As Brand Channel Manager at pure-play social media agency Big Fuel, Ross Sheingold focuses on trying to keep the “social” in social media by creating lifestyle content that consumers actually care about. Aside from the four years spent at Penn State University, Ross has been a New Yorker living in Manhattan for the whole of his nearly 30 years on the planet. When he isn’t staying up to date on the current digital and social media trends and “geeking out” on the latest tech gadget, he spends time on his fan advocacy cause as the man behind @StadiumInsider. You can follow Ross on Twitter @RossSheingold and on Google+ http://gplus.to/RossS
Social Media Week 2012 NYC started strong on Monday morning with a keynote by David Eastman, CEO of JWT America and a thought-proving presentation by Ann Mack, JWT Director of Trendspotting. Both Eastman and Mack touched on the fundamental shift in the ways consumers are connecting with brands, while providing marketers with ways to prepare for potential pitfalls that lie ahead such as “Facebook Fatigue, “de-teching” and “hyper-personilization” pushback.
Eastman discussed the perils of lazy social marketing (the false notion that “nobody ever got fired for marketing on Facebook”) and the importance of tapping into consumer passion points. Much to the delight of seasoned social media professionals, Eastman urged brand marketers to have genuine conversations with customers – if messaging is uninspired or boring, people will doze off. And this doesn’t only apply to what happens on social media channels. Eastman argued that “social” media should roll up into digital and any other form of media, even suggesting that next year’s “Social Media Week” should just be called “Media Week.” Mack would later support this by touching on the opportunities that exist with social commerce and integrating interactive screens in brick and mortar retail.
Eastman also didn’t shy away from sharing strong opinions on hot button items such as Facebook’s frictionless sharing and the rapid growth of Pinterest. Engaging social experiences are key, and to Eastman, Facebook’s frictionless sharing almost feels like spam. In his words “sharing should be active, otherwise it is meaningless.” As for Pinterest, he recognized that “pinning” has hit the mainstream, but isn’t sold on the long-term value. To Eastman, “over-pinning” is something to look out for – Pinterest might make it hard to separate what people really care about, the same way “over-friending” on social networks has devalued friendship.
Ann Mack followed with a lively presentation touching on social media trends to look out for in 2012 and beyond. As she said, “conspicuous living” has reached an all-time high. Between social media, the advancement of mobile technology and location based services, there is a radical transparency in all of our lives. This way of life is actually leading to social angst, a result of FOMO (fear of missing out). “Radical transparency remorse” (did I really tweet that last night?!) is becoming more prevalent and people are starting to become wary of the opt-out data culture that companies like Facebook have embraced. All of this can lead to “Facebook Fatigue” and eventually “de-teching” a very real concept that will only grow stronger as fledgling social networks such as Google+ and Diaspora gain more mainstream exposure.
Mack also warned about user pushback against “hyper-personalization” while discussing what she called “The Filter Bubble.” From ads on Facebook to news stories curated through Zite all the way to search results from Google Search Plus Your World, personalization has become the norm in our digital world. In a recent JWT study, 69% of respondents stated that they felt this tailored content was useful, but 79% said they’d prefer to see things through an unfiltered lens. Meanwhile, 86% were curious about what is being left out when content is tailored to them. “Reengineering randomness” by providing different POVs and serendipity is a trend that has caught on with social services such as Meetup.com, Grubwithus, Yobongo and Turntable.FM. Consumers will continue to expect personalization, but also want the option of randomness – it’s a delicate balance.
Both Eastman and Mack made it very clear that none of this is going to end “social” commerce – it will only enhance it. Human beings are wired to socialize and will continue to do so with the means they are provided. The key for brands and marketers is to create a message that drives people to socialize and overlay the social graph across the digital experience. Brands should use social as a driver for good, advocate for opt-in instead of opt-out data and should experiment with social commerce, collaborative consumption and digital integration at retail.