In your opinion, in which way is the digital revolution going to affect the relations between retailors and industry? How, why and in what particular areas?
Whoever is using social media has a very strong agenda that usually is pushing messages out, hoping that thousands of people will hear it. It´s indeed a very powerful way to put messages out but people don´t really like social media that are so pushy, so commercial. The best social media creates relations and conversations like in the real world. And the best relations start with conversations, through courtesy, through finding something in common and that generally leads to great relationships.
When brands and industry start realizing that real social media is just software used to help people communicate, in other words, to do what they already do, then they will start to get some value out of it.
Even the retailers?
Yes, very much so. There are some industries that really don´t want to use social media and hope they will go away, like the regulated industries – financial services, law, pharmaceutical, accountancy – but I believe that those are the industries that should be using it and should invest in training, to get everybody in their organization aligned in order to do exactly the opposite of what they are doing now: having just one or two people that are allowed to do it but with very strict rules. They should have everybody in the organization able to communicate (within rules because there is compliance to think about) and look to social media as a software to aid communication, always in a two ways direction.
So that kind of transformations – the way industry and brands will use social media – ultimately will also change the behavior of the consumer, the shopper? If so, in what way?
Yes, absolutely, very much so. Because I think the shopper will use the social media to communicate with the retailer. Now, the retailer is more than happy to use social media to push his messages out, but he doesn’t talk to the consumer and there´s a very important unwritten rule in social media that says “the more you´re trying to sell, the less you sell”. On the other hand, “the more you try to build relations, the more you will build relationships. And the problem is that, now, retailers only communicate through the media they are confortable with like email, phone, traditional advertising. Instead, they should ask the shopper how he would like to communicate. Through Snapchat? Instagram? Facebook? Twitter? Listen to the customer and try to learn what he wants and how he would like to communicate with your brand.
The very best social media really touches the heart, really creates emotion and the more trust there is in a relationship, the stronger the relationship gets. And this also happens between shoppers and their favorite brands.
And in your very specific area of business – social media and network strategies – what are the perspectives in terms of new trends? How will the users and the brands communicate in the next future?
I think the future of social media is about getting more messaging, more texting, more tools, more platforms…Although we think there are already a lot of different platforms being used– Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – there are still plenty to come. Some will disappear – no doubt Facebook will buy some others – but new ones will arrive. But the most important thing is that we will get better with the analytics, the data collected through social media. And when brands start to engage with the analytics in a big way, then it will start gaining a lot of fun.