Today’s social experience is disjointed because consumers have separate identities in each social network they visit. A simple set of technologies that enable a portable identity will soon empower consumers to bring their identities with them — transforming marketing, eCommerce, CRM, and advertising. IDs are just the beginning of this transformation, in which the Web will evolve step by step from separate social sites into a shared social experience. Consumers will rely on their peers as they make online decisions, whether or not brands choose to participate. Socially connected consumers will strengthen communities and shift power away from brands and CRM systems; eventually this will result in empowered communities defining the next generation of products.
We found that technologies trigger changes in consumer adoption, and brands will follow, resulting in five distinct waves, they consist of:
The Five Eras of the Social Web:
1) Era of Social Relationships: People connect to others and share
2) Era of Social Functionality: Social networks become like operating system
3) Era of Social Colonization: Every experience can now be social
4) Era of Social Context: Personalized and accurate content
5) Era of Social Commerce: Communities define future products and services
Timing of the Five Overlapping Eras:
It’s important to note that these eras aren’t sequential, but instead are overlapping. We’ve already entered and have seen maturity for the era of social relationships, have entered social functionality but haven’t seen true utility, and are starting to see threads of social colonization with early technologies like Facebook connect. Soon these federated identities will empower people to enter the era of social context with personalized and social content. The following diagram demonstrates how we should expect to see the eras play out in the future –with social commerce the furthest out.
Interviews with 24 of the top Social Companies:
Research isn’t done in a vacuum, that’s why we conducted qualitative research to find out what we should come to expect. We came to these conclusions based on interviews with executives, product managers, and strategists at the following 24 companies: Appirio, Cisco Eos, Dell, Facebook, Federated Media Publishing, Flock, Gigya, Google (Open Social/stack team), Graphing Social Patterns (Dave McClure), IBM (SOA Team), Intel (social media marketing team), KickApps, LinkedIn, Meebo, Microsoft (Live team), MySpace, OpenID Foundation (Chris Messina), Plaxo, Pluck, Razorfish, ReadWriteWeb, salesforce.com, Six Apart, and Twitter.
How Brands Should Prepare
What’s interesting isn’t this vision for the future, but what it holds in store for brands, as a result, companies should prepare by:
Don’t Hesitate: These changes are coming at a rapid pace, and we’re in three of these eras by end of year. Brands should prepare by factoring in these eras into their near term plans. Don’t be left behind and let competitors connect with your community before you do.
Prepare For Transparency: People will be able to surf the web with their friends, as a result you must have a plan. Prepare for every webpage and product to be reviewed by your customers and seen by prospects –even if you choose not to participate.
Connect with Advocates: Focus on customer advocates, they will sway over prospects, and could defend against detractors. Their opinion is trusted more than yours, and when the power shifts to community, and they start to define what products should be, they become more important than ever.
Evolve your Enterprise Systems: Your enterprise systems will need to connect to the social web. Social networks and their partners are quickly becoming a source of customer information and lead generation beyond your CRM system. CMS systems will need to inherit social features –pressure your vendors to offer this, or find a community platform.
Shatter your Corporate Website: In the most radical future, content will come to consumers –rather than them chasing it– prepare to fragment your corporate website and let it distribute to the social web. Let the most important information go and spread to communities where they exist; fish where the fish are.
If you translate this blog post, I’ll add your link here and credit you.
This project took a team effort, and I’d like to thank Josh Bernoff a guiding force in my career, Emily Bowen who kept the project going, Cynthia Pflaum for the quantitative data, Megan Chromik in our editing team for the polish, and Jon Symons in our PR team for the media outreach.
I went out to Half Moon Bay’s Dream Machine event, where machinery was displayed from cars, steam engines, hybrids, motorcycles and airplanes were featured. One of the things I love to do is meet up with Scoble and Thomas Hawk to watch them photograph interesting things with their professional Canon cameras. Check out Scoble’s and Thomas’s amazing photos on Flickr. I certainly don’t have the budget to spend 5-10k on camera gear, but try to go for the opposite approach and see how much I can do with camera phones. I’m demoing the ‘social media phone’ called the N85 from Nokia, a 5 megapixel camera, which I’ll give away to someone after my trial.
I relied on a few settings such as exposure and white balance, focused on getting the right angle and lighting, then use the Picnik online photo editing software that is available in flickr for free (click “edit” photo from your flickr pics) to change color, contrast, saturation, cropping, and sharpness, I never opened photoshop. While it’s no where near the quality of Robert’s or Thomas’s pics (you can go to their large images and see how the photos stay crystal clear) I had fun.
I just want to make the point that soon, great pics can come from consumer cameras on phones and free online software –you don’t have to be a pro or a pro-amateur. Technology is enabling. Check out Michael’s videos of the day, he picked up some great coverage using a flip camera.
Also, I have a real affinity for the USAF, my grandfather was a well known Chinese American fighter pilot in WW2, see his plane, the “San Mateo Belle”. Sadly there were no thunderbolts at the show.
I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an industry analyst. By creating this digest (I started this over a year ago) it really helps me to stay on top of the space I cover.
I’ve created a new category called Digest (view archives). Start with the Web Strategy Summary, then quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read text for my take, and click link to dive in for more.
Web Strategy Summary
For once, this week has some actual strategic news: Google’s intent to bypass closed social networks by creating public profiles are aligned with it’s strategy. MySpace is undergoing some leadership changes, in order to win back the media’s attention, they’ll need to quickly innovate. Following the executive turnover we’re seeing all over the industry, Hi5 follows suit.
Strategy: Google to circumvent social networks
This is an important gesture in the world of social networks. Google has launched a profile feature that allows people to create profiles in exchange for influence on search results page. As you know, social networks are comprised of profiles and people connecting to each other. This strategy enables Google to build a ‘non-social network’ that rather than focus on a destination, instead lives on the open web. This is aligned with Google’s open strategy towards the web. Given their large user base, this will likely be successful, my question however is simple: what took so long?
Leadership: MySpace names Owen Vean Natta as CEO
News Corp’s MySpace has been doing the executive cleanse, having removed a handful of leadership now including Chris DeWolfe. This move, likely in response to the daunting growth and buzz of Facebook, and the potential fall out from the Google deal. While MySpace has been innovating with media, music, and catering to small businesses, they’ve not caught the eye of the market as the innovative player. Brands shouldn’t walk away from MySpace, they’ve still a thriving community, and this new leadership could offer innovation –although expect it to takes months to emerge. I’ve requested numbers from MySpace, to evaluate their current capabilities.
Culture: Silicon Valley Social Media Deployed in Iraq
Cultures are often defined on how the common people are allowed to communicate and share their voices. Silicon Valley leaders or founders from Twitter, Meetup, Hocast, and YouTube assemble in Iraq to share expertise and discuss how social tools can improve the local situation.
Security: Cybergangs crowdsource thugs
Not uncommon, but social networking tools can be used to steal people’s identity, financial info, or release harmful code. Cybergangs are employing crowd created mobs to break captcha codes, a brute force tactic to get into people’s personal info.
Deals: Mzinga lands Playboy
This large media company will try it’s hand to let the community of 6 million users to it’s website to engage by participating in voting, sharing, and discussions. Mzinga scored well in my recent Wave for moderation –which could come in handy for a large, and ‘passionate’ community.
Research: Social Networks used by Marketers
This research, (I can’t vouch for the methodolgy) suggests that many marketers are using social networking tools, with a focus on Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs. Overall, these numbers look high, but it depends on how the questions were posed, and over what time period.
Personal: On the road
This is the first time I’ve done a weekly update on me, let me know if you think I should continue this. I’ve been on the road for the last 5 out of 6 weeks, I got back at midnight last night from Forrester’s marketing forum in Orlando. While I find my work enjoyable, at the same time it’s exhausting. I do look forward to these quiet moments on the weekend where I can really think about where the industry is headed. It’s moving so incredibly fast, I find that aggregation, and a quiet hour every weekend is very important to do. On Monday, my report “future of the social web” launches. Stay tuned. Next week I go to IBM’s Impact event, then to Calgary to speak at the Web Strategy conference.
Submit: I’m listening. If you’re a social network, or widget company, I want to know of your news, send me an email, or leave a comment below. Help me stay up to date but first, read how to score your announcements.
Hungry For Social Networking Stats? Then you should see my collection of Social Networks Stats for 2008 and 2009. Bookmark them, then share it with others as I continue to update it.
Forrester’s Marketing Forum in Orlando Florida, see other photos tagged FMF09
Yesterday’s theme was to take risks and engage in innovation –even in times of economic hardship. Armed and excited with examples from the speakers and panels, the conference was now focused on the ‘how to’, with a focus on engaging your customers to be involved, guide, and lead your company in tandem with your own leadership.
Forrester’s Peter Burris: Engaging the Innovative Customer
First we heard from Forrester’s Peter Burris, who focused on the theme o engaging your innovative customer, he suggested that as you take risks, let your innovative customers be your guide. The conference focus met the needs of multiple industries, and Peter gave data and insight not just how B2C can win but how B2B customers’ reliance on each other –and social tools – changes the marketing game. He referenced IBM’s Sandy Carter’s programs as best in class for bringing community into the forefront of B2B marketing including how they’ve integrated community into next week’s IMPACT event.
Peter brings forth a framework to help marketers plan for innovation: PLOT a path forward, which includes: Persona, Develop customer needs through social interactions, Location: Allow customers to create groups, and gives the example that Adobe hosts 700 user groups. Serena software embeds customers in its development & launch processes. Then Option and finally, Test.
His recommendations were very clear for engaging innovative customers:
Position marketing as a resource that B2B customers can use to drive better business outcomes.
Blend social media with traditional tactics to create new marketing forms –and new levels of productivity.
Align marketing and development to lower the risks
Ending notes: Innovative customers are ready, willing, and –thanks to social media—able to guide your efforts to manage risk.
Case Example: Microsoft’s Craig Dewar on Community
Next, we heard from Craig Dewar of Microsoft, hailing from New Zealand, he discussed how Microsoft has engaged. His first example, Craig gives the example how Microsoft launched a gaming console into a saturated market where Sony was a leader, and they launched the Xbox product. Each Xbox user can establish their own online identity and can interact with others. As each new game came out a new forum and dialog was formed. The second example is Channel 9 an online community for developers. The third example is Microsoft Dynamics Community, a CRM tool. The goals are: learning, networking, support, and feedback.
Even if you build it, they may not come.
Critical Mass in a community is hard and will take longer than you think.
You won’t get community right, so be prepared to optimize.
Want to learn more? Blog Coverage from David Berkowitz
Long time friend David Berkowitz covered the many sessions, and even was adding pictures in near real time in his live blogging. Pretty dang impressive, even if I may say so myself. See all his posts that are tagged “conferences” to get more detailed coverage of the event. You can also see the hundreds of tweets tagged FMF09, and if you live blogged any of the sessions, leave a comment below.
I enjoyed this year’s show, it’s amazing that we had around 500 attendees registered even during a tight economy, it goes to show that now is the time for marketing to step up and innovate. I enjoyed having dinner with clients and drinking a bit too much EJ Gallow wine, heh. I was told that we had a wait list of over 30 vendors that wanted to be in the showcase, it was currently filled to capacity, so the demand for partners who wanted to help brands is clear. It was universally said that Forrester’s Shar stole the show, even with her opening musical rendition (see video from day 1, about 9 minutes in). I quick Forrester factoid, Forrester keynotes are encouraged to rehearse 20 times, many times in front of colleagues. We’ve already several more forums lined up, including the Marketing Consumer Forum in Oct in Chicago, see you there.
Here’s the archive of the live ustream of Day 2 opening keynotes.
Forrester’s Christine Spivey Overby kicked off the conference, first reminiscing on how great innovation comes out of times of economic struggle. Her example, which is so suited for Forrester’s marketing conference in Orlando, is Walt Disney’s creative genius to develop an iconic entertainment franchise. She stresses that now is the time to do marketing differently by thinking differently and embracing innovation.
[Marketers should innovate now, despite the perceived risk]
Why innovate now:
VP/Principal Analyst on the Interactive Marketing team, Shar VanBoskirk spoke next. She indicates that a recent forecast shows that mobile, social, email, display, and search marketing will increase at a CGR of 17% in 2014. She gives some funny examples of some silly Twitter examples from overzealous customers. Risks: we take them because of the thrill, or the innovation.
A marketing program development that you can pursue within your own role in order to solve problems or improve business results. It’s not limited to your CMO or your corporate strategy group. An accessible innovation should have the following traits:
Enhance: Replace incumbent channel with an unproven one.
Include: Incorporate community perspective
Empathize: Relating to your community
Iterate: Speeds developing
Shar notes that BestBuy’s remix is a great example of innovating during a recession. They’ve provided an API for third party developers – I’ve outlined the program – the most unique is GPS discovery tool and Camel. With all innovation comes risk, in Best Buy’s case the risk is letting anyone use brand assets.
7-11 Takes Risks with Simpsons tie-in
Next, we had Rita Bargerhuff, the VP of Marketing, discussing how 7-11 takes risks. She outlines there are four requirements before diving into risk: 1) is it right for your Brand 2) is it right for consumers 3) is it right for internal stakeholders and 4) Is it right for the environment.
Rita eloquently gave a case study of how they aligned the 7-11 brand with the popular Simpsons movie, which while was risky as the show paints “Kwik-e-mart” in a culturally sensitive parody, see a public flickr set. Taking the risk required intensive stakeholder buy-in, which resulted in movie tie-ins, movie product tie-in (squishee), and even creating a Kwik-e-mart store. Did it pay off? Yes, there were lines wrapped around the store to get into the store.
Her closing remarks? “Success leads to success You’ll attract new business partners” well spoken.