Facebook Is Social Media Heroin, And That Puts It At Risk -- Or Does It?

We humans can have all sorts of addictions.  Some researchers believe that addictions may be positive -- such as to jogging or meditation -- but of course many addictions are negative. 

What about Facebook?  There is no doubt that Facebook is addicting -- according to Nielsen, users spend as much time on Facebook as they do Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia and eBay combined. But is this a positive addiction or a negative one?  Is Facebook jogging, or is it heroin?

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) may give us a clue;  the annual review of brand customer satisfaction put Facebook in the bottom five percent of private sector companies.  The social network is “in the same range as the IRS tax e-filing system, airlines and cable companies.”  ForeSee Results, which worked on the ACSI survey, reported that privacy concerns, frequent changes to the Web site, and commercialization and advertising adversely affect the consumer experience.  (And Facebook is about to get further PR problems in the form of a new David Fincher/Aaron Sorkin movie, “The Social Network,” which has a plot that is said to “unabashedly attack” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.)

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What Comes After The Funnel?

Love it or loath it, we can't escape the marketing funnel. It's under our collective skin.

Why? For a start, most marketers agree that only some of the people who are aware of their product are actually considering it. And only a portion of these people will go on to prefer it, buy it, and perhaps become loyal users. We could illustrate this observation in a number of ways. For example, we could draw a dartboard with "total addressable market" as the largest outside circle and "loyal customers" as the smallest circle in the center. Likewise, drawing a funnel is a natural and useful way of making this very basic point.

If only marketing were that simple. In truth, marketing is a messy business. For example, moving from awareness to consideration and preference might be sound advice for a rational shopper, but actual buyer behavior involves heavy doses of emotion and chaos. And loyalty is not the end of a customer's journey; it's a state that the marketer must cherish and sustain, hopefully leading to positive word of mouth. 

On top of this, one can imagine a boorish marketer taking the funnel a little too literally. Draw it with the wide end at the top, and you can imagine some marketers believing that the more water they pour into the top, the more water they will watch gush out of the bottom. Of course, most marketers are smart people who use the funnel without abusing it, but it would be nice if we could find a model that was 100% idiot proof.

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Weigh In On Our Research Plan For The People Side Of Sales Enablement

Why is it so hard to execute on a business strategy? While it may seem easy to identify the roadblocks to execution, it’s often even easier to overlook the most important dynamic of all — people. Think about it: Most business strategies look great on paper. They’re well-thought-out and well-articulated. But what is written on paper requires execution — and that’s where people come in.

I’ve found that sales enablement initiatives often fall into the same boat. These strategies are often well-crafted, cross-functional in design, and cover all aspects of process, technology, and metrics. But no matter how you slice it, people are required to execute them.

Our client’s choice survey this month focuses squarely on the people dynamic. As we’ve engaged with Technology Sales Enablement professionals, we’ve found some recurring themes around sales coaching, sales management, and the profiles of salespeople. So please take a moment and weigh in, and we’ll write up some research that targets the area that receives the most responses.

Tell us what you think by casting your vote here:

http://www.forrester.com/rb/ballots/ballots.jsp

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Life Post-Meltdown: Insurance eBiz Pros Are Evolving Their Strategies (And They’re Asking Questions Of Forrester)

I recently sorted through just shy of 2,000 inquiries that Forrester analysts completed from insurance industry clients, from a grim Q1 2009 through the cautious optimism at the end of Q1 2010. Along with the insurance inquiries, I also looked at what was on the minds of bankers and the Global 500 segment during the same period. 

What jumped out was how different the character of questions from insurers was from the other two segments and how differently each segment (and role!) of the financial services market navigated the economy over these five quarters. So what’s the Reader’s Digest version? 

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The ROI Of Social Media Marketing: More Than Dollars And Cents

Brands are making plenty of money in social media:  Dell Outlet’s Twitter account has generated millions for Dell, the Intel Channel Voice community has decreased costs by eliminating the need for expensive in-person events and P&G used media mix modeling to demonstrate that the BeingGirl.com community is several times more effective at driving sales than the brands' television ads. 

Many marketers can draw a straight line between investments in social media marketing and financial results, but many more cannot.  This doesn’t mean social media marketing is ineffective; it just means that marketers have to recognize benefits beyond dollars and cents.  Facebook fans, retweets, site visits, video views, positive ratings and vibrant communities are not financial assets -- they aren’t reflected on the balance sheet and can’t be counted on an income statement -- but that doesn’t mean they are valueless.  Instead, these are leading indicators that the brand is doing something to create value that can lead to financial results in the future.

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The State Of Mobile Commerce In Europe

I booked my first hotel night via a mobile device a year ago.

I didn’t even think about the fact that it would be considered an “mCommerce” transaction, as I simply booked it directly on the hotel group’s Web site via the browser of my mobile phone. The site wasn’t actually optimized for mobile devices, but it was possible to enter my credit card details via a secure Web transaction. That’s not ideal, so I wonder how many mobile transactions that firm has missed simply because it doesn’t provide a compelling user experience.

 European mobile commerce is still at an early stage. Digital content is still the primary product purchased via mobile devices, but European consumers show growing interest in using their mobile phones for all sorts of shopping activities. I have recently contributed to a new report on the state of mobile commerce in Europe, written by my colleagues serving eBusiness Channel and Strategy Professionals. The report reveals that:

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The Old Spice Campaign — An Old Spice Guy Mastering New Tricks

My colleague Augie Ray has written a great blog post about why the Old Spice campaign with Old Spice Guy Isaiah Mustafa has been such a huge success out of the gate. Here are some of the early stats from Mashable. I have summarized Augie's blog post below, but you should read the whole thing.

Lesson No. 1: Paid and earned integration is the key to a successful social campaign. Paid support plus a motivated audience to amplify the message equals success in building earned media and awareness.

Lesson  No. 2: Adaptive Marketing means you need to be flexible. The world has changed, and marketing is not only always on but also increasingly unpredictable.

Lesson No. 3: Lose Control. It is something you need to give up willingly.

Are you ready to handle this truth? Tell us about your brand, what you would like to accomplish in this ever-adapting world of marketing, and how social media can contribute by commenting below.

Three Lessons About Marketing (Not Just Social Media) From Old Spice's Successful Social Media Program

Unless you're living under a rock, you know about  P&G’s success this week in turning its popular Old Spice Guy commercial into a true social media success story. There's a lot to be learned from this program about social media, but I think it says more about marketing than about social media. Leave it to a 71-year-old brand to show us how to do 21st century marketing!

Lesson One: Paid And Earned Integration:  As my friend and Forrester peer Sean Corcoran says, "no media stands alone."  Old Spice’s social media success started with what some think of being an old and tired medium -- television.  But TV isn’t going anywhere and paid media is no less relevant in the social media era than it was in the mass media era. As the Old Spice program shows, the key to making paid media work -- really work -- is to focus on how to make it more social.  

Lesson Two: Adaptive Marketing:  Today’s best marketing is adaptive marketing.  To quote another friend and former Forrester peer, Lisa Bradner, “Today's brand marketing organizations are ill equipped to handle the world of ‘always on’ marketing in the digital age. To remain relevant, marketing leaders will embrace Adaptive Brand Marketing.”  The Old Spice social program wasn’t an idea that was part of a one-year campaign planning process but instead was envisioned and executed in rapid fashion to respond to the success of the Old Spice character and commercials. 

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The Data Digest: How Consumers Use Ratings And Reviews

Many consumers find ratings and reviews helpful when doing product research online. Our Technographics survey shows that about half of US online men and 42% of female Internet users are using ratings and reviews at least monthly. Less than half of them are posting ratings and reviews regularly.

But how do consumers value these ratings and reviews, and what do they do about not knowing who's behind the ratings? To get a better understanding of this, we recently asked the community members in Forrester’s Digital Consumers Community the following question:

'Do you read customer reviews before you buy a product? If so, how important are others’ reviews when making your decision to buy a product? Does your reliance on customer reviews vary for different products?'

While most are checking consumer reviews, the comments reveal that they are not heavily influenced by peer reviews. People tend to seek out reviews when they are about to purchase a big ticket item and they are reading the reviews to make themselves feel more comfortable with spending that money – like they have done their homework – but in the end, it’s their own judgment they rely on.

Some key quotes:

“I always see what others have to say regarding the products, some are helpful and some are not”

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Microsoft Truly Does Have Its Head In The Cloud – And Wants Its Partners To Join It!

This week, I was at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., and it was all about THE CLOUD. Now, many colleagues argue that Microsoft will be the second-to-last major vendor to show a 100% cloud commitment, saying that “it’s too embedded in its traditional software business,” “it doesn’t understand the new world,” and “it’d be scared of cannibalizing existing and predictable maintenance revenues.” But I remember Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft Business Systems, tell me with a mischievous grin that he’ll probably earn more money from Exchange Online than the on-premise version — “firstly, it’s mainly new business from other platforms like Lotus Notes, and second, I even generate revenues by charging for things like the data center buildings, the infrastructure, even the electricity I use.” That was in Berlin last November. I suspected then that Microsoft did get it but was just getting its platform ready. This week, I am convinced — Microsoft is “all in,” as they say.

And at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, it was driving its partners to the cloud as aggressively as any vendor has ever talked to its partners at such an event. All of the Microsoft executives preached a consistent mantra: “MOVE to the cloud, or you may not be around in five years.”

Microsoft’s cloud-based Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) is already being promoted by 16,000 partners that either get referral incentives for Microsoft-billed BPOS fees or bundle it into their own offerings (mainly telcos). There are nearly 5,000 certified Azure-ready partners. This week, Microsoft turned up the heat with these announcements:

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