In the not too distant future static corporate websites will be replaced by their social equivalents.
This will happen because more and more consumers are engaged in daily conversations, often involving brands, across multiple applications, platforms and networks, wholly independent of these sites.
As these conversations become increasingly independent of these sites, falling traffic will render them ineffective in their current form. Instead, the online presence of each brand will necessarily expand out into the social space to stay in touch with their audience.
As a result, the online presence of a brand will increasingly become the sum of its social exchanges across the web and not the website that many currently call home.
Corporate sites will change in many ways:
1. They will be forced to constantly reconstitute themselves as a function of ever-shifting dialogue with consumers. (Have you ever noticed how every time you re-do your website, as soon as you’re done, you have to re-do it again because technology and conversations have moved on? It’s just like that and isn’t going to change).
2. The compass for a brand in this shifting marketplace will be its core values and purpose. The strict definition, execution and adherence to values allows for a brand to move and morph without cannibalizing itself.
3. Corporate sites will serve as launch pads for outreach rather than destinations for inbound interest. Their main role will be to constantly engage consumers in conversation (wherever that is occurring) and actively damage control any mishaps in brand messaging.
4. Information will no longer sit idly in corporate sites waiting for visitors. Rather, it will constantly flow through moving conversations in the social space.
5. Corporate sites will have no beginning or end. They will live, breathe and die in conversation. As such the online hub of a brand will be distributed rather than centralized in a site.
6. The focus of brand awareness at any given moment (specific to the brand at large, a product launch, or some larger conversation to which it is relevant) will be a moving target driven by conversation flow, engagement levels, technology tools and context.
7. Brands will no longer be places to visit but people you meet on the road. By this I mean consumers will intersect with brands at different points in the day, wherever they are, often indirectly and unexpectedly, rather than a destination they consciously visit.
8. A brand manager’s job will become that of the social officer, facilitating as many moments of authentic interaction with consumers each day as possible. As such, part of their job will be understanding where to find their customers and how to help them find the brand.
9. Control isn’t what it used to be. In a consumer-driven marketplace the tension between granular data/ROI and consumer-focused messaging will be greater than ever. Brands will have to rethink how they measure success for these new distributed sites looking to attention and engagement rather than number of visitors or click throughs.
10. As community becomes more mobile, consumers will increasingly be defined by where they are. As a result, brands will be everywhere all at once and constantly on the move to stay in touch with consumers.
Steve Rubel tweeted this weekend that his big takeaway from CES was that “wireless and social are getting embedded into every device”. To paraphrase Ben Harper, “When consumers lead, brands should follow” and this includes their websites.
How is your brand reaching out into the social space? What other changes do you expect?
Reading Time: 1 minutesSimon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a leading brand consultancy that provides purpose-driven strategy, content, and training that empowers companies to lead business, shape culture, and better our world.