Social accounts for approximately 25% of the time people spend online – this includes social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, and also online communities. Social media is where people connect with friends, share photos and build relationships. People typically aren’t making buying decisions directly in these channels, but are influenced indirectly.

Online communities, on the other hand, are purpose-driven and designed to support business objectives for customer service, marketing, ideation and more. Brands leverage online communities to facilitate customer buying decisions or engage customers throughout the customer experience life cycle. 

People Expect Social Interaction

According to Forrester Research, 70% of online consumers expect businesses to try harder to provide superior online customer service. As it becomes more challenging for brands to differentiate, adding interactive tools to an existing website ensures that customers receive the social engagement they’ve come to expect. To be relevant, the experiences you are creating for your customers must include social. If social engagement is absent, your customers will go elsewhere.

Social also delivers critical insight into buying behavior. Specifically, it helps brands identify which customers are influencing purchasing decisions and how, based on their contributions to the community: how they rate your products, the quality of their reviews and the sentiment of their discussions. 

Bottom line: social is the new normal for how people want to communicate, share experiences and make decisions.

A Convergence in Digital 

I believe that there’s a convergence happening in digital between web content management (WCM) and social.

Brands want to use a world-class content management platform to publish structured content: marketing communication, product updates, company background, etc. And, they want to couple this structured content with unstructured social interactions: likes, comments, Q&A, ratings and reviews. Social won't be relegated to a separate activity; it will be merged with structured content. This is where a convergence comes into the picture.

The convergence of social and WCM will facilitate creating the broader perspective that helps businesses better understand their customers. Overall, this convergence will result in helping brands improve Web and social experiences and grow their social strategies.

A Commitment to the Vision

In 2013, I expect we're going to see this convergence become more evident. From our side, Telligent continues to make investments in deep integration with leading content management platforms such as Sitecore. Our vision is that social is part of the overall integrated digital brand experience.

I believe that we have a deeper commitment to this vision than anyone in the industry. In fact, Telligent is the only recognized vendor that has a fully standalone social platform designed to facilitate integration with other systems.

One last thought – as the convergence becomes more evident, keep in mind that “Social isn't just a destination, it’s a set of connected experiences.”

[Global social networks image source:] Big Stock Photo