Blog: social media
Many companies have a blog these days, but not many require their employees to contribute to the blog. So usually people who have some predisposition for writing are the ones doing all the blogging. And it works out well for them. Those who don’t like to write and don’t have to do much of it in their job don’t blog. And I think they miss out. Blogging is simple; there are no rules or strict requirements. I strongly believe that blogging even a few times a year can have a positive impact for you and your organization.
Extreme storms like Hurricane Sandy have always been news-worthy, but until recently, they were localized, the focus of regional news outlets and weather junkies. That is no longer the case, thanks in large part to social media.
Hurricane Sandy, dubbed the Frankenstorm, has become a national, if not global, weather-watching event as images, video and memes hurtle through the blogosphere. Everyone is talking about it—people and brands alike (my favorite boutique just posted a “thoughts are with you" message on Facebook). In fact, I received no fewer than five Facebook posts from family across the country asking if we were affected here in the Boston area (answer: yes, but minimally).
Today, your customers are engaging with your brand in so many ways, it can seem daunting. Social media, information availability, and choice have forever changed the way in which people buy and make decisions about those purchases.
Just think of all the technological changes over the last few years alone. Every company has had to make adjustments to stay competitive. Conventional marketing has given way to customer experience where engagement, rather than promotion, is key. Armed with insight derived from data, analytics, and technology, it’s possible to truly engage your customers in an informed, intuitive, and timely manner.
By now, we should all be familiar with Pinterest, the social site where you pin anything and everything you like. You might have already been sucked into looking at pictures of cute animals, colorful arts and crafts, and antique furniture. If you haven’t—be warned—it’s addictive. And while you might have a Pinterest account of your own, so does your company, right? No? Well, then it might be time you rethink that decision. Pinterest is the 3rd largest social network today—an impressive feat considering the site was started only a few years ago. It drives an enormous amount of traffic, and is the fastest growing social network in history!
But when it comes to Pinterest and B2B marketing, it just doesn’t seem like an effortless match. That is true in a way. Companies with actual products have a much easier go of it, but there are still plenty of things you can do. You might also want to keep in mind that there was a time when your company didn’t even have a Facebook page, and before that, a website. Social media has come a long way since then. Chances are that you have a presence on Facebook these days, and may also be tweeting, blogging, and embracing all the things social has to offer to the fullest. Getting a head start on the relatively new Pinterest might be a worthwhile pursuit as it will evolve and undergo changes in the years to come.
I recently watched a video on Mashable and decided to share it with some of my “followers." With the social integration of today’s websites, I glanced to the share button and noticed that I had 6 choices. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked-In, Google+ and StumbleUpon. As a lover of social media, and active on all 6 choices, I stopped and had to think. Where should I share this?
My one decision to share then turned into reviewing my 6 social media options. As popular as Carly-Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” video parodies are, I decided sharing the video to my LinkedIn business connections might not be the best career decision. I’m still trying to understand Google+, and StumbleUpon won’t reach any of my friends, co-workers, and fellow social followers (who really need to see this video!). In the end, my Twitter followers were graced with the link to the video.
There's a new social media sheriff in town huh? Big deal, what else is new? It seems like we hear about the next big thing almost every day. So what makes Google+ any more important?
Well, it's simple. Google made it. And whenever the word "Google" is attached, it's worth paying attention to. It seems like Google took its time to get this release right as well. Because Google+ includes nearly any avenue through which you would want to communicate with someone, right down to a "Hangout" application that allows users to virtually connect to watch videos, play games, etc. Google+ has also already eclipsed the 10 million user mark in the very short timeframe it has been live (Including me; you can see a snapshot of my basic profile to the left.) And there is no reason to believe that this exponential growth won't continue. I spoke with a good friend of mine, personal branding expert Dan Schawbel, who explained why he thinks Google+ may prove a sizable competitor to the big players in the social media space, such as Linkedin, Facebook, and namely, Twitter.
Last week, I had the benefit of attending the MarketingProfs B2B Forum here in Boston. In addition to the great networking that took place, the 2 day event was jam-packed with great insights from B2B thought leaders on topics such as lead generation, sales and marketing alignment and social media. As I spend time looking through my notes and action items, there are a few key themes that I am taking away. I am going to focus on 2 of these high level themes here and will follow up with some more tactical pieces in the coming weeks.
Engage based upon behavior, not just demographic and firmographic information. In her presentation, "Tapping Into Human Behavior to Increase Open, Read and Response Rates," Nancy Harhut pointed out some things that we tend to forget: people respect authority, they are naturally curious, they like to touch things and they like certain words. They also make decisions based upon rational and emotional decisions.
Quaero recently sponsored Forrester's Marketing Forum 2011. (And if any of you were able to attend our reception or visit our booth, you'll agree that the event was a particularly sweet success; Quaero treated attendees to more than 2,000 pieces of gourmet chocolate!)
As always, the Forum provided marketers with a great deal of food for thought. This year’s theme was Innovating for the Next Digital Decade. Forrester warned that rapid innovation is creating radical shifts in the methods and media that people use to engage with your company, brand, and products, and promised to demonstrate how emerging tools can combine the targeting, customization, and measurement of online platforms with the rich, emotional brand experiences often associated with traditional ‘offline’ media.
The marketing challenge of the Internet is, people go where they want. They'll find you, thank you very much. That makes it hard to control the customer experience.
Or does it?
Too many companies use a scatter gun approach to the web experience they create, often driven by tactics instead of strategy. This month there's an email blast, next month the VP finishes the blog, and the month after that the e-newsletter never goes out. This creates a customer experience guaranteed to have no impact.
Today is Veteran's Day, a day when we take a collective moment to remember, celebrate, and commemorate the brave soldiers who fight in our stead to protect the freedoms that come with being an American. Ironically, today also happened to include an intense consumer debate as to what those freedoms actually mean. Amazon.com, the largest online-only retailer in the entire world, featured a book on its website today with a "Very Controversial Title." The book was written by Phillip R. Greaves II, and it gained a lot of, um, attention once it was introduced.
In my previous blog I wrote about the growth in mobile channels and how it is interlinked with growth of social media. This growth presents a fantastic marketing opportunity. In this blog I will outline some of the challenges with mobile marketing.
Mobile is one of the fastest growing channels for marketing and advertising in the last few years. And in the next few years marketing spend towards mobile channel is expected to grow at an even faster rate. Social networking is one of the fastest-growing activities and with a large set of demographics, social media users use mobile phones to access social media sites. This is fueling the growth of Internet usage in mobile phones and social media site usage by mobile channels.
We are all familiar with the typical social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but some companies are bringing social media in-house and reaping enormous dividends. While shopping for some outdoor gear, I came across Backcountry.com and discovered a whole community of customers who were actively participating in the e-commerce site. Almost every item I viewed on the site had a collection of reviews, comments, Q&A and customer-submitted photos. Before purchasing a shirt, I was debating which size to get and decided to post a question to the "Product Wall" about whether it runs large or small. Within an hour, I received an answer, not from a Backcountry.com employee, but from a fellow customer on the site who had purchased the shirt a week before. Add to cart, checkout.
At a keynote panel at the National Center of Database Marketing (NCDM), I made a comment that customer marketing was eclipsing brand marketing as the core of marketing's mission in many companies. That sparked a lively discussion among the panelists. As is to be expected among panelists at a database marketing conference, there was general agreement that this was the case. But is it, really? Does brand marketing still matter? Of course, it does!
Google recently announced the integration of real time data into their web search results page. Real time data includes Twitter feeds, news updates, blog posts, even craigslist ads displayed up to the minute with the traditional search results. Google has also reportedly partnered with Facebook and MySpace to incorporate other forms of real time data such as status updates into their search results. How these changes will impact the marketing landscape will be an interesting question in the near future.
The great health care debate this past summer could be a preview of what the future of marketing looks like. How, you ask? For some years now, the "mainstream" journalists who have been trained to fact check and present both sides of a story have been losing their voice to an ever growing multitude of bloggers with extreme views , strong opinions and, in some cases, a disdain for facts and sober analysis. This blogosphere, magnified by the echo chamber of 24/7 cable news channels, hungry for controversy and content, set the tone and the agenda for the shouting match that stood in for reasoned debate on the topic of healthcare, a subject of great concern for most Americans. Professional journalists were caught by surprise and spent most of their time reacting to these controversies rather than reporting on the substance of health care reform. Marketers have similarly embraced social networks as a way to generate word of mouth advertising, cross over tipping points, build fan bases and encourage consumers to generate their own content.
Honda recently caught my attention with their new social media marketing campaign - "Everybody Knows Somebody Who Loves a Honda". I found this particularly interesting because Honda is directing people to Facebook in order to participate in the experiment. I could not recall another company of Honda's stature using a foremost social media platform for an official marketing campaign and customer engagement platform. Interesting!
After visiting the page myself, I see that Honda has amassed an impressive network of 268,000 fans (as of Nov 2009). Counting all of the fan's friends, this network reaches over 3.3 million Facebook users.
I attended the recent NDCM (National Center for Database Marketing conference) in Las Vegas last week, after a gap of many years, the triggering event being the fact that I was on a keynote panel being moderated by David Frankland of Forrester Research. Attending the event after this multi-year hiatus and, particularly, on the tenth year anniversary of a keynote address I had given there after I had started Quaero in 1999, I was struck by the changes in the conference over the years. It is, to state the obvious for those who have been attending for many years, much smaller than it used to be. I would guess a fourth or even a fifth of the size that it was ten years ago. When you consider the fact that there used to be two NCDMs a year at that time versus just one this year, that is quite a precipitous fall. Given the revolutionary changes in marketing over the past ten years, one would have expected quite the opposite. The NCDM has always been focused on the technology aspects of direct marketing and technology has been the driver behind many of the changes in marketing in recent years.
Remember when the Web was brand new? Remember all the pundits' questions about whether it was a fad, if there was ever going to be ROI... or was it little more than brochureware? With years of hindsight, those questions seem naive today; the Web has become a key vehicle for customer interaction.
These days, I am hearing the same sort of questions about social media... even admittedly from guys like myself not too long ago. But I am now convinced that social media will be just as important to revenue as outbound direct marketing, interactive marketing and currently en vogue inbound customer interaction management. Social media will become another channel in the marketing mix.
In searching for some statistics on social media to support a separate idea, I came across this interesting link:
The blogger has compiled an impressive collection of statistics pointing out the staggering growth of social media in recent years. I believe some of these figures have been carefully "interpreted" by the author to help build his argument; however, he has linked back to his sources adding a level of credibility of the information. The evidence makes the case that social media is not a fad, but a fundamental shift in how we communicate and consume information. I think it's hard to deny this, and the implications of this change are particularly interesting to marketers. Marketers should apply careful thought and consideration to these media trends when planning future initiatives and roadmaps.
To read more insights on social media, be sure to check out two of Quaero's resident experts:
A July 2009 study of Fortune 100 companies found that more companies had a presence on Twitter (54%) than on Facebook (29%). According to the study, which looked at corporate blogs in addition to Twitter and Facebook, about one-fifth of Fortune 100 firms only used one of the three channels. Those companies were overwhelmingly likely to choose Twitter (76%) over Facebook (14%) or blogging (10%).
Did you hear about the JetBlue $599 All-You-Can-Jet promotion? Of course you did; how could you not? The announcement and subsequent promotion details were Tweeted, Facebooked and pushed over the wire to all general media outlets. And, just this morning, JetBlue sent me an email reminder just in case the All-You-Can-Jet promo wasn't already top-of-mind.
But it was social media that really elevated the awareness of the promotion. With 31 million search results and ~10 million blog posts in just seven hours, the viral campaign hit the top of the Twitter trending charts and was all the buzz when it launched on Aug 12. Not that the approach should have surprised anyone; JetBlue is not a social media neophyte. They've been active since 2006 when they began their "Flight Log" blog by founder, David Neeleman and have since expanded their reach to include all major social sites, among them YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Dell announced this week that they've made $3M on Twitter. They were smart enough to harness this one-to-many communication network at virtually no cost to deliver significant revenue to their outlet stores. They're capitalizing on a surprising statabout tweeters - the top 10% of Twitter users account for 90% of tweets. On a typical online social network, the top 10% account for about 30% of all production. This implies that Twitter resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network. Advertisers get that. Anderson Cooper gets it. Does Twitter?
Here at Quaero, we've been slowly increasing our use of Web 2.0 tactics (e.g., blogs, social networking, social media) in an effort to improve our level of engagement with both current and prospective clients. I hoped that you could benefit from reading about a few key lessons we've learned along the way:
Virtual meetings are convenient but don't be too comfortable.....
Thanks to geographically dispersed organizations and the increased cost of business travel, Web conferencing solutions are gaining popularity for meetings, training, and presentations. The obvious reasons why video conferences or webinars are so popular are: money (huge cost savings), environmental impact (gas and emissions), and travel hassle (say no more!). These tools also provide a way to connect as personally as possible without actually "being there."
As a user of social media applications I am not particularly interested in receiving unsolicited marketing messages, but it is just a matter of time before tools like Twitter, Friendfeed, and Facebook become inundated by all types of marketing communications that claim to be non-intrusive, personalized, and highly relevant.
Customer feedback is critical to the growth and success of any company. Surprisingly, many companies make it difficult, if not impossible, for customers to offer feedback on products and services or offer recommendations on how to improve a company's offering.
As a consulting organization, Quaero has the pleasure of building partnerships with our clients which in turn enable natural communication and feedback channels. We leverage these relationships at the end of each engagement to have open discussions with our clients regarding our services. These discussions allow our team to understand not only what is working but more importantly, what we need to be doing better. The feedback we receive is invaluable and is critical factor in how we continue to improve the level of service that we offer to our clients.
Are you on Twitter? Like most people, you've probably looked at the social messaging utility, which allows you to tell the world what you're doing in 140 characters or less, and thought, why? How on earth could one find value reading about what someone ate for breakfast or what color socks they're wearing?
A couple of weeks ago I was reading an article on Buzz Marketing for Technology that highlighted the results of a survey they had asked the members of the Marketing Executive Networking Group to fill out. One of the sections of the survey asked the marketers to indentify which Web 2.0 buzz words they were sick of hearing.