By Georgia Zervudachi - Graduate Planner I was lucky enough to attend 2 #SMWLDN events, which covered both the facts ( The Future of ...

“Social used to be a thing. Now it’s everything.” #SMWLDN

By Georgia Zervudachi - Graduate Planner

I was lucky enough to attend 2 #SMWLDN events, which covered both the facts (The Future of Social Intelligence presented by Will McInnes from Brandwatch) and the fuzzy (Truth Talks: Locating a Brand’s Core Purpose with Nik Roope of The Poke). Although the focus was theoretically different, there was a fair amount of common ground, and some key points and trends were raised, covering the current social/digital landscape and the way it’s going. The ones that I found most relevant were:

1.    TECH & TOOLS
·      From “What’s Happened?” to “What’s Going to Happen?”
INSIGHT: While Amazon and Spotify have been using predictive/interest based features for years, there has been a steady increase in the use of predictive analytics – 5% compound increase since 2007. It’s on the rise, however, and around 54% of companies surveyed in late 2013 said they were using them or experimenting with them (up from 33% in 2007). Testing of tools that track and predict purchase intent has already begun in the US.
OUTCOME/THOUGHT: It’s no longer enough to be responsive, there is an increasing need to be pre-emptive.
·      It’s all about Experience
INSIGHT: Experiential tech is touted as the next big thing, and user experience is becoming increasingly important: ads on device optimized pages have an 85% higher “viewability rate.”
OUTCOME/THOUGHT: With the release of increasingly sophisticated technology (wearables, occulus rift, even HD enabled devices…) experience matters more and more, and expectations continue to grow: a slow wifi connection or badly designed website can completely undermine a users experience and consequently, their reception to a brand’s message.
2.    DATA
·      From “What?” to “So What?”
INSIGHT: 3.6% of tweets mention brands. The computing power of an iPhone 6 is over 1000 x larger than that of Apollo 11. Cool Story, Bro.
OUTCOME/THOUGHT: Just because something can be measured, it doesn’t mean it needs to be: while a data point can be incredibly potent, it needs to move from a passive point to a pro-active action. As we are able to mine more and more data, the insight becomes increasingly important. We need to be finding the right questions, and acknowledging and looking out for “unknown unknowns” in order to make full use of what we can do with data.
·      TRUTH
INSIGHT: 64% of people survey cited shared values as a reason for having a relationship with a brand, and ‘transparency and honesty’ now the third most important purchasing factors for consumers, behind price and quality.
OUTCOME/THOUGHT: A brand’s truth is what makes it relevant to consumers, and guides it through the insanity of shifting landscapes and different markets. This is the crux of why storytelling has become so important. As a brand’s way of speaking directly to its consumers, and in the context of the wilds of the internet, truth is even more important in social media – both in a sense that a brand tells the truth to its consumers as well as using a human truth to communicate its core proposition. This is intrinsically linked to …
·      TRUST
INSIGHT: In the 1950s, about 30% of a company’s value was “intangible” (consumer goodwill, reputation, market position, knowledge and business systems); today it is closer to 62% globally. Furthermore, 90% of responders want corporations to be as transparent as possible.
OUTCOME/THOUGHT: The internet has facilitated a rise in scepticism and need for evidence. Reliability and trust have become increasingly important, and in turn they have the potential to have a longer, further and more effective reach than a multi-million ad spend (although it helps).
4.    SOCIAL
·      Networks and influencer’s decline in influence
INSIGHT: 92% of consumers trust brand advocates versus 18% who trust influencers.
OUTCOME/THOUGHT: Networks are the basis of social, and can, in this context be described as “an alignment of interests.” While influencers are key in identifying networks, they are becoming less influential in effecting decisions; recommendations from friends or even strangers who aren’t pundits are becoming increasingly important.
·      “Survival of the FITTED”
INSIGHT: 41% of those surveyed recognised native material as advertising.
OUTCOME/THOUGHT: An interpretation of Darwinism: its not the most powerful that survives, but the product/idea/entity that fits best to the environment, culture and space it exists in.

While there were a few points in both of these talks that made me think, “yes, I feel like we knew that. And If I know that at this point, I’m sure people have been saying it for some time” it felt like a massive endorsement of what we are doing, and a reminder (to me at least) that we are on a frontier. And I guess it does take a while for a “seismic shift in the zeitgeist” to become mainstream… The emphasis that was put on shift in both talks emphasised just how changeable and developing an environment it is that we work in, and that it is an exciting time to be doing so with a plethora of both challenges and opportunities.  

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