"How can we perfect social media?" That was the question I received in my in-box from one of my favorite reporters, Cathy Taylor of MediaPost, who had written to invite me to answer the daunting question at her publication’s Social Media Insider’s Summit. Impossible, but also kinda fun. And it was held in Miami. So I signed up.
I was asked to give a few suggestions from both a user’s perspective and a brand’s perspective. Be as “outrageous” as you want to be, Cathy advised. So I did. Here’s a summary.
No perfect person, no perfect social network. That was the governing premise. But how can we inch closer to perfection? There are a few things we can do.
Aesthetics are Lacking
Social media doesn’t have a product problem; it has a packaging problem. When it comes to design, social media gets a #Fail. Every network has its own layout, lexicon, taxonomy, and policies. For those who are active on multiple social channels (and the 2011 Bazaarvoice CMO Survey states that 90% of CMOs participate in 3 or more social networks), social media is a bird’s nest of feeds, profiles, updates, pictures, requests, and, of course, ads. It’s a mess.
Less Amplification, More Apple-fication
From a user perspective, what I’d like to see (and RockMelt is coming close to addressing) is a clean, configurable “digital top layer” that sits above all of our social profiles and simplifies the user experience by universalizing it. We determine which feeds we want from which people on which social networks. It’s the froth on top of the cappuccino. Just the tasty stuff. Oh, and it should be designed by Apple or IDEO – companies that understand that without form there is no function.
Listening Platforms Need to Learn from My Behavior
From a brand perspective, I’d like to see two developments. I’d like listening platforms to offer “learning data.” Like “iPhoto Faces” for data collection – the software tells by my past behavior what information I am likely to prioritize in the future. Sure it’s imperfect (iPhoto seems to think a picnic basket is my grandpa), but it’s ambitious and it’s better than the absence of it.
Analytics Packages Need to Connect to Business Objectives
I’d also like to see measurement firms offer analytics packages that dovetail with business objectives. For example, at Eloqua, 90% of our revenue comes from existing clients. So when it comes to social media, retention matters more than acquisition. I’d like to see a “Brand Affinity” package that measures the impact our social efforts are having on our Net Promoter Score or the number of recommendations we are triggering. I’d also like to see analytics packages created for companies that use social media to enhance product development, or are looking to penetrate new markets (like we are with Revenue Performance Management).
What about you? What is missing from social media in your personal life? What about your professional life?
*Word cloud created with Wordle
About the author: Joe Chernov is the director of content for Eloqua. He is responsible for generating, distributing and measuring the company's market-facing content. He also oversees public relations, analyst relations and social media. Under Joe's leadership, Eloqua has won more content marketing awards than any other marketing automation or Revenue Performance Management company.