The “Social: Does it Hold True Commerce Potential” session at Performance Marketing Insights: New York opened with the charismatic Ewan Darby, Global Head of Affiliate Marketing at Neo@Ogilvy as moderator, and Chris Dessi, CEO at Silverback Social; Dan Merritts, CEO at F#, Dave Cook; VP of Marketing at The Find; and Steve Brown, Chief Executive at Linkdex as panelists. The discussion was quite interesting with several threads shaping the conversation. We share some of the takeaways.

A new era in social is emerging

There is a new social era emerging were ROI will play a bigger role, asserted the panel. “Liking” for the sake of liking will no longer be a way to measure success, indicating that “Like-gating” once thought to be a way to drive “Likes” is now seen as a hindrance. As more data becomes available, and companies compete to stand out in the socialsphere, there will be a need and a call to fundamentally measure success on social channels and justify social spend.

Influencers will become more influential

As social ROI becomes more important, tastemakers that influence their audiences will play an increasing role. Ewan asked the panel what the difference between resonance and influence was, and they agreed that the difference was in the ability to measure if the goal was achieved, adding that resonance has more of an emotional component, while influence has more of a focus on action and results. Up to now, resonance has been the driving force of “traditional” social platforms, but that is about to change.

Fast and fearless

Authenticity, quickness, and no fear, will be necessary to succeed in the new social playing field. Companies are moving faster, said the panel citing the immediate and popular Oreo reaction to the blackout during the Super Bowl. Fear will have to be left behind, and immediate feedback, communication, and engagement will have to be part of the social strategy going forward. Companies can no longer be afraid of social, or of making mistakes on social media. The risk, they said, was mitigated by the risk of not being involved.

Think broader

Social represents a cultural shift in how we disseminate and aggregate information, said the panel, but it also calls for a new way to engage with consumers and bring them into the conversation. You can’t go in for the hard sell, and “traditional” ideas of what social is, can do, and how it can be used must also evolve. Social isn’t just about social networks, consider the wraparound potential it offers brands, and the “non-traditional” ways to engage social into your strategy. For example, social tools such as user reviews, and sharing sites such as Pinterest, have a role in developing social commerce. The key, proposed the panel, is to broaden our ideas of what social is.