Time To Shift B2B Social Media Marketing Focus From The "Media" To The "Social"

As marketers, we think of ourselves as social. So why is it that almost 50% of B2B marketers surveyed say that they primarily use social media as just another channel to push messages to their target market?

And those are the ones who are attempting to use social media for demand generation. There are still many who are not. One marketer I talked with recently believes that social media is only useful for marketing to consumers and the gimmicks that B2C marketers use would never work for B2B. To some extent that's true, but B2B and B2C marketing are both about people-to-people communications and eliciting emotional responses, which social is perfect for doing.

I was giving a presentation to a marketing team a few weeks ago, and one of the senior folks in the room said that his buyers are too old, too senior, and too busy to be on Facebook. But we were able to show him that his demographic of buyers does use social media when learning about solutions the company sells. Forrester's B2B Social Technographics data shows that business decision-makers use social media for business purposes, and when it comes to creating content and sharing opinions, they do it more for business than personal reasons.

Social media can be harnessed for generating demand, but you have to recognize how it's different from your other channels and use it differently. 

  • Social media is about relationships, so it requires you to engage in two-way conversations and participate consistently.
  • Social media is real time, so you need to be monitoring the conversations and taking action on them in real time.
  • Social media enhances and amplifies other channels, so it cannot be used in a silo.
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New Data Is Bringing New Insight To TV Viewing

At our Marketing Leadership Forum in April, Forrester Researcher Mike Glantz will be talking up TV in its future state with a panel made up of Comcast, ABC, and others. Here is a post written by Mike about his upcoming panel and a report he is working on. Enjoy!

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Marketers have struggled with accurately measuring their reach across TV and digital media platforms. Today’s TV watchers multitask with digital devices, fluidly moving between platforms and expecting a seamless experience. In this complex world, marketers need standardized data sets to measure:

  • Cross-platform reach. In an increasingly fragmented ecosystem, marketers need to know their total reach across TV and digital video platforms.
  • Social engagement with their TV brand. The connection between social media and TV can no longer be denied after this year’s Super Bowl. With viewers embracing social media to chat about what they are watching in real time, brand marketers need to be able to measure their brands’ reach across the social graph.
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Q&A With John Swigart, CMO At Esurance, About How To Approach Marketing In The 21st Century

I recently got to engage with John Swigart, CMO at Esurance (recently acquired by Allstate), who will be keynoting at our Marketing Leadership Forum in Los Angeles on April 18. Here are some words of wisdom from him about how to take new marketing tactics and put them into action. 

1. What was your approach and justification for investing in new marketing tactics that are still in their development phase?

I’m pretty consistent in pushing my teams to explore new avenues that may yield better results for us. I want us to make informed decisions but take risks, whatever the application might be. We’re a company borne of the Internet, so I think we are a little more forward-leaning than some of our competitors in some ways. We push pretty aggressively — how can we improve, gain more mindshare, and sell more policies — things like paid search, cost per clicks are all very much a part of the online environment we grew up in, as is social media, so it made sense for us to explore making a tighter connection between our offline advertising and our social media presence online. The average Facebook user spends about 6 hours a month on the platform, so we certainly see the value of having a conversation with some of the 200 million Facebook users in the US.

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P&G Brand Building Goes Digital, But This Is Not The End Of TV Advertising

As the world’s largest advertiser, any move by Procter & Gamble (P&G) is closely watched. So much attention has been paid to its recent announcement that it will cut $10 billion from its marketing budget over the next five years. In an interview last week with The Wall Street Journal, P&G’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Marc Pritchard elaborated on the company’s intent to lean more heavily on digital media at the expense of higher-ticket TV advertising as part of its cost-savings strategy. The Wall Street Journal interview is part of a PR push from P&G around its digital ambitions, highlighted in a Signal event in Cincinnati last week that focused on brand building in a digital world. The event brought in digital players and experts from Facebook and Google to Buddy Media and Flipboard as well as Forrester’s own eBusiness experts Sucharita Mulpuru and Andy Hoar. So why is P&G making this digital shift, and what does it mean?  

The public event and announcements are, as the event name suggests, a signal — a welcome signal to Wall Street that P&G will be faster and more efficient (the company’s stock rose 3% with the budget-cutting news). It's a return shot across the bow to competitors such as Unilever and L’Oreal, which are both making high-profile advances in their digital ambitions, and a signal to P&G employees around the world that their leaders are serious about digital and that they need to accelerate change in the slow-moving P&G ship.   

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Is Your Brand Making Promises It Can't Keep?

That's a sure sign that your brand is still stuck in the 20th century. And that’s what I’m going to talk about at this year’s Marketing Leadership Forum in Los Angeles on April 18-19.

We believe that brands will matter more than ever in the 21st century. But the brands that win will focus as much on delivering on their promise as they do on making promises. Come join me and find out how you can update your 20th century brand positioning and align your brand-building assets, to make sure you’re building the kind of brand equity that adds value for your customers and fuels growth for your business.

What If We Merged The Marketing And Sales Funnel With The Customer Life Cycle?

Carlos Hidalgo from The Annuitas Group reminded me in his blog post yesterday that at last year's DemandCon, I decided to be a little provocative in my keynote by claiming that "the marketing funnel is dead." I couldn't resist, especially given that the conference logo is a funnel. I didn't get the oohs and aahhs I expected, and no one threw tomatoes.

I went on to explain that the funnel still serves a purpose, but it no longer reflects today's buyer journey, as my colleague Steven Noble articulated in his report "It's Time To Bury The Marketing Funnel." In a nutshell, buyer behavior is less funnel-like than ever before: Buyers don't move in a linear fashion, they don't necessarily narrow their consideration set as they move through their problem-solving process, and, if you deliver a great experience, they buy from you again.

What does a buyer's problem-solving process look like? It's a customer life cycle (see the picture on the right), where business-to-business (B2B) buyers 1) discover they have a problem or an opportunity and get to a point where they realize they need to change the status quo; 2) explore their requirements and the options for solving the problem; 3) select the best solution and acquire it; 4) and engage with the solution provider and with their peers as they implement the solution . . . and so on and so on.

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Did Media Multitasking Hasten The End Of Canoe’s iTV Ventures?

Last week’s big TV news was that Canoe Ventures, the company jointly founded by the major cable MSOs (Comcast, Cox, Charter, Cablevision, Time Warner, and Bright House), has decided to abandon its interactive TV (iTV) business and focus its efforts on enabling targeted advertising in video-on-demand (VoD) programming. (See Advertising Age story here.) Departing CEO Kathy Timko was cited as saying that the shuttering of the business was “the result of what the marketplace told us,” but marketers have long demanded that their TV ads be more interactive and engaging. What happened?

I would argue that marketer demand for Canoe’s request-for-information (RFI) interactive ads, though never incredibly high, was the victim of not only the difficulties of getting large cable companies to work on a joint end product but also the shift in consumer behavior to media multitasking and an explosion of second-screen experiences. Since 2008, there have been a number of trends that would suggest multitasking would negatively affect Canoe’s RFI ads:

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