1. What are 3-5 social media trends you feel will be integral in 2015?
The CMO Survey reports that companies are spending 9.4% of their marketing budgets on social media and this level is expected to increase to 13.2% over the next year and 21.4% over the next five years. At the same time, several challenges remain. First, companies have not figured out how to integrate social media activities with the rest of their marketing strategies. This means that social media tactics may not have the most productive impact on customers. Second, the evaluation of social media remains a key challenge. Data from CMO Survey indicates that only 15% of companies have been able to figure out how to use quantitative approaches to demonstrate the impact of social media on business outcomes. Third, how much of a company’s social media should be outsourced to external agencies is an important strategic question companies must address. For many companies, agencies are doing most of the design and execution. Examining if this level of outsourcing is optimal is an important question for companies to address.
2. With more and more need-specific apps being built, is there one social media tool and/or app you see taking off in 2015?
More than any one app, I think it is important for companies to judge the value and impact of a social media tool against the company’s marketing strategy rather than its innovativeness. Marketing leaders should ask themselves: Will this tool help the company design or develop a more effective marketing strategy?
3. We have a lot of clients ask us about how they can utilize LinkedIn to benefit their bottom line. What’s your advice for using this tool to generate more business?
Whether it is LinkedIn or any other tool, it is important for companies to drive social media actions against marketing goals. If social media actions are undertaken without a clear customer objective, more business is not likely. This means that marketers should always identify a specific customer objective when employing social media tactics. Also, the use of the tool, such as LinkedIn, should highlight the unique aspects of the company’s brand. For example, Delta did an interesting co-branded project with LinkedIn that involved sharing the seat next to a thought leader on a Delta flight.
4. Another hot topic has been in regards to Facebook’s Privacy issues. The company has said they are changing their Privacy Settings on January 1st. Do you think Facebook is still a viable option to market your product even with these problems?
The CMO Survey observes that 41% of top marketers report their companies use customer behavior data collected online for targeting purposes and 82% report that this figure will increase in the years to come. At the same time, in response to the question, “How worried are you that the use of online customer data could raise questions about privacy?” they report a mean of 3.4 on a 7-point scale where 1=not at all worried and 7=very worried. Therefore, in general marketers are not worried about privacy issues. However, customers are, which has, in part, prompted Facebook’s move. I think there will always be customers that are willing to give up their data for benefits that Facebook or participating companies can offer them. This needs to be a deal that companies make with customers… ask permission to use data and offer customers a reason to agree to be observed. When such a bargain is struck and standards are maintained, customers will be less likely to be concerned about privacy.
5. Do you have any predictions or thoughts for SEO in 2015?
I am a big fan of HubSpot’s tools in this regard, especially for small companies getting started in the SEO area. With the IPO behind them, I expect even greater things from this smart startup. Halligan, Shah, and Volpe are outstanding leaders.
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