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Published October 29th 2013

The Future of Social: It’s Gonna Get Personal

In the second round of what’s next for social media, I decided to take a look at how social might affect our purchase behaviour.

Now there’s little need to imagine a world were social media and mobile influences spending. We’re already in one.

ipad ecommerce shopping

E-commerce is growing faster than offline retail sales (of course).

Embedded in this statistic is the fact that social media and mobile are contributing hugely to this increase.

The phrase “SoLoMo” (a buzzword if we’ve ever heard one) refers to social-local-mobile, making the mobile device something that Rory Sutherland deemed the ultimate persuasive technology.

It is personalised, contextual, timely and immediate.

This gives customers the main things they need to behave rationally; information and options combined with the most value for the lowest cost.

This rationalisation of mobile and social is demonstrated in the statistics: 90% of mobile searches lead to action and in the UK a visitor coming from a social media site is 10-times more likely to make a purchase online than a visitor sourced by other media.

Brands are already sitting up and taking notice of this trend by ensuring their mobile sites are optimised and creating specialised deals exclusively for their social network followers or fans.

missguided twitter competition

Researchers have gone so far to estimate that by 2015 more than half of all web commerce will be directed by social media influence.

Considering e-commerce sales topped $1 Trillion worldwide in 2012 that is a colossal part for social media to play.

Yesterday Joel spoke about how technology is becoming ingrained into every aspect of our life, and there’s no doubt that social commerce will become increasingly intelligent and integrated in the same way.

I’ve therefore decided to predict how this will alter our expectations as consumers.

What I find most interesting about social commerce is how it has turned advertising/marketing communications on its head, and is far from anything we could have expected fifty years ago when mass communications was running rife.

mass communication

At the moment there is a large focus on personalisation of advertising messages, CRO, SEO and building rapport with the consumer.

If we look at the reasons behind conversion rates from social media they rest in the fact that we trust our friends/family’s opinions on products or brands they have used.

If a brand is going to be present in the social aspect of our lives and become incorporated at every touch point, they risk bombarding us with promotions, we are going to need to trust them and their suggestions as we would a friend in order to convert.

Research into relational communications recognises that in order for it to influence trust an ‘ideal point’ must be met in which communication with a customer is received reciprocally.

However, I believe that there must be more attributes in communication that can influence a reciprocal reaction from us as customers.

Here are my predictions on what expectations a brand/company will have to meet to gain our trust (and our custom) as technology, the internet and social media merge seamlessly into our lives:

Relevant: We will expect the personalised messages to be increasingly relevant to where we are, what we are doing and what we are looking for. The higher the relevance of their messages to our personal lives, the higher it is we may deem their capability as a brand.

Instant: As media monitoring, social commerce and other technologies develop, there will be no excuse for brands not to reply to us instantly or for us to find information we need about them/their products within a few touches. It will need to be instant and readily available.

Relationship: We will expect the intentions of their messages to be motivated by our personal needs not by their business targets. If they are approaching us in a personal space they need to tread carefully…

In effect we are going to become spoilt.

Brands are going to have to work that much harder to ensure they meet the bar that has now been set.

As Brian Solis once said, brands have to compete to survive, and with the expectations of consumers miles high, there’s a lot to compete for.

Having said that, my predictions may be completely wrong – as we see the internet of things become prevalent in our day to day lives, how will you expect to be communicated with as a customer?


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