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Trends For 2012: Online Retail Innovator On The Staying Power Of Social Media

Gilt Groupe Founder Alexandra Wilkinson says that entrepreneurs shouldn't overlook the power of social media in the New Year.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
Piers Fawkes, PSFK on December 8, 2011. @piers_fawkes

To support a new initiative from Intel aimed at uncovering and supporting young Innovators, PSFK has tapped some of the world’s established innovators to share their insights into what young entrepreneurs should be on the lookout for in 2012. We asked Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Gilt Groupe Founder and Chief Merchandising Officer to share some of her thoughts on the ideas that are exciting her for the coming year.

Alexandra explained that social media has played a critical role in the success of Gilt Groupe and we asked her to share some key trends that she believes entrepreneurs should focus on in 2012. In just a few short years, social media has moved from a technology for early adopters, to something that is fully-cemented in the mainstream. Facebook reportedly has over 800 million users and entire marketplaces have popped up around social media networks. While legacy organizations have slowly but surely begun to leverage the power of social media, it is still the new breed of innovators and startups that are most effectively using social media to their advantage.

The Gilt Groupe Founder told PSFK:

An obvious trend on everyone’s mind right now is the importance of social media and understanding and developing its role in a business. Entrepreneurs entrenched in start-ups should embrace the social media to help spread the word about their businesses for a number of reasons.

1) Using marketing enablers like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Quora etc. is FREE. When it comes to online communications, social media allows start ups to operate on an equal playing field with larger, more established businesses with massive marketing budgets.

2) I believe that figuring out social for a large, publicly-traded, established corporation is more challenging than for a start up. Large companies are likely to get bogged down by bureaucratic communication policies and marketers will be hindered by what they can and can’t say via social channels. On the other hand, a start up can develop a personality through social media and can connect freely, naturally and authentically with fans and followers. Consumers today value authenticity more than ever.

3) Social media can really help the right type of company go viral which is very important and helpful for entrepreneurs. I say right type of company, because certain industries are more naturally disposed to benefiting from word of mouth, such as fashion, sports, games and entertainment. There are some industries that in my mind don’t naturally lend themselves to word of mouth marketing, like financial services, health and medicine.

Thanks Alexandra!

Sponsor note: PSFK has partnered with Intel to bring you insights and trend predictions from some of the world’s established innovators. But 2012 is a new year, and Intel is on the lookout for the next great Innovator. Intel’s expert panel will award one Innovator $50,000 and one Fan will win the right to determine which Innovator gets another $50,000, the proceeds of which will be used by the Innovators to bring to their great idea to life. If you think you are the next big thing, PSFK encourages you to submit your thoughts on Intel’s Facebook page.

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