Speakers on the panel discussion include Jia Shen, RockYou, Andy Hobsbawn, Agency.com, Rohit Bhargava, Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence, and Simon Frank, KickApps.
Since companies now go to people to inspire ideas about their brands, are professionals of use any more?
Rohit: of course. Professionals need to find the people who are passionate about you. You need someone to find them.
Simon: you can no longer stop people having their own opinions about your brand. But you can embrace it. The brands who listen are the ones that listen to the feedback and take change onboard.
Andy: There is a lot collapsing around us. The modern system of branding might be in crisis not just for economic reasons but also environmental.
What is the future of the corporate website?
Rohit: One model for the new website is to be an aggregator for all this activity. A brand can say we have content that we create but we also pull together other content created by others.
Simon: If you think the homepage is no longer the destination, then what impact on the site. Widegets, portability, syndication, people will start mashing up on their own and allow people to collate what is there destination not what you or I think it is.
How should marketing teams be reorganised?
Andy: it used to be that marketing, pr and operations were all in siloes but from the user point of you, it is all the same brand. If there is a problem, they do not differentiate between departments.
Rohit: social media usually sits with those people who were the first evangelists. So if it started in the PR department, it is probably still there. Where they sit in a company is not the first question, the first question is “who is keen on social media”.
Simon: Getting the board to adopt is important so getting them engaged in the benefits and penalties will make it easier. If we spend too long structuring, we won’t do. Trying to plan and do it, and it probably won’t work. Change management at board level is critical.
Is there any evidence yet of infestation of social networking sites that can be used to destroy brands?
Andy: it has already happened, and am sure it will happen again. There will always be people who try to gatecrash the system. Spam has sort of been controlled. Technology will catch up for a cat-and-mouse game. People will want to do the right thing.
Jia: it is no longer one campaign at a time, it is a constant campaign.
Will social media make conferences like this go online?
Jia: as long as what we create here can be shared, then it will happen.
Andy: there is a real premium on face-to-face – look at the music industry and the explosion of live performances. But the future depends on us collaborating at a distance without travelling in the way that we did. So we will need to work this out. In US, they will have a conference in one place with a live connection, then have a local one in your own town.
We have talked a lot about the big social networks, what role is there for small ones.
Simon: We work on the belief that Facebook/LinkedIn are the generic experience but we see a lot of growth in smaller, dedicated ones such as Proctor + Gamble. The big players will still be there but you need to be aware of niche.
Rohit: One advantage of niche is that the big sites are used for friends and personal space while the niche ones are more about professional and single interest groups. This makes them a lot better for marketing to. It goes back to tje fact that if a group is small, it does not matter if it is the right people…
Andy: no one place will cater for everyone’s needs so there will always be interest in niches. Neither are mutally exclusive.
What is the next big thing?
Andy: open social technologies that allow you to travel between groups. You will want to take your identity and profile with you so your destination should be able to cater for that.
Rohit: Pay attention to sites that allow you to create a site around you such as Ning. Imagine if you could create your own Facebook!
Simon: who’s got the most cash in the bank and who has worked out their business model. There are going to be people who rise and succeed and those with great ideas that might fall by the wayside because their model does not work. And joining up of social networking and portability.
Jia: Battle of the social apps’. People want to make new content in new places and that is what people want to market too. Instead of creating a whole new social graph, since they have already been established, how do you connect it elsewhere to share content.