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Men, Do You Think The Social Web is Just a Trend For Marketing to Women? Think Again….It’s Just Getting Started.

eras_future

There are several reasons that marketers have yet to get involved in Social Media. Some are still completely unaware of it, some are fearful of it, some feel it is only for national brands and some say they just don’t get it. As the Social Web has become even more popular, now some question if it is merely a trend or a fad. Whatever your reason for resistance, if you are marketing to women, it is time to get on board with Social Media.

“Communities are going to continue to take charge over brands at an accelerated pace.” – Jeremiah Owyang

According to Jeremiah Owyang, senior researcher and analyst for Forrester Research and a few of his colleagues, projections of the Social Web reveal that not only is it NOT a trend or a fad, but we have actually barely begun to feel the impact and implications of this media. Soon to be implemented technologies, such as providing one single ID, will empower users to maneuver the many social networking sites with such ease that it will ultimately transform all marketing and advertising. Consumer adoption of the Social Web is increasing at a rapid pace, based on the 2008 Social Technographics Ladder, and for marketing to women, this is critical.

Within five years, you will no longer be simply communicating what your company has to offer. Instead, communities and more specifically, women will be defining what you will need to offer in terms of products and services, as social media gives the consumer a stronger and more powerful voice.

Owyang breaks down what we have seen so far, as well as what we can expect over the next several years, into five eras. This is not to be confused with the completion of the Social Web but merely what can already be visualized and anticipated at this point.

The Five Eras of the Social Web:
1) Era of Social Relationships: People connect to others and share
2) Era of Social Functionality: Social networks become like operating system
3) Era of Social Colonization: Every experience can now be social
4) Era of Social Context: Personalized and accurate content
5) Era of Social Commerce: Communities define future products and services

5 Eras Graphic

The timing of the eras – As technology provides, consumers optimize the Social Web.
Owyang notes that the five eras mentioned above actually overlap each other. While the Era of Social Relationships and Social Functionality have not fully matured, we are now entering the third Era of Social Colonization. The Social Web is not about large groups of people; instead, it facilitates smaller segments with specific interests. Users are capitalizing on the functionality of the technology to develop smaller communities – further optimizing their social experiences. This is fundamentally changing the role of the marketer. It is no longer about developing an ad and deciding where to run it to reach the masses. That thought is the old model. The new model is about creating smaller, more contextual, more relevant experiences and empowering communities to create experiences they are more likely to endorse and to share.

But it’s not stopping here. The fourth Era of Social Context is expected to introduce technology that will allow for a means of connecting all of a user’s social network sites through the efficiencies of needing only one user ID. This era is all about personalization placing users in control of their information. They can reveal it to companies at varying levels or layers pending what they want to get back from the company. For example brand advocates would reveal the highest level of information in hopes that the company would foster that trust with discounts. Registration pages will become a thing of the past. This will completely change how marketers will attain leads, and this era is anticipated to emerge in the next 2-3 years.

The 5th Era of Social Commerce is expected to begin in the next 4-5  years. This is when communities will begin to define the products and services. The model will dramatically begin to flip at this point. Communities will say, “This is what we want,” and companies will respond with products and services accordingly.

Social Media is not a trend, instead, it is a deliberate course leading to true consumer oriented products. Companies and marketers who begin listening to their female customers NOW through conversations and dialog will be best prepared to adapt to the control and charge the consumer will ultimately have on their product development and accompanying marketing in the very near future.

So, how should you prepare? Below are some great tips provided by Owyang. Pay attention. This guy is a genius!

Don’t Hesitate – These changes are coming at a rapid pace, and we’re in three of these eras by end of year. Brands should prepare by factoring in these eras into their near term plans. Don’t be left behind and let competitors connect with your community before you do.

Prepare For Transparency – People will be able to surf the Web with their friends, as a result you must have a plan.  Prepare for every Webpage and product to be reviewed by your customers and seen by prospects –even if you choose not to participate.

Connect With Advocates – Focus on customer advocates, they will sway over prospects, and could defend against detractors. Their opinion is trusted more than yours, and when the power shifts to community, and they start to define what products should be, they become more important than ever.

Evolve Your Enterprise Systems – Your enterprise systems will need to connect to the social Web. Social networks and their partners are quickly becoming a source of customer information and lead generation beyond your CRM system. CRM systems will need to inherit social features –pressure your vendors to offer this, or find a community platform.

Shatter your Corporate Website – In the most radical future, content will come to consumers –rather than them chasing it– prepare to fragment your corporate Website and let it distribute to the social Web. Let the most important information go and spread to communities where they exist; fish where the fish are.

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Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email
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2 Responses

  1. […] been completely transformed. But the fact of the matter is, as I noted in a recent post about the Five Eras of the Social Web by Jeremiah Owyang, social media is not a trend. It is here to stay, and it is evolving. But more importantly, as […]

  2. Really nice article with some interesting in-depth points.

    Your absolutely right. Social media is NOT just for women and is certainly NOT a fad! (See the article in Advertising Today,
    “PROOF: Social Marketing is Not a Fad!” http://zc7rk.th8.us )

    SMM has been here – in various forms that is, almost as long as advertising has been around. Marketers that do not engage, do so at their own risk.

    Thanks for the post.

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