We hear it a lot these days: "Digital marketing in the social media sphere is a really young but fast evolving field." Well, it can be interpreted in two ways. One, as a very promising field that businesses can ill-afford to neglect. Two, a field where you really dont have a clue if the money that you throw in it will ever bring in real dividends. Granted, that latter statement might be a bit on harsher side of things. But before you all take up your cudgels and brickbats, try thinking about the whole circus from the point of view of a business manager.
In the mind of the business manager: The story so far
So... people seem to be spending a lot of time on these social media platforms these days. They chat, they communicate, they... socialise, debate, promote, network, organise... you get the picture. But what does that have to do with business, and enterprise level business, to be precise?
hat you have is a bunch of different social networking platforms with a half the world connected on them. But do you have any way of seamlessly unifying a digital marketing campaign across all the different platforms without too much overlap? Okay, may be that can be taken care of by running tightly coordinated individual campaigns on each site. But much more importantly there was no definitive analytics or tracking system to clearly gauge the impact that these campaigns have on their targeted audience, and translate the data into numbers that businesses can understand: ROI/getting their money's worth. And even worse, there was no simple , hassle free way to tap into the treasure trove of big data that social networking sites carry in their databses.
But everything takes time...
All in all, social media and enterprise level marketing haven't had a very good time together. But no one is to blame here actually. Breakthrough technologies take a while to get harnessed. Could anyone have guessed way back in 1998 or 2000 that mobile smartphones would actually overtake PCs as everyday, ubiquitous devices? Social media has been the quintessential "disruptive innovation," changing the existing market dynamics and value systems. It is indeed a tough ask to come up with a practicable business model that properly adaptrs to the rapidly changing environment.
A move towards centralisation
The advent of the phenoenon of social media networking has been characterised by a proliferation of networking platforms like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Though the initial efforts were directed at addressing each platform separately with some level of coordination, the attempts had always been for better integration and effective tracking and analytics. This is where the idea of a unified social network or a "social operating system/platform" comes into being. Visualise a centralised source where the communication, data and the meaurement and analytics software are located, uniformly applicable across multiple social networks.
The myriad ways of harnessing social media for businesses
There have been many attempts so far to make business sense of social media. Buddy media and Involver handled presence management on social networks. Jive and Yammer took social networking to internal business communications. Salesforce created Chatter to allow employees to communicate among themselves and Service Cloud to handle customer relations and tracking and much more. Unified has been the talk of the town for their grand Social Operating Platform for enterprises to interact with consumers across all major social media platforms.
The interesting potential of "social logins"
In the midst of many interesting models for enterprise level utilisation of social media technologies, the service offered by the aptly named OneAll catches one's attention for several reasons. The concept of social login is not exactly very new. Enterprises already allow visitors to their sites to login using their Facebook or Twitter ids for their user registration. OneAll is a plugin which takes this concept to the unified social network paradigm, by allowing your visitors to sign in using any one of the many social network profiles. There is a clear advantage here. The hassle free procedure can drastically increase signups and registrations on your site. While OneAll does provide its clients with the email ids of users who sign up via social profiles, it sorely lacks an easy mechanism that allows clients to directly import the huge email databases that the plugin generates. And while user activity on social networks is tracked, there is a clear need for ome mechanism to monitor their activity on the client sites post sign up/registration. Despite being a bit rough around the edges, OneAll does deliver on some key aspects: detailed user data generation, referral trackings, one-click sign ins, free turnkye plugins and of course, the option of social sharing. OneAll can be considered an accurate reflection of the current state of enterprise level solutions using unified social networks: feature rich with a lot of innovation, yet still some way to go to attaining full maturity.