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Interesting days in the world of social media

In crm, general by satya

After an absence of more than 18 months, I make a reappearance on this blog. Just as the last post in June 2012, it’s a post that was published on the NextPrinciples blog today. And no, I am not cross-posting because I am plain lazy. It’s again a topic that is very close to my heart and I feel strongly enough about it to reuse here. So, here goes….

It’s been busy times in the world of social media. Facebook acquired WhatsApp for USD 19B and on the same day Sprinklr acquired Dachis Group, a social consulting firm, to boost its Social Marketing services offering. Earlier this year, the social engagement company Hootsuite acquired UberVu.

All these activities do not come as a surprise to us at NextPrinciples. We created the company with the founding principle that customers are looking for an integrated solution and not for point solutions. It is great to see that our point of view is being vindicated – we were probably ahead of our times when we started trumpeting this message a couple of years ago and were looked at as if we had landed from Mars.

We are still in the early stages in the world of social and expect further innovation and consolidation. The Generation 1.0 vendors in the social media space offered point products which focused on specific parts of a process (e.g. listening, analytics, engagement etc.) resulting in silos within the organization. Companies ended up with 3 to 5 social media tools on average and were still unable to drive insights or quantifiable benefits. The next generation of 2.0 vendors are taking a broader approach, and the 1.0 companies are looking to acquisitions to catapult themselves from offering point products to offering complete solutions.

In order to deliver a seamless customer experience, customers are looking for one integrated platform across analytics, engagement and data services that integrate with back end systems and processes. Given the state of social and related fast moving components, customers are increasingly asking for professional services to educate them and share best practices. One key factor influencing these requirements is that C-level execs are also beginning to ask the tough question about the “ROI of Social”. That’s good for the industry on the whole since it’s time that we move away from hand waving about vanity metrics such as likes and followers.

In summary:

  1. It is good that the Social Media vendors are doing whatever is needed to bring the different parts of the process together – it’s about time they do that since an integrated solution is merely table stakes.
  2. More importantly, It’s not about “just” social any more. As Paul Greenberg wrote a few months ago, it’s time to drop the “Social” from “Social CRM” and with good reason.
  3. It’s more about how social can help enhance and add further value to existing processes such as Demand Generation and Customer Service.
  4. Taking this approach will help the business units within the company (Marketing, Sales, Customer Support) take the Social Media team more seriously and in turn, the Social Media folks can finally start getting included at the adults’ table for business related discussions. We are already seeing this happen in the interactions we are having with companies around Social Lead Management.