As marketers, we plan for the future based on what has worked well in the past. With traditional marketing levers like TV, radio, and print media, in-store promotion and the like, we often see spikes in sales as a direct result of these programs. Social media, and specifically Facebook, is a different beast. If you're planning based on past results you'll be behind before a campaign even launches.
As competition between Facebook, Google, and Twitter heats up, marketers can expect faster innovation and change. This presents opportunities for the agile and determined, and significant challenges for those less adaptable to new ways of working. Here are five things every marketer should be thinking about:
Facebook reinvents search as IPO nears.
When is the best time to launch a powerful new feature that could drive billions in revenue? Right before an IPO, I reckon. Facebook can deliver an entirely new search experience never before possible without its social graph. Brands who have captured check-ins and fans, and who build relationships, will develop a stronghold in this brave new world.
Marketers will want objective, third party measurement. Facebook will not set the benchmarks.
CEOs only care about buzz and fan growth for so long. At the end of the day, their question remains "how many cases did we move." Bringing social data to life and profiling the indicators of social marketing success in a real-time dashboard backed by quantitative research will become commonplace by year-end. And just as you should never ask if a new outfit makes you look fat, you should never ask Facebook if it is driving ROI. Facebook will be supportive and continue to provide research relating to media effectiveness, but an objective multi-channel environment should be used to measure social media ROI.
Facebook tabs will be murdered in broad daylight by social applications and the timeline.
Facebook Timeline will allow brands to tell their stories in ways never before possible, presuming Facebook launches similar functionality for brand profiles. Facebook tab management tools will be commoditized and become redundant by years end. Social applications that deliver utility or entertainment to consumers will rule the day.
Managing scale, cost, and consistency of applications will be funded by leading marketers.
A social marketer's new best friend will become IT, who will need to step in and help manage an app eco-system. Apps will move from a collection of cheap and cheerful tools created and managed by disparate individuals across the organization, to being measureable, efficient and secure through a managed global infrastructure.
Data, privacy, and compliance become larger issues
Local markets are cracking down and will continue to challenge the status quo on privacy, data storage, and user opt-in. Managing across multiple jurisdictions with varying practices will become commonplace. Lawsuits and regulatory investigations will drive Fortune 500 companies and Facebook to seek new practices that will ensure compliance.
What's a Marketer to do?
- Speak to the CMO, CDO, CIO or VP of digital. Make sure they are planning and budgeting globally for this brave new world. If they don't understand what is coming, seek help - or alternative employment.
- If you are trying to write social media technology, measurement or infrastructure plans on a "brand-by -brand" basis - you'll have a tough decade.
- Plan and budget a solid offense (creative ideas) and defense (measurement, efficiency, protection, compliance, infrastructure, security). Somebody has to fund it and IT is unlikely to have the budget for this in 2012.
- Everything on Facebook is "always on." Plan accordingly and ensure you're staffed appropriately.
- Align to KPIs regionally if not globally and measure them objectively.
- Have a solid "transition plan" to move boldly forward to the new opportunities offered by Facebook. Execute for today while working toward the goals of tomorrow.
Facebook isn't going to fall off a cliff and successful marketers will challenge themselves to embrace and integrate new marketing channels and commit to being agile to maximize their potential. Marketers who cut through the noise and focus efforts of social leading social platforms,will be rewarded.