on social media as a legitimate business tool to facilitate communication, engagement and loyalty.

11.  Beverly Solomon, Creative Director at musee-solomon

People are over saturated with social media. They will gradually remove themselves from all but a few networks, blogs, etc. So many ads come in everyday that they have lost their impact. Most
people just delete them before reading them.  Social media will function more to alert friends of rip-offs than to encourage sales.  Only the most clever sales campaigns will have any impact.  More and more advertisers will be leaving social media and returning to snail mail, print and other traditional ads.  Social media will continue to be a dating hook up, gossip fest and avenue for “gurus” to sell seminars. But real businesses will use social media less and less.

12.  Caroline Kornowicz, Social Media Manager for CliqStudios Cabinets – @CarolineSofiaK

The future of social media lies heavily in images, video and interaction for the user. It is exploring our senses further with sight, sound and touch. We are seeing current trends with infographs and statistics speak for themselves that an image or video provides higher engagement than plain text posts.

13.  Melissa Brodsky, co-founder of Smart Savvy Social – @smartsavvysoc

More and more brands will realize the importance and relevance of social media and begin to grow their online footprint. Also, I believe that Facebook will eventually burn too many bridges and a new network will become dominant, one that WANTS to help brands instead of only themselves.

14.  Brittany Dowell, Director of Publication Relations at Digital Talent Agents

Social media use is not going anywhere but up in 2013. Companies will hire more full-time employees dedicated solely to engaging with customers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. With customer service moving to more online interaction, we could see the need for traditional office space steadily decline.

15.  Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers – @jpretz

Going into 2013 social media will impact sales more than any other metric because of the continued integration as a marketing platform and the acceptance of users to be marketed to. In 2011, almost 70% of users said that no social media platform influenced their buying decision and in 2012, that was cut in half to 35%. In 2013, this number will be decreased significantly again because these sites have become an integral way to gain access to information on companies, promotions and products.

16.  Amanda Vega – @amandavega

Social media will continue to have direct and indirect impact on sales in 2013. Consumers will continue to expect an immediate response to their needs online, and a lack of timely response will have a hard-to-measure, but certain impact on brand satisfaction and recommendations.

17.  Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group and Author of “Cloud Surfing: A New Way
to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success” –
@tkspeaks

The greatest shift in Social media over the next year will be the maturing of “behavioral business models” that use a deep and comprehensive cross platform understanding of consumer and enterprise
online behaviors as the basis for predictive analytics about their interests and habits. Companies that own the broadest range of platforms such as Apple and Google will be able to track online consumer activity
in ways that create enormous value for retailers. The same is true of enterprise applications of social media where online B2B transactions are being collected and analyzed by companies such as E2Open, which have created a similar capability in projecting future behaviors of markets in order to dynamically alter supply chains in real time to meet the needs of consumers. This notion of using behavior to predict the future will be a critical contribution of social media in an increasingly uncertain world.

18.  Joey Beachum, Digital Content Specialist at Markstein Consulting – @MarksteinChats

As wireless technology advances and smartphones continue to proliferate (they’re projected to form 54% of the total mobile phone market in 2013), consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion. This gives sales professionals even more of an opportunity at something I call ‘mass direct access’: reaching out directly to consumers on an individual level, like with a traditional sales approach, yet on a mass scale. More socially-connected consumers equal more potential touch-points and more sales opportunities.

19.  Kurt Uhlir, Cofounder and Chief Servant at Buzztastic – @KurtUhlir

There is a great wave of un-liking/un-following that will hit brands, at the least we will see people unselect “show in newsfeed” on Facebook. Consumers want higher quality content than what most brands are offering. This is a huge opportunity for brands offering engaging content that know how to activate an audience.

20.  Aalap Shah, co-founder at SoMe Connect – @some_connect

A companies mobile/tablet strategy (or lack thereof will define sales & marketing success for brands and companies in 2013. Consumers can access apps that display social data and activity of their friends anywhere and at anytime and retailers and brands need to have a consistent and clear message to push across social media channels. Without a mobile strategy, most companies will see their sales go to competitors that are where their customers are consuming information.

21.  Ed McMasters, Director of Marketing & Communication at Flottman Company

The future of social media for B2B will be held in the hands of LinkedIn – the new advances of LinkedIn make it a true Business To Business relationship builder. People that have their profiles at 100% and
continue to update them will have the biggest advantages. Knowledge that posting monthly or bi-weekly updates to your profile puts you in front of clients and potential clients is just like advertising only a
lot less expensive. I am a firm believer that LinkedIn will be the Social Media BIG GUY of the future.

22.  Sheryl Johnson, Founder of BD-PRo Marketing Solutions – @BD_PRoMarketing

Social media is here to stay. I predict that social media will evolve into a powerful knowledge management system that leverages virtual connections while capturing valuable information. The biggest challenge moving forward is to create a method of harnessing and connecting this data from all sources in a meaningful, searchable way.

23.  Ty Kiisel, Director of Content Marketing at Lendio – @tykiisel

I don’ think there’s any question that social media has become a relevant part of many brand discussions over the last few years generally, and 2012 in particular. However, more and more marketing leaders are finding that being social just to be social isn’t gaining them the traction in the marketplace they might have hoped. 2013 will see a greater focus on the creation of relevant and substantive content creation initiatives that provide value to customers that will ultimately create greater affinity for those brands that are most successful.

24.  Valerie Jennings, CEO of Viral Bolt Media and Jennings Social Media Marketing – @valeriejennings

Sales and marketing will continue to be impacted by organic SEO and SMO via social media. One major change may be the shift away from exclusively focusing on Facebook as a business sales and marketing tool and moving into more advanced programs including sales and marketing strategies that generate sales on Pinterest, Google+ and even FourSquare. If these platforms do not support sales and marketing strategies, other platforms via social networks will evolve quickly in the marketplace until there is one sold and remarkably profitable solution.

25.  Vickens Moscova, Owner/President of VM Enterprises – @VickensMoscova

I predict more and more people will get focused on utilizing social media to build their own personal brands, while more brands and businesses will realize that the control of their brand has shifted to having consumers having more control over their choices.

26.  Joan Barrett, Owner of The Content Factory – @ContentFac

My prediction is that social media will continue to have a strong impact on SEO, especially with Google
Algorithms becoming more and more personalized. The more social shares an article or site has, the higher it is going to rank.

27.  Tom Corson-Knowles, best-selling author of How To Make Money With Twitter – @JuiceTom

In 2013, we’ll see a lot more companies turning to social media primarily for customer service. We’ve already seen American Airlines cut down their phone service and instead encouraging customers to talk on Twitter if they need customer support. A lot more big companies will follow this trend in an effort to reduce overhead and expand their social media presence.

28.  Jeff Browning, Sr Director, Online Strategy at F5 Networks – @jeffbrowning

2013 is the year social leaps beyond projection / syndication and becomes more about listening, understanding, and driving better products and relationships that drive business. Vendors and agencies that provide useful big data analytics (ideally blending the inside and outside the enterprise) will become big dollar rockstars. Over 50% of C-level will finally realize social does not equal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

29. Jim Caruso, marketing strategist & CEO at MediaFirst PR – @jimcaruso

Facebook will matter more for B2B, as will FB advertising, since stock price matters when you are a public company.  LinkedIn with matter more across industries and new players, like Pinterest, will continue to disrupt the big players in social media

30.  James Medd, Social Media Marketing Manager at Emailvision – @jamespmedd

In 2013, I predict brands will grow their investments in social customer service to better serve customers who engage with them through social media channels – who have been shown to spend 20% to 40% more than customers who are not socially engaged.

As social customer service matures, I expect to see more integration of technology platforms from traditional customer services with social monitoring and team collaboration. This will enable customers to receive the same level of support and information, regardless of their communication channel preference.

31.  Ryan Schram, CMO of IZEA – @ryanschram

Today’s consumer demands a genuine relationship with the brands they love; nowhere is that more apparent than in social, where soft-selling, brand-building, and real-time problem solving comes into the main more and more each day.   Brands are utilizing a diverse array of tools and resources to
maximize their presence on the social web, including the compensation of social influencers to promote products and services (known as Social Media Sponsorship).   The 2012 State of Social Media Sponsorship study indicated that almost 60% of brands have a stand-alone social marketing budget with that amount having increased dramatically since 2009.

32.  Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-Founder of Voices.com – @stephciccarelli

Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments will need to work together to engage, sell and retain customers who choose to interact with a brand online via social networks. Companies will need to view those managing their social media as being on the “front lines” of a brand’s online customer service efforts. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated social media manager who can share content and engage a community online but also be a means of support to those asking questions.

33.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING – @dimplethakkar

Start planning a serious budget for social media advertising in 2013. Make sure you skip the promotional tone in your ad copy to build trust with followers. Consumers have an amazing radar for bullshit and your brand has a small window to make a good [first] impression.

34.  Caitlin Connors, Social Media Director at Boomtown Internet Group – @boomtownig

Social media is an elusive program for companies because it changes with your goals and with your audience and especially with technology. I predict that companies who use social media correctly, with an outsourced company that understands their brands and goals perfectly, will be overwhelmed with how much it can positively impact leads/conversions/sales.  In 2013, hopefully more people who claim to have an understanding of SMO will be aware of what effects ROI and how to customize SMO for each company. If they don’t (as many don’t know), leads aren’t happening and CEOs and Executives are doubting the effect of SMO. Customer Service could greatly benefit from SMO in 2013 with Twitter API’s for sites to have an “Ask Us Now” option to live chat, and a full-time Twitter manager to answer incoming questions. Google Hangout and new conversation management tools are now all in place to be utilized to find people having products with brands and services and actively seek them out to answer their qualms.

35.  Kevin Ohashi, Founder of Review Signal – @kevinohashi

I think the most important trend is customer service over social media.  Companies are more actively monitoring what is being said about them and consumers will become more empowered to see and react to the ways companies are engaging their customers. Access to information is democratizing and
consumers will be able to make decisions based on company behavior, and customer service is the biggest touch point between most companies and consumers.

36.  Adam Itkoff, Strategist at Fueled Mobile Design, NYC – @adamitkoff

As we look at growing usage trends across multiple social media platforms, we can only assume that these mediums will become more crucial to both business and sales. No longer must we ask, do we participate in Twitter or Facebook, but rather, how can we leverage these platforms best?  Look especially for Twitter and Instragram to keep growing strong.

37.  Flynn Zaiger, Founder of Online Optimism – @onlineoptimism

Social Media will help E-Commerce begin to surpass actual brick and mortar sales numbers. Expect Amazon to team up with either Facebook or Twitter to release an app that allows you to both see if a product is cheaper online, and also if your friends approve of how it looks.

38.  Melinda Janicki, Online Business Growth Catalyst, Internet Marketing Strategist & Implementation Expert – @melindajanicki

As social media moves from a simple networking site into being at the fore front of technology and SEO, I predict social media to be a must have customer services tool. Much like email has brought tech support
and customer service to a new level social media will be a must with apps, groups, Google+ hangouts, even Twitter chat rooms.

39.  Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. – @griotsroll

Social media will replace the business website. If you don’t have a social media page with information on your products, services on your about page you are not in business. People will judge you on how they can get in contact with you through your social media page. Your “About” page will be more important than your website and you better have links to any other social media pages you have.

40.  David Drake, The Soho Loft – @TSLCCevents

US SMEs will start embracing social media strategies and crowd funding will drive this for startups and local business as crowd funding for equity is implemented as a law.  Social media strategies will become more readily available to consulting firms helping small medium-sized enterprises with the winners being local businesses learning the tools to embrace their eco system.

41.  Alex Schenker, President at www.WeRockYourWeb.com  – @WeRockYourWeb

Marketers will need to use fewer words and more voice, video and images to connect with today’s overly stimulated consumer (e.g. Pinterest, Voxer, YouTube).  More filters will allow consumers to better target/find what they are looking for which will lead to more qualified sales’ leads. As we become more inundated with content, it will become more vital to have filters on how we choose to consume the content.  Mobile devices will continue to drive social media communication so the social media of choice may depend on which device you hold and the successful marketing efforts will be customized to that
platform. For example, Google Chat is not directly accessible via an app on an iPhone so they will likely turn to iMessage which allows you to text several people at once, creating your own “social network” for each message you create.

42.  Raghu Bala, Board Member at Fanggle – @raghurambala

Vertical social platforms will emerge to enable people with similar interests to share information (text, images/pictures, video) on topics of mutual interest. The current metrics – ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ – will give way to more meaningful means of measuring engagement. I also see social media becoming more immersed in everyday activity. For instance, with Google Glass combined with voice to text, one can automatically tweet and attach an image more naturally than currently possible.

43.  Ziggi Yaxley, Social Media Specialist at Bozboz, UK. – @ziggidotcom

Social media is instant, personal and available to everyone. It’s the new way to do customer service and it’s a way to connect with current and potential customers in exciting and innovative ways. It’s human.
2013 will see more businesses investing in social media for the first time and socially-equipped businesses allocating more resource to running their social media more efficiently.

44.  Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys – @ValaAfshar

A truly social enterprise is not just about technology, it is about lifestyle. Enterprises that collaborate socially (and not just through social media) with their customers and employees are able to not only grow mindshare, but also their business.  For example, at Enterasys, we believe there is nothing more important than our customers – internally and externally – so if both are delighted, we know we are doing our job socially now and into the future.

45. Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate

For marketers specifically, social media will continue to be a force in driving traffic to websites. Marketers will use social the same way that they’ve used pay-per-click and banner advertising in the past. However,
marketers need to take a careful look at metrics such as conversion rates before dedicating a huge chunk of the budget to advertizing on social media sites.

46.  Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations – @wjcorbett

The hype proliferated by “marketing” people about the tremendous business generating benefits of social media for small business will wind down. The reality will set in that social media marketing is only
part of an a comprehensive marketing plan which includes a digital media strategy. Businesses, particularly those in the business to business space, will recognize that they are not getting and probably will not get the ROI they need to continue to focus significant time, energy, effort and funds on social media marketing.

47.  Carrie Peterson, Social Media Director at Internet Marketing Inc. – @CarrieSavvy

2013 will be the year of social media mobile and tablet application for marketers. As consumers become more and more socially savvy and are using their mobile devices for research and purchases, it is imperative that marketers hop on the mobile train with a solid strategy and targeted ad campaigns. These campaigns should integrate behavioral targeting, relevant content per the niche demographic, and social share features to maximize reach and social word of mouth.

49.  Eric Courville, Director of Marketing and Alliances

Social media channels are creating more demand and opportunity for immediate content from brands. To take full advantage, marketers in 2013 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed and the tools necessary to easily track the use of all digital assets.

50.  Jane Horowitz, Founder of More Than A Resume

Today’s college student and those about to enter college (our next wave into the workplace) will reshape, along with new technologies the workplace over the next decade.  The way this generation, (Millennials) communicate in their social lives will be introduced to the workplace, and then transform it; fostering new ways of sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve outcomes. Goodbye email and PowerPoint presentations. Hello file-sharing, multi-media presentations.  Everything we use and come into contact with will be converted into data that will be available at our fingertips to make informed and therefore smarter decisions. Marketing, sales and customer service professional will need critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

51.  Ryan Aynes, Founder & Managing Director at EDGE Collective – @ryanaynes

There will be a larger demand to quantify social media impact and how that is impacting business performance. As spending becomes tighter due to the economy and a higher level of financial accountability takes place across organizations, agencies pitching social media will have to come up with their own annotations for “like” value.

There will also be a higher demand for integrating the entire marketing process. This means ad-buying teams will have to work more closely with social. The most effective strategies will be integrated paid, owned, and earned. Consumer analysis from each end educates the other on consumer behavior, which builds better forward strategies.

Mobile strategy will become the norm and not just an additional option. As more ways to reach consumers opens up through mobile experiences, brands and agencies will make the appropriate modifications to add this into their strategy and planning.

52.  Devin Redmond, CEO and Co-founder at Social iQ Networks – @DevinHRed

It’s very common these days to walk into a business and find that different departments all have their own social accounts and social marketing tools to connect with customers, recruit employees, and drive marketing campaigns. That new reality and infrastructure has become a rapidly increasing sprawl that can be disharmonious and prone to risk for their company and their own efforts. This will lead to a push toward greater social infrastructure management as companies try to get a handle on social media sprawl to improve their efforts without having to worrying about mishaps, abuse, and social media mistakes.

53.  Rick Mathieson, author of Branding Unbound and The On-Demand Brand – @rickmathieson

Look for a nascent social media backlash to gain traction among consumers and the brands trying to connect with them. While 20% of Facebook users say they log on once or twice a day, 52% say they plan to spend less time there in the future ­ and that’s an emerging dynamic across the socialsphere. In 2013, look for a new emphasis on quality of engagement versus quantity.  When engaging in social media, look for the emphasis for many brands to finally move away from “How” the mechanics of going social to the “Why”,  by clarifying objectives and building social media strategies to meet them.

54.  Molly Glover Gallatin, VP of Marketing at Compass Labs – @CompassLabs

As marketers we need to stop being hyper-focused on the immediate ROI question around social media (I know, it’s hard!), and instead get our management team focused on another question: What have I learned today from my customers? The future will be best for those who stop marketing and speaking *at* their audience and start creating dialogues instead. Content strategy should include conversations – they are the most critical element of social media – hence, the “social,” and they increase brand affinity and tip the scales in your favor regarding revenue, as well.

Free Webcast:  Join us on December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, as Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.

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Tony Klimas

About Tony Klimas

Tony Klimas, global finance practice leader with EY, LLP, is a member of EY’s Advisory Executive team with global responsibility for the Finance consulting practice. He is an experienced consultant with 20+ years of experience across a variety of industries. His areas of expertise include finance strategy and transformation, shared services/offshoring, and BPO advisory. Tony also has significant experience with finance and accounting systems and has traveled and worked extensively in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. He spent most of his consulting career in the Southeast U.S. before moving to the greater New York City area in 2009.

The Future of Social Media: 50+ Experts Share Their 2013 Predictions

Brian Rice

The world of social media underwent major changes in 2012.

We saw the addition of Facebook Timelines for Fan Pages, the rise of Pinterest, revamped LinkedIn Company Pages, improved Twitter profile pages, and the increasing pressure to prove social media ROI.

As more companies begin leveraging social media for marketing, sales and customer service, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve.

On December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore will participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.  We hope you will join us and in the meantime please enjoy the following predications from over 50 thought leaders.

The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

1.  Jason Stein, Founder and President of 24/7 Laundry Service – @jasonwstein

Social media has completely blurred the lines between all aspects of marketing. We live in a world where Facebook posts double as paid ads, and people’s tweets are a form of journalism. As a result, in the new year brands will really embrace the concept of “converged media,” and see owned, earned and paid as a unified program. This is the future of B2C communications.

2.  Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing and Sales at Awareness, Inc. – @bostonmike

Small and mid-sized market will be revolutionized by social customer acquisition at scale. Specifically, new social profiling and scoring tools will allows marketers to analyze and apply custom segmentation logic to their social databases to meet specific customer acquisition and conversion goals. As a result companies will see a tangible social marketing ROI – increase in sales and customer retention.

3.  Natalie Bidnick, Account Supervisor and Social Media Strategist at The Marketing Zen Group – @NatalieBid

Social Media will become an essential – not optional – form of communicating with customers. More companies will use Facebok and Twitter to both listen to their customers, solicit feedback, and practice public crisis management.

4.  Zubin Mowlavi, CEO of Lucid Fusion – @ZubinMowlavi

2012 was the year of data and more specifically, data as it relates to the Social Interest Graph. People and companies shared content more than ever, and this data was organized around interests rather than personal relationships. This trend continues in 2013 with the Social Product Graph which highlights shifting the focus to the sharing and serving of actionable content around products of interest. By doing so, social media will become a social stream for product discovery and commerce, thereby driving sales.

5.  Jeremy Goldman, Entrepreneur, strategist, & author of the upcoming book, Going Social – @jeremarketer  

Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.

6.  Mike Wolfe, Founder & President, WAM Enterprises LLC – @WAMGolfs

Social Media will continue to grow in 2013 due to the increase usage of mobile technology, specifically smartphones. We can expect to see visual (images) to be a driving force and I believe an increase in internet video usage too.

7.  Patrick J. Sweeney II,­ featured contributor to Social Media Today and CNBC – @PJSweeney

The future of social media will evolve around the frictionless capturing of precious memories in the real world. When people are skiing, doing a triathlon, at a concert, or doing anything fun and engaging – mobile technology will enable them to capture the moment with very high quality pictures and video and instantly share online without lifting a finger. Brands will pay for or sponsor this infrastructure in order to have “product placement” on social media. See Cadbury at the Olympics for a great example.

8.  Kelby Brick, Esq., Vice President, Regulatory & Strategic Policy at Purple Communications, Inc. – @kelbybrick

In 2013 smart businesses will emphasize using social media for personal interactions and connections with their customers. This is different from 2012 where macro blasts were the norm. Personal connections result in a more loyal and valued customer base.

9.  Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21 – @CreativeIthink

The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary aged children.
Now that the majority of society has adopted social expectations have changed. Those expectations will dramatically affect customer service, marketing and sales.

Customer Service – People know they don’t have to wait on the phone to get help, they can tweet. This makes it easy for the customer to let the brand know about any and all problems. So any company who went ahead and distributed products with minor flaws in hopes that the customer wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of a return or exchange will have a rude awakening. Many companies have adopted social media as a customer service tool purely for the fact that they can look good in front of thousands of potential customers. This year companies will start adopting it out of necessity. If a customer who doesn’t want to talk to a machine or wait on hold for 20 minutes, they are going to reach out via social. If you
don’t answer and they HAVE to call, they are going to be highly irritated and more demanding, ultimately costing the company more money.

Marketing – Having a presence on social media has become (or will soon) as important as having a website. Not being on social means you’re missing out on big opportunities in search engine real estate and with your customers. More firms will add social media to their offerings and the smartest ones
already have. We should have realized by now that it’s not a stand along media channel, it’s an essential part of a successful media mix.

Sales – Social media has become a powerful tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can generate leads and drive buyer traffic to a specific product. Sales teams will evolve to include a digital lead generation
specialist and marketing strategies will be broadened as location isn’t as much of an issue when you’re running a powerful social platform.

10.  Joey Sargent, Principal, BrandSprout Advisors – @brandsprout

In 2013, we’ll see more social maturity in both B2C and B2B applications. Business will get “social smarts” and more fully integrate social media into their day-to-day operations across the organization. This means less social for social’s sake, and more focus on social media as a legitimate business tool to facilitate communication, engagement and loyalty.

11.  Beverly Solomon, Creative Director at musee-solomon

People are over saturated with social media. They will gradually remove themselves from all but a few networks, blogs, etc. So many ads come in everyday that they have lost their impact. Most
people just delete them before reading them.  Social media will function more to alert friends of rip-offs than to encourage sales.  Only the most clever sales campaigns will have any impact.  More and more advertisers will be leaving social media and returning to snail mail, print and other traditional ads.  Social media will continue to be a dating hook up, gossip fest and avenue for “gurus” to sell seminars. But real businesses will use social media less and less.

12.  Caroline Kornowicz, Social Media Manager for CliqStudios Cabinets – @CarolineSofiaK

The future of social media lies heavily in images, video and interaction for the user. It is exploring our senses further with sight, sound and touch. We are seeing current trends with infographs and statistics speak for themselves that an image or video provides higher engagement than plain text posts.

13.  Melissa Brodsky, co-founder of Smart Savvy Social – @smartsavvysoc

More and more brands will realize the importance and relevance of social media and begin to grow their online footprint. Also, I believe that Facebook will eventually burn too many bridges and a new network will become dominant, one that WANTS to help brands instead of only themselves.

14.  Brittany Dowell, Director of Publication Relations at Digital Talent Agents

Social media use is not going anywhere but up in 2013. Companies will hire more full-time employees dedicated solely to engaging with customers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. With customer service moving to more online interaction, we could see the need for traditional office space steadily decline.

15.  Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers – @jpretz

Going into 2013 social media will impact sales more than any other metric because of the continued integration as a marketing platform and the acceptance of users to be marketed to. In 2011, almost 70% of users said that no social media platform influenced their buying decision and in 2012, that was cut in half to 35%. In 2013, this number will be decreased significantly again because these sites have become an integral way to gain access to information on companies, promotions and products.

16.  Amanda Vega – @amandavega

Social media will continue to have direct and indirect impact on sales in 2013. Consumers will continue to expect an immediate response to their needs online, and a lack of timely response will have a hard-to-measure, but certain impact on brand satisfaction and recommendations.

17.  Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group and Author of “Cloud Surfing: A New Way
to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success” –
@tkspeaks

The greatest shift in Social media over the next year will be the maturing of “behavioral business models” that use a deep and comprehensive cross platform understanding of consumer and enterprise
online behaviors as the basis for predictive analytics about their interests and habits. Companies that own the broadest range of platforms such as Apple and Google will be able to track online consumer activity
in ways that create enormous value for retailers. The same is true of enterprise applications of social media where online B2B transactions are being collected and analyzed by companies such as E2Open, which have created a similar capability in projecting future behaviors of markets in order to dynamically alter supply chains in real time to meet the needs of consumers. This notion of using behavior to predict the future will be a critical contribution of social media in an increasingly uncertain world.

18.  Joey Beachum, Digital Content Specialist at Markstein Consulting – @MarksteinChats

As wireless technology advances and smartphones continue to proliferate (they’re projected to form 54% of the total mobile phone market in 2013), consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion. This gives sales professionals even more of an opportunity at something I call ‘mass direct access’: reaching out directly to consumers on an individual level, like with a traditional sales approach, yet on a mass scale. More socially-connected consumers equal more potential touch-points and more sales opportunities.

19.  Kurt Uhlir, Cofounder and Chief Servant at Buzztastic – @KurtUhlir

There is a great wave of un-liking/un-following that will hit brands, at the least we will see people unselect “show in newsfeed” on Facebook. Consumers want higher quality content than what most brands are offering. This is a huge opportunity for brands offering engaging content that know how to activate an audience.

20.  Aalap Shah, co-founder at SoMe Connect – @some_connect

A companies mobile/tablet strategy (or lack thereof will define sales & marketing success for brands and companies in 2013. Consumers can access apps that display social data and activity of their friends anywhere and at anytime and retailers and brands need to have a consistent and clear message to push across social media channels. Without a mobile strategy, most companies will see their sales go to competitors that are where their customers are consuming information.

21.  Ed McMasters, Director of Marketing & Communication at Flottman Company

The future of social media for B2B will be held in the hands of LinkedIn – the new advances of LinkedIn make it a true Business To Business relationship builder. People that have their profiles at 100% and
continue to update them will have the biggest advantages. Knowledge that posting monthly or bi-weekly updates to your profile puts you in front of clients and potential clients is just like advertising only a
lot less expensive. I am a firm believer that LinkedIn will be the Social Media BIG GUY of the future.

22.  Sheryl Johnson, Founder of BD-PRo Marketing Solutions – @BD_PRoMarketing

Social media is here to stay. I predict that social media will evolve into a powerful knowledge management system that leverages virtual connections while capturing valuable information. The biggest challenge moving forward is to create a method of harnessing and connecting this data from all sources in a meaningful, searchable way.

23.  Ty Kiisel, Director of Content Marketing at Lendio – @tykiisel

I don’ think there’s any question that social media has become a relevant part of many brand discussions over the last few years generally, and 2012 in particular. However, more and more marketing leaders are finding that being social just to be social isn’t gaining them the traction in the marketplace they might have hoped. 2013 will see a greater focus on the creation of relevant and substantive content creation initiatives that provide value to customers that will ultimately create greater affinity for those brands that are most successful.

24.  Valerie Jennings, CEO of Viral Bolt Media and Jennings Social Media Marketing – @valeriejennings

Sales and marketing will continue to be impacted by organic SEO and SMO via social media. One major change may be the shift away from exclusively focusing on Facebook as a business sales and marketing tool and moving into more advanced programs including sales and marketing strategies that generate sales on Pinterest, Google+ and even FourSquare. If these platforms do not support sales and marketing strategies, other platforms via social networks will evolve quickly in the marketplace until there is one sold and remarkably profitable solution.

25.  Vickens Moscova, Owner/President of VM Enterprises – @VickensMoscova

I predict more and more people will get focused on utilizing social media to build their own personal brands, while more brands and businesses will realize that the control of their brand has shifted to having consumers having more control over their choices.

26.  Joan Barrett, Owner of The Content Factory – @ContentFac

My prediction is that social media will continue to have a strong impact on SEO, especially with Google
Algorithms becoming more and more personalized. The more social shares an article or site has, the higher it is going to rank.

27.  Tom Corson-Knowles, best-selling author of How To Make Money With Twitter – @JuiceTom

In 2013, we’ll see a lot more companies turning to social media primarily for customer service. We’ve already seen American Airlines cut down their phone service and instead encouraging customers to talk on Twitter if they need customer support. A lot more big companies will follow this trend in an effort to reduce overhead and expand their social media presence.

28.  Jeff Browning, Sr Director, Online Strategy at F5 Networks – @jeffbrowning

2013 is the year social leaps beyond projection / syndication and becomes more about listening, understanding, and driving better products and relationships that drive business. Vendors and agencies that provide useful big data analytics (ideally blending the inside and outside the enterprise) will become big dollar rockstars. Over 50% of C-level will finally realize social does not equal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

29. Jim Caruso, marketing strategist & CEO at MediaFirst PR – @jimcaruso

Facebook will matter more for B2B, as will FB advertising, since stock price matters when you are a public company.  LinkedIn with matter more across industries and new players, like Pinterest, will continue to disrupt the big players in social media

30.  James Medd, Social Media Marketing Manager at Emailvision – @jamespmedd

In 2013, I predict brands will grow their investments in social customer service to better serve customers who engage with them through social media channels – who have been shown to spend 20% to 40% more than customers who are not socially engaged.

As social customer service matures, I expect to see more integration of technology platforms from traditional customer services with social monitoring and team collaboration. This will enable customers to receive the same level of support and information, regardless of their communication channel preference.

31.  Ryan Schram, CMO of IZEA – @ryanschram

Today’s consumer demands a genuine relationship with the brands they love; nowhere is that more apparent than in social, where soft-selling, brand-building, and real-time problem solving comes into the main more and more each day.   Brands are utilizing a diverse array of tools and resources to
maximize their presence on the social web, including the compensation of social influencers to promote products and services (known as Social Media Sponsorship).   The 2012 State of Social Media Sponsorship study indicated that almost 60% of brands have a stand-alone social marketing budget with that amount having increased dramatically since 2009.

32.  Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-Founder of Voices.com – @stephciccarelli

Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments will need to work together to engage, sell and retain customers who choose to interact with a brand online via social networks. Companies will need to view those managing their social media as being on the “front lines” of a brand’s online customer service efforts. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated social media manager who can share content and engage a community online but also be a means of support to those asking questions.

33.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING – @dimplethakkar

Start planning a serious budget for social media advertising in 2013. Make sure you skip the promotional tone in your ad copy to build trust with followers. Consumers have an amazing radar for bullshit and your brand has a small window to make a good [first] impression.

34.  Caitlin Connors, Social Media Director at Boomtown Internet Group – @boomtownig

Social media is an elusive program for companies because it changes with your goals and with your audience and especially with technology. I predict that companies who use social media correctly, with an outsourced company that understands their brands and goals perfectly, will be overwhelmed with how much it can positively impact leads/conversions/sales.  In 2013, hopefully more people who claim to have an understanding of SMO will be aware of what effects ROI and how to customize SMO for each company. If they don’t (as many don’t know), leads aren’t happening and CEOs and Executives are doubting the effect of SMO. Customer Service could greatly benefit from SMO in 2013 with Twitter API’s for sites to have an “Ask Us Now” option to live chat, and a full-time Twitter manager to answer incoming questions. Google Hangout and new conversation management tools are now all in place to be utilized to find people having products with brands and services and actively seek them out to answer their qualms.

35.  Kevin Ohashi, Founder of Review Signal – @kevinohashi

I think the most important trend is customer service over social media.  Companies are more actively monitoring what is being said about them and consumers will become more empowered to see and react to the ways companies are engaging their customers. Access to information is democratizing and
consumers will be able to make decisions based on company behavior, and customer service is the biggest touch point between most companies and consumers.

36.  Adam Itkoff, Strategist at Fueled Mobile Design, NYC – @adamitkoff

As we look at growing usage trends across multiple social media platforms, we can only assume that these mediums will become more crucial to both business and sales. No longer must we ask, do we participate in Twitter or Facebook, but rather, how can we leverage these platforms best?  Look especially for Twitter and Instragram to keep growing strong.

37.  Flynn Zaiger, Founder of Online Optimism – @onlineoptimism

Social Media will help E-Commerce begin to surpass actual brick and mortar sales numbers. Expect Amazon to team up with either Facebook or Twitter to release an app that allows you to both see if a product is cheaper online, and also if your friends approve of how it looks.

38.  Melinda Janicki, Online Business Growth Catalyst, Internet Marketing Strategist & Implementation Expert – @melindajanicki

As social media moves from a simple networking site into being at the fore front of technology and SEO, I predict social media to be a must have customer services tool. Much like email has brought tech support
and customer service to a new level social media will be a must with apps, groups, Google+ hangouts, even Twitter chat rooms.

39.  Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. – @griotsroll

Social media will replace the business website. If you don’t have a social media page with information on your products, services on your about page you are not in business. People will judge you on how they can get in contact with you through your social media page. Your “About” page will be more important than your website and you better have links to any other social media pages you have.

40.  David Drake, The Soho Loft – @TSLCCevents

US SMEs will start embracing social media strategies and crowd funding will drive this for startups and local business as crowd funding for equity is implemented as a law.  Social media strategies will become more readily available to consulting firms helping small medium-sized enterprises with the winners being local businesses learning the tools to embrace their eco system.

41.  Alex Schenker, President at www.WeRockYourWeb.com  – @WeRockYourWeb

Marketers will need to use fewer words and more voice, video and images to connect with today’s overly stimulated consumer (e.g. Pinterest, Voxer, YouTube).  More filters will allow consumers to better target/find what they are looking for which will lead to more qualified sales’ leads. As we become more inundated with content, it will become more vital to have filters on how we choose to consume the content.  Mobile devices will continue to drive social media communication so the social media of choice may depend on which device you hold and the successful marketing efforts will be customized to that
platform. For example, Google Chat is not directly accessible via an app on an iPhone so they will likely turn to iMessage which allows you to text several people at once, creating your own “social network” for each message you create.

42.  Raghu Bala, Board Member at Fanggle – @raghurambala

Vertical social platforms will emerge to enable people with similar interests to share information (text, images/pictures, video) on topics of mutual interest. The current metrics – ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ – will give way to more meaningful means of measuring engagement. I also see social media becoming more immersed in everyday activity. For instance, with Google Glass combined with voice to text, one can automatically tweet and attach an image more naturally than currently possible.

43.  Ziggi Yaxley, Social Media Specialist at Bozboz, UK. – @ziggidotcom

Social media is instant, personal and available to everyone. It’s the new way to do customer service and it’s a way to connect with current and potential customers in exciting and innovative ways. It’s human.
2013 will see more businesses investing in social media for the first time and socially-equipped businesses allocating more resource to running their social media more efficiently.

44.  Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys – @ValaAfshar

A truly social enterprise is not just about technology, it is about lifestyle. Enterprises that collaborate socially (and not just through social media) with their customers and employees are able to not only grow mindshare, but also their business.  For example, at Enterasys, we believe there is nothing more important than our customers – internally and externally – so if both are delighted, we know we are doing our job socially now and into the future.

45. Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate

For marketers specifically, social media will continue to be a force in driving traffic to websites. Marketers will use social the same way that they’ve used pay-per-click and banner advertising in the past. However,
marketers need to take a careful look at metrics such as conversion rates before dedicating a huge chunk of the budget to advertizing on social media sites.

46.  Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations – @wjcorbett

The hype proliferated by “marketing” people about the tremendous business generating benefits of social media for small business will wind down. The reality will set in that social media marketing is only
part of an a comprehensive marketing plan which includes a digital media strategy. Businesses, particularly those in the business to business space, will recognize that they are not getting and probably will not get the ROI they need to continue to focus significant time, energy, effort and funds on social media marketing.

47.  Carrie Peterson, Social Media Director at Internet Marketing Inc. – @CarrieSavvy

2013 will be the year of social media mobile and tablet application for marketers. As consumers become more and more socially savvy and are using their mobile devices for research and purchases, it is imperative that marketers hop on the mobile train with a solid strategy and targeted ad campaigns. These campaigns should integrate behavioral targeting, relevant content per the niche demographic, and social share features to maximize reach and social word of mouth.

49.  Eric Courville, Director of Marketing and Alliances

Social media channels are creating more demand and opportunity for immediate content from brands. To take full advantage, marketers in 2013 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed and the tools necessary to easily track the use of all digital assets.

50.  Jane Horowitz, Founder of More Than A Resume

Today’s college student and those about to enter college (our next wave into the workplace) will reshape, along with new technologies the workplace over the next decade.  The way this generation, (Millennials) communicate in their social lives will be introduced to the workplace, and then transform it; fostering new ways of sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve outcomes. Goodbye email and PowerPoint presentations. Hello file-sharing, multi-media presentations.  Everything we use and come into contact with will be converted into data that will be available at our fingertips to make informed and therefore smarter decisions. Marketing, sales and customer service professional will need critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

51.  Ryan Aynes, Founder & Managing Director at EDGE Collective – @ryanaynes

There will be a larger demand to quantify social media impact and how that is impacting business performance. As spending becomes tighter due to the economy and a higher level of financial accountability takes place across organizations, agencies pitching social media will have to come up with their own annotations for “like” value.

There will also be a higher demand for integrating the entire marketing process. This means ad-buying teams will have to work more closely with social. The most effective strategies will be integrated paid, owned, and earned. Consumer analysis from each end educates the other on consumer behavior, which builds better forward strategies.

Mobile strategy will become the norm and not just an additional option. As more ways to reach consumers opens up through mobile experiences, brands and agencies will make the appropriate modifications to add this into their strategy and planning.

52.  Devin Redmond, CEO and Co-founder at Social iQ Networks – @DevinHRed

It’s very common these days to walk into a business and find that different departments all have their own social accounts and social marketing tools to connect with customers, recruit employees, and drive marketing campaigns. That new reality and infrastructure has become a rapidly increasing sprawl that can be disharmonious and prone to risk for their company and their own efforts. This will lead to a push toward greater social infrastructure management as companies try to get a handle on social media sprawl to improve their efforts without having to worrying about mishaps, abuse, and social media mistakes.

53.  Rick Mathieson, author of Branding Unbound and The On-Demand Brand – @rickmathieson

Look for a nascent social media backlash to gain traction among consumers and the brands trying to connect with them. While 20% of Facebook users say they log on once or twice a day, 52% say they plan to spend less time there in the future ­ and that’s an emerging dynamic across the socialsphere. In 2013, look for a new emphasis on quality of engagement versus quantity.  When engaging in social media, look for the emphasis for many brands to finally move away from “How” the mechanics of going social to the “Why”,  by clarifying objectives and building social media strategies to meet them.

54.  Molly Glover Gallatin, VP of Marketing at Compass Labs – @CompassLabs

As marketers we need to stop being hyper-focused on the immediate ROI question around social media (I know, it’s hard!), and instead get our management team focused on another question: What have I learned today from my customers? The future will be best for those who stop marketing and speaking *at* their audience and start creating dialogues instead. Content strategy should include conversations – they are the most critical element of social media – hence, the “social,” and they increase brand affinity and tip the scales in your favor regarding revenue, as well.

Free Webcast:  Join us on December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, as Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.

Comments

Joerg Koesters

About Joerg Koesters

Joerg Koesters is the Head of Retail Marketing and Communication at SAP. He is a Technology Marketing executive with 20 years of experience in Marketing, Sales and Consulting, Joerg has deep knowledge in retail and consumer products having worked both in the industry and in the technology sector.

Data Management and Retention Requirements

Irfan Khan

In his annual state of the union speech last month President Barack Obama made a passing reference to the need for the U.S. to train more people in data management to supply the needs of companies. A little later in the speech he talked about how some new, targeted government regulations would benefit honest businesses while rooting out the bad apples. Maybe he was thinking that those newly trained data managers would be able to help companies with the advanced data management techniques his undefined regulations would require.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all regulations. And I’m certainly not opposed to giving tuition credits to students wanting to study the art of data management. But, as the politicians like to say, “let’s be perfectly clear”: modern government regulations require IT professionals to implement new data management policies to prove they are in compliance with changes in the law.

For example, in 2006 the European Union issued a directive to communications carriersforcing them to hold on to subscriber usage data for six to 24 months. That’s so the companies can quickly respond to legal authorities who need to access data for criminal investigations. While some operators may already keep the information, it’s often stored offline. In the case of the EU directive, the information must be able to be accessed without delay by authorities armed with a warrant.

The way the EU directive was written means that wire line, wireless, and ISP operators must retain 15 categories of data. And because the time periods vary, the amount of data to be stored is unpredictable. As you can imagine, the EU also imposed some hefty data security demands as well as unique access requirements. For example, some legal authorities may send their warrants by FAX, e-mail, or even letters via the postal service.

Needless to say, the regulations don’t spell out exactly how carriers should implement the data retention policy. They simply need to do so.

It’s not just the EU creating rules affecting corporate data management. Japan is now considering revising its strict data protection policyfor consumers. The U.S. is in a political battle between those that want tighter Internet controls for copyright holders. And many other nations are designing new laws that affect how companies manage their data.

As I’ve argued here before, having a chief data officer would give enterprises a huge competitive advantage by being able to anticipate the impact new regulations would have on an organization’s data management strategy. In fact, it is increasingly paramount for large multinational companies to have a C-level data officer. Without one, the enterprise lacks a critical resource to compete in today’s global markets.

I agree with President Obama. Data management is, indeed, an excellent career choice for young people. After all, companies need smart people who understand its strategic importance and know how to react quickly when the politicians change the rules on data management for business. Again. And again.

Comments

Dr. Thorsten Wenzel

About Dr. Thorsten Wenzel

Thorsten Wenzel is Vice President and Global Head of Chemicals at SAP.

Tags:

awareness

Data Management and Retention Requirements

Irfan Khan

In his annual state of the union speech last month President Barack Obama made a passing reference to the need for the U.S. to train more people in data management to supply the needs of companies. A little later in the speech he talked about how some new, targeted government regulations would benefit honest businesses while rooting out the bad apples. Maybe he was thinking that those newly trained data managers would be able to help companies with the advanced data management techniques his undefined regulations would require.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all regulations. And I’m certainly not opposed to giving tuition credits to students wanting to study the art of data management. But, as the politicians like to say, “let’s be perfectly clear”: modern government regulations require IT professionals to implement new data management policies to prove they are in compliance with changes in the law.

For example, in 2006 the European Union issued a directive to communications carriersforcing them to hold on to subscriber usage data for six to 24 months. That’s so the companies can quickly respond to legal authorities who need to access data for criminal investigations. While some operators may already keep the information, it’s often stored offline. In the case of the EU directive, the information must be able to be accessed without delay by authorities armed with a warrant.

The way the EU directive was written means that wire line, wireless, and ISP operators must retain 15 categories of data. And because the time periods vary, the amount of data to be stored is unpredictable. As you can imagine, the EU also imposed some hefty data security demands as well as unique access requirements. For example, some legal authorities may send their warrants by FAX, e-mail, or even letters via the postal service.

Needless to say, the regulations don’t spell out exactly how carriers should implement the data retention policy. They simply need to do so.

It’s not just the EU creating rules affecting corporate data management. Japan is now considering revising its strict data protection policyfor consumers. The U.S. is in a political battle between those that want tighter Internet controls for copyright holders. And many other nations are designing new laws that affect how companies manage their data.

As I’ve argued here before, having a chief data officer would give enterprises a huge competitive advantage by being able to anticipate the impact new regulations would have on an organization’s data management strategy. In fact, it is increasingly paramount for large multinational companies to have a C-level data officer. Without one, the enterprise lacks a critical resource to compete in today’s global markets.

I agree with President Obama. Data management is, indeed, an excellent career choice for young people. After all, companies need smart people who understand its strategic importance and know how to react quickly when the politicians change the rules on data management for business. Again. And again.

Comments

Simon Davies

About Simon Davies

Simon Davies is a London-based freelance writer with an interest in startup culture, issues, and solutions. He works explores new markets and disruptive technologies and communicates those recent developments to a wide, public audience. Simon is also a contributor at socialbarrel.com, socialnomics.net, and tech.co. Follow Simon @simontheodavies on Twitter.

Tags:

awareness

Data Management and Retention Requirements

Irfan Khan

In his annual state of the union speech last month President Barack Obama made a passing reference to the need for the U.S. to train more people in data management to supply the needs of companies. A little later in the speech he talked about how some new, targeted government regulations would benefit honest businesses while rooting out the bad apples. Maybe he was thinking that those newly trained data managers would be able to help companies with the advanced data management techniques his undefined regulations would require.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all regulations. And I’m certainly not opposed to giving tuition credits to students wanting to study the art of data management. But, as the politicians like to say, “let’s be perfectly clear”: modern government regulations require IT professionals to implement new data management policies to prove they are in compliance with changes in the law.

For example, in 2006 the European Union issued a directive to communications carriersforcing them to hold on to subscriber usage data for six to 24 months. That’s so the companies can quickly respond to legal authorities who need to access data for criminal investigations. While some operators may already keep the information, it’s often stored offline. In the case of the EU directive, the information must be able to be accessed without delay by authorities armed with a warrant.

The way the EU directive was written means that wire line, wireless, and ISP operators must retain 15 categories of data. And because the time periods vary, the amount of data to be stored is unpredictable. As you can imagine, the EU also imposed some hefty data security demands as well as unique access requirements. For example, some legal authorities may send their warrants by FAX, e-mail, or even letters via the postal service.

Needless to say, the regulations don’t spell out exactly how carriers should implement the data retention policy. They simply need to do so.

It’s not just the EU creating rules affecting corporate data management. Japan is now considering revising its strict data protection policyfor consumers. The U.S. is in a political battle between those that want tighter Internet controls for copyright holders. And many other nations are designing new laws that affect how companies manage their data.

As I’ve argued here before, having a chief data officer would give enterprises a huge competitive advantage by being able to anticipate the impact new regulations would have on an organization’s data management strategy. In fact, it is increasingly paramount for large multinational companies to have a C-level data officer. Without one, the enterprise lacks a critical resource to compete in today’s global markets.

I agree with President Obama. Data management is, indeed, an excellent career choice for young people. After all, companies need smart people who understand its strategic importance and know how to react quickly when the politicians change the rules on data management for business. Again. And again.

Comments

Henry Bailey

About Henry Bailey

Henry Bailey is global vice president of Utilities Industry Business Unit for SAP. He leads a team of customer focused professionals creating end-2-end solutions across the 5 key market categories; Core Applications, Cloud Computing, Mobile Platforms, Business Intelligence and Database Technologies with HANA.

Tags:

awareness

Data Management and Retention Requirements

Irfan Khan

In his annual state of the union speech last month President Barack Obama made a passing reference to the need for the U.S. to train more people in data management to supply the needs of companies. A little later in the speech he talked about how some new, targeted government regulations would benefit honest businesses while rooting out the bad apples. Maybe he was thinking that those newly trained data managers would be able to help companies with the advanced data management techniques his undefined regulations would require.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all regulations. And I’m certainly not opposed to giving tuition credits to students wanting to study the art of data management. But, as the politicians like to say, “let’s be perfectly clear”: modern government regulations require IT professionals to implement new data management policies to prove they are in compliance with changes in the law.

For example, in 2006 the European Union issued a directive to communications carriersforcing them to hold on to subscriber usage data for six to 24 months. That’s so the companies can quickly respond to legal authorities who need to access data for criminal investigations. While some operators may already keep the information, it’s often stored offline. In the case of the EU directive, the information must be able to be accessed without delay by authorities armed with a warrant.

The way the EU directive was written means that wire line, wireless, and ISP operators must retain 15 categories of data. And because the time periods vary, the amount of data to be stored is unpredictable. As you can imagine, the EU also imposed some hefty data security demands as well as unique access requirements. For example, some legal authorities may send their warrants by FAX, e-mail, or even letters via the postal service.

Needless to say, the regulations don’t spell out exactly how carriers should implement the data retention policy. They simply need to do so.

It’s not just the EU creating rules affecting corporate data management. Japan is now considering revising its strict data protection policyfor consumers. The U.S. is in a political battle between those that want tighter Internet controls for copyright holders. And many other nations are designing new laws that affect how companies manage their data.

As I’ve argued here before, having a chief data officer would give enterprises a huge competitive advantage by being able to anticipate the impact new regulations would have on an organization’s data management strategy. In fact, it is increasingly paramount for large multinational companies to have a C-level data officer. Without one, the enterprise lacks a critical resource to compete in today’s global markets.

I agree with President Obama. Data management is, indeed, an excellent career choice for young people. After all, companies need smart people who understand its strategic importance and know how to react quickly when the politicians change the rules on data management for business. Again. And again.

Comments

Ulf Guttmann

About Ulf Guttmann

Ulf Guttmann is a Solution Manager with a focus on solution management and go-to-market for SAP’s Industrial Machinery and Components Buisness Unit. With over 26 years of SAP experience, Guttmann is well versed in the aftermarket service, enterprise asset management, sales, and marketing solution areas.

Tags:

awareness

Data Management and Retention Requirements

Irfan Khan

In his annual state of the union speech last month President Barack Obama made a passing reference to the need for the U.S. to train more people in data management to supply the needs of companies. A little later in the speech he talked about how some new, targeted government regulations would benefit honest businesses while rooting out the bad apples. Maybe he was thinking that those newly trained data managers would be able to help companies with the advanced data management techniques his undefined regulations would require.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all regulations. And I’m certainly not opposed to giving tuition credits to students wanting to study the art of data management. But, as the politicians like to say, “let’s be perfectly clear”: modern government regulations require IT professionals to implement new data management policies to prove they are in compliance with changes in the law.

For example, in 2006 the European Union issued a directive to communications carriersforcing them to hold on to subscriber usage data for six to 24 months. That’s so the companies can quickly respond to legal authorities who need to access data for criminal investigations. While some operators may already keep the information, it’s often stored offline. In the case of the EU directive, the information must be able to be accessed without delay by authorities armed with a warrant.

The way the EU directive was written means that wire line, wireless, and ISP operators must retain 15 categories of data. And because the time periods vary, the amount of data to be stored is unpredictable. As you can imagine, the EU also imposed some hefty data security demands as well as unique access requirements. For example, some legal authorities may send their warrants by FAX, e-mail, or even letters via the postal service.

Needless to say, the regulations don’t spell out exactly how carriers should implement the data retention policy. They simply need to do so.

It’s not just the EU creating rules affecting corporate data management. Japan is now considering revising its strict data protection policyfor consumers. The U.S. is in a political battle between those that want tighter Internet controls for copyright holders. And many other nations are designing new laws that affect how companies manage their data.

As I’ve argued here before, having a chief data officer would give enterprises a huge competitive advantage by being able to anticipate the impact new regulations would have on an organization’s data management strategy. In fact, it is increasingly paramount for large multinational companies to have a C-level data officer. Without one, the enterprise lacks a critical resource to compete in today’s global markets.

I agree with President Obama. Data management is, indeed, an excellent career choice for young people. After all, companies need smart people who understand its strategic importance and know how to react quickly when the politicians change the rules on data management for business. Again. And again.

Comments

Timo Elliott

About Timo Elliott

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist for SAP and a passionate advocate of innovation, digital business, analytics, and artificial intelligence. He was the eighth employee of BusinessObjects and for the last 25 years he has worked closely with SAP customers around the world on new technology directions and their impact on real-world organizations. His articles have appeared in publications such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, ZDNet, The Guardian, and Digitalist Magazine. He has worked in the UK, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Silicon Valley, and currently lives in Paris, France. He has a degree in Econometrics and a patent in mobile analytics. 

Tags:

awareness

Data Management and Retention Requirements

Irfan Khan

In his annual state of the union speech last month President Barack Obama made a passing reference to the need for the U.S. to train more people in data management to supply the needs of companies. A little later in the speech he talked about how some new, targeted government regulations would benefit honest businesses while rooting out the bad apples. Maybe he was thinking that those newly trained data managers would be able to help companies with the advanced data management techniques his undefined regulations would require.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all regulations. And I’m certainly not opposed to giving tuition credits to students wanting to study the art of data management. But, as the politicians like to say, “let’s be perfectly clear”: modern government regulations require IT professionals to implement new data management policies to prove they are in compliance with changes in the law.

For example, in 2006 the European Union issued a directive to communications carriersforcing them to hold on to subscriber usage data for six to 24 months. That’s so the companies can quickly respond to legal authorities who need to access data for criminal investigations. While some operators may already keep the information, it’s often stored offline. In the case of the EU directive, the information must be able to be accessed without delay by authorities armed with a warrant.

The way the EU directive was written means that wire line, wireless, and ISP operators must retain 15 categories of data. And because the time periods vary, the amount of data to be stored is unpredictable. As you can imagine, the EU also imposed some hefty data security demands as well as unique access requirements. For example, some legal authorities may send their warrants by FAX, e-mail, or even letters via the postal service.

Needless to say, the regulations don’t spell out exactly how carriers should implement the data retention policy. They simply need to do so.

It’s not just the EU creating rules affecting corporate data management. Japan is now considering revising its strict data protection policyfor consumers. The U.S. is in a political battle between those that want tighter Internet controls for copyright holders. And many other nations are designing new laws that affect how companies manage their data.

As I’ve argued here before, having a chief data officer would give enterprises a huge competitive advantage by being able to anticipate the impact new regulations would have on an organization’s data management strategy. In fact, it is increasingly paramount for large multinational companies to have a C-level data officer. Without one, the enterprise lacks a critical resource to compete in today’s global markets.

I agree with President Obama. Data management is, indeed, an excellent career choice for young people. After all, companies need smart people who understand its strategic importance and know how to react quickly when the politicians change the rules on data management for business. Again. And again.

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Data Management and Retention Requirements

Irfan Khan

In his annual state of the union speech last month President Barack Obama made a passing reference to the need for the U.S. to train more people in data management to supply the needs of companies. A little later in the speech he talked about how some new, targeted government regulations would benefit honest businesses while rooting out the bad apples. Maybe he was thinking that those newly trained data managers would be able to help companies with the advanced data management techniques his undefined regulations would require.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all regulations. And I’m certainly not opposed to giving tuition credits to students wanting to study the art of data management. But, as the politicians like to say, “let’s be perfectly clear”: modern government regulations require IT professionals to implement new data management policies to prove they are in compliance with changes in the law.

For example, in 2006 the European Union issued a directive to communications carriersforcing them to hold on to subscriber usage data for six to 24 months. That’s so the companies can quickly respond to legal authorities who need to access data for criminal investigations. While some operators may already keep the information, it’s often stored offline. In the case of the EU directive, the information must be able to be accessed without delay by authorities armed with a warrant.

The way the EU directive was written means that wire line, wireless, and ISP operators must retain 15 categories of data. And because the time periods vary, the amount of data to be stored is unpredictable. As you can imagine, the EU also imposed some hefty data security demands as well as unique access requirements. For example, some legal authorities may send their warrants by FAX, e-mail, or even letters via the postal service.

Needless to say, the regulations don’t spell out exactly how carriers should implement the data retention policy. They simply need to do so.

It’s not just the EU creating rules affecting corporate data management. Japan is now considering revising its strict data protection policyfor consumers. The U.S. is in a political battle between those that want tighter Internet controls for copyright holders. And many other nations are designing new laws that affect how companies manage their data.

As I’ve argued here before, having a chief data officer would give enterprises a huge competitive advantage by being able to anticipate the impact new regulations would have on an organization’s data management strategy. In fact, it is increasingly paramount for large multinational companies to have a C-level data officer. Without one, the enterprise lacks a critical resource to compete in today’s global markets.

I agree with President Obama. Data management is, indeed, an excellent career choice for young people. After all, companies need smart people who understand its strategic importance and know how to react quickly when the politicians change the rules on data management for business. Again. And again.

Comments

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awareness

Data Management and Retention Requirements

Irfan Khan

In his annual state of the union speech last month President Barack Obama made a passing reference to the need for the U.S. to train more people in data management to supply the needs of companies. A little later in the speech he talked about how some new, targeted government regulations would benefit honest businesses while rooting out the bad apples. Maybe he was thinking that those newly trained data managers would be able to help companies with the advanced data management techniques his undefined regulations would require.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all regulations. And I’m certainly not opposed to giving tuition credits to students wanting to study the art of data management. But, as the politicians like to say, “let’s be perfectly clear”: modern government regulations require IT professionals to implement new data management policies to prove they are in compliance with changes in the law.

For example, in 2006 the European Union issued a directive to communications carriersforcing them to hold on to subscriber usage data for six to 24 months. That’s so the companies can quickly respond to legal authorities who need to access data for criminal investigations. While some operators may already keep the information, it’s often stored offline. In the case of the EU directive, the information must be able to be accessed without delay by authorities armed with a warrant.

The way the EU directive was written means that wire line, wireless, and ISP operators must retain 15 categories of data. And because the time periods vary, the amount of data to be stored is unpredictable. As you can imagine, the EU also imposed some hefty data security demands as well as unique access requirements. For example, some legal authorities may send their warrants by FAX, e-mail, or even letters via the postal service.

Needless to say, the regulations don’t spell out exactly how carriers should implement the data retention policy. They simply need to do so.

It’s not just the EU creating rules affecting corporate data management. Japan is now considering revising its strict data protection policyfor consumers. The U.S. is in a political battle between those that want tighter Internet controls for copyright holders. And many other nations are designing new laws that affect how companies manage their data.

As I’ve argued here before, having a chief data officer would give enterprises a huge competitive advantage by being able to anticipate the impact new regulations would have on an organization’s data management strategy. In fact, it is increasingly paramount for large multinational companies to have a C-level data officer. Without one, the enterprise lacks a critical resource to compete in today’s global markets.

I agree with President Obama. Data management is, indeed, an excellent career choice for young people. After all, companies need smart people who understand its strategic importance and know how to react quickly when the politicians change the rules on data management for business. Again. And again.

Comments

Bhavya Kamaraj

About Bhavya Kamaraj

Bhavya Kamaraj is an Industry Value Advisor for SAP ANZ. She has over 6.5 years of work experience in Financial Services - as a Developer, Techno-Functional Banking Consultant and Industry Value Advisor. During this tenure in the Industry, she have gained rich experience in SAP Development, SAP Consulting, Management Consulting, Value Advisory, Enterprise Architecture, Design Thinking and Business Development.

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awareness

Data Management and Retention Requirements

Irfan Khan

In his annual state of the union speech last month President Barack Obama made a passing reference to the need for the U.S. to train more people in data management to supply the needs of companies. A little later in the speech he talked about how some new, targeted government regulations would benefit honest businesses while rooting out the bad apples. Maybe he was thinking that those newly trained data managers would be able to help companies with the advanced data management techniques his undefined regulations would require.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all regulations. And I’m certainly not opposed to giving tuition credits to students wanting to study the art of data management. But, as the politicians like to say, “let’s be perfectly clear”: modern government regulations require IT professionals to implement new data management policies to prove they are in compliance with changes in the law.

For example, in 2006 the European Union issued a directive to communications carriersforcing them to hold on to subscriber usage data for six to 24 months. That’s so the companies can quickly respond to legal authorities who need to access data for criminal investigations. While some operators may already keep the information, it’s often stored offline. In the case of the EU directive, the information must be able to be accessed without delay by authorities armed with a warrant.

The way the EU directive was written means that wire line, wireless, and ISP operators must retain 15 categories of data. And because the time periods vary, the amount of data to be stored is unpredictable. As you can imagine, the EU also imposed some hefty data security demands as well as unique access requirements. For example, some legal authorities may send their warrants by FAX, e-mail, or even letters via the postal service.

Needless to say, the regulations don’t spell out exactly how carriers should implement the data retention policy. They simply need to do so.

It’s not just the EU creating rules affecting corporate data management. Japan is now considering revising its strict data protection policyfor consumers. The U.S. is in a political battle between those that want tighter Internet controls for copyright holders. And many other nations are designing new laws that affect how companies manage their data.

As I’ve argued here before, having a chief data officer would give enterprises a huge competitive advantage by being able to anticipate the impact new regulations would have on an organization’s data management strategy. In fact, it is increasingly paramount for large multinational companies to have a C-level data officer. Without one, the enterprise lacks a critical resource to compete in today’s global markets.

I agree with President Obama. Data management is, indeed, an excellent career choice for young people. After all, companies need smart people who understand its strategic importance and know how to react quickly when the politicians change the rules on data management for business. Again. And again.

Comments

Tony Klimas

About Tony Klimas

Tony Klimas, global finance practice leader with EY, LLP, is a member of EY’s Advisory Executive team with global responsibility for the Finance consulting practice. He is an experienced consultant with 20+ years of experience across a variety of industries. His areas of expertise include finance strategy and transformation, shared services/offshoring, and BPO advisory. Tony also has significant experience with finance and accounting systems and has traveled and worked extensively in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. He spent most of his consulting career in the Southeast U.S. before moving to the greater New York City area in 2009.

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awareness

Data Management and Retention Requirements

Irfan Khan

In his annual state of the union speech last month President Barack Obama made a passing reference to the need for the U.S. to train more people in data management to supply the needs of companies. A little later in the speech he talked about how some new, targeted government regulations would benefit honest businesses while rooting out the bad apples. Maybe he was thinking that those newly trained data managers would be able to help companies with the advanced data management techniques his undefined regulations would require.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against all regulations. And I’m certainly not opposed to giving tuition credits to students wanting to study the art of data management. But, as the politicians like to say, “let’s be perfectly clear”: modern government regulations require IT professionals to implement new data management policies to prove they are in compliance with changes in the law.

For example, in 2006 the European Union issued a directive to communications carriersforcing them to hold on to subscriber usage data for six to 24 months. That’s so the companies can quickly respond to legal authorities who need to access data for criminal investigations. While some operators may already keep the information, it’s often stored offline. In the case of the EU directive, the information must be able to be accessed without delay by authorities armed with a warrant.

The way the EU directive was written means that wire line, wireless, and ISP operators must retain 15 categories of data. And because the time periods vary, the amount of data to be stored is unpredictable. As you can imagine, the EU also imposed some hefty data security demands as well as unique access requirements. For example, some legal authorities may send their warrants by FAX, e-mail, or even letters via the postal service.

Needless to say, the regulations don’t spell out exactly how carriers should implement the data retention policy. They simply need to do so.

It’s not just the EU creating rules affecting corporate data management. Japan is now considering revising its strict data protection policyfor consumers. The U.S. is in a political battle between those that want tighter Internet controls for copyright holders. And many other nations are designing new laws that affect how companies manage their data.

As I’ve argued here before, having a chief data officer would give enterprises a huge competitive advantage by being able to anticipate the impact new regulations would have on an organization’s data management strategy. In fact, it is increasingly paramount for large multinational companies to have a C-level data officer. Without one, the enterprise lacks a critical resource to compete in today’s global markets.

I agree with President Obama. Data management is, indeed, an excellent career choice for young people. After all, companies need smart people who understand its strategic importance and know how to react quickly when the politicians change the rules on data management for business. Again. And again.

Comments

Joerg Koesters

About Joerg Koesters

Joerg Koesters is the Head of Retail Marketing and Communication at SAP. He is a Technology Marketing executive with 20 years of experience in Marketing, Sales and Consulting, Joerg has deep knowledge in retail and consumer products having worked both in the industry and in the technology sector.

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awareness

The Blockchain Solution

By Gil Perez, Tom Raftery, Hans Thalbauer, Dan Wellers, and Fawn Fitter

In 2013, several UK supermarket chains discovered that products they were selling as beef were actually made at least partly—and in some cases, entirely—from horsemeat. The resulting uproar led to a series of product recalls, prompted stricter food testing, and spurred the European food industry to take a closer look at how unlabeled or mislabeled ingredients were finding their way into the food chain.

By 2020, a scandal like this will be eminently preventable.

The separation between bovine and equine will become immutable with Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, which will track the provenance and identity of every animal from stall to store, adding the data to a blockchain that anyone can check but no one can alter.

Food processing companies will be able to use that blockchain to confirm and label the contents of their products accordingly—down to the specific farms and animals represented in every individual package. That level of detail may be too much information for shoppers, but they will at least be able to trust that their meatballs come from the appropriate species.

The Spine of Digitalization

Keeping food safer and more traceable is just the beginning, however. Improvements in the supply chain, which have been incremental for decades despite billions of dollars of technology investments, are about to go exponential. Emerging technologies are converging to transform the supply chain from tactical to strategic, from an easily replicable commodity to a new source of competitive differentiation.

You may already be thinking about how to take advantage of blockchain technology, which makes data and transactions immutable, transparent, and verifiable (see “What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work?”). That will be a powerful tool to boost supply chain speed and efficiency—always a worthy goal, but hardly a disruptive one.

However, if you think of blockchain as the spine of digitalization and technologies such as AI, the IoT, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, and drones as the limbs, you have a powerful supply chain body that can leapfrog ahead of its competition.

What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work?

Here’s why blockchain technology is critical to transforming the supply chain.

Blockchain is essentially a sequential, distributed ledger of transactions that is constantly updated on a global network of computers. The ownership and history of a transaction is embedded in the blockchain at the transaction’s earliest stages and verified at every subsequent stage.

A blockchain network uses vast amounts of computing power to encrypt the ledger as it’s being written. This makes it possible for every computer in the network to verify the transactions safely and transparently. The more organizations that participate in the ledger, the more complex and secure the encryption becomes, making it increasingly tamperproof.

Why does blockchain matter for the supply chain?

  • It enables the safe exchange of value without a central verifying partner, which makes transactions faster and less expensive.
  • It dramatically simplifies recordkeeping by establishing a single, authoritative view of the truth across all parties.
  • It builds a secure, immutable history and chain of custody as different parties handle the items being shipped, and it updates the relevant documentation.
  • By doing these things, blockchain allows companies to create smart contracts based on programmable business logic, which can execute themselves autonomously and thereby save time and money by reducing friction and intermediaries.

Hints of the Future

In the mid-1990s, when the World Wide Web was in its infancy, we had no idea that the internet would become so large and pervasive, nor that we’d find a way to carry it all in our pockets on small slabs of glass.

But we could tell that it had vast potential.

Today, with the combination of emerging technologies that promise to turbocharge digital transformation, we’re just beginning to see how we might turn the supply chain into a source of competitive advantage (see “What’s the Magic Combination?”).

What’s the Magic Combination?

Those who focus on blockchain in isolation will miss out on a much bigger supply chain opportunity.

Many experts believe emerging technologies will work with blockchain to digitalize the supply chain and create new business models:

  • Blockchain will provide the foundation of automated trust for all parties in the supply chain.
  • The IoT will link objects—from tiny devices to large machines—and generate data about status, locations, and transactions that will be recorded on the blockchain.
  • 3D printing will extend the supply chain to the customer’s doorstep with hyperlocal manufacturing of parts and products with IoT sensors built into the items and/or their packaging. Every manufactured object will be smart, connected, and able to communicate so that it can be tracked and traced as needed.
  • Big Data management tools will process all the information streaming in around the clock from IoT sensors.
  • AI and machine learning will analyze this enormous amount of data to reveal patterns and enable true predictability in every area of the supply chain.

Combining these technologies with powerful analytics tools to predict trends will make lack of visibility into the supply chain a thing of the past. Organizations will be able to examine a single machine across its entire lifecycle and identify areas where they can improve performance and increase return on investment. They’ll be able to follow and monitor every component of a product, from design through delivery and service. They’ll be able to trigger and track automated actions between and among partners and customers to provide customized transactions in real time based on real data.

After decades of talk about markets of one, companies will finally have the power to create them—at scale and profitably.

Amazon, for example, is becoming as much a logistics company as a retailer. Its ordering and delivery systems are so streamlined that its customers can launch and complete a same-day transaction with a push of a single IP-enabled button or a word to its ever-attentive AI device, Alexa. And this level of experimentation and innovation is bubbling up across industries.

Consider manufacturing, where the IoT is transforming automation inside already highly automated factories. Machine-to-machine communication is enabling robots to set up, provision, and unload equipment quickly and accurately with minimal human intervention. Meanwhile, sensors across the factory floor are already capable of gathering such information as how often each machine needs maintenance or how much raw material to order given current production trends.

Once they harvest enough data, businesses will be able to feed it through machine learning algorithms to identify trends that forecast future outcomes. At that point, the supply chain will start to become both automated and predictive. We’ll begin to see business models that include proactively scheduling maintenance, replacing parts just before they’re likely to break, and automatically ordering materials and initiating customer shipments.

Italian train operator Trenitalia, for example, has put IoT sensors on its locomotives and passenger cars and is using analytics and in-memory computing to gauge the health of its trains in real time, according to an article in Computer Weekly. “It is now possible to affordably collect huge amounts of data from hundreds of sensors in a single train, analyse that data in real time and detect problems before they actually happen,” Trenitalia’s CIO Danilo Gismondi told Computer Weekly.

Blockchain allows all the critical steps of the supply chain to go electronic and become irrefutably verifiable by all the critical parties within minutes: the seller and buyer, banks, logistics carriers, and import and export officials.

The project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2018, will change Trenitalia’s business model, allowing it to schedule more trips and make each one more profitable. The railway company will be able to better plan parts inventories and determine which lines are consistently performing poorly and need upgrades. The new system will save €100 million a year, according to ARC Advisory Group.

New business models continue to evolve as 3D printers become more sophisticated and affordable, making it possible to move the end of the supply chain closer to the customer. Companies can design parts and products in materials ranging from carbon fiber to chocolate and then print those items in their warehouse, at a conveniently located third-party vendor, or even on the client’s premises.

In addition to minimizing their shipping expenses and reducing fulfillment time, companies will be able to offer more personalized or customized items affordably in small quantities. For example, clothing retailer Ministry of Supply recently installed a 3D printer at its Boston store that enables it to make an article of clothing to a customer’s specifications in under 90 minutes, according to an article in Forbes.

This kind of highly distributed manufacturing has potential across many industries. It could even create a market for secure manufacturing for highly regulated sectors, allowing a manufacturer to transmit encrypted templates to printers in tightly protected locations, for example.

Meanwhile, organizations are investigating ways of using blockchain technology to authenticate, track and trace, automate, and otherwise manage transactions and interactions, both internally and within their vendor and customer networks. The ability to collect data, record it on the blockchain for immediate verification, and make that trustworthy data available for any application delivers indisputable value in any business context. The supply chain will be no exception.

Blockchain Is the Change Driver

The supply chain is configured as we know it today because it’s impossible to create a contract that accounts for every possible contingency. Consider cross-border financial transfers, which are so complex and must meet so many regulations that they require a tremendous number of intermediaries to plug the gaps: lawyers, accountants, customer service reps, warehouse operators, bankers, and more. By reducing that complexity, blockchain technology makes intermediaries less necessary—a transformation that is revolutionary even when measured only in cost savings.

“If you’re selling 100 items a minute, 24 hours a day, reducing the cost of the supply chain by just $1 per item saves you more than $52.5 million a year,” notes Dirk Lonser, SAP go-to-market leader at DXC Technology, an IT services company. “By replacing manual processes and multiple peer-to-peer connections through fax or e-mail with a single medium where everyone can exchange verified information instantaneously, blockchain will boost profit margins exponentially without raising prices or even increasing individual productivity.”

But the potential for blockchain extends far beyond cost cutting and streamlining, says Irfan Khan, CEO of supply chain management consulting and systems integration firm Bristlecone, a Mahindra Group company. It will give companies ways to differentiate.

“Blockchain will let enterprises more accurately trace faulty parts or products from end users back to factories for recalls,” Khan says. “It will streamline supplier onboarding, contracting, and management by creating an integrated platform that the company’s entire network can access in real time. It will give vendors secure, transparent visibility into inventory 24×7. And at a time when counterfeiting is a real concern in multiple industries, it will make it easy for both retailers and customers to check product authenticity.”

Blockchain allows all the critical steps of the supply chain to go electronic and become irrefutably verifiable by all the critical parties within minutes: the seller and buyer, banks, logistics carriers, and import and export officials. Although the key parts of the process remain the same as in today’s analog supply chain, performing them electronically with blockchain technology shortens each stage from hours or days to seconds while eliminating reams of wasteful paperwork. With goods moving that quickly, companies have ample room for designing new business models around manufacturing, service, and delivery.

Challenges on the Path to Adoption

For all this to work, however, the data on the blockchain must be correct from the beginning. The pills, produce, or parts on the delivery truck need to be the same as the items listed on the manifest at the loading dock. Every use case assumes that the data is accurate—and that will only happen when everything that’s manufactured is smart, connected, and able to self-verify automatically with the help of machine learning tuned to detect errors and potential fraud.

Companies are already seeing the possibilities of applying this bundle of emerging technologies to the supply chain. IDC projects that by 2021, at least 25% of Forbes Global 2000 (G2000) companies will use blockchain services as a foundation for digital trust at scale; 30% of top global manufacturers and retailers will do so by 2020. IDC also predicts that by 2020, up to 10% of pilot and production blockchain-distributed ledgers will incorporate data from IoT sensors.

Despite IDC’s optimism, though, the biggest barrier to adoption is the early stage level of enterprise use cases, particularly around blockchain. Currently, the sole significant enterprise blockchain production system is the virtual currency Bitcoin, which has unfortunately been tainted by its associations with speculation, dubious financial transactions, and the so-called dark web.

The technology is still in a sufficiently early stage that there’s significant uncertainty about its ability to handle the massive amounts of data a global enterprise supply chain generates daily. Never mind that it’s completely unregulated, with no global standard. There’s also a critical global shortage of experts who can explain emerging technologies like blockchain, the IoT, and machine learning to nontechnology industries and educate organizations in how the technologies can improve their supply chain processes. Finally, there is concern about how blockchain’s complex algorithms gobble computing power—and electricity (see “Blockchain Blackouts”).

Blockchain Blackouts

Blockchain is a power glutton. Can technology mediate the issue?

A major concern today is the enormous carbon footprint of the networks creating and solving the algorithmic problems that keep blockchains secure. Although virtual currency enthusiasts claim the problem is overstated, Michael Reed, head of blockchain technology for Intel, has been widely quoted as saying that the energy demands of blockchains are a significant drain on the world’s electricity resources.

Indeed, Wired magazine has estimated that by July 2019, the Bitcoin network alone will require more energy than the entire United States currently uses and that by February 2020 it will use as much electricity as the entire world does today.

Still, computing power is becoming more energy efficient by the day and sticking with paperwork will become too slow, so experts—Intel’s Reed among them—consider this a solvable problem.

“We don’t know yet what the market will adopt. In a decade, it might be status quo or best practice, or it could be the next Betamax, a great technology for which there was no demand,” Lonser says. “Even highly regulated industries that need greater transparency in the entire supply chain are moving fairly slowly.”

Blockchain will require acceptance by a critical mass of companies, governments, and other organizations before it displaces paper documentation. It’s a chicken-and-egg issue: multiple companies need to adopt these technologies at the same time so they can build a blockchain to exchange information, yet getting multiple companies to do anything simultaneously is a challenge. Some early initiatives are already underway, though:

  • A London-based startup called Everledger is using blockchain and IoT technology to track the provenance, ownership, and lifecycles of valuable assets. The company began by tracking diamonds from mine to jewelry using roughly 200 different characteristics, with a goal of stopping both the demand for and the supply of “conflict diamonds”—diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance insurgencies. It has since expanded to cover wine, artwork, and other high-value items to prevent fraud and verify authenticity.
  • In September 2017, SAP announced the creation of its SAP Leonardo Blockchain Co-Innovation program, a group of 27 enterprise customers interested in co-innovating around blockchain and creating business buy-in. The diverse group of participants includes management and technology services companies Capgemini and Deloitte, cosmetics company Natura Cosméticos S.A., and Moog Inc., a manufacturer of precision motion control systems.
  • Two of Europe’s largest shipping ports—Rotterdam and Antwerp—are working on blockchain projects to streamline interaction with port customers. The Antwerp terminal authority says eliminating paperwork could cut the costs of container transport by as much as 50%.
  • The Chinese online shopping behemoth Alibaba is experimenting with blockchain to verify the authenticity of food products and catch counterfeits before they endanger people’s health and lives.
  • Technology and transportation executives have teamed up to create the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), a forum for developing blockchain standards and education for the freight industry.

It’s likely that the first blockchain-based enterprise supply chain use case will emerge in the next year among companies that see it as an opportunity to bolster their legal compliance and improve business processes. Once that happens, expect others to follow.

Customers Will Expect Change

It’s only a matter of time before the supply chain becomes a competitive driver. The question for today’s enterprises is how to prepare for the shift. Customers are going to expect constant, granular visibility into their transactions and faster, more customized service every step of the way. Organizations will need to be ready to meet those expectations.

If organizations have manual business processes that could never be automated before, now is the time to see if it’s possible. Organizations that have made initial investments in emerging technologies are looking at how their pilot projects are paying off and where they might extend to the supply chain. They are starting to think creatively about how to combine technologies to offer a product, service, or business model not possible before.

A manufacturer will load a self-driving truck with a 3D printer capable of creating a customer’s ordered item en route to delivering it. A vendor will capture the market for a socially responsible product by allowing its customers to track the product’s production and verify that none of its subcontractors use slave labor. And a supermarket chain will win over customers by persuading them that their choice of supermarket is also a choice between being certain of what’s in their food and simply hoping that what’s on the label matches what’s inside.

At that point, a smart supply chain won’t just be a competitive edge. It will become a competitive necessity. D!


About the Authors

Gil Perez is Senior Vice President, Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain, at SAP.

Tom Raftery is Global Vice President, Futurist, and Internet of Things Evangelist, at SAP.

Hans Thalbauer is Senior Vice President, Internet of Things and Digital Supply Chain, at SAP.

Dan Wellers is Global Lead, Digital Futures, at SAP.

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology.

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.

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Four Retail Technology Trends To Take Off In 2018

Shaily Kumar

Over the past few years, technology has seen a significant shift from cyclical, invention-led spending on point solutions to investments targeting customer-driven, end-to-end value. The next wave of disruption and productivity improvements is here, which means a huge opportunity for digital-focused enterprises – if you are following the right roadmap.

Technology trends have significant potential over the next few years. Establishing a digital platform will not only set the stage for business innovation to provide competitive advantage, but it will also create new business models that will change the way we do business. Technology trends in 2018 will lay the foundation for the maturity of innovative technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning and will prepare both businesses and shoppers to be ready for their consumption.

Like any other industry, retail is being disrupted. It is no longer enough to simply stock racks with alluring products and wait for customers to rush through the door. Technological innovation is changing the way we shop. Customers can find the lowest price for any product with just a few screen touches. They can read online reviews, have products sent to their home, try them, and return anything they don’t want – all for little or nothing out of pocket. If there are problems, they can use social networks to call out brands that come up short.

Retailers are making their products accessible from websites and mobile applications, with many running effective Internet business operations rather than brick-and-mortar stores. They convey merchandise to the customer’s front entry and are set up with web-based networking media if things turn out badly.

Smart retailers are striving to fulfill changing customer needs and working to guarantee top customer service regardless of how their customer interacts with them.

2017 saw the development of some progressive technology in retail, and 2018 will be another energizing year for the retail industry. Today’s informed customers expect a more engaging shopping experience, with a consistent mix of both online and in-store recommendations. The retail experience is poised to prosper throughout next couple of years – for retailers that are prepared to embrace technology.

Here are four areas of retail technology I predict will take off in 2018:

In-store GPS-driven shopping trolleys

Supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury’s now enable their customers to scan and pay for products using a mobile app instead of waiting in a checkout line. The next phase of this involves intelligent shopping trolleys, or grocery store GPS: Customers use a touch screen to load shopping lists, and the system helps them find the items in the store. Customers can then check off and pay for items as they go, directly on-screen. These shopping trolleys will make their way into stores around the last quarter of 2018.

Electronic rack edge names

Electronic rack edge names are not yet broadly utilized, but this could change in 2018 as more retailers adopt this technology. Currently, retail workers must physically select and update printed labels to reflect changes in price, promotions, etc. This technology makes the process more efficient by handling such changes electronically.

Reference point technology

Despite the fact that it’s been around since 2013, reference point technology hasn’t yet been utilized to its fullest potential. In the last few years, however, it’s started to pick up in industries like retail. It’s now being used by a few retailers for area-based promotions.

Some interesting uses I’ve observed: Retailers can send messages to customers when they’re nearby a store location, and in-store mannequins can offer information about the clothing and accessories they’re wearing. I anticipate that this innovation will take off throughout 2018 and into 2019.

Machine intelligence

The technological innovations describe above will also provide retailers with new data streams. These data sources, when merged with existing customer data, online, and ERP data, will lead to new opportunities. Recently Walmart announced it would begin utilizing rack examining robots to help review its stores. The machines will check stock, prices, and even help settle lost inventory. It will also help retailers learn more about changing customer behavior in real time, which will boost engagement.

Clearly, technology and digital transformation in retail have changed the way we live and shop. 2018 will see emerging technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence using structured and unstructured data to deliver innovation. As technology develops, it will continue to transform and enhance the retail experience.

For more insight on e-commerce, see Cognitive Commerce In The Digital World: Enhancing The Customer Journey.

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Shaily Kumar

About Shaily Kumar

Shailendra has been on a quest to help organisations make money out of data and has generated an incremental value of over one billion dollars through analytics and cognitive processes. With a global experience of more than two decades, Shailendra has worked with a myriad of Corporations, Consulting Services and Software Companies in various industries like Retail, Telecommunications, Financial Services and Travel - to help them realise incremental value hidden in zettabytes of data. He has published multiple articles in international journals about Analytics and Cognitive Solutions; and recently published “Making Money out of Data” which showcases five business stories from various industries on how successful companies make millions of dollars in incremental value using analytics. Prior to joining SAP, Shailendra was Partner / Analytics & Cognitive Leader, Asia at IBM where he drove the cognitive business across Asia. Before joining IBM, he was the Managing Director and Analytics Lead at Accenture delivering value to its clients across Australia and New Zealand. Coming from the industry, Shailendra held key Executive positions driving analytics at Woolworths and Coles in the past.