The 2011 Listening Platform Landscape

After an entire month without any acquisitions in the social media data space, there is no excuse but to get back to normal blogging. I assume I'll be back to posting on M&A again soon, but in the meantime I've been busy working on some big research and now it's finally ready to show off. Today we've published "The 2011 Listening Platform Landscape," a report aimed at helping Marketing and Customer Intelligence professionals navigate a crowded and fragmented array of social media data tools and technologies.

The inspiration for this report was easy: vendor selection is the single most popular topic from clients this year. Forrester clients know they need help managing online conversation, but don't know where to turn for that help. In the last six months alone I've spoken with over 100 companies about finding the right listening platform partner. And with hoards of competing vendors (thanks Ken Burbary for helping put together such a comprehensive list!), buyers across the board face challenges finding the partner(s) that best fits their listening needs. This report breaks down the market's fragmentation and helps Customer Intelligence professionals shortlist vendors based on their listening requirements.

After months of briefings with platforms and interviews with buyers, we found:

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Further Proof That Social Media Is A Mass Medium: The 2010 European Peer Influence Analysis Report

Earlier this year, Josh  Bernoff and Augie Ray introduced a new way to look at influential consumers called Peer Influence Analysis -- and showed off some great data from the US market to support their analysis. I’m pleased to report that we now have this same data available in Western Europe as well.

Peer Influence Analysis introduces that idea that there are two distinct groups on influential consumers online: 1) the Mass Mavens who use blogs, forums, and review sites to share complete opinions about brands and products online (creating what we call "influence posts"), and 2) the Mass Connectors who use sites like Facebook and Twitter to connect their friends to influential content from companies and consumers (creating what we call "influence impressions"). Josh and Augie found that both types of influence were highly concentrated: In the US, only 13.8% of online consumers create 80% of influence posts, and just 6.2% of online consumers create 80% of all influence impressions.

Somewhat remarkably, in my new report on peer influence in Europe, we found that peer influence in Europe is further concentrated still. Across Western Europe, just 11.1% of online users create 80% of all influence posts -- and only 4% of online users are responsible for 80% of all influence impressions:

European Peer Influence Analysis Data

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Guest Post: James McDavid On How Smirnoff's "Nightlife Exchange" Brought Social Media Offline

I've always loved examples of the crossover between online and offline influence; my 2009 report The Analog Groundswell contains some of my favorite examples of that overlap. Our new London-based Interactive Marketing Research Associate James McDavid is here with the story of how Smirnoff brought social media into the real world -- and how it had a bit of fun in the process:

The weekend of November 27th saw the culmination of a multinational marketing campaign by Smirnoff that showed the extent to which a clear, well-executed social media strategy is able to drive engagement with a brand across multiple regions and interactive channels. 

Using Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, Smirnoff asked fans and followers in 14 cities (such as London, Rio, Miami and Bangalore) what made the nightlife in their city unique -- and then wrapped all the best elements from each city into shipping containers and delivered them to other host cities. Smirnoff posted a steady stream of Facebook status updates asking fans to say which city they’d like to exchange with. The company also made videos showing the shipping containers being filled -- as well as videos of the parties to celebrate the crates' departures -- and posted them to its YouTube channel. Once the crates arrived, Smirnoff threw the parties in its new locations, with its fans and attendees generating even more content and sharing it online.

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New Media Dominates For Interactive Marketing News & Information

We recently conducted a survey on the Forrester blog to learn about the news sources you use to get interactive marketing information and insight.  Among the responses we received, new media (online-only) news sources ranked high, which is no surprise since we asked on a blog dedicated to the needs of interactive marketing professionals. 

When it comes to news and information about interactive marketing, Mashable rules the roost for those who responded; 4 of 5 people listed Mashable as a media outlet they visit at least once a month.  Two other tech/media sites also ranked on top:  TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb.  As for traditional media sources, The New York Times and Ad Age were tops for interactive marketing news among those who completed the survey.

79% read Mashable once per month, 61% read TechCrunch and 53% read ReadWriteWeb.

Another interesting finding is how many different sources for interactive marketing news are used by survey respondents.  Almost 4 in 10 people say they regularly visit a news site other than the 17 we listed in our survey.  Top answers in the “Other” category include:

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Dreamforce 2010: Salesforce Keeps Feeding The Beast

As salesforce.com keeps adding more clouds to its SaaS development platform, some sales and marketing leaders are thinking that their annual user and developer conference doesn't have much to offer non-techies. But at Dreamforce 2010 last week in San Francisco, there were several big themes that marketers should be watching, whether or not you are a current salesforce customer. Here are a few that I made note of during the Analyst Summit:

  • Everything's a feed. Salesforce is making a big bet that the "feed" will become the new workplace for knowledge workers and is integrating Chatter (its group collaboration tool that it doesn't want you to think of as Facebook for the enterprise) into everything it does, including the sales and service apps (or clouds). A sales rep needs help on a deal? He starts a Chatter, and the whole company comes to his rescue. You need your expense report approved? Your manager sees it in her Chatter feed. Salesforce claims that there are 60,000 companies using Chatter that are seeing big productivity improvements, along with a 10%-15% decline in email. Perhaps the biggest news about Chatter is Chatter Free, a brilliant account penetration strategy that gets Chatter into the hands of the other 80% of employees in a client site who don't have salesforce seats. Salesforce thinks that the killer app for Chatter will be file sharing, just as the killer app for Facebook is photo sharing. And expect Chatter to be opened up beyond the user base of a single company to allow collaboration with prospects, customers, and partners. Start thinking now about how this will affect your customer experience, and let me know if you have plans to use it like this.
     
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Is Twitter Living Up To Its Customer Service Hype?

“Twitter is the fastest-growing customer service channel.” I hear this frequently, most recently during one of the keynote presentations at Dreamforce last week.

There are a lot of reasons to love Twitter -- or at least the idea of Twitter -- for customer service. For a customer, Twitter represents an opportunity to connect with knowledgeable, supportive, and humanized help. And for companies, Twitter is a way to publicly resolve public complaints.

I’ve used Twitter many times for service-related issues. These interactions fall into two buckets:

  • The times I contacted a company because other channels had either failed, were less convenient, or Twitter was simply easier.
  • The times I vented on Twitter and someone intervened.
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Cisco Continues To Accelerate Its Partners’ Marketing

By Peter O'Neill

Now here is some “earned media” for Cisco. In the context of full disclosure, let me first say that Cisco invited me to its Partner Velocity conference in Barcelona last week, full expenses paid. I stopped by for two nights and one day while traveling home to Stuttgart after a client workshop and meetings in Paris. But this is earned, not paid, media because I was truly excited by what I saw and heard. I’d like to share it with all of you tech marketers; whether you are at Cisco, or a competitor, or a partner-player in one or more of the ecosystems in our industry, you need to sit up and take notice of this event. To close my first point — a trip to Barcelona may sound attractive, enough to merit a “reward” for any organization that took me there. But I actually turn down more than 60% of my briefing and event invitations: I have to produce work as well (and who wants to go to Las Vegas eight times a year). And I certainly do not promise anybody that I will write any type of reports in return.

This was Cisco’s third Partner Velocity conference, and I’d heard great things about it from its partners, so I was eager to see what would happen. This is a conference for partners worldwide (first held in the US, last year’s was in Paris) and here’s the reason I was excited: Its focus was purely on MARKETING. Nobody presented about Cisco products, the sessions had titles such as:

  • Stand out and move up while your competition fails.
  • Effective paid search strategies.
  • How to build engaging customer relationships through CRM.
  • How to design a lead nurturing program that drives sales.
  • How to use existing customers to gain new ones.
  • Unleashing the true power of social media.
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US Consumers Now Report Spending Equal Time With TV And The Internet

 There was a lot of buzz last week about Procter & Gamble’s decision to move spend away from TV soaps and daytime dramas and toward digital channels. And our most recent report (our annual look at consumers' online behaviors), published today, supports this trend. For the first year ever, the average time US consumers report spending online is the same that they report spending watching offline TV. While Gen Yers have been spending more time online than watching TV offline for a few years now, this is the first year for Gen Xers. And Boomers now report spending equal time for both. Of course, Seniors Boomers still report spending most of their media time offline.

The data we present in this most recent Technographics® report is self-reported, so the metrics aren’t the same as those you’d see from a Nielsen or comScore. But, the data tells a very important story that is coming directly from the mouths of consumers: They now see themselves splitting the time they spend with offline and online media at least equally. The other interesting piece to this media use puzzle is that, looking over time, this change hasn’t come as a result of a drastic decrease in the time consumers are spending with their TVs. Rather, the change is due to the explosive growth in the time consumers are spending online.

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“Twitter For Toddlers” Is Inspiration For Social Customer Experiences

Two Finnish service designers recently unveiled a prototype for a social media toy that’s constructed out of a classic Brio shape-sorting box outfitted with magnets and LEDs. Called the IOBR (the first few letters of its Iobridge tech backbone and an anagram of Brio), a small child can use the toy to let her friends know what she’s up to. Yup, it’s a toddler-sized status update.

Toddler places a square block into a square hole

From the designers’ Web site: “The actual status update is done by placing the appropriate block in its designated place on the box.  For example, an ‘eating’ update is sent by placing the square block with the ‘plate, spoon, fork’ icon in the square-shaped hole on top of the box. This results in the illumination of the corresponding status light on the friend’s device.”

The system has received press from major media outlets dubbing it “Twitter for toddlers.” CNN reported: “No word yet on . . . whether or not you're going to want your kid to learn about these status updates, so to speak, at such a young age.” But focusing just on the IOBR’s status update feature is really missing the point of this project. 

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Please Take Our Survey On Loyalty Marketing

Loyalty currently is at the top of my research agenda. Why? I think that marketing organizations have been approaching loyalty with uneven success by adopting established approaches mainly based on points or rewards. Maybe we should look at loyalty from a wider perspective and try to embed it in our efforts to build a better brand experience for all customers. I’d really like to know what you think about this topic.

If you're a senior marketer, I'd appreciate it if you'd take the time to answer here .

What can you expect when you click on that link?

Your answers will help me get a better understanding of how marketers see loyalty initiatives as a component of their plans, if they are happy with their loyalty programs and if there are common pains that marketing organizations share around loyalty. Why? Well, we think that loyalty needs to become a higher priority for marketers to get the best returns in the future, and we think that to do so, we maybe need to rethink our overall approach to loyalty, moving the focus from rewards to a consistently satisfying brand experience.  

At least, that’s what I’m thinking right now . . . you tell me. I look forward to your responses.