We are currently accepting entries for our 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards and as we are rapidly approaching our February 28th deadline, I thought I would share some insights on what it takes to win in the Social Depth category.
For those of you who need a refresh, social depth includes all of the various social capabilities that a brand adds to its own website and/or campaign microsite in order to facilitate a buyers' exploration of the brand and its offerings. Social depth tactics can include a blog, ratings and reviews, discussion forums, curated and aggregated social content (user-generated and brand-generated) and social sign-on. These tactics provide tremendous value to marketers who have deployed them. In fact, my recent report shows how B2B marketers give social depth tactics high grades in terms of their contribution to business outcomes.
But what makes a social depth strategy stand out from the rest? First and foremost, your social depth strategy should provide the rich content and customer insights a buyer seeks when exploring your brand and products on your website. This branded and user-generated content should move a buyer from early exploration to consideration and ultimately to an actual online or offline purchase. Brands that do this really well can show how their strategy drives quality leads, conversions and online and/or offline sales.
Our 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards (submission deadline is August 30th!) are structured around the Forrester Marketing RaDaR model, with awards for outstanding social marketing in each phase of the customer life cycle. My research this quarter focuses on social reach – tactics to help people discover your brands, products, and promotions – so I want to highlight a 2011 winner demonstrating the power of advocate marketing.
In 2011, Unilever introduced a new extra-strong variant of Marmite, a yeast-based spread that no one is just “meh” about – consumers either love it or hate it. Marmite’s consumers are extremely passionate about the product, and Unilever created an exclusive community for only the top 200 fans and advocates to feed (pun intended) their excitement. Each community member received one of 200 commemorative jars of the new Marmite.
Today, social media is part of nearly every marketer's strategy: More than 90% of the marketers we survey are already using social tactics.
But the sobering reality is that nearly a decade into the era of social media, more social marketers are failing than succeeding. Why? Because of a problem we call “social exceptionalism.” Rather than regarding social media as just another marketing channel, marketers act as if social is somehow unique:
Some treat social media as an island. Too many marketers never connect social to the rest of their marketing programs. But social messages that don't match the rest of your marketing program are unlikely to contribute much value.
Others ask social to carry the weight of the world. No matter how social your audience, no one channel can shoulder the load of an entire marketing program on its own — as many marketers ask social to do. Successful marketing always relies on finding the right mix of platforms and tactics.
Most use unproven metrics to track performance. Marketers have moved past tracking only fans and followers — but few have gotten much further. Too many measure recently invented metrics like "engagement," and too few track the brand impact or conversion rate of social programs.
Premier Farnell — an electronics components supplier with $1.4B in 2012 revenue that also operates as Newark in the United States — has a goal to sell to a broader range of design engineers by offering them resources throughout its projects. To do this, the company built a community called element14, which offers resources about all types of electronic design topics and — crucially — does not focus just on products that Premier Farnell supplies. The community has about 120,000 members, and 5% to 7% of them click through from the community to the transactional portion of Premier Farnell's site each day as fully qualified leads. Premier Farnell shows that large corporations can generate substantial new business by offering potential customers vendor-agnostic reasons to visit a new community.
The community also generates new content for the rest of the company's marketing, as 45 experts create a series of new content in the community which provides another reason for customers to return; in fact, a third of the community members return every week.
Today, Facebook announced a new road map for its social advertising solutions. Over the coming months, Facebook will evolve its ad offerings to:
Focus on business objectives. “Do Facebook advertising” is not a business object unto itself. Social advertising broadly, and Facebook advertising specifically, is just one piece of a broader mix of options to reach new audiences. Facebook plans to help marketers align their spending to their business objectives by offering solutions specifically for brand marketers, online retailers, and other types of advertisers.
Make social ads more social. Facebook’s data shows that ads on its site work better when they contain a social component (e.g., ‘your friend Nate likes this brand’) — so soon, all Facebook ads will contain social elements by default. This is part of a larger trend to make social advertising more personal than traditional display advertising.
Simplify its advertising options. As Fidji Simo, Facebook Ads Product Manager, said today, "it should be simpler." Today, Facebook offers a veritable Chinese menu of ad units that frankly confuse most marketers. To simplify ad buying, Facebook plans to slash its existing number of ad units in half to create a simpler ad-buying experience.