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If the last year has taught us anything it’s that you can’t predict anything. If you don’t believe that, just ask the Mayans. Of course, it would be remiss of us not to give you some idea of what we’ve learned from the last year and how we’re carrying that into the new one.
The very first item we need to acknowledge is the dwindling influence of the social media marketer. This is not to say social media is worthless. As time goes by and with the trend to big data mining, the insights provided from social media interaction with brands lend themselves more to a complete marketing strategy mix. But social media needs to grow up and take its place in the greater digital brand activation and marketing setup. It’s a big thought but the reasoning behind it is sound: social media interactions can be a wealth of information for strategists but it must also be recognized that the social media platforms do not exist in walled-off gardens. At the simplest level, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Twitter all share content by way of status updates. On a macro level, social media platforms can and must be plugged into your greater marketing mix. And while social media marketing has sufficiently evolved from being a “nice-to-have” it lacks the power to achieve your marketing goals on its own. Going forward, the weighting of social media marketing must be appropriate to your marketing strategy.
The next topic is audience exploitation. If the recent debacle from Instagram has show us anything it’s that as much as people like to use your platform for sharing information, don’t ever think that you can exploit their goodwill to your benefit without backlash. Yes, you may be able to get away with it but chances are you won’t. Instagram’s speed wobble has cast light on their partnership with Facebook where the terms and conditions for using your images are different. So if you use Instagram to share your images to Facebook, does that mean Facebook can still do what they want with your images? Speaking of Facebook, the recent announcement that Facebook will now provide access to your Facebook message box for companies to mail you offers has again given the platform a speed wobble. Rule of thumb: don’t try to get away with it. Put yourself in your consumers’ position before you make that call.
Finally, we need to discuss creativity. Globally but in the Middle East especially there’s a trend by marketers to “see what the other guy is doing”. In other words, brands are terrified of being the first in the water. While this conservative approach to marketing can be understood given the economic climate worldwide, brands need to realize that being second place is first loser. That’s what sets brands like Apple apart from the rest: the bravery of innovation. As long as you are content to do what everyone else is doing, you can never expect to set yourself apart from the rest of the herd. Consumers don’t care about your brand, your mission statement or your logo. They care about what you can do differently…for them. This year, if you’re content to do just the minimum to keep up with the leader, remember that the leader will be doing more to widen that gap between you.
As we said in the beginning of this post, you can’t predict anything. What we do know is that 2013 is going to be a big year but only for those who are open to realizing that things have changed considerably over the course of 2012. As Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results”. And we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.