North America Social practice lead for Accenture Interactive, Aneesh Desikan, shares with us his five insights into social media’s importance to business and the future of social media.
Why is social media so crucial for businesses?
Social media is at a tipping point. As social media matures globally, this presents a challenge and an opportunity for businesses since where to focus isn’t necessarily clear. More and more organizations as well as senior executives realize that there is an imperative to use social media more extensively because that’s where their customers and employees engage with them and their brands everyday.
Translating social media objectives to tangible business value can often be challenging to brands. By focusing on areas like brand reputation, customer experience, customer acquisition and loyalty, companies can demonstrate the value of social media.
How did the emergence of mobile-focused social media platforms affect overall social business strategy?
As digital has changed the way in which consumers interact with each other and with brands, mobile usage has become increasingly common. When social networks such as Facebook and Twitter started gaining traction through increased mobile use, platforms such as Instagram started taking advantage of features in smartphones that were not available during the time Facebook and Twitter were initially formed. Companies are now increasingly realizing that mobile social sharing platforms can provide a canvas to create and amplify their content and messaging to reach far more customers in a more meaningful and relevant way.
How has the way businesses interact with social media changed since businesses first adopted social media as a marketing channel?
Social media has provided a mechanism for two-way dialogue in a way that was not possible before. The early use of social media saw brands using social media to promote products similar to what they had done through banner and display ads. This was not very well received by customers, since these efforts were viewed as overly promotional, businesses to create engaging content that was more organic and resonated well with their audience. As social media has evolved, companies have started leveraging social media as a platform as not only to engage and promote content with customers, but are increasingly using it as a way to provide customer service, as well as grow revenue through innovative social commerce programs. The advent of features like the buy button on platforms like Facebook and Twitter have demonstrated the vast, untapped potential for social commerce that is starting to scale.
What are some of the biggest breakthroughs in the social media space in the last year? Which breakthrough do you think will change the way business is conducted in the social space?
Social commerce has been one of the biggest breakthroughs from an innovation standpoint in the past year. Companies such as Twitter partnered with Amazon to launch the ability to add items from Amazon directly into the user’s shopping cart through hashtags on the Twitter platform. This has enabled users to seamlessly shop for Amazon products on Twitter. Social commerce is an area that is likely to gain traction in the next couple of years, and experiences such as users buying products on mobile will become more commonplace.
Additionally, as wearable technology becomes more widely adopted by customers, social sharing around fitness activities, sleep, and even more mundane activities can be used to better inform brands about their customers.
What is the future of social media? Do you think social media will open more possibilities to businesses in the future, or do you think the possibilities are narrowing?
Social media is just starting to gain traction and momentum in the marketplace. As new experiences such as virtual reality, Google Glass, and even brain sensors become more widely adopted, unique social experiences around these use cases will start emerging. This will lead to increased sharing of data between customers and brands, which in turn, will drive innovation and further untapped revenue streams and opportunities for companies.