We have witnessed first-hand that companies employing a social-media-intensive approach are able to exploit a few advantages that traditional firms cannot; partly due to what appeals to the millennial generation, but also largely due to an increasing global segment of the market cannot be defined through conventional ethnic, gender, political, generational, socioeconomic, and religious boundaries. What common trends speak to behaviors in an economy like this, where multi-directional transactions based largely on trust, social inclusion, and convenience are the supporting essence of such a business model?
Well, we see the age-old notion of trust cropping up again. This is a major catalyst for the emphasis on social media outreach rather than impersonal means of consumer engagement; personalization and humanization of the marketing process mean a great deal in an environment founded in trust, presumably. Studies have revealed a global decline in institutional trust over the last year, with nearly two-thirds of countries surveyed by the Edelman Trust Barometer exhibiting results that indicate a widely held distrust of institutions including media, corporations, government, and NGOs. Interestingly enough, trust is a fundamental pillar of the way in which marketing is conducted in any platform.
However, this trust exists in a socially grounded, technologically driven, and data-rich atmosphere. Rather than placing trust in institutions, trust is built through people themselves, or at least person-like interactions. Social network integration connects people and enterprises across the globe based on similar interests and values exhibited by behavior within this digital, social environment. Thus, comments, ratings, and reviews are of critical importance in such a marketplace.
A system that is detached from the traditional notion of large faceless institutions—whether corporate, government, or other—is simply self-marketing from the standpoint of Millennials, who seem to favor a collectivist approach which cooperatively functions to make the best consumer choices while optimizing underutilized resources. This is a departure from a traditional type of communicative transaction that has often left consumers exploited and powerless in regards to decision making and choice. In this sense, the risks a reliance upon a world that is paradoxically personal, yet at the same time highly impersonal in the face-to-face sense are apparently inferior to the benefits of convenience, social inclusion, transparency, and peer to peer interaction, at least in the minds of the Millennials.
Nevertheless, these trends are transcending the Millennials and can be seen as broadly adopted across other marketing segments. This is another area where opportunity may lie moving forward. But now that we are increasingly gaining an understanding of the tools at our disposal to augment social integration, how might we reconcile the social revolution with the parallel revolution in information and data? Data is currently leveraged in the analytical capacity to inform and guide decisions based on consumer behavior, but as the quantity of data points continue to grow, what might we be able to learn?
IBM Journey Analytics has taken a step further in enlightening us further regarding data and the social realm with a software that takes customer engagement a step further by facilitating analytical learning through an integration of data points derived across various devices, touchpoints, and social channels. Data savvy marketers will undoubtedly want to take note. The inclusivity of the customer and the ability of the customer to act as a vital participant in the process of brand promotion and publicity may be the most innovative marketing shift of the millennial generation. Keep an eye out for further, in depth discussions on exactly how marketing, branding, and social integration are becoming embedded in a particularly data rich and analytically defined environment and what this means for the way that we conceive, create, and consume as participants in this marketplace.