Social Media - Manna or Mania for Marketers?
By Vijay Dandapani ~ Hotelier's outlook on NYC, travel and the industry
Wednesday, 27th March 2013
While just about any company in any business has by now a social media presence if not a strategy the jury still seems to be out on its efficacy and ROI.

Siding with the skeptics, a report in Techcrunch cites a Forrester research report that points to consumers being "suspicious" about social media marketing. Forrester's index pasted below puts social media marketing almost very nearly at the bottom not too far above known consumer no-nos like spam and online banners.

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Unsurprisingly, consumer driven and "professionally" written reviews score well in Forrester's chart. Of the former, TripAdvisor is the industry behemoth with a market capitalization of $6.8bn and revenues that grow year-to-year at a staggering rate. The king of user-generated-content just announced the acquisition of Tiny Post an app driven program that lets "users write over photos and turn them into stories".

TA clearly expects its millions of unpaid yet eager reviewers to add more content to their reviews while using social media, a fair expectation considering most Tiny Post users rely on Facebook to disseminate their "work". The acquistion is not merely another additive to TripAdvisor's growing stable.

Apart from being a neat solution to a "problem" faced by TA users who revel in the goldfish bowl effect of social media it likely will be a rich source of data for marketers with a potentially huge dividend when monetized.

Apropos the foregoing thought on monteizing data generated by social media, Montreal CA based Intema launched a "predictive marketing engine" that uses behavioral data generated via social media among other contact points to offer each customer what she wants when she wants as well as predict the next trend with a promise to follow a customer literally through a person's purchasing life cycle ranging from the first car or TV to hotels and, eventually, their retirement homes. With its big brother connotation it may be a marketer's dream but probably a consumer's nightmare.

Regardless, it probably presages a paradigm shift in the ability of marketers across industries to truly tailor their offerings.

Vijay is Chief Operating Officer and part-founder of Apple Core Hotels- a chain of 5 midtown Manhattan hotels offering value and comfort in the heart of the city. Member of the board of Directors - Hotel Association of New York.

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