As you plan your 2013 social marketing initiatives, one area for you to focus on is influencer identification and engagement. I’ve been speaking to a number of B2B marketers recently who have begun to move beyond reactive responses to complaints to proactively reach out to people who are speaking out socially and creating influential content about their products and services.
Don’t let yourself be deceived; your key influencers are already having conversations, whether or not you’ve begun a marketing initiative to interact with them. However, engagement will fuel the fire behind their conversations, and allow you to generate more positive content about your products and your company. Finally, your engaged influencers, when they are your promoters as well as being influential, can supplement your existing customer advocate (or reference) programs. Traditional reference programs don’t scale because each reference only speaks to one prospect at a time. By engaging those folks and encouraging them to create public content, you can expand their influence on your prospects.
This past weekend, I did something no man welcomes: The dreaded car-buying event. Sure, we men love to shop for cars, but buying one is another thing altogether. I abhor salespeople botching heavy-handed “closing techniques,” fake chumminess, the sexism of telling my wife about cup holders and showing me the engine, and one of my least-favorite lines in the human language, “I’m not sure that’s gonna fly—I’ll have to check with my manager.” Yes, this weekend was all that and more, but in the end we snagged our car and I got the chance to meet and learn from a Mass Maven (and now so can you).
A while back, I published a report and blog post that briefly introduced two types of Mass Influencers—Mass Connectors and Mass Mavens. Next week, Forrester will release a new report that defines Mass Influencers in more detail, but this weekend I had the opportunity to study a Mass Maven in the wild. So, grab your pith helmet and join me as we embark on a Mass Influencer safari.
My journey started with a decision to purchase a convertible. (Hey, we may have moved to Northern California, but it’s still California!) First stop was a dealership to look at the new VW Eos. Our salesperson was—how can I put this delicately?—uninformed. When asked what the difference was between the two versions of the vehicle, he answered, “One has more features” and left it at that.
Let me answer my own question immediately by saying: Yes, money belongs in social media. It costs money to host social networks, develop social applications, create content, moderate dialog in social channels, and launch community platforms. VCs want to see money returned, Facebook and Twitter want to earn money, marketers want to invest money wisely and brands want people to spend money.
But should money be everywhere in social media? That's the question that came to mind as I read about a new social ad program being launched by Domino's Pizza.
In three days, it will be the two year anniversary of my first blog post on Experience: The Blog. Originally intended to be an exploration of experiential marketing strategies, my interest and focus quickly turned to social media and how the growth of the peer-to-peer groundswell creates challenges and opportunities for marketers. It is apt to recall how my blog started as one thing and became another, because change is in the air again. I'd like to reflect on that change, put it into context and invite you to join me as I shift my blog publishing to a new address.
A month ago, news broke that Forrester would be altering its blog policies and analysts would shift their industry-related blogging into a new, common platform on Forrester.com. I posted at the time that I believed aggregating Forrester's thought leadership in one place made sense and that I was eager to continue blogging, sharing news and building my reputation within the new Forrester blog.
The reaction was swift and emotional. Hundreds of tweets and blog posts weighed in on the topic; a few supported the new blogging policies, but most did not. One person tweeted I was "licking the boots of (my) corporate paymasters," and a friend sent heartfelt condolences at the loss of my blog. I ignored the tweet and assured my friend that I was not progressing through any of the stages of grief (unless bemusement was one of those stages.)
Forrester has relauched its blog platform to allow you to follow individual analysts and streams of research more easily. Here is what Cliff Condon, our guru of the new platform, has to say about the new platform. Please let me know what content you would like to see from the Marketing Leadership team as we build our individual and group voice on this new and more flexible platform.
Hey everyone. Here it is – Forrester’s new blog network. We made some changes to improve the experience for readers and to encourage more analysts to blog. Feel free to poke around and let me know what you think.
There are a few things I’d like to point out to you:
Everyone’s welcome here. Forrester analysts use blogs as an input into the research they produce, so having an open, ongoing dialogue with the marketplace is critical. Clients and non-clients can participate – so I encourage you to be part of the conversations on Forrester blogs.
We still have team blogs focused on role professionals. Our role blogs, such as the CIO blog and the Interactive Marketing blog, are a rollup of all the posts from the analysts serving that specific role professional. By following a role team blog, you can participate in all the conversational threads affecting a role.
And now we’ve added analyst blogs as well. If you prefer to engage directly with your favorite analyst, you can. Look on the right-hand rail of the team blog and you’ll see a list of the analyst blogs. Just click on their name to go to their blog. Or type their name into “Search”. An analyst blog is a place for the analyst to get reaction to their ideas and connect with others shaping the marketplace. You’ll find the blogs to be personal in tone and approach.