Five Minutes With: Susan Frech, CEO, Social Media Link

What are your biggest opportunities & challenges for next 12-24 months?

The biggest challenge continues to be how brands invest in social, specifically Facebook. Facebook originally launched as a way for brands to build a community. Now, with the decline of organic reach, Facebook is seen as a media play and brands need to reevaluate where to allocate those funds. This challenge becomes an opportunity for platforms that focus on advocacy, content, and social engagement to help marketers achieve their objectives. Brands are looking for ways to maintain and increase their social share of voice through advocacy, and are trying to navigate ways to garner the best results.

What are some unmet needs in marketing technology landscape?

I think one of the biggest unmet needs is the ability for a brand to communicate with a consumer in an omni-channel CRM. The evolution of a CRM where a brand has the ability to engage with a consumer via social, digital media, mobile, email marketing, direct mail, events, in store, online. The brand can engage with the consumer across these different platforms from one place, but also track any activity the consumer has produced. It is the way we look at the consumer and talk to them, and know it’s the same consumer wherever they are connecting with a brand. I think this is a tremendous opportunity for brands to bring all this data, from sale and loyalty, to really understand how consumers engage with the brand throughout the entire lifecycle.

What keeps your clients up at night?

To summarize it into one word it would be ‘loyalty’. With all of the information and access consumers have across social and online, they tend to be high switchers between brands and products. This causes brands to constantly be looking for ways to innovate and engage to drive loyalty to their brand. I think they come to us for those solutions to ultimately drive more sales for their products or services.

What social network do you anticipate accelerating growth in the next year?

I anticipate Instagram accelerating growth in the next year. They have not shown any sign of slowing down and continue to remain relevant with over 300 million monthly active users. Content is key and Instagram is an easy way to share that content with followers to show their lifestyle and interests. Instagram surpassed Facebook in terms of the number of photographs in 2014. It will likely continue on this growth path taking advantage of improved photographic and video technology.

What’s the hardest thing to educate clients about?

It is challenging to change the perception that Facebook is actually not a place to build a community. The reality is the brands don’t actually own access to those consumers. Brands rely heavily on the social networks to gain any access to them and they have limited knowledge of who they actually are outside of the network. When Facebook changed its algorithm and required brands to invest in Facebook advertising solutions in order to access those consumers, brands started to recognize the shift. However, brands tend to wait to see what some of the leaders do in the industry before they make the shift themselves but we definitely see it coming.

2015 will be all about:

The bulk of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. Astonishingly, on average, companies use less than 5% of the data available to them. We expect this to change in the year ahead. We’re working with numerous clients to help guide their organization’s data management strategy, putting insights into action to create improved and more meaningful customer interactions.

We also expect to see a shift in 2015 from a reliance on third-party providers, with more dependence on full-scale, end-to-end marketing platforms. Having a platform where every campaign and reporting function plays well together in real time will be a pre-requisite for brand leadership and business success in the coming year. 

Susan Frech, CEO, Social Media Link.

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