Now that the confetti has been swept off the floor of our eBusiness Forum in Chicago, its time to offer a behind the scenes look at who won our 2012 B2BGroundswell Awards and why. Mark you calendar and register today for our upcoming Webinar on November 8th in which the judges will dish on the companies and social strategies that knocked their socks off. Who knows, you might get an inside track on winning next year, or better yet, knocking out a winning social strategy of your own. Register here to save your space on this one time reveal on the best of the best in B2B social.
A few minutes ago I had the pleasure of announcing the winners of the 2012 Business-to-Consumer Forrester Groundswell Awards at the Forrester eBusiness Forum in Chicago. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read through, not just the highlights below, but the full entries for all the finalists and all the winners — because once again this year we received many outstanding entries. It’s clear that social media has reached a tipping point, where savvy companies are using social tools to pursue real business objectives rather than simply chasing fans and followers. The 2012 winners put social programs to use in their organizations — successfully marketing their wares, supporting their customers, and generating insights.
Here, then, are our B2C finalists and winners for 2012.
ABC News and the United Nations Foundation partnered with BlogFrog to raise awareness and funds around issues affecting moms and babies around the world. This program identified more than 800 social influencers and activated them to create trusted content about motherhood. In total, the bloggers reached more than 15 million readers and garnered over 31 million total social media impressions. This in turn led tens of thousands of people to get actively involved: More than 15,000 people signed up for the Million Moms Challenge Community in the first two weeks.
Customer experience horror stories are not quite as inevitable as death and taxes but they are close cousins and we all have a large back catalogue of screw-ups to rant about operatically. That crappy cheese sandwich, the misleading advice about product features or being ushered into an avoidable gargantuan queue by a staff drone. Some of my own frustration exotica include annoyances like harmoniums couriered from India and only good for firewood (or modern art) on arrival in Edinburgh*. Yes, the world is a stage but some brands can look like The Three Stooges on it.
Here’s one of the biggest trends for off-domain social initiatives that I’m tracking as I kick off a new overview of social tools for B2B marketers: Marketers like you no longer want just the perfect point solution for each new social marketing campaign; instead, they want integrated solutions and are starting to use larger software packages aimed at providing complete digital marketing solutions.
This is welcome news because successful social programs should be part of your comprehensive marketing plans; they can’t exist as their own island. Several years ago, B2B marketing organizations could run their social marketing initiatives in a silo, but today they must coordinate them with their lead origination and lead nurturing programs as well as with other awareness campaigns.
The three leaders in the most recent Forrester Wave™ evaluation of email marketing vendors reflect this change in their products; they all promote their social offerings front and center on their home pages, often with the same prominence as their traditional email offerings. Screenshots of each of those home pages are below.
ExactTarget expanded into social marketing beginning with its acquisition of CoTweet some time ago in March 2010.It now has a “Social Marketing Hub” as a part of its “Interactive Marketing Hub” — email marketing is just one of three product categories on its website, getting equal billing with both social and mobile marketing.
Consumer behavior is changing even more rapidly than you might think. In the past couple of weeks, my colleague Samantha Jaddou and I have been analyzing the data for the US version of our annual global series, “Understanding The Changing Needs Of Consumers.” We are seeing not only a decline in the number of US consumers with a computing device (a PC, laptop, or netbook) but also a drop in the amount of time that consumers spend on traditional media like watching TV (on a TV) or reading newspapers or magazines.
One of the biggest revelations in this year’s data was the change in attitude of consumers — particularly younger ones — toward the Internet. Since we started tracking this information in 1997, we have only seen the amount of time spent online increasing. But Forrester’s 2012 data shows that US online adults are now reporting a decline in the amount of time they spend using the Internet compared with 2011 and 2010.
What’s going on? Our analysis revealed that “being online” is becoming a fluid concept. Consumers no longer consider some of the online activities they perform to be activities related to “using the Internet.” In fact, given the various types of connected devices that US consumers own, many people are connected and logged on (automatically) at all times. The Internet has become such a normal part of their lives that consumers don’t register that they are using the Internet when they’re on Facebook, for example. It’s only when they are actively doing a specific task, like search, that they consider this to be time that they’re spending online.
Creators sit at the top of Forrester’s Social Technographics® ladder: They are the consumers who write blogs and articles, upload self-created video and music, post photos, and maintain their own web pages. More than any other group, Creators are shaping the face of consumer content online. We recently published a report called “Exploring The Social Technographics® Ladder: Creators.” It shows that Creators are great advocates for the brands they like, and that they have, on average, many more friends and followers to share their opinions with than any other group.
However, what was really intriguing is how much they value feedback from companies and brands. Even more importantly, more Creators expect companies to respond to positive posts about products/services than to negative ones.
This is contrary to popular belief. In fact, there’s plenty of advice out there on what you should do in a crisis or how to respond to someone who’s posted a complaint. There’s not much advice on how to handle positive feedback, but in fact, it’s one of the best ways to trigger (and motivate) your brand advocates.
After moving to a new apartment in September, I needed to get a new TV. My first instinct was to gather information from a few sources. I browsed online retailers to get an idea of prices, and I looked at manufacturers’ marketing content to understand the latest technologies like 3D TV. After all of that, I turned to consumer reviews and discussions to get a feeling for whether I would actually find those features valuable. (For example, some customer reviews helped me confirm that I didn’t want 3D TV.)
Where did I find those reviews? Everywhere — there are star ratings and comments on product pages at retail sites (like John Lewis and Amazon.com), technology media sites (like CNET) and manufacturer websites. Interestingly — I got the feeling that the manufacturers still aren’t entirely comfortable with the transparency that social media brings. They’d like to put a spin on the message, even if they can’t entirely control it — For example, Panasonic’s UK site has a page that promotes “5 Star Reviews Of The Month” (see the screenshot below). I can't think of a situation when I'd want a firm to guide me only to the most positive reviews of its products. Can you?
It’s been a couple of weeks since Dreamforce ended, and in between client engagements and research I’ve had some time to digest the event — so I’d like to share some lessons from Dreamforce 2012:
1. If you build it they will come (no, really)
Setting a record for attendance at a vendor-led technology conference, Dreamforce 2012 was BIG. With over 90,000 attendees, it was hard not to be impressed by the logistical efforts taking place behind the scenes. Think of it ... How do you feed 90,000 people in a couple of hours? Not to mention the enormous bandwidth issues for Wi-Fi and even 4G providers when you put this many social people together. Back when I was running marketing at a tech vendor, I was planning events based on how many square feet of conference space we would we need ... the Salesforce team plans on a scale of how many conference centers will they need. This was an amazingly large event with very few crowd control issues. And the mobile app for the conference made everything much easier, despite occasional Wi-Fi outages. My hat's off to the conference team at Salesforce for pulling this off.
2. Salesforce.com has adopted a business strategy which embraces social business
The silver lining on Apple's iOS6 Maps App snafu is that it has fueled much humorous poking. My favorite so far is the photo going around Facebook of Tom Hanks in "Cast Away." There is also a blog called "The Amazing iOS 6 Maps" that includes a collection of Maps mishaps sent in by users. It seems that negative product and service experiences often turn into comedy (remember "United Breaks Guitars"?). A funny photo or link shared on Facebook is often how product issues are initially brought to our attention.