In the coming years, small businesses and organizations (really of all sizes) must be willing and ready to make changes in how they reach customers for real world profits (or not), especially within online social networks, according to The Future Of The Social Web, by Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research. This was recently published in eM+C (eMarketing & Commerce) Magazine.

Social networks are evolving with technology to enable consumers to have portable identities to bring with them from site to site, allowing separate social networks to become a shared social experience. This multiplier effect of hopefully greater ease for consumers (and organizations and businesses) means that social networks will become more powerful than business or organizational Web sites and CRM (customer data info.) systems as they’ll be a repository for identities and relationships. Communities (and this can be what is literally all around you physically, as well as online) will become the driving force for innovation, forcing brands to cater to them, resulting in a power shift toward the connected customer.

Especially regarding the monetization of your data, humanize it through focusing on “pull” as opt-in metrics replace Website conversions and that type of analytics. With the registration pages used to measure conversions headed toward extinction, be ready instead to seek and measure opt-ins. Not all Web analytics are equal in effectiveness to you.

Look beyond the numbers, but not wildly guessing as more traditional marketing sometimes was unfortunately about (losing money) — rather find profitable people as customers through developing insight in numbers. Develop a new form of a social contract that coaxes your consumers to share information in exchange for premium content, discounts or other special services. Getting to accurate relationships with persistence (and hopefully, our help) is everything.

We hope to be helpful towards surviving, then thriving, in these challenging and not-so-always understandably (or pleasantly) changing times for so many.

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