12 Social Shopper Marketing Trends for 2012
In 2011, we saw Social media consumption begin to surpass most other forms of traditional media. Businesses and brands have some social presence in the form of at least a Facebook page. Many began to actively build and engage customers via their social presence and integrate across functional areas from marketing to customer service. An apt description for the year might be social 1.5 as new services emerged that began to blend social, mobile, and location into interesting offerings. This trend will continue in 2012 as people find meaningful ways to connect and share.
Here are the big trends I think will shape social further in 2012:
1. Self Expression
Pinterest is a great example of the power of simple self-expression tools. Path is another. Social tools that encourage and simplify this somewhat higher-level-Maslow need will dominate the landscape in 2012. This is a great opportunity for brands and retailers to better understand what’s engaging as their customers “raise their hands” to share what they love.
2. Organic SEO
Social is a content game. As many companies discovered in the dotcom age, the platforms are only the first step. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Quora all require daily interaction and engagement. However, when planned and managed properly, social content is very effective at driving search rankings and results. Additionally, as search engines are tweaked to value recency, social becomes critical to maintain search position. As shoppers turn to their mobile devices before, during and post-trip, social SEO will be part of the content stream they encounter.
3. Search from other platforms
Any platform with large amounts of content becomes a search engine. Twitter and YouTube are great search tools now, so is Pinterest which is fast becoming a key traffic
driver for many brands. Search along the path to purchase will take place in many forms and consumers will use aggregated search tools vs. retail or brand-specific offerings.
4. Single Brand/Retail Apps Won’t be Adopted
Similar to loyalty card key fobs, retailers and brands are offering shopping apps that provide services and connectivity that offer features such as shopping lists, access to deals, in-store navigation, etc. This won’t fly in a Googlized world. The #1 current shopping activity is price comparisons across retail and eCommerce offerings. Consumers want to compare and contrast prices, recipes, etc., and can easily do so using their Smartphone’s browser, no app required. Payment and auto-replenishment will become the killer apps.
5. Gamification – Not everyone wants to play
So I have a few places that I am absolutely not going to relinquish my role of mayor. However, my LBS platform of choice is about sharing via Path. As @jaythornton000 said most eloquently, Path is as close to perfection as LBS has gotten. Path adds some interesting new functions including sleep/awake times, music you’re currently listening to etc. Only 150 people can be connected to your path and you can flex sharing across a variety of social platforms or just with your Path followers as I choose. When there is a compelling value proposition, games, coupons, etc., probably aren’t needed.
6. Social Media Fatigue, Fatigue
The New York Times recently reported on people who are off the Facebook grid and it was rebroadcast ad nauseum across giddy news networks. Don’t count on it. The people profiled in the story cited text as the main way they stay in touch with friends. Social networks are simply an evolution of communication. Your contact list is a network and text is an efficient system of communicating with that network. Social is increasingly coming seamless and therefore an invisible part of systems we’re all currently using. See: gchat!
7. Newspapers are dead (really)
I was in an interesting meeting with a group of Free Standing Insert (FSI) execs that bristled at the idea that newspapers would die. “People have been saying that for ten years,” they said. Yeah, but if they can’t make any money, newspapers in their current form will cease to exist.
8. Retail Shakeout
Despite the worst recession we’ve ever seen and the failure of dozens of retailers, there is still too much retail space in the US. eCommerce only exacerbates this problem. Many retailers will fail and or consolidate this year and the wave will come rapidly. Consumers have become comfortable with buying online and in many cases they show preference for digital channels. eRetailers will make this much easier and use location to steal share from their brick and mortar counterparts by shopping alongside consumers in the store.
9. Media $$$ shift
Efficiency is the name of the game. As social investments prove their worth, the $$$ will follow. This is already happening at Twitter where brands are buying promoted tweets by specific keywords sort of like a Google of people’s thoughts about products and related categories. Someday people who make commercials and go home and skip them on DVR’s will say to themselves, “huh, I wonder who else is doing this…”
10. Want to know the weather? – Macro-economics rule!
After a robust start to the 2011 holiday shopping season (fueled by early discounts and extended store hours – Thanksgiving day, really?) the period turned into street warfare
for shoppers. The final tally saw most major brick and mortar retailers’ sales increases lagged overall inflation (for those of you not paying attention in economics class, their sales declined). With income levels flat and government spending declining, retail is going to be highly competitive. Low price is not a differentiator, the winners will embrace loyalty (looking at you Amazon).
11. Discount Fatigue
A result of too much competition is a race to the bottom with margin destroying competitive behavior. With unlimited ways to deliver and receive offers, consumers can literally dial-a-coupon. This overlay of old tactics on new media is creating deadly erosion of brand equity as shoppers are trained to not pay full price. Follow Sam Walton’s lead, price products fairly, stop playing games and making consumers work to buy your product.
12. Location 2.0
I was reading an article recently about Foursquare being the last location based platform standing. With Whrrl and Gowalla bought and digested by Groupon and Facebook, respectively, and Britekite and their ilk in some state of disrepair. Evidently the writer hasn’t used Path yet or Oink or RedRover or any of the other platforms that take different approaches to location based social media.
Here’s the thing, location is a perfect connector for customers and retailers offering opportunities for discovery, loyalty and serendipity. Foursquare is experimenting like mad to understand what people value along the path to purchase, what would you say to a customer that checked into your location 8 times last months?