As we approach the end of 2015, market intelligence firms have started to make predictions about what the next year will bring. One such firm is IDC, which has set out 10 social predictions for the next 12 months and beyond. In a great article published on LinkedIn Vanessa Thompson, Vice President Research at IDC, provides an insightful overview about where her company believes the social business landscape is heading, and why.
The standout takeaway is the fact that as social business moves forward, “the focus should be to think about the overarching technology convergence that is changing the way we interact, transact and get work done.” In other words, social networks and applications will become an integral aspect of all business activity. Here are three of IDC’s social predictions that we believe illustrate this point particularly well.
By 2020, 30% of all purchases will be made through an online community
This is a biggie. As explained in the article, “communities enable brands and organizations to build a network of consumers and partners, building a strong and deep trust relationship with that brand or organization over time.” The key word here is “trust”; consumers trust user recommendations far more than branded marketing, which is why community-oriented social media communication such as user-generated content and brand advocacy will drive an increasing amount of purchasing decisions in years to come.
By 2017, 40% of companies will be actively “listening” to their employees on social to gauge engagement and improve customer satisfaction
Vanessa Thompson’s assertion that “enterprises will need to view public employee social activity as an extension of the entire corporate brand” couldn’t be more relevant. With more and more social media users looking to connect with companies not through official brand accounts, but through individual employees, the latter must be regarded as a core branch of company communication. This in turn means providing employees with the confidence, resources and guidance to engage directly with clients on social media, and to do so in a way that reflects and reinforces official brand communication.
By the end of 2016, 50% of companies will have active management of communities and a focus on customer advocacy in the community
The article rightly points out that “customer advocacy plays a key role where the company needs to not only support the community with active community management but also enable customers to become advocates through positive interactions in the community.” So as well as engaging customers in brand messages, companies must put create a two-way dialogue; they must invest in storytelling as a content marketing strategy, and as such put what customers themselves have to say at the forefront of brand communication.