Look Back/Look Ahead: Maggie Fox calls for aggregation

The founding partner of the Social Media Group predicts that 2009 will be the year of the 'Social Media Shakedown.'

Weighing in today as a member of MiC‘s year-end virtual think tank, Maggie Fox, founding partner of Dundas, Ont.-based Social Media Group, says word of mouth is still king.

MiC:What are you spying on the horizon in ’09?

A general trend we’re starting to see is that as companies that have been engaging online start to mature and measure their programs, they will increasingly focus on digital tools to facilitate conversations about their brands, both on and offline, rather than just engaging online influencers with traditional media relations activities. In other words, we’ll see them start to break out of the ‘echo chamber’ and realize that, while lots of online chatter is nice, if people don’t talk about your product, service or campaign in their everyday lives, the impact is minimal.

Aggregation is also a big trend. As companies delve deeper into social media, they are coming to understand that the resources required are significant. Aggregation and careful curation of existing third-party content is a potential solution with many benefits.

MiC: What’s the next big opportunity?

Lots of companies are engaging, and now comes the research and measurement. The first firm that can demonstrate meaningful ROI – of course, knowing what the ‘R’ stands for is the first big step, one that most companies havn’t yet figured out – will be in a tremendous position.

MiC: What’s the next big looming threat?

A major issue, as always, is the speed of change. Companies need to move fast enough to keep up, but not so fast that the benefits/learnings are left unexamined in the race to the next platform or concept. Capturing what you’re learning and publishing it are absolutely critical for any company working or engaging in this space; unfortunately, that takes time. Looking ahead, that will be SMG’s renewed focus – making sure we get it all down so we can better share it with our existing and future clients.

MiC: Any other observation or hot industry trend that you would like to bring to our attention?

I think 2009 will be the year of the ‘Social Media Shakedown.’ Practitioners and agencies that don’t understand the importance of incorporating core business objectives into social media programs will quickly (and rightly) find themselves out of work. Clients are in a ‘show me the money’ headspace, and that’s good – it keeps us all honest. An inability to demonstrate or simply articulate the reasoning and benefits of any type of social media project (communications, marketing or collaborative/internal) will mean that the work does not proceed. And if you’re not thinking about how you’re going to meaningfully measure your work, you’d better start.