In 2004 – blogs started to really take off
In 2005 – audio podcasts started to take off
In 2006 – video podcasts started to take off
In 2007 – microblogging (Twitter in particular) started to take off
In 2008 – ???
Before I read the comments on Tom’s blog (which I have summarized and compiled below) I thought about it. These are my thoughts:
User Generated Content
I am a huge proponent of user generated content (UGC), and its impact on search results, conversions, and online transparency which contributes to the accessibility and exposure of product or service related feedback and reviews. It has also resulted in a significant contribution to site usability, information accessibility and more where it has been effectively and applicable incorporated on official company sites and blogs.
While UGC is by no means a new concept (it entered mainstream use in 2005 according to Wikipedia), it might be considered to have gained enormous traction and exposure, and thus interest over the past 12-18 months due to new studies from big name research corporations including Rubicon, Forrester, Juniper, AdAge and others (see this great list of UGC stats and their compilers). The studies revealed, reiterated and supported each other entirely in their data to the (summary) effect that:
· Users are actively seeking input from other ‘people’ online via reviews and feedback
· Usability in the form of ‘satisfaction’ increased with the inclusion of reviews on a site
· Sites with reviews had higher conversion rates
· Sites with reviews had higher ‘recall’ rates
· More than 60% of potential purchasers research online regardless of whether they purchase on or offline and look for both positive and negative reviews
· Negative reviews are unlikely to detract from positive reviews as long as there are positive reviews, and the negative review is deemed ‘constructive’.
· Brands appreciate the ability to include reviews as it enhances transparency, and enables the publication of information on the site that they would normally, due to brand legal or marketing constraints, be unable to publish.
The 1to1 Media Survey of the 1to1 Xchange panel in April of this year summarized overall trend based predications on the findings of the studies very concisely in my opinion:
· By 2020, 84% of marketers agree that building customer trust will become marketing’s primary objective, and 82% agree that collaboration with customers will prevail over marketing.
The same type of scenario (not new, but ‘newly realized’) is true for the discipline of monitoring one’s, or one’s competitors, reputation online. Despite the fact that Google Alerts has been around for quite some time (2006 I think) reputation management really got a kick in the rear this year with the publication of Andy Beal’s book Radically Transparent, and the advent of TrackUR and numerous other reputation management tools.
I think the boost of interest in UGC and the need to implement it while watching for on-site spam intersected very nicely with the desire to monitor both positive and negative commentary around the web. Finding out what brand evangelists are saying can be a great way to build out a social media campaign, or any other form of online marketing initiative. Knowing who the brand evangelists are enables a company to ‘recruit’ them via empowering them with early news tid-bits, free stuff (like screen savers… no, I don’t mean a new Lamborghini – though that would be nice…), special offers for their readers and other similar free tools or offerings of gratuity and incentive. There is a fine line between empowering brand evangelists and bribing them. My heart-felt advice is; ‘don’t cross the invisible line’.
Monitoring what is being said about you on the net and in the blogosphere also enables a business to find out what people don’t like about their company, a brand, a product line, a specific product, customer service, an affiliate, a brick and mortar store, and so on. It is a great way to be knowledgeable while at the same time proactive, assuming you develop a strategy to deal quickly, diplomatically, carefully, and positively with brand detractors. Answer them on their own site/blog or wherever they have posted the review or comment, and copy the issue raised along with your responding solution or answer onto your official site.
Not only can you answer your detractors quickly and effectively, you are also likely to gather some great insights for R&D (research and development) and I&P (insight and planning).
In closing – my thoughts are that…
…the potential impact of effective integration and management of UGC via effective use of a well-thought strategy and a great reputation management tool is what I think we have really come to see as a ‘significant advance’ in SMM this year.
Other comments from Tom’s readers:
Please do read his post and comment there first as I have unashamedly lifted this whole blog-post-idea-thingey from him via LinkedIn.
Tom’s readers feel that the following are the ‘significant advances in SMM during 2008’ – in no particular order:
· Reconsidering the social dynamic
· Adoption and consolidation
· Mobile and iPhone use and effect
· Leveraging online and offline more holistically
· Personalized platforms (like Ning)
· Mobile microblogging facilitation
· Aggregation of multiple profiles and streamlining enabled
· Simply the enormous boost in interest as the idea of social networking has grown, matured and solidified as ‘something to stay’ as opposed to a ‘fad’.
Have a wonderful festive season and a blessed New year if I don’t get around to stealing blogging again in the next 2 weeks J !!!