SMC Seattle Looks Ahead at Social in 2013


SMC Seattle started off the year with a bang on Tuesday by hosting “What’s Hot a Look Into Social and Digital Media in 2013.” The event took place at the Social and offered Seattle’s social media community a chance to reflect on the past year and discuss what was in store for 2013. To help with the conversation, SMC had a panel featuring representatives from Microsoft, Amazon, REI, the City of Seattle; PwC monitored the event. I’ve provided a list of the speaker’s names and twitter handles at the end of the post.

In a 1,000 Words
Taking a look back at the past year the panelists unanimously agreed that 2012 was the year of image based social media. Over the course of the year we watched the rise of two networks, Pinterest and Instgram. Both were notable for two different reasons. Pinterest came out of nowhere but became widely popular with women and retailers who found the site to be a perfect digital storefront. Instgram began its life as a well kept hipster secret but officially became mainstream after Facebook purchased the service. Image driven social media changed the digital landscape and allowed organizations to effectively deliver messages to audiences through photos. REI mentioned during the event that Pinterest has now become one of its top 10 traffic sources.

An Expanded Tool Box
Social media measurement will continue to be vital for businesses in 2013 as they decide how to allocate  resources. With new social sites like Vine emerging frequently, it’s becoming more important for community managers to be able to quickly analyze conversations and determine what’s an effective platform for their brand. During the event PwC predicted that 2013 would be the end of “shiny object syndrome,” hinting that many companies would be taking a step back to listen and optimize their digital efforts. The City of Seattle brought up a good point during the conversation stating, it’s often impossible to be on every network out there. It’s becoming increasingly important to understand where your audience is and the most effective means to deliver your message.

Organizations are also becoming less reliant on third party tools. Amazon mentioned its a strong believer in creating in-house social tools to help customers. REI is also a believer in developing tools internally. The outdoor retailer just recently developed its own social network titled REI 1440. The site is focused on user generated content (UGC) and integrates seamlessly with other networks. REI believes that UGC will become increasingly important for companies in the future as they further cultivate relationships with customers.

Creating Connections
People are increasingly interacting with brands online to receive support. This unique touch point is providing brands with the opportunity to market themselves and cultivate relationships with customers. Microsoft mentioned that relationships are important with customers because it increases the level of trust and authenticity. When done correctly, this type of interaction can lead to better services and sales.

As the only government representative on the panel, the City of Seattle offered valuable insight into how its using social to help citizens. An early adopter, the city has seen its efforts evolve from blasting content to fostering dialogue and listening to citizens about their concerns. The city hopes to utilize social to allow for people to engage with government abroad and personalize it.

What’s Next?
With new networks and expanded services already on the horizon, 2013 is shaping up to be an interesting year. Issues that I’m currently keeping my eye on are social search, video sharing, and influencer measurement tools For other great recaps, be sure to check out posts from Beth Evans and Kelsey Kaufman.

What are your thoughts for social in 2013 and what are you excited to see?

Panelist Info:
Sabra Schneider: Director of Electronic Communications, City of Seattle

Lulu Gephart: Manager of digital engagement, REI

Lourdes Orive: Director of Community and Online Support, Microsoft

Moderator Info:
Dustin Johnson: Managing Director in PwC’s evolving Digital Change and Social Business practice

[Photo courtesy of Flickr user Emily Marsden]