After the longest winter I can remember, it's finally getting nice out in New England and it seems summer is finally around the corner. Along with the weather, the market's interest in social intelligence is heating up, too. I'm filling my days talking to marketers interested in using social media data to inform their business strategies.
As a result of this growing interest, I'm hitting the road in June to share my research. Along with a packed series of client and vendor visits, I have a few events coming up that I hope you can attend:
On June 8th, I'll speak at MeasureUp — a conference dedicated to marketing measurement. My session is on "Social Network Analysis" and covers the theory and practice of understanding your customers through the combination of their online conversations with social network connections, all made possible through the customer database.
On June 16th, I'll speak at the Vocus User Conference, in a session titled "Combining Public Relations With Customer Intelligence." In this talk, I'll speak about the different ways social media data is driving a revolution for the PR industry.
On June 20th, I'll lead a session with Forrester's Customer Intelligence Leadership Board (our networking community of CI professionals) on new trends in customer influence. For this session, I'll share some of the data I showed at SXSW this spring and give a sneak peak at my upcoming research on identifying, measuring, and utilizing customer influence.
With all the interest in a reported Zynga IPO, my new report on how interactive marketers can engage social gamers is particularly timely. Social gaming is an area I'll be covering more closely this year, and I thought the best way to start my coverage would be to take a look at the demographics of players and identify the opportunities for interactive marketers. There are more than 250 million monthly active players and many different ways marketers can reach this audience. However, we were surprised to find that 84% of US interactive marketers have no plans to use games in their 2011 marketing strategies. This creates a sizable untapped opportunity.
In the report, you will find:
Data on social gamers and learn more about who they are.
Opportunities for marketers, including branded virtual goods and sponsored rich media.
Several examples of marketing tactics.
Tips to get started in social games.
If you are a social gaming vendor, I'd like to speak to you! Please tweet me @Shaw_Smith2
I am absolutely thrilled to publish my very first blog as a Senior Analyst here at Forrester and am looking forward to providing you with a lot of exciting research and thought-provoking insights on what continues to be a hot topic in the technology industry: Social Media in B2B. As many of you know, social media is evolving at a very fast pace, and one of my goals is to keep you posted on the latest trends we are seeing and how you, the tech marketer, can utilize these insights to create effective social strategies for engaging with your customers.
How did I wind up here at Forrester? Well, prior to joining the talented TI Tech Marketing team in April, I spent 14 years at Sun Microsystems, working in various senior marketing roles. I was fortunate enough to lead some pretty groundbreaking campaigns that utilized social media and other emerging marketing tactics. These projects ranged from executing basic marketing strategies using blogs and YouTube to very complex, multi-faceted social media campaigns to drive new product adoption for Sun's software and Java product groups. Lots of fantastic stuff that is worthy of a separate blog post!
After Sun was acquired, I spent the past year at Oracle as a Global Campaigns Manager responsible for Java, cloud computing and enterprise architecture initiatives, where social media was also a big area of focus for demand generation activities. A few months ago, I was presented with an amazing opportunity to join the Forrester team, and, to make a long story short, I have now hit the ground running with a very rigorous B2B social media research agenda and a speaking engagement at next week's Forrester IT Forum in Las Vegas.
In recent inquiries and discussions with clients about intelligence-driven loyalty, my researcher Emily Murphy and I have gotten a lot of questions about gamification. Specifically, how they should — or shouldn’t — be incorporating it into their loyalty programs and strategies. Gamification is a pretty hot buzzword right now, and no matter what industry you’re in, you’ve probably noticed it being thrown around. Broadly, gamification is the application of gaming principles to a traditionally non-game activity in order to drive a desired behavior. As it relates to loyalty, gamification provides a way for marketers to encourage loyalty members to engage and to share information about themselves. For example, earning rewards points and badges for sharing products with friends on Twitter, filling out a poll about customer preferences, or checking-in on foursquare and Facebook Places.
Cloud computing continues to be hyped. By now, almost every ICT hardware, software, and services company has some form of cloud strategy — even if it’s just a cloud label on a traditional hosting offering — to ride this wave. This misleading vendor “cloud washing” and the complex diversity of the cloud market in general make cloud one of the most popular and yet most misunderstood topics today (for a comprehensive taxonomy of the cloud computing market, see this Forrester blog post).
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is the largest and most strongly growing cloud computing market; its total market size in 2011 is $21.2 billion, and this will explode to $78.4 billion by the end of 2015, according to our recently published sizing of the cloud market. But SaaS consists of many different submarkets: Historically, customer relationship management (CRM), human capital management (HCM) — in the form of “lightweight” modules like talent management rather than payroll — eProcurement, and collaboration software have the highest SaaS adoption rates, but highly integrated software applications that process the most sensitive business data, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), are the lantern-bearers of SaaS adoption today.
Social influence is one of the hottest issues for Customer Intelligence and Interactive Marketing professionals today. Not a day goes by that I don't talk with marketers or vendors about how to identify, measure, and utilize influential sources online. But for all the interest, there's not much out there defining or standardizing how influencers work — or what online "influence" even means. As a result, I'm kicking off some new research covering how social media makes it possible to find and engage with your brand's influencers. My last research on this subject — now over a year old — is still one of my most-read reports, proving that there's a need for an update.
As luck would have it, thanks to @SarahSGlass, who's a researcher on our Interactive Marketing team and our Customer Intelligence Community Manager, and @Mike_Grant_FORR, we have a perfect venue to open the discussion around social influence: a tweet jam. Yes, "tweet jam" sounds silly, but it's a great way to connect with others and to share and learn about an interesting topic. Our Interactive Marketing team holds a weekly discussion on Twitter, using the #IMChat hashtag, around certain marketing topics and has had great success so far.
Late last night the market research vendor landscape became a little more consolidated with the announcement that e-Rewards reached an agreement to acquireConversition Strategies. This is not the first, nor probably the last, move that e-Rewards will take in growing a versatile offering in the market research industry. In 2009, e-Rewards, acquired UK-based online panel provider Research Now, which allowed it to become an online panel provider with global reach. And in 2010 e-Rewards acquired Peanut Labs, which enhanced its panel by offering a social media specialty sample that is recruited and surveyed through social and gaming networks. The acquisition of the Conversition platform EvoListen will allow e-Rewards’ clients to listen and analyze, in a market researcher’s terms, what consumers are saying on social media.
This announcement is significant for the market research industry because it:
Disqus, a SaaS commenting platform that companies can embed in any website page, just announced a funding round of $10 million yesterday. In the same announcement, they stated that they are reaching 500 million unique visitors a month across 750,000 different websites, including major media sites like both CNN and Fox News, as well as many high tech news sources, such as ReadWriteWeb (which wrote an article on the announcement).
As a B2B marketer, why does this matter to you? Because B2B sites can learn from these largely media or consumer examples. B2B sites that want to enable community and commenting on their pages, including blog posts, need to make it extremely simple to engage using whichever of your social identities (and resulting social networks) you want to bring to the site.
Requiring a unique login in order to get an IT developer to share feedback on your new server architecture, for example, makes it easier to capture information in your CRM system, but your visitors want to add value to their existing social identities. Allowing visitors to engage with you using their preferred identities creates a valuable service for them by strengthening their preferred online identity. See the screenshot below for what this looks like with Disqus. This may increase their willingness to engage on your website instead of across the Internet.