Social Media & Content Marketing in 2012

At the end of each year, we look behind us at the year that was and ahead to the year that will be. Now, I am not a huge fan of predictions – they are statements bravely made and rarely revisited. But I am ALWAYS interested in connecting the dots – in the broader trends that help us understand our behaviour a little better.

Crowdsourcing is an excellent way doing this.By focusing on the opinions of people with knowledge and expertise in a particular topic, you effectively create a prediction market. And prediction markets can be surprisingly accurate.

Each year, Joe Pulizzi and the Content Marketing Institute crowdsource ideas for content marketing in the year ahead. As a prediction market of ideas it can be a very useful way of generating ideas for your 2012 planning. Just make sure you cross-check with your own knowledge and business expertise. After all, the Future is a notoriously unpredictable place.

The Social Business Comes First

In the coming months and years we will hear a lot more about “social business” and what it means for your organisation. There will be infographics, presentations, blog posts, tips, tricks and links galore. Those who have been working in social media – say, as consultants – will begin to transform themselves into social business practitioners, just like many of us from the “dot com” boom transitioned from web to marketing.

Over time we will also wrestle with the “place” for social media. Each line of business will claim ownership – as will your advertising, media, PR and creative agencies. But like all things business, ultimate responsibility lies within your organisation – and arm’s length social media will become more difficult to manage as it scales beyond your borders.

David Armano has been at the forefront of social media’s integration with business over the last five or six years. And as EVP of Global Innovation and Integration with Edelman Digital, he has access to big brands with big challenges. This deck on Social Business Planning is a great starting point – especially as a credentials deck for Edelman Digital.

Social Business Planning

View more presentations from Edelman Insights

But there is still a lot of focus on the marketing/branding side of business. That is understandable given both Edelman’s history and the strong adoption of social media pioneered by marketers the world over – but as I have suggested many times – social brands follow the lead of the social business. And in most cases the heavy lifting of the social-focused innovator – what I call the digital flaneur – is (or should be) focused internally. On enablement. Transformation. Getting. Shit. Done.

Your job is to drive that innovation. Enable it in your teams. Encourage it in your management. Take a critical eye to the slides in this deck and apply it to your business. Use your business nous. Use what you know about the workings, machinations, politics, processes and directions of your organisation and build a small plan. Own it. Change what you can. Discover collaborators. Find the way to make it work.

All the rest is just window dressing.

Best. Generation. Ever.

Often when we talk about the big, world changing trends that will shape our future, we focus only on technology. But, for me, the single biggest challenge facing us all in the next ten years is the retirement of the generation known as Baby Boomers.

It was previously expected that 2011 would mark a turning point in global demographics with Baby Boomers reaching retirement age. This has partly been ameliorated due to the global financial crisis which saw retirement savings slashed. But time waits for no man (or woman) – and the coming years will see drastic changes in our workplaces. Not only will we begin to lose corporate knowledge, business experience and capabilities – it will be replaced by a younger generation – the millennials (or Gen Y/Z) – with vastly different priorities and expectations.

The shock waves that radiate from this change will impact almost every aspect of our lives. This infographic from sums up some of these impacts nicely (with thanks to R Ray Wang). But think beyond the figures – think also of the behaviours – for that’s where the real change will hit us full force. Get ready.


The Psychology of Social Commerce

I love this style of illustration – it taps into my nostalgic sense of wonder. But what I like most about this infographic from Tab Juice is that it nicely captures some of the changing behaviours that are impacting the way that consumers approach their purchasing. And the lesson for marketers? Understanding your social customer will change what you do and why you do it.

Will 2012 be the year that you really start to grapple with the challenges of social media within your business landscape?


PCN Connect: A Little Something I Prepared Earlier

About two years ago I wrote that Social Media is Not Sexy. This post was about the business challenges of social media and just how complex, challenging and incremental it can be within large scale, enterprise sized businesses.

About eight or nine months after writing this post I took on a new role with SAP’s Premier Customer Network. I’d already launched an online platform for SAP’s education team with a heavy social media element – and this new opportunity to work closely with the world’s largest companies in a social media focused role sounded fantastic. But what would it really take? How far could we go? Would it be as unsexy as I thought?

I can recall speaking with Mike Hickinbotham who suggested that there WAS a deep down sexiness to getting big companies to engage in social media. And he should know, working with one of Australia’s largest companies, Telstra – but his point was not necessarily about the glitz and glamour that comes with flashy campaigns – it was about the slow burn that comes from changing the nature of the relationships that we have with our customers.

Over the last 12 months or so, we have been working with some of SAP’s most strategic customers in this way – creating a secure, closed community called PCN Connect. It is still early days – but it is exciting – and maybe even a little sexy – to see this site come to life.

Here’s a taste of our journey so far. But like any social business initiative – there is still a way to go – and it gets more interesting with every step.

Outlook for Australian Social Business in 2012

Are you involved in marketing or social media from a business perspective? If so, I’d love to have your input on the outlook for social media, marketing and social business in Australia for 2012. It is a very quick survey that should only take about FIVE minutes of your time. I will publish the results here on the blog, together with some analysis and maybe even some insight.

AND if you participate I will send you a nicely produced PDF version of the report that you can use in your marketing presentations next year!

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

As we reach the fag-end of this long year, many bloggers turn their attention to the year that was and the year that will be.

Sometimes there is hope and optimism – and sometimes there quiet reflection. But each of these five must-reads from last week will give you one more reason to spark your imagination.

  1. Do you second guess yourself? I do it all the time, and Tim Kastelle captures this nicely when describing the hours before a big presentation. He asks, when was the last time you were wrong?
  2. Each week we are bombarded with the newest thinking, the greatest product launches, jaw-dropping innovations and daring entrepreneurship. Craig Wilson suggests that there are five reasons Australia risks being left behind in the digital economy
  3. Kris Hoet opens a presentation with a quote from Mark Twain and goes on to talk about social currency. The quote: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why”. Love it.
  4. A great reflection and call to action from Ray Wang – the right of being offline asks us to think about what we are giving up (really) and what we do want
  5. Do you try or do you do? A great post by Michael Hyatt that asks us to deliberately choose. A mantra for 2012 perhaps?!

How Young People Are Faring in 2011

HYPAF-cover-full-report-236x335 Can you remember when you first left home? Do you remember what it felt like – that first week – being solely responsible for all aspects of your life? For me, it was thrilling, but also daunting. It was really only in the silence of that first night that the reality set in – childhood was seriously over, and this new life was entirely in my own hands.

I finished school during an economic recession and walked into a competitive and shrinking job market. I’d done well enough at school yet still found it hard to secure that vital first job. I can remember feeling the pressure, the desperation and exhaustion of doing interview after interview. It took longer than I ever expected to retire from the ranks of the unemployed.

But in 2011, times are better, right? We are more economically stable – secure and growing than we have been in decades. Some would even say, we are “booming”. But the Foundation for Young Australians’ new report How Young People are Faring 2011 suggests that this prosperity and wealth is not “trickling down”. In fact, key findings indicate that young people are more vulnerable than the rest of the population to economic instability:

  • more than one quarter of all long-term unemployed Australians are now aged 15 to 24
  • since 2008, the percentage of young Australians without a job for a year or longer has almost doubled
  • despite Australia’s relative economic buoyancy, teenagers in Australia have higher rates of long-term unemployment than in many other OECD countries.

In my view, this means that we need to redouble our focus on catapulting young people into the workforce. It’s about ensuring they have the support, confidence and capability to transition into the world of work in such a way that it benefits all.

This is precisely why the work that I do with local non-profit Vibewire is important – it’s pointless having opportunity available if you aren’t able to understand it, grasp it and accept it. The team at Vibewire work everyday to build resilience, capacity and skills through a vibrant internship program, this year generating over 20,000 hours of experience for young people. You can support Vibewire, become involved as a mentor or even as an intern. Please do – you  won’t regret it.

The full FYA report is available for download here.

Social Brand or Social Business: Chicken or Egg?

The Pivot Conference, to be held October 15-16, 2012 is shaping up in a very interesting way. The focus is to move from “social brands to social business” – which I find exciting – but it also makes me wonder. Do we really feel that we are in a world of social brands as yet? And I am also wondering, can you have a social brand without first becoming a social business? What comes first, chicken or egg?

In the lead up to the Pivot Conference, a research report has been released: The State of Social Marketing 2011-12. You have to register for it, but it is a great summary and well worth it.

Throughout the report, there is a consistent theme – the gap between the business and your customers is wider than you think. My experience bears this out and is reinforced by IBM’s recent Social CRM report (2011). The gap, which IBM terms “the perception gap” is a real and persistent challenge for organisations and needs to be seriously addressed in the coming months.

Take a look, for example, at the business focus for social media for 2012. The State of Social Marketing report indicates that sales, consumer engagement and lead generation are at the top three priorities.


Yet how many businesses have closed the perception gap? How many can deliver on their customer’s expectations – or worse – how many have even begun engaging with their customers about these expectations? The report states that only 34.8% have asked their customers. That’s not a gap. It’s a gulf.

Social Business Comes First

At the recent Social Media Plus conference, I described the challenge that we are facing as being similar to the difference between playing 80s arcade game Space Invaders and Angry Birds. On the business side, we are happily engaged with the invading hoardes – identifying the opportunity then firing off a response. The problem is, is that the game itself has changed. We may be playing Space Invaders – but our customers are playing Angry Birds. It is a profound mismatch.

The idea of a “social brand” sounds good – and there are plenty of examples of successful social marketing now available. But my view is that we have the cart before the horse. Before we can truly claim to have a social brand, we need to engage in the hard work of transforming our business processes and practices first.

We need to become social businesses first – and the social marketing will naturally follow.

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

We must be getting towards the end of the year … as it seems that there is a lot of recycling of ideas going on.There are plenty of blog posts rehashing ideas or simply stating the obvious. Maybe we are all just a little Sick and Tired.

Having said that, there are still some great posts that appeared in the last week and are well worth your attention. Savour them!

  1. In case you missed it, Lisa Petrilli launched her eBook and found it featured on the Huffington Post and on the Amazon best seller list – all within days. Obviously The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership struck a nerve. Check out Lisa’s blog post and book!
  2. These days we don’t even need to create content – we can simply curate it (much as I am doing with this series of links). Neil Perkin shares The 3 Pillars of Content Curation to help us make sure we are doing it right.
  3. Have you ever been asked by your execs to explain the ROI of social media? If so, you may just want to check out David Meerman Scott’s Social Media ROI Hypocrisy video.
  4. What Do Five Year Olds and Product Managers Have in Common? You may already know – but if not – some welcome gold from the Cranky Product Manager!
  5. Gavin Costello has a cracking post on the Impact that Wordads will Have on Google and Adsense. Check it out.