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21/07/2012 by

Why Social & Mobile Are The Emerging Silos?

Social is hot and mobile is the next gateway to content, commerce, brands and friends. In this article you will learn why social and mobile are not channels, why channel thinking is legacy thinking and how to treat social and mobile as layers, not channels or silos

Keeping pace with social and mobile proliferation is the biggest challenge for both brands and agencies. Yes, they have all embraced socializing and mobilizing, but true success hinges on integration.

My goal is not to point blaming fingers to brands or agencies. But I would like to challenge and inspire to work more integrated at a strategic level in the fields of social and mobile. Why?

I’ve seen how large brands and agency networks have embraced social and mobile, but most failed to integrate it so far.

One: Organizing the architectures, systems, technologies, processes and people around social and mobile can indeed be very difficult.

Imagine being a large global and decentralized player, who will have to align and manage global virtual teams that are geographically dispersed and culturally diverse, it’s hard to achieve integrated maximum impact. Certainly knowing these teams hardly ever come together to meet face2face.

Two: Brands are often organized in silos. If you’d ask 10 global brands “who owns social”, guess what answers you would get back: We have it under PR, Corporate Comms, Brand dept., Marketing or Online.

The same goes for creative, specialist, PR and media agencies and consultancy firms: they are mostly all offering shattered social or mobile services to their clients.

This means that all are lacking true big-data analyses, which makes an integrated approach even more difficult.

Three: Due to procurement processes and SOX guidelines, it can be extremely difficult for big listed players to open new budget-line-items in their SAP systems. So don’t be surprised if social and mobile projects today, still come out of other budget-line items, like Online, Display, PR, Google or others.

So if social and mobile projects come from different budgets and divisions, how can procurement and that specific budget holder take smart decisions on the ROI of these projects?

Four: Most brands and agencies have been focussed at launching social campaigns and extending reach, chasing social channels like race dogs on steroids, without having an integrated social strategy.

A few have thought beyond campaigns, focussing at long term programs that fuel mutual beneficial relationships between people and their brands.

A new, integrated and non-linear point of view from Nike?
The Nike+ the community for passionate runners, might be a great example? This powerful owned social media channel, now opens its technology for non-runners with their Fuelband.

Nike has successfully integrated innovation in a way that social and mobile are always-on layers and utilities that add pieces of value to the lives of runners with Nike+, and to non-runners with Fuelband.

The very cool thing about this integrated approach, is that satisfied Nike+ advocate runners, now recommend Fuelband to their like-minded and non-running peers. This piece of advocacy effect will help Nike to grow both reach and relationships, since Nike+ runners are pulling peers through the Fuelband funnel.

So dare to focus part of your marketing budget at existing clients. It will enable you to earn attention and new customers through advocacy.

And I know some might think: Yes, but it’s an easy example because it’s Nike. Well, in a linear world I would admit. But in the non-linear world we live in, I tend to say: No way.

The same could have been done by core running brands like Asics, Reebok or Adidas! But it’s Nike that keeps all competitors on the bench, by fully claiming the domain running.

At Nike, social and mobile are not channels and no silos. Social and mobile are fully integrated to fuel their running brand and business objectives.

And do I love running? Hell no! But most of my friends are runners and they kept stalking me: “Igor, at least buy the Fuelband, you will love it”.

So I did, mainly to shut them up. Guess what? It’s pretty cool and relevant utility that is really helping me to lose weight!

Social & Mobile Advertising
Advertising numbers in social and mobile are massive.

Global social network advertising spent in 2012 will be around $7.72 billion in 2012. And these numbers exclude many other forms of social advertising.

Global mobile advertising spent will be around $3.3 billion in 2012 and might hit $20.6 billion by 2015.

Big numbers like above might indeed is an invite for agency networks to treat mobile and social as channels or silos. But that would be wrong towards clients, because social and mobile are also massive drivers to social commerce and mobile commerce.

So large agency networks must learn to think and act beyond advertising. Simply because their client (large leading brands), cannot live on reach alone. They have to sell products and services!

So if social and mobile are very important gateways in the consumers’ journey towards their purchase decisions and peer recommendations, agencies and brands should take social and mobile beyond channels, and out of their silos. They are not channels and they are not for advertising only.

Social commerce is still a bit slow. But we have seen in studies how often Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, blogs or peer product reviews, can be share determining in the consumers buying process.

And new data from IBM (see below report) shows that mobile commerce in 2012 is booming – now representing 15.1% of all online sales (Q2 2012 – up from 13.2% in Q1).


Yes I have seen and understand that in this IBM report, the mobile-commerce part is about the device (mobile handset) and social commerce is about sites.

And be aware that in this IBM report, all 4 quarters of social commerce are essentially excluded if social commerce is reduced to social e-commerce traffic – so social commerce sales are under-reported.

Essential is that social commerce is important for ecommerce players and social commerce is also about adding social features to the shopping experience of consumers, not about creating another sales channel or silo.

Social commerce is embraced by the smarter and more hard-core shoppers and social commerce allows other people to learn from the experiences of others.

So why should brands think beyond the social channel approach? Because their sweet spot customers have already embraced it. And because social commerce is smart commerce.

Mobile commerce is growing even bigger and faster than social commerce. Why? Because mobile commerce has a very clear value proposition that hits one of the core 4C’s of marketing: Convenience. See below visual:

To round-up a pretty long story on a Saturday afternoon, my key take-outs are:
Channel thinking is legacy thinking when it comes to mobile and social. In a non-linear world, they should be approached as layer, not a channel or silo.

Next social commerce, and especially mobile commerce should create smarter or more convenient shopping experiences, not creating another sales silo.

Think about the Nike+ and Fuelband examples: When social and mobile are fully integrated, they can extend both reach and relations. And when targeted at satisfied customers and brand advocates, they will pull new customers through your funnel.

I really hope you like this post, I took quite some time to create it.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below, follow Igor Beuker on Twitter or share this article with some like-minded peers.

Source: Social Commerce Today, IBM, New York Times, eMarketer, ViralBlog


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