Thoughts on the Third Stage of Social

We live in an exciting time for business. The theories and strategies we learned in school are falling by the wayside as the business world is forced to adapt to the rapid change brought on by technology.

We are the trailblazers of this new era and social media is the wild west. We are writing the books, defining the strategies, and becoming the experts of this constantly evolving landscape.

In a recent FastCompany article, author Brandon Evans suggested that we are heading into a “Third Stage” of social media. The first stage was defined by businesses listening into conversations taking place around their brand. The second stage was the beginning of social management, actively marketing and engaging through social channels. The third stage, according to Evans, will be defined by social collaboration.

Although his description of this collaborative stage is vague, he postulates that brands will begin to engage more with their audiences, working collaboratively toward increased marketing efficiency. For those seeking more specificity, here is what the collaborative stage will likely look like:

Social CRM

In his article, Evans hints at the integration of a company’s social audience and their CRM database. This integration is already becoming a reality with products like Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud. The social CRM will pull together social sentiment analysis, social prospect data, and sales and marketing performance feedback. This new level of integration will allow businesses to engage on new channels and be more agile when it comes to responding to consumer feedback.

Developing B2B Evangelists

Although brand evangelists have started to make a big splash for consumer-facing companies like Apple and Virgin, they remain relatively absent from the B2B world. However, expect to see brands begin to use social media to identify and tap their biggest advocates to serve as brand evangelists. Brands are already beginning to build and maintain relationships with influential industry advocates in the social space and nurturing these advocates into full time evangelists will become the next step for many brands.

Agile Response to Feedback

Social media is allowing marketers to receive real-time feedback on their campaigns and tactics. As brands become more responsive to public sentiment, we will start to see a shift toward greater consumer influence on marketing campaigns and a more collaborative approach to marketing strategy. Consumers will be able to influence campaigns, generating greater impact on the consumers themselves and more effectiveness for the marketing departments creating them.

We are undoubtedly in the social age of business, and the evolution of technology and strategies is far from over. Although the “Third Stage” of social is still undefined, it’s clear we are headed in a more collaborative direction, and one that both marketers and their audiences can benefit from.