by: David Polinchock

Peter Kim has put together a wide range of predictions about social media for 2009 and I've listed a few of my favs below. If you click on the link below, you can go to vote for your favorites as well. My top three picks:

  • People will rally to support companies they love when hard times hit (remember the people who sent cash to Southwest after 9/11?). Companies that focus on earning love will thrive during hard times, and kick ass when good times return. [from Andy Sernovitz]
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  • With money tight and tensions high, consumers will not tolerate bad service. They will flip out, very publicly, using social media. [from Andy Sernovitz]
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  • Putting the "me" back in customer service, customers, tired of being asked to pay more for less, will look to product guarantees and service warranties to make their purchasing experience worthwhile. When denied, they'll take (or threaten to take) their case to the web. Good customer service will differentiate a mediocre brand and a superb brand. [from Scott Monty]

    As usual, I tend to gravitate to simple thoughts, like that if you create a good product/service, treat people well (both externally and internally) and deliver on your promises, people will give you the same support back. Here's something I wrote in October of last year:

    It does beg the question as to how much loyalty Northern Rock created with it's customers before this all began. Too many brands use a crisis as the first real time they reach out to say "Hey, we're here for you. Help us get though this and we'll be there for you when it's all over." But when the crisis is over, they go back to business as usual. Do you think they'll offer to drop the interest rates on their mortgages for people who leave their money where it is? Or will they send your nasty notes when you're a day late with your mortgage payment?

    You know, since I started reading about all of this, I can't help but think about Jimmy Stewert and the Bailey Savings & Loan. I can just picture him stuttering as he asks people to leave their money in the bank because it'll be safe. Trust me, he says. I live here too and I'll take care of you.

    When companies take care of people, people take care of companies! But all of this brings up an excellent point. Social media only works if the company actually does good work to begin with. We've talked about this a great deal. Too many people in our industry look at social media as a new and revolutionary tool.

    What is amazing to me is that our industry has so lost touch with the consumer that we think listening to the consumer is a revolutionary idea! Engaging the consumer isn't new, companies have been doing that for centuries! Listening to the consumer certainly shouldn't be new. And it sure as hell shouldn't be considered something that's only done by revolutionary companies!

    Back in March, we wrote about why advertising will destroy social media and we think that as the economy heads even further south, our desperation will mess up social media even more. Because we don't really know how to engage the audience on a long term basis. We know how to create a campaign that runs for x amount of time. In this new world, we have to engage the audience each and every day -- forever! It's not enough to get them to see our viral video or think we're cool on Twitter today. Because in the consumers mind, we're only doing these things for short term gain, not long term relationships.

    Look at the recent Pizza Hut viral making the rounds. Sure, people are watching it, but most people are commenting on what jerks Pizza Hut is for doing the video. So, in fact, the potential exists in this case that the more people who see the video will translate into more people not liking Pizza Hut. As of today, it has 221,000+ hits and almost 3,000 comments. And while some people think it's funny, most comments I've read ask what it has to do with Pizza Hut. And when the description says Just me and my buddy Joey havin' some fun with our local pizza joints... Cuz why not!?, are there really people who just think these are two random guys who thought that this would be funny? Do they really think this is just an authentic piece of fun by 2 friends with nothing else to do but pull this prank? Will this really drive traffic to Pizza Hut or just make folks want to visit their local pizza joint.

    So, take a look at the whole list and cast your vote. As of 3:20 PM today, my three picks above are still the leaders of the polls. And for me, that's not just a vote for social media. That's a vote for companies that create compelling, authentic & relevant brand experiences. But hey, that's just me.

    But the discussion by most in the ad industry about social media is just the latest tactic du jour. We had branded content, Second Life, viral, WOM, and on and on. Read the trades and look at how many times over the past couple of years, a slew of companies were built around chasing the tactic du jour. How many social media companies have been started in the past 6 months? But we do this instead of helping clients understand the true value of connecting with their audience by any means possible and appropriate. For many agencies and clients, they're just tactics that we jump on and jump off like they were a trampoline.

    And this is why I believe that, as a whole, the advertising industry will completely screw up the entire social media thing until it becomes just as useless as what we now call traditional advertising is today. Because too many of them think that listening to clients counts as doing something revolutionary.

    2009 Social Media Predictions. Click here to see all of the predictions and vote for your favorite.

    Being Peter Kim: Social Media Predictions 2009.

    Experience Manifesto: What is Social Media?.

    Experience Manifesto: Social Networks + Advertising = Amway.

    Experience Manifesto: Why Advertising Will Destroy Social Media.

    Experience Manifesto: BEL Predictions Overview.

    Experience Manifesto: Some Predictions for 2007, Part I.

  • Original Post: http://blog.brandexperiencelab.org/experience_manifesto/2008/12/2009-social-media-predictions.html

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