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What is a social depth platform and why is it relevant?

What is a social depth platform and why is it relevant?

What is a social depth platform? A social depth platform, or SDP, is a new way of building websites that incorporates real-time social updates into the fabric of the website. Kim Celestre, of Forrester, says SDPs are “technologies that add social content and interactions (e.g. blogs, ratings and reviews, user-generated content, forums, online communities) to branded websites to drive exploration of products and services”.

What is it?

SDP platforms are quickly becoming commonplace. Customers’ expectations are developing in complexity. Most websites incorporate some element of social depth already. For example, a rolling Twitter feed or customer reviews are common examples of attempts of social depth. A good social depth platform facilitates chatter, from reviews to forums to comments.

Social hubs are constantly cropping up online and facilitating such conversations. Thanks in the most part to social media, these conversations are usually amplified. They easily jump from one-to-one to one-to-many. This transmission of information is the motivating factor in the development of social hubs. What sort of information? Anything and everything. If you can think of it, a conversation is being had about its merits online. One of the big topics is social proofing, which is a marketing term for quantifying the question “Do you recommend it?”. Social proof for a product is the gathering of seemingly unbiased information. That is, information from your peers and fellow customers on the quality of a product, instead of from the company itself.

Whether you like it or not, social proofing happens for every product on the market. And the theory is that it’s better to hold the conversations in a platform you can access and participate in. This can be for easy feedback, to disseminate the correct information, or for damage control purposes. It’s the same logic behind parents telling their teenage kids “If you’re gonna drink, do it in the house!”. It’s better the devil you know.

But it’s not all bad news either. If you’ve got a good product, monitoring chatter will more often than not turn up great feedback and helpful criticism. In the end, if you don’t provide and adjudicate a form of social proofing, your clients will do their own research and make their minds up regardless

Why does it matter?

What can an SDP platform do for your business, your online community, your future? There’s no going back from social integration across all forms of business. We’re well and truly over the event horizon for social media domination. The best thing businesses can do now is to embrace the new paradigm. Social media addresses an innate, psychological need in people to connect with others. This is a guiding truth for most businesses even if the question at hand (“Is this product right for my business?”) has no social element.

This can be partially explained because communication with other people, even just through a comment section, is more nuanced than a brand communicating with their client base. When two people talk, even online, they convey cues on authority and ethos. This social proofing is why a genuine review from a user will influence more sales than a branded EDM or ad campaign.

Social depth platforms also provide a whole range of benefits. Many customers use social proofing as a way to prioritise information online. People are often overwhelmed with a range of sources of information churning out regular content. Social proofing can also help to cut through the noise. A social proofing element on your website also gives a sense of authority. A business should never need to hide their reviews. And your social audience are often the best, cheapest, and most effective way to amplify your marketing efforts. If your marketing content genuinely appeals to your customers, they’ll quickly disseminate it online.

Why do I need it?

Most websites don’t respond to these social considerations. The majority of company websites on the market are static – and they’re about to become obsolete. A static website has all the impact of a brochure. It’s a simple way to transmit information but the human element is lacking. There’s no evidence that there’s a human connected on the other side of the funnel.

Thankfully, however, people are finally starting to respond to the need for social depth. The integration of social media sites and review sites is increasing rapidly, making it easier and easier to leverage user generated content. In the next few weeks, we’ll guide you through the theory of social depth platforms, their practical application, and take a look at businesses who’re already on board and thriving.

This article was originally published by Cognitives.

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