Econsultancy's Digital Cream Event LondonLast week some of us from Econsultancy US had the pleasure of traveling to London for the Digital Cream event (the equivalent of September’s Peer Summit in New York). Rebecca Lieb and I did a short talk made up of 5-minute bits on some hot topics from a US perspective. Naturally, social was the hottest of the hot. In Part 2, we’ll look at Social Commerce and Email

After a day spent moderating an email roundtable, it was remarkable the degree to which social marketing insinuated itself there, and into virtually every other topic. Marketers in the UK are just as passionate about integrating the voice of the customer and the new word of mouth into their plans and multi-channel perspective as are their American counterparts.

It’s an inflection year for social, not only in terms of reach but also in activity.  We learned recently that 57% of US adults 25 to 34 years old are on Facebook, which has reached a total active audience of 400MM worldwide. That’s a staggering figure and a rebuke to those of us who have wondered whether social media is a fad.

For all fury of press, research and experimental activity around social marketing, there’s still a substantial divide between where we are and the kinds of measurement we expect. Social media data will need to be categorized and standardized to have value as CRM input and a true business tool. While a few organizations have already developed policies and procedures to deal with SM at this level, far more are going to have to go beyond the current “Try not to swear on Twitter” stage in their evolution. For an excellent collection of examples and insight, check out Chris Boudreaux’s Social Media Governance site.

Strike while the iron will friend your brand. Every company I talk with is excited about the prospect of the “new marketing” (actually the really, really old marketing) built on communication, relationship, engagement, sugar and spice. It’s a noble and timely goal, but it raises the question of how many  engaged relationships consumers can feasibly manage. At one time it was easy to increase the size of a house email newsletter list, but the novelty wore off and competition increased, within and outside the medium.  The same phenomenon is inevitable in the social world, especially on mainstream networks. With some emerging tactics it might make sense to wait for marketing science to catch up with early optimism before jumping in. But in the case of social media, it’s unlikely that there will be any time like the present.

The last point in our five-minute take on social was the most interesting, if nebulous, and that’s the long-term effect of social on the role of marketing itself. With widespread social adoption, the voice of the customer is getting louder and it’s the job of marketing to listen to, decipher and convey their messages. So, if marketing is the Delphic oracle, it’s going to mean bringing those messages to every part of the business. That’s an exciting step in our evolution.