In the world of online media everything is moving at the speed of light (at least if you're part of the business). This blog is a way for me to reflect over things I’ve pick up in research, when speaking to customer, partners or other people in the business. Hopefully the blog will start a conversation that will give me and other participants increased knowledge in the online marketing field. If you would like to know what I do for a living, visit www.impwell.com
According to a recent HubSpot study, SMB companies with focused engagement on Twitter are more successful in generating leads than companies not engaging on Twitter.
HubSpot found that companies with a critical mass of 100-500 followers generated 146% more median monthly leads than companies with 20-100 followers. Apart from the reach and possibility to engage in dialog with potential customers, the indexing of Tweets in the search engines would be the single most important reason for the increase in number of leads.
Being active in more social vehicles is a good tactic to increase your overall visibility and number of relevant touch point. The behavior of the customer, who is increasingly using the online channel for search and evaluation, favors social channels and organic search.
Key in order to generate bottom line results from channels like Twitter is to be consistent in your engagement. Be relevant and supportive and have a high frequency in the number of tweets you produce.
I listened to a speech by Ryan Merket on Facebook Connect yesterday. It was both fascinating and scary. There are obvious upsides for both users and marketers in using Facebook Connect. But, I keep wondering if the users fully understand what they are saying yes to. Sites using the API will have the possibility of pulling the full profile of the user. This is of course beneficial for the user when signing up for a new service, since they only need to choose a username and password (all other data are pulled from the Facebook account). Users will also have the possibility to be presented with more relevant information and services based on the behavior and social interaction of people in their network using the same service.
But, the scary part is how the information might be used. If the information is used in an improper way it might impact the way we socialize on the web and will be detrimental for all
From a pure marketing perspective, though, Facebook Connect has the potential of delivering what no other targeting technology has done so far. It remains to be seen if this will be the new black in behavioral targeting.
Yesterday I followed a conversation on The Brand Man on the drivers of business success. Micco posted an interview with Guy Kawasaki with the title Make Meaning to Your Company. Guy Kawasaki’s point was that you need a higher purpose and passion to be successful, just striving for money will not get you far. Successful companies make meaning and have strong visions about how to change the world as we see it.
I believe this is true and there are numerous examples of this. IKEA was founded on the vision “to create a better everyday life for the many people”, Apples purpose statement is "To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind". Both companies are fairly successful.
Thus, the main driver for successful entrepreneurs is certainly not the money, but the willingness to fundamentally change something in peoples’ lives. Money is just the byproduct of succeeding in this quest.
The second reflection I had when following this conversation was the focus on successful companies, businesses and entrepreneurs. I do not believe in successful companies or businesses, rather that success, apart from being driven by a strong visionary leadership, is driven by strategic moves. W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne has done years of research on this when formulating their brilliant Blue Ocean Strategy framework.
Apple is a good example of this as well. In the advent of micro computers, Steven Jobs and Steve Wozniak realized that you needed to simplify the computers to make computing power accessible to people. The Apple I & II were born and the way we perceive computers completely changed. In the 90s Apple was on decline, partly due to lack of visionary leadership but mainly, in my opinion, due to lack of strategic moves. When Steven Jobs returned, so did visionary leadership and strategic moves. The first really important move was realizing how new technology could change the way we consume and share music – the iPod & iTunes, then the way we communicate - iPhone and recently the way we consume and share information - the iPad.
The evolvement of the internet give companies a unique possibility to spot opportunities for strategic moves through better insights into behavioral changes, application of new technology, how trends will affect the value brought to customers and impact the company business model etc. Companies with the ability to capture, process and draw conclusions from information & conversation in the online space will have better opportunities to capture new market space and be successful. It might be that it takes visionary leadership to make this happen, but the tools are at your disposal and the opportunity is there for every company to explore!
The ability to track ROI from social media activities will most certainly impact the size of investments in social channels moving forward. Today you can find several free tools for monitoring the buzz and where your brand/ products/ services are mentioned. Examples of these tools are; Google Alerts, Technocrati, readers such as iGoogle and Netvibes. These tools will give you information about where your brand appears and what is being said. You might also use these tools once you have a strategy for your social media marketing to monitor the impact of your content in selected channels. In combination with Google Analytics, you will even be able to build a reasonably good decision making tool. The only flip side of using free tools is that you will have the information scattered in different places, making it harder to get a full picture of engagement and impact.
Webtrends seems to have a good solution for this. In the Webtrends Social Measurement solution you have the ability to monitor the buzz, structure the engagement, measure the impact and analyze performance to improve your social media engagement. Webtrends have also opened up API:s for external partners such as Radian6 and Sales Force. With the latter you will be able to integrate your social media engagement with other activities to better manage your total customer engagement.
These types of integrated solutions will most certainly spur investments in social media channels. This mainly since hard ROI numbers still counts if you want to get funding for your social media ventures.
With better tracking possibilities the challenge will rather be not to put too much trust in short term numbers, and realize that social media marketing is slow marketing where you need to earn the trust of your community. Nevertheless, you will cater for the need of your management team to see real hard numbers from your investment.
I participated in a webinar a few weeks back. The webinar was held by Hubspot in cooperation with Marketing Sherpa on the subject social media strategies.
Marketing Sherpa had just finished a study on how US brands engage in social media marketing and specifically how strategically they act in these channels. A striking observation in the study was that most companies act on a purely tactical level in social channels. It seems that most marketers forget the basics of marketing strategy when moving into the social media space and just jump in without a plan.
As one dimension of the study, Marketing Sherpa looked at the maturity of the polled companies and classified them according to different development phases. The Trial Phase is the phase where companies just act without any plan or structure. In the Transition Phase companies have a plan and work in a semi-structural way, but lack the frequency in their effort. In the final phase, called Strategic, companies have developed a strategy for their presence and an organization for the execution.
About 73% of the polled companies were in the Trail (33%) or Transition phases (40%). Just under a quarter of the companies in the poll had an elaborate social media strategy.
Another striking thing was the decreasing importance of platform or channel as companies moved from Trail to Strategic. This is quite natural since companies in the strategic phase have found “their” channels and focus more on the execution of the strategy.
Key take away from this webinar - if you have a solid strategy, the advent of new channels and platforms will pose no problem and be quite easy to integrate into your marketing mix. So, before plunging head on into new channels, take some time to think over your strategy and what you would like to accomplish (at least if you want to see some real results from your investments).
Having a presence in social media channels is more than just marketing. Companies that have realized this will be successful in the social media space. I read a blog post by Mitch Joel on this subject today. I seems most companies bench mark their efforts in social channels against what they are doing in other marketing channels. In my opinion traditional marketing is not a good benchmark for social media activities. Instead companies should think about how they can connect with their customers and in the process build powerful marketing vehicles. I found a great example of this in Mitch Joel’s brilliant book “Six Pixels of Separation”:
The online book store Borders realized that people go to book stores for more reasons that just to buy books. Historically book stores have always arranged events such as author signings/ readings etc, to create extra value for their customers (and build traffic to their stores). In realizing the potential in expanding into value added content for their customers, Borders created Borders Media.
Borders Media is a separate section on the site where visitors and customers to the Borders online shop can see video interviews with authors, see chefs cook their favorite recipes and much more. In doing so, Borders expanded their business from being a pure e-book store to becoming a place to go for valuable and interesting content.
From a marketing perspective, letting the original content sit on the site and expand it to other channels such as YouTube or give customers/ visitors the opportunity to share it, you will eventually build healthy new traffic streams to your site (and hopefully sell more products since the traffic will be quite relevant for your business). On top of that your presence in search engines will be improved when the content is distributed in multiple channels and more and more people link to it.
Bottom line; instead of trying to find smart ways of pushing information out into social channels, think about the value you can bring to your customers by providing them with the right content connected to your products/ services. In doing so, you will create “hooks” that will build healthy traffic and sales to you business over time!
I resently read a blog post by Mitch Joel where he argued that there will be no more web sites, just publishers. This is definitly a shift in mindset for most companies and is quite interesting if you want to connect and create value for your customers.
This is what you could do:
If you are a company selling home electronic equipment you might consider to feed in external product reviews/rankings to your e-store, let your product managers blog about the products and how they can be used and, of coures, provide tools for users to post reviews and describe how they use the products in their daily lives.
I saw an exampel of this when I was about to buy a new washing mashine. I visited Tretti.se and found really good video content to help me in my purchase decision. The videos where informative and gave me insights of the strengths and weaknessess of the products. They actually helped me make the choice.
The essence is that you will give your customers valuable content to make purchase decisions and, if you do it right and ad external sources and user generated content, have the potential of becoming a trusted source for information (which will have a positive impact on your brand).
A nice side effect is also that you will become more visable in the search engine. This will be even more true when Google and other search engines start to display content as it is produced. The more “live” content you will be able to produce, the higher ranking you will get!
So what are you waiting for? Go become a publisher!
I have recently read some articles about social media just being addressed on a tactical level by companies. I don’t know if this is really the case, but it would be interesting to know how many companies have a proper strategy in place for their social network activities that is linked to their corporate objectives.
Let me give you an example:
A corporate objective might be to change the brand perception of the company – for instance to be perceived as a services company instead of a product company. The goal is to have 50% of the target audience perceiving the company as a services company within two years. One of the strategies could be to use selected social media sites to change this perception.
By linking the strategy of your social media activities to your corporate objectives, it will be much easier to create the tactical plan. You will know which channels to use, since you know who you would like to reach, you will know how to act, since you know who you would like to have a relationship with and you know the actions you need to take and how to follow up.
So, before you start building a fan page on Facebook, open a Twitter account or loading up videos to YouTube ask yourself – What do I want to accomplish? Why do I want to be on these sites? Who do I want to connect to? And, how does being on social media sites connect to my strategic objectives?