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SMW 2014: Key social media trends to watch out for in 2015

Karthik Padmanabhan of IBM stressed on the importance of ecosystems or influencers, who will indirectly influence the customer in the social world

Sarmistha Neogy | Mumbai | September 24, 2014

social-media-week-2014Social Media Week (SMW) 2014 started in Mumbai with a bang, on September 22, 2014. This year marks the second edition of SMW in Mumbai and the third in India. Each day has a strong line-up of speakers, which includes social media influencers, bloggers, politicians, authors and international experts, who will share their views on the domain, through presentations, debates and workshops. The theme for this year’s event is ‘Social Media for Social Change’.

This international festival was founded by Crowdcentric Media, LLC, and in India it is hosted by Rohit Varma, founder of R Square Consulting and Director of SMW in Mumbai and Bangalore.

There was an interesting session on Day 2 on ‘14 Social Media Trends to watch out for in 2015’, presented by Karthik Padmanabhan, Country Head- Ecosystem Development, India/ South Asia, IBM. He spoke about ways in which digital marketers could leverage social media to build brands, increase brand interactions and also improve customer satisfaction.

The latest social trends, according to him, fall under Tools, Talents and Context. He said that it is important to always keep abreast of the latest developments in social, like mobile and cloud. “The good thing of social media is that it allows the brand to do ample research in order to know what is working and what is not,” Padmanabhan said. He emphasised on the seismic changes in all our roles, expertise and skills and mentioned that if content is the king, then context is most definitely the queen.

According to him, in this inter-connected world, we can look forward to the following few emerging trends on social media, which will remain and strengthen in the years to come -

1)      The internet of things connects machines and devices to the social web.

2)      With the help of analytics, one should first decide on the business goal. Also pick goals where social can have an impact.

3)      Don’t ignore the rise of niche social networks.

4)      Image-centric networks are on the rise. (The brand adoption of Instagram has gone up by 80% in 2013. Facebook Images has 53% more likes and the user base has gone up to 150 million). This point highlights how visual communication continues to communicate and humanise the brand through the storytelling method. Design also plays a very important part of social media and shouldn’t be ignored.

5)      Rise in video consumption, driven by mobiles. YouTube receives 1 billion active users a month. According to the IDC predictions 2014, there will be 1.3 billion mobile users within 2015.

6)      The growing power of influence

7)      Digital content creators are needed as social media is all about doing it right and at the right time. It is also very important to measure or keep a track of online reputation, through tools like ‘Klout’. It is a website and a mobile app which uses social media analytics to rank its users according to online social influence via the ‘Klout Score’, which is a numerical value between 1 and 100. It is not about doing big, but one needs the right tools to create big impact.

8)      New collaborative economy employment models drive business results. According to the Shareable Magazine study, 75% of the respondents said they predicted sharing of physical objects and spaces will increase in the next five years. Citizen developers will form an important part of social media. This is all about crowdsourcing the right skills to get the job done.

9)      Create advocates because 77% of the customers are most likely to buy a new product via recommendations. Therefore, brands should look on how to build advocates or champions. Create customer programs to turn customers into advocates. Brands should create ecosystems to communicate a message, instead of screaming directly, because influencing directly or dictating them, irritates the customers. One good example of ecosystem is that travel bloggers are the ecosystems for Hotel companies. A simple formula for this is to start with free membership to be paid and then turn the customer into a loyal evangelist. Brand advocacy works for all the business modules, because people are speaking from the heart and this is the language which works wonders.

10)  Social media is a space where one acquires very quickly and also loses very quickly and when one loses, it is a free fall. Therefore, there is a need for a Chief Customer Officer, who will work together with the marketer in order to control the damage whenever it arises. Issue is not that the brand has a fault as everyone has, but it is all about addressing it quickly and accepting the fault.

11)  There is a growing desire for instant and ephemeral content as our mind gets jaded with too much of words. This is the reason why 30 million photos are shared everyday on SnapChat and five tweets per second contain a visual link. Therefore, brands should leverage these new forms of communication for better results.

12)  Marketing is the new media. Marketers spend a quarter of their budget in context marketing.

13)  There should be new incentives for user-generated contexts, like commenting and sharing.

14)  The blog is back. The crucial part of any blog is that it should generate interactions and, thus, 56 million users on Flipboard don’t miss this opportunity.


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