How mobile will transform business in 2016

Thomas Husson

With my peers Julie A. Ask, Jeffrey S. Hammond, Michael Facemire, Tyler Shields, Christian Kane, Jennifer Wiseand many other analysts, we put together our thoughts in a new 2016 Mobile predictions report on what to expect in the mobile space next year across industries and roles.

We believe 2016 will be the most consequential year for companies on the path to customer obsession, and that includes adapting empowered customers who expect to get anything they want immediately, in context on their mobile devices.

What role does mobile play in customer obsession, and how can businesses leapfrog their competition to deliver superior customer experiences? Here are three ways Forrester predicts mobile will change the ways business leaders operate in 2016.

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Most Marketers Don't Use Social Relationship Platforms

Nate Elliott

Social Relationship Platforms (SRPs) like Sprinklr, Sprefast, and Hootsuite save marketers time and help them more effectively manage their branded Facebook pages and Twitter accounts -- but most marketers still don't use these valuable tools.

We recently analyzed the Facebook posts made by 5,000 large brand pages and found that two-thirds post exclusively through Facebook's native tools. That's right: 67% of the biggest brands we could find didn't make a single Facebook post through a third-party vendor during the six week window we studied.

Most social marketers post exclusively through Facebook native tools

Twitter marketers are more likely than Facebook marketers to use SRPs -- but not by much. We looked at almost 3,000 large Twitter accounts and found that about half post natively 50% of the time or more.

Even when marketers do hire social relationship platforms, they often do most of their posting natively. This was true on both the social networks we studied, but it's especially pronounced on Twitter. In fact, most SRPs find the majority of their clients do at least 50% of their Twitter posting natively.

Most Twitter Marketers That Use Social Relationship Platforms Use Them Less Than Half The Time

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Does The New Facebook Reactions Get A ‘Like’?

Erna Alfred Liousas

This week Facebook released “Reactions” for two pilot markets: Ireland and Spain. The new reactions available for posts? Love, haha, yay, wow, sad, and angry.

Myself and Forrester analysts Jennifer Wise, Samantha Ngo, Brigitte Majewski across mobile, social, and advertising pow-wowed on this new addition.  Here are our thoughts: 
  • Facebook wins from this move. Hello new and granular consumer data. Facebook can continue to optimize its own news feed experience, and grow monetization of its data with improved audience profiles and targeting for ads – on its site, and everywhere else.  
  • Brands may get better sentiment data... Marketers need to go beyond counting likes, so what about counting “angries” vs. “yays” instead? Counts can suddenly mean positive or negative sentiment. Funneling these sentiments into consumer insights can help 1) inform ad targeting with refined consumer preferences and affinities, 2) test emotional story arcs, and 3) fuel retargeting. A clothing retailer could target consumers who react “wow” to dress posts. But the big “if” is: will Brands own Reaction data? We’re hoping yes. 
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How Does Your Brand Stack Up On Facebook, Twitter, And Instagram?

Nate Elliott

Ever wonder how you compare to the top brands in your use of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks?

Forrester recently reviewed how the top 50 global brands market on social networks. We evaluated 11.8 million user interactions on 2,489 posts made by 249 branded profiles, and collected tons of great data -- including how many top brands use each social network, how many fans they've collected, how often they post, and how often users interact with their posts. We published our complete findings in our research brief "How Top Brands Are Using Facebook, Twitter, And Instagram" -- but I also wanted to highlight some key findings here.

First, follower counts for the big global brands have skyrocketed in the past year. Top brands now average 18.1 million Facebook fans each -- more than double their average in 2014. Their average number of Instagram followers is now over 1 million -- almost five times higher than last year. Follower counts have nearly doubled on Twitter and Google+ as well.

Second, marketers are posting more often than in pervious years. Top brands now post 18.3 times per week on Twitter and 6.5 times per week on Facebook -- both slight increases over 2014. They post 4.9 times per week on Instagram, an increase of more than 50% over last year.


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Social Marketers: Give Away Your Ad Budget

Nate Elliott

Social marketers have worked for years to justify ad budgets—and that effort is finally paying off. But if you’re a social marketer, and you want your social advertising to succeed, you’d be better off giving that money to your media buying team instead.

We recently surveyed 173 of the most avid social marketers in the world and found that the large majority are buying ads on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. More than two-thirds said they would increase their social ad budget this year. And in most cases, they told us the social team or social agency was responsible for this social ad spending.

But it turns out social teams aren’t very good at spending social ad dollars. Sure, social practitioners claim they’re as good as media buyers at getting value from Facebook ads — a claim few can back up — but even the social marketers themselves they admit to lagging far behind their media-buying peers on other sites.

When social teams run the social ad budget, just 59% of marketers say they get value from Twitter ads; when media teams are in charge, Twitter delivers results 79% of the time. Likewise, social teams only get value from YouTube ads 64% of the time; media teams find success on YouTube 80% of the time.

Media Teams Spend Social Ad Budgets More Effectively

So what should you do with your social ad budget? Take a lesson from some of the most successful social advertisers and give almost all of your social ad dollars to the media team, rather than to the social team:

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Does Facebook still like the "like"?

Erna Alfred Liousas
Change is constant, especially with Facebook. Not too long ago it changed its algorithm to allow users to see their favorite content within their New Feeds first. Then it introduced Instant Articles to help publishers create interactive articles on Facebook. This week, Facebook updated its logo and its algorithm again. This update helps users prioritize stories and posts by allowing them to select the friends and pages they'd like to see at the top of their News Feed. And now for the grand reveal...
Facebook will no longer use likes in its cost per click measurement definition.
Yes, you read correctly, Facebook is discounting the value of its likes to the point where it doesn't factor into their click metric.  
Why is this happening now? 
At the end of the day, ads cost money. If Facebook wants to keep that ad revenue flowing, they've got to connect those ads to the things that drive the bottom line -- items that tie back to business goals, to justify the expense to marketers. Going forward, these clicks will factor into CPC:
  • Clicks to visit another website
  • Call-to-action clicks (Shop Now)
  • Clicks to install an app
  • Clicks to Facebook canvas apps, and
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Our Forrester Wave On Social Relationship Platforms, And The Case For Social Automation

Nate Elliott

Today we released an update to our Forrester Wave™ on social relationship platforms. Forrester defines social relationship platforms as technologies that help marketers publish organic posts to social networks as well as monitor and respond to customer posts on social networks.

We identified the 11 most significant vendors in the category — Adobe, Expion, Falcon Social, Hootsuite, Oracle, Percolate, Salesforce, Shoutlet, Spredfast, Sprinklr, and Sprout Social— and researched them, analyzed them, and scored them on 41 criteria. Clients can find the full report, including some very detailed product reviews and scores, here.

One of the things we looked for in our evaluation was vendors’ ability to automate key SRP functions. We know — automation remains a dirty word in social media. No brand wants to repeat the automation-driven mistakes of Coca-Cola or Bank of America. But marketers say one of their top social challenges is hiring and training enough qualified staff. In this environment, the greatest value that social relationship platforms can offer their clients is lightening their workload.

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It Has Been A busy Quarter For Social Media, But What Does That Mean For You?

Erna Alfred Liousas
Believe it or not, the first quarter of 2015 is officially complete. Between the snow accumulations (especially) in the Northeast, the subsequent melting process, and the ever-evolving social media landscape, we've been busy. One of my takeaways from the social world is that FOMO (fear of missing out) is alive and well across several audiences. Let me recap a few social highlights and share a bit more on my takeaways. 
  • Snapchat carries a 15 billion dollar valuation and reportedly somewhere between 100 and 200 million active users. Is Snapchat for every brand? Most likely not, but it has a measure of appeal for a particular audience. This group doesn't want to miss out on anything and they also like things that are exclusive and momentary. That's probably the draw for Snapchat's massive Millennial audience. 
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Facebook and HP Show Different Visions for Web-scale

Richard Fichera

Recently we’ve had a chance to look again at two very conflicting views from HP and Facebook on how to do web-scale and cloud computing, both announced at the recent OCP annual event in California.

From HP come its new CloudLine systems, the public face of their joint venture with Foxcon. Early details released by HP show a line of cost-optimized servers descended from a conventional engineering lineage and incorporating selected bits of OCP technology to reduce costs. These are minimalist rack servers designed, after stripping away all the announcement verbiage, to compete with white-box vendors such as Quanta, SuperMicro and a host of others. Available in five models ranging from the minimally-featured CL1100 up through larger nodes designed for high I/O, big data and compute-intensive workloads, these systems will allow large installations to install capacity at costs ranging from 10 – 25% less than the equivalent capacity in their standard ProLiant product line. While the strategic implications of HP having to share IP and market presence with Foxcon are still unclear, it is a measure of HP’s adaptability that they were willing to execute on this arrangement to protect against inroads from emerging competition in the most rapidly growing segment of the server market, and one where they have probably been under immense margin pressure.

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Focus Social Marketing On Clear Business Outcomes

Clement Teo

Asia Pacific marketers have moved from experimenting with social media in the recent past to integrating it into their marketing mix. However, a large number are guilty of setting and measuring metrics, such as vanity metrics, that do not inform the next course of action.

To increase your chances of social marketing success, you must:

  • Build an understanding of your audience. Brands all too often mistake social media platforms as a broadcast channel and rave about their own products and services without first understanding the conversations going around them. Astute marketers will first deploy listening platforms by studying the social behaviors of their target audiences and the context of their conversations. Forrester’s Social Technographics® will tell you both how social your audience is and the types of social behaviors in which they engage.
  • Invest in social marketing based on clear business outcomes. Many Asia Pacific marketers are still allocating media budgets based on user consumption of media — or worse, on how budgets were allocated in previous years. But this model is obsolete, thanks to new methods of accessing data and harnessing technology. Marketers must be able to answer which specific social activities drive specific business outcomes and boldly reallocate marketing investments based on these. For instance, marketers must show how their Facebook strategy has driven fans to their eCommerce site and helped stimulate them to complete a sale.
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