My Next Adventure

I am both disappointed and excited to announce that I am leaving Forrester. As of next week I'll be returning to the agency world to put my research concepts into practice. It has been a real honor being a Forrester analyst. I can’t tell begin to tell you how intelligent, inspiring, and energetic the people are at this organization. It’s not just the Forrester people either.  The opportunity to connect with so many smart people from marketing organizations, agencies, and technology companies has been tremendous as well. I will truly miss this role.

I know I’m leaving you in good hands as the interactive marketing team here is doing some great research. I encourage you to follow the social and mobile marketing work that Melissa Parrish is doing. Her latest research on location based social networking is a great read. I know I’ll be reading the research Joanna O’Connell and Michael Greene are doing on the future of digital media. I’ll miss my conversations with our newer analysts like Elizabeth Shaw and Ari Osur regarding emerging technologies and peer influence. I’ll also continue to stay connected to veterans such as Shar Vanboskirk and Nate Elliott as they write about the changing marketing organization, social media, and best practices in global interactive marketing. Finally I’ll just miss the great camaraderie and the constant education I got from working with people like Josh Bernoff, Suresh Vittal, Dave Frankland, Zach Hofer-Shall, Chris Stutzman, and the many, many others I could list here.

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Facebook Changes The Social Networking Game . . . Again

If there’s one thing Facebook is not afraid of, it’s change. Today at its annual F8 conference Facebook announced some dramatic changes to its platform. But this time it’s different. Why? Because the big social networks (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and now Google) have traditionally battled over the social graph – your relationships in the digital world and how to help build and connect them, but now Facebook is laying claim to your life. Through its new Timeline feature that recaps in one fell swoop everything you’ve ever posted and lets you feature the highlights, along with its new apps that let you discover and  share real-time experiences like watching movies and listening to music, Facebook is changing the social networking game. Of course you could argue that it was already acting as the online identity for many people, but this takes it to a whole new level.

This could also open up some big doors to marketers such as:

  • Word of mouth on steroids. As the ability to share experiences matures, companies that are effective in getting influentials to speak on their behalf will succeed more. This will make two key skills even that much more important in the future: 1) providing great product experiences that people will share; and 2) getting customers to become advocates who share on your behalf over the long term.
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Content: The Engine Of Social Media Marketing

At this point, you've most likely set up shop across the social media sphere: a branded Facebook page with multiple tabs, at least one Twitter account, a YouTube channel, a LinkedIn page and a few groups, possibly a community you host on your site, and maybe you've even tested other things like Foursquare, Tumblr, and Groupon. You're waiting to find out just what you can do with Google+. You've probably spent the last few months in what we call the "collecting" stage — using a wide variety of tactics building up your fans, followers, likers, etc. And now that you've built up your communities, you've run into one big question: Now what? If you've done things right, you essentially have an interconnected solar system of owned media in which you can engage your customers and audience over a long period of time — not just during one campaign. The value of this is similar to your email database — but much more dynamic. Because now you can use this community for market research, product development, product launches, brand awareness & support, direct marketing, and loyalty. And this community will act as your advocates, sharing relevant content and experiences with their friends. But people are fickle and unless you continue to be relevant, you won't get much of their attention.

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Promoted Tweets: How Paid Media Fits Into Your Social Media Marketing

Today Twitter announced it will be expanding promoted tweets into the user's timeline (they had previously only been in search results) on Twitter is slowly rolling this out with some of its premier clients over the next few weeks. Ultimately, advertisers will now have three options for using paid media in Twitter:

  1. Promoted accounts suggesting new businesses (or people) to follow.
  2. Promoted trends.
  3. And now promoted tweets in search results and within the timeline of only users who follow them.
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What The Facebook-Skype Partnership Means To Interactive Marketers

Today Facebook announced that it will be bringing Skype video to its existing chat feature, bringing a next-generation experience to hundreds of millions of people (Facebook also announced it now has more than 750 million users). This is another step for Facebook to solidify it as a central platform for communication and connection across the globe. Yet for marketers, this particular partnership offers little in the short term. There may be an opportunity to chat with fans, whether for customer service purposes or even a more live version of the Old Spice campaign, yet those features are not available to brands at this time. However, two aspects of this announcement will impact marketing in the long term:

  1. Facebook continues to be the center of earned media. It's already the number one place for online word of mouth, and according to today's announcement, 4 billion things are shared every day -- a rate that has doubled in the past year alone. And with Open Graph and Facebook Connect, Facebook not only has a walled garden destination but now lives nearly everywhere across the Web collecting data on millions if not billions of earned media (both word-of-mouth conversations and shared branded content). This makes Facebook, even in the wake of the new shiny object of Google+, still very relevant for marketers.
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Introducing “Social Maturity”: How Social Media Transforms Companies

We've been working on a major piece of research to answer a fundamental question now affecting our clients: “How do companies change as they adopt social technologies?” Today, we’ve published the report: Accelerating Your Social Maturity: How To Move From Social Experimentation To Business Transformation, which you can also find as a new chapter in the newly updated paperback version of the Groundswell book. Staying true to the nature of the research, this was a collaborative effort involving analysts from all nineteen of the roles Forrester serves across Marketing & Strategy, IT, and the Technology Industry, but it was ultimately written to interactive marketers like you who are often on the front lines of social media for their organization.

So what did we learn? The biggest insight that came from this research is that, no matter what industry your company is in, what geographies you reside in, or what audience you’re targeting, large organizations tend to go through common stages of change as they adopt and use social technologies for business. We call this process of change “social maturity,” and we've outlined the steps to accelerate from one stage to the next. In fact, combining survey data of 95 respondents involved in social media at companies with more than 1,000 employees, interviews with more than 30 companies at all stages of maturity, and a wide range of existing research, we were able to plot each stage onto the following bell curve that reads right to left (you may recognize this model from the Diffusion Of Innovations theory):

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Join Forrester’s Tweet Jam About Social Media Measurement: May 31st (Today!) At 2 pm Eastern

Join us again for this week's #IMChat, a weekly tweet jam hosted by the interactive marketing team at Forrester. We know that social media is important to you – during last week’s tweet jam about your digital initiatives, the term came up more than 20 times. So today, our conversation is on social media measurement. We’ll talk about existing challenges and ask how your peers are breaking through them. We even have a social media measurement pioneer, Nichole Kelly from FullFrontalROI, on hand to offer her ideas about how to make social marketing accountable.

To participate, just follow the #IMChat hashtag at 2:00 p.m. If you’d like to learn more about the rules of engagement, visit this community discussion on The Forrester Community For Interactive Marketing Professionals. To read some past archives, visit the documents section of the same community.

Here are some of the questions we'll be discussing during today’s tweet jam:

1.       What are you current challenges with measuring your social media initiatives?

2.       What tools do you use to measure social media today?

3.       What social media metrics resonate with your CMO today?

4.       Are there other marketing metrics that your senior leadership understands and appreciates?

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Revisiting The Meaning Of "Engagement"

In 2007, Forrester called "Engagement" marketing's new key metric. We defined it as "the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence an individual has with a brand over time." Since then the term has taken on a life of its own (a Google search for "marketing engagement" returns more than 47 million entries) and has come dangerously close to becoming an industry platitude bandied about with little to no meaning. How did this happen? Well, due to overwhelming clutter and the need to connect with customers in a world in which people created 500 billion online word-of-mouth impressions through social media, marketers needed a new term to describe the interaction they were having with customers and "engagement" fit the bill. Yet the term is now mostly used to describe the first half of our definition: "involvement and interaction." But any good marketer knows just getting a customer to be involved or to interact with an application or campaign is typically not enough to drive results — even basic awareness. In fact, there are two types of failed marketing campaigns on the Internet. The first is the ghost town of shiny objects that are littered across the Internet (see Second Life just to start). One marketer aptly described these as "the ones where we had great expectations and heard nothing but crickets." The second type is even more common but not always deemed a failure. These are the ones in which the marketer, and more often the agency, spin the program with a variety of metrics like clicks, visits, time spent, downloads, etc. — yet are never able to tie them back to real business

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2011 Agency Predictions

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen some dramatic shifts in the agency landscape. In what Forrester has dubbed “The Great Race For Relevancy,” virtually every type of agency is now competing with each other like never before. Social media has become the great land grab and just about all agencies are claiming to be “digital” in some ways. We don’t expect the agency landscape to shake out and make sense in 2011. In fact, we expect more dramatic shifts. Here are some agency predictions for this year:

  • Agencies continue to hire and develop talent outside of their heritage. In 2010 some interactive agencies like Razorfish and EVB began hiring “earned media specialists,” while some PR agencies like Waggener Edstrom and The Horn Group built out interactive creative services. Meanwhile, some agencies with traditional creative heritages like Weiden + Kennedy were pioneers in developing content that is truly agnostic to digital and traditional channels while also interactive (see Nike and P&G’s Old Spice). Expect to see these trends become mainstream in 2011.
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Why You Shouldn't Hire A Social Media Agency Of Record

Social media may be the biggest agency land grab ever. Interactive agencies, PR agencies, creative agencies, media agencies, direct agencies, and even specialty search, mobile, and obviously social are getting into the game. Of course this is driven by client demand.  The massive adoption of social technologies has driven many marketers to rethink their approach while moving at least experimental dollars and resources toward social media. And given how fast things move today, they often look to their agency partners for advice, education, and execution. Over the past year we’ve had a lot of questions from marketers seeking a “social media agency of record” to manage all social media marketing activity. My response to this has been straightforward: Don’t do it.

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