Don’t link to your Facebook brand page from your B2B corporate home page just to show your CMO you know what Facebook is.
Forrester has long-viewed our POST — people, objectives, strategy, and tools/technology, in that order — methodology as a primary tool for social marketers to use when developing a social strategy. This requires thinking about your audience and their social behaviors first (people), then your business objectives that you are using social to meet, then what your strategy should be, and finally, what tools, technology, and platforms will help you reach your goals. Yet I’m having more and more conversations with B2B marketers who haven’t articulated their audience’s business social behaviors about social platforms they maintain a corporate presence on and link to on their corporate home pages.
Your customers’ and prospects’ use of social is exceedingly context dependent — and you only care what they are doing in a business context in relation to your solution. Forrester’s data consistently shows that Facebook is not very influential in the B2B purchase process. For this reason, before you decide to put a link to your Facebook group (or page) on your B2B corporate home page because your peers in other organizations have done so, or your CMO requested it, consider the following questions:
Does my audience use Facebook in the context of my solutions (e.g., to talk about networking hardware or financial services), or just in a personal context (e.g., to look at photos of their children’s soccer game or talk about their upcoming vacation)?
Do I have an active community on Facebook so that when a customer goes to my Facebook page, they will have a positive experience with my brand?
Over 40% of business technology decision-makers indicate that support forums, discussion forums, and professional social networks influence them throughout their online journey. Yet many marketers overlook the impact of the conversations that occur within these networks.
Chances are your company has an online community that requires your attention. Whether you have a support forum on your corporate website, a company page on LinkedIn, or a brand page on Facebook, somewhere there is a community of customers, partners, and influencers that is talking about your brand.
It is up to you to take advantage of this opportunity to interact with your community members, but it requires a new marketing mindset. It requires a shift from traditional media creation to social capital creation. It requires an ability to engage and motivate influencers. It also requires time, energy, and commitment from you and the stakeholders within your organization.
It is difficult to ignore the impact that community interactions have on decision-makers. But why do online communities often fail? We speak to many clients who struggle with establishing their communities and found five common mistakes:
1. Choosing the wrong approach. Communities are not a “one size fits all” strategy for customer engagement. Companies must understand how and where their customers and prospects prefer to engage online and the types of activities that will drive member participation.
While it has been covered in many other places across the Web (start with Marco Arment, then Ben Brooks), Twitter’s API changes today should worry any social marketers who use tools and technologies that interact with Twitter.
In Twitter’s announcement, they state that they are not going to penalize “Enterprise Clients” and vendors of “Social Analytics” — every quadrant but the top right of their visualization, below. However, Twitter did not clearly delineate lines between what is and is not acceptable. To continue to grow, Twitter needs to encourage a robust and healthy ecosystem, which supports both marketers and users. In order to do that, Twitter must provide much clearer guidance about the long-term stability of its APIs and its support for businesses built on top of their data. If this requires announcements of additional fees for data usage, that will be fine as long as the rules of the road are clearly laid out.
Until Twitter does so, I expect the volume of new enterprise-ready startups centered on Twitter to reduce, and existing vendors will increase their focus on other platforms and communities as CEOs and boards of directors try to reduce their risk and exposure to future changes by Twitter.
A few minutes ago, Wildfire Interactive was purchased by Google for a reported $250 million. Of course, this is a lot of money, and a great exit for Wildfire investors, but what does it mean for social marketers, especially B2B social marketers? It is part of an ongoing trend of consolidation as many smaller vendors have been bought by major companies in the industry such as salesforce.com, Oracle, and now Google. Just looking at vendors I examined (with Kim Celestre) in our October 2011 Market Overview of Social Media Platforms for B2B Marketing (subscription required), many of them are no longer independent companies, and we expect this consolidation to only accelerate.
As a partial list, and please let me know if I missed any major acquisitions (of course, Yammer was bought by Microsoft, and Instagram by Facebook, but neither are external social marketing solutions for B2B marketers):
Involver, July 2012, Oracle
Collective Intellect, June 2012, Oracle
Vitrue, $300M, May 2012, Oracle
Buddy Media, $689M, May 2012, salesforce.com
Crowd Factory, April 2012, Marketo
Alterian, January 2012, SDL
Radian6, $350M, March 2011, salesforce.com
Unisfair, $35M March 2011, InterCall (West Corporation)