It seems like in 2012, every single day produced a new start-up in Social Media Measurement and Analytics. Every company was doing something slightly different than the last, each iterating on concepts that the big guys in the field started with. At the beginning of 2013, this field is more confusing than ever, especially to companies that are looking to gain insights on how being “social” can help their business, and impact their bottom line. It’s time for a shake-out, and here’s the key trends I believe will play out in 2013:
- No more “Just for Fun” Facebook Pages: After 2 or more years of pumping money into “Social,” and doing little more than providing material for the Condescending Corporate Brand Page, and giving us examples to use when we talk about companies that don’t “get it”, executives are growing tired of a money sink they don’t understand, and can’t tie to sales. Companies will either get serious about doing it right, hire external companies to do it for them, or make a tactical retreat from social. They’re also going to demand to see how social is bringing value to the company.
- Context: As we can see from the confusion in the analytics space, MORE DATA isn’t necessarily always better. Analytics tools and services will evolve this year to provide more context around WHY things are happening, and will get better at extracting actionable data out of the noise in social.
- Unlocking Influence: Our understanding of online influence has long hinged on how influence impacts metrics from Web 1.0. Clicks, views, registrations, cookies, and trackable actions . . . they are great for display advertising, but fall far short of providing us a complete understanding of the true influence of online personalities on their audiences. 2013 will bring the first viable crop of tracking tools that attempt to tackle this problem.
- The Last Mile: The big problem tying sales figures to social is there’s no connection to the register. In the last year, we’ve seen growth around Google Wallet, Paypal, NFC, and more innovative ways to pay at the register. These technologies are internet-connected by default, which opens the door to a truly socially integrated customer experience in a brick-and-mortar retail location.
Ultimately, this year is all about businesses learning to use social in more ways than relationship building. As consumers share more and more of their lives online, and turn to social and mobile as a bigger part of their online identity, the brands that move first to use those connections to give their customers meaningful value are going to be the big winners this year.