I was at adtech Sydney the week before last speaking at a session called “what is the impact of social content on e-commerce”. During this session I shared my thoughts on the three main trends that an online company has to be aware of in a social media strategy. Here is a post with my speaking notes cover the three critical trends to follow and understand when crafting a social media/content strategy:
Trend 1 - Trust, interest and relevance as (if not more) important than technology
Social media is word of mouth at the speed of light. Successful word of mouth marketing comes not from technology but from trust, interest and relevance. As I mentioned in my lead up interview to eyefortravel TDS next month, getting someone to talk about your brand is not driven by technology it comes from earning a customer's trust, telling them something interesting and making it available in a relevant way. Technology is the speed and connectivity tool but is not the message. The recommendation from this trend is to spend as much if not more time on the message as the mechanism. Just like TV shows in the fifties were great ways to generate word of mouth about soap because of the relevance to the audience, so too they only worked if the soap opera carried a message targeted to and of interest to the audience. The soap operas in themselves were not transactionally driven. Similarly, this is why the initial phases of social media marketing have been content related rather than transactional or deal based. In the travel arena, content and travel stories are more likely to be relevant, interesting and build trust (at this stage) than sending out poorly targeted deals.
Trend 2 - the open ended question comes online
In the nineties and early noughties the job of the online travel industry (suppliers, agents, content and search businesses) was to help customers answer closed questions. Specific questions with specific answers. The last 2 years has seen the shift online from asking closed questions to open question. From a closed question like 'how much for a 4 star hotel in sydney?" or "how much for a flight to new york?" to an open question like "where should I go next?" or "what should I do this weekend?". The first has a limited set of answers regardless of who asked. The second has an unlimited number of answers that change depending on who asks.
For online travel businesses this means using the data we collect from our members, community and purchasers to drive recommendations and trustworthy community interaction to shift form answering limited questions to limitless questions.
Trend 3 - the platforms for social media are still in beta
I am convinced we are at an intermediary step with social media. By that I mean that the platforms are not close to being finalised in form, function or usage. Status updates in Twitter, Linkedin or the new Google buzz are still non-stop streams of information. As I mentioned in my story about tracking the Mumbai attacks via twitter this constant feed of information and innuendo can be overwhelming in volume and unmanageable in determining truth from fiction. Twitter is not a final product, same for Facebook and Linkedin. In fact the social media platform space is still in beta. People were tweeting at adtech that blogs are now dead, long live Twitter. But still only a fraction of the online world uses twitter and there are more cumulative page views being attracted to long form content than micro-blogging update. There is a next stage coming, a next product or iteration of an existing product that adds a management layer, a relevancy later and an attribution/authority layer - in other words trust, relevance and interest.