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Published December 14th 2016

Social Business Strategy: 2017 Will Be About The Experience

Social CRM Strategist and friend of Brandwatch Joakim Nilsson shares his predictions on social business strategies brands should adopt in 2017.

A quick background.

Yes, I’ll admit that I’m one of those social media guys that will tell you “social media isn’t just about sales and marketing – but it impacts all parts of the business”.

Not exactly what you want as an answer to “how do I grow my Instagram fans base?” right?

But that’s fine, I’ve never claimed to be a master of social media tactics. But what has fascinated me since the very early days of social media is how businesses will adopt and use it to their advantage.

So where are we now, and where are we heading in 2017?

From philosophy to strategy in practice

It feels timely to talk about how to take high ambitions, great philosophy, and mould them into tangible strategies from which concrete actionable programs can be derived.

A question that is sometimes as hard to answer as it is boring to ask is: “What is it that you really want to achieve?”

Surprisingly, the answer hasn’t changed much since day one in my job.

Today’s companies still want to increase revenues, lower costs and enhance customer experience.


Whilst social media definitely plays a role in aiding increased revenues (think social ads) and lowered costs (think Instagram photos), the opportunity today and going forward is definitely in enhancing customer experiences.

I suggest that you take 2017 to make all those tests you made with emerging technologies such as chat bots, VR, speech recognition, big data-something and that AI powered widget, take all those projects and identify what of it actually has an impact on delivering a better customer experience.

For many companies, social business transformation turned out to be all about digital transformation

Whilst the trend lately has been to have formal social business transformation groups working across the business to install social media initiatives, the hurdle seems to be digital.

It’s almost as though very ambitious social business programs are being morphed into more basic digital transformation programs.


Digital literacy is still very low outside marketing and communication departments.

Here’s still a lot of work to be done in the coming years.


Don’t start here. Not in 2016, not in 2017.

Technology is supposed to help you execute on your strategies, they are not supposed to guide them.

All too often I see people rushing after the latest technology, be that Twitter’s Vine (that’s now shut down), Google+, or that all-promising Customer Experience Management platform.

Don’t get me wrong, there are great technologies out there that definitely deserve to be tried and tested. But don’t let your excitement about the latest new shiny thing guide your strategies.

Agency relationship

This one is interesting. Here’s where I see a lot of change already – now, and going forward. We’re certainly past the days of outsourcing everything social to an agency, or at least we should be.

I’m a firm believer that for a company to deliver a stellar experience in social media it has to internalize much of the communication on social media.

Agencies still do play a very important role in the process, especially when it comes to crafting content

jn2Deliver experiences

Coming back to the high ambitions and philosophy; brands need to come to terms with that delivering great experiences is not always the cheapest form of communication. It has to cost money and it can’t be seen as a cost center (think: customer service).

I cringe when I hear that chat bots are a great way to enhance customer experiences. No they aren’t, they are either a way of cutting costs or a way for you to gain industry credibility by using the latest buzz words. But not to deliver a better customer experience.

In 2017 I predict that more companies will:

  • Realize the positive impact customer service can have on marketing (why spend money reaching people when you don’t want to talk to them in the end?)
  • Internalize the social media tasks previously outsourced to agencies
  • Lower the expectation on emerging technologies
  • Focus on digital literacy.

Good luck!

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