At a panel I recently moderated on the Future of Digital Media during Ad Week DC 2011, leading-edge media figures, Breeanna Beckham of Carousel 30 (@breebeckham), Katie Harbath of Facebook (@katieharbath), and Peter Corbett of iStrategy Labs (@corbett3000), the future of social media channels and brand loyalty came into sharper focus for me and the packed audience attending.
Katie Harbath’s talk could not have been more timely. Just that morning, Facebook implemented some major changes to their appearance and introduced some new features, and was about to launch some more. All over the Twittersphere, users were up in arms over the changes, and luckily Katie addressed these complaints right off the bat, noting that the changes supported the ever-growing professional uses of Facebook. She emphasized that each person you bring onto your brand’s site has exponential value due to the constant sharing of information throughout each person’s network.
Beckham cautioned that simply having a social media presence isn’t enough. If brands have a Facebook page or Twitter feed, the question is why? Why follow you? Why write on your wall? Your goal should be to build a relationship and inspire people to invest in your brand. Traditional social media tactics are no longer enough, you have to give your audience something that appeals to them, build the relationship before making a sale.
Corbett focused on how social and physical environments impact brand engagement. He is fascinated by Foursquare. “It’s the dirtiest social porn on the planet. It’s completely useless, yet totally awesome.” Why do people settle for getting badges that are so short lived? Corbett believes that to keep users involved in the future, virtual rewards will have to turn into physical rewards. People will require real incentives. Here’s an example iStrategy Labs is working on now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L44YvOeK4jM
It will be interesting to see how brands adapt to the evolving trends of the digital space, especially as users expect higher returns for their brand loyalty.