Recently we described an idea called the database of affinity: A catalogue of people’s tastes and preferences collected by observing their social behaviors on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Why are we so excited about this idea? Because if Facebook or Twitter or some other company can effectively harness the data from all the likes and shares and votes and reviews they record, they could bring untold rigor, discipline, and success to brand advertising.
But exploiting the database of affinity won’t be easy. Any company hoping to turn affinity data into something marketers can use will need three things:
Lots of affinity data from lots of sources. The raw data required to build a functional database of affinity doesn’t live in just one place. Facebook controls the most "like" data, recording more than 80 billion per month at last check. But Twitter records more "talking" than anyone else (1.5 billion tweets per month); Amazon collects the most reviews (well over 6 million per month); and Google’s YouTube and Google Display Network have data on how a billion people prefer to spend their time.
The ability to bring meaning to that data. It’s easy to draw simple conclusions from affinity data: If you ‘like’ snowboarding you might like to see an ad for energy drinks. But the real value in affinity data won’t be unlocked until we can find hidden combinations of affinity that work for marketing. That’ll require technologies and teams that can do some serious data analysis — as well as a real-time feedback loop to determine whether people really are interested in the ads targeted to them based on such complex assumptions.
. . . Ok, maybe not so "live" because it is now late in the evening on the day of the conference, but I'd like to share a few insights I gathered about the state of business-to-business (B2B) digital marketing today.
BtoB magazine's one-day event features frank conversational discussion from top B2B brands (mostly tech ones like Cisco Systems, Intel, SAP, VMware, Tellabs, and IBM) in moderated panel format. Digital lead generation/pipeline augmentation, social selling, agency trends, building B2B community, developing engaging content, and mobile marketing filled out the agenda.
This was my second year at the event, and the highlight again was the social media awards. Featuring 10 categories ranging from integrated campaign, to Twitter, mobile, and Pinterest, BtoB singles out top performers in social marketing. It also unveils tech and nontech people's-choice awards as voted on by subscribers.
You can find the full list here, and I hope BtoB will publish the scripted descriptions in a future edition because all honorees were interesting and unique and offer B2B marketers a look into how to use social to advance business. Heartfelt congratulations to all award winners — well deserved!
Looking over the list, here are a few observations you can take away about the state of social marketing in B2B:
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.
The silver lining on Apple's iOS6 Maps App snafu is that it has fueled much humorous poking. My favorite so far is the photo going around Facebook of Tom Hanks in "Cast Away." There is also a blog called "The Amazing iOS 6 Maps" that includes a collection of Maps mishaps sent in by users. It seems that negative product and service experiences often turn into comedy (remember "United Breaks Guitars"?). A funny photo or link shared on Facebook is often how product issues are initially brought to our attention.
At Forrester, we’ve always strived to help our clients address their challenges from a number of different angles, and now we’re formalizing this approach with an idea called playbooks. Each playbook we write is focused on one specific business challenge and is designed to give you every detail you’ll need to be successful.
Our interactive marketing research team is hard at work writing playbooks that cover mobile marketing, email marketing, digital media buying, and more — and I couldn’t be more pleased that our first interactive marketing playbook is the Social Marketing Playbook. We’ve worked to create a playbook that’ll help you:
Discover social marketing. You’ll see how firms like Unilever and De Beers defined a vision for fitting social into their marketing plans; you’ll be able to survey the social landscape around the world; and you’ll learn how marketers like Charles Schwab and NASCAR built the business case for social spending.
It’s that time of year again! That is, it’s time to look back at the very best social programs your company has run in the past twelve months, and to prepare your entry to the Forrester Groundswell Awards. This year’s entries are due on September 5, 2012 – and you can enter using our online form. We’ll be presenting the awards at Forrester Forums in October.
We’ve been lucky enough to recognize some fantastic social applications since we started these awards back in 2007 – and we’d like for you to have a great chance of winning, too. To improve your odds, we recommend you focus on two key points:
1. Enter in the right category.This year we’ve got 17 categories spread across three divisions: Business to Consumer, Business to Business, and Business to Employee. (If you’ve entered in previous years, you’ll notice that our two B2C divisions – North America and International – have been combined into a single global division; and that our Management division has been renamed Business to Employee.) Choose the division that best describes your program’s audience (B2C, B2B or B2E), and then choose the award category that best describes the objectives of your program (for instance, Listening, Talking or Supporting). If you’re not sure which category fits best, you can review the descriptions of each category on our FAQ page.
If you’re marketing in China, social media offers an enormous opportunity: Chinese online adults are the most socially active among any of the countries we survey worldwide, and a whopping 97% of metropolitan Chinese online adults use social tools. And this isn’t only driven by the younger generations — we find that on average Chinese Internet users ages 55 to 64 are more active in most social behaviors than US Internet users ages 25 to 34.
But a Chinese social media strategy is not that simple to implement, especially for Westerners accustomed to marketing on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – none of which operate in this market. So before you take the leap into social media in China, be sure that you:
Back in March, I hinted at my discomfort with the way SoLoMo has come to mean technology-focused, reductive marketing campaigns usually solely focused on the “check-in.” But the reason people want to talk about SoLoMo is because of real trends in consumer adoption of technology and advanced technology behaviors. Those of you who were at Forrester’s Marketing Leadership Forum last month know that this thinking evolved into what we’ve been calling the Always Addressable Customer — a topic that I haven’t stopped talking about since we debuted it. For those of you who haven’t yet heard the term, the Always Addressable Customer is someone who:
· Owns and uses at least 3 data connected devices
· Accesses the Internet multiple times per day
· Goes online from multiple physical locations (for example: home, work, in the car, and at the mall)
These customers require marketers to think differently about their programs if they want to be effective. Always Addressable Customers don’t stop to think about their devices or “technology solutions.” Rather, technology is simply how they live their lives and get stuff done. It means that you can now reach this ultra-connected audience wherever they are, but more importantly, wherever and whenever they need you. That “need” is key here: I’m not talking about your ability to bombard your customer with irrelevant messages. I’m talking about how you can now provide true service and value to your customers whenever and wherever they need it.
I am embarrassed to admit that I have lived in the California Bay Area for 18 years and have yet to venture outside of the Los Angeles airport. Some have told me that I "am not missing much," yet others are surprised...as if one is never truly a "Californian" unless you have been to LA for a visit. Well...this year will be my first official visit "in" LA...and excited that the reason for breaking my 18-year streak is Forrester's 2012 Marketing Leadership Forum! My Tech Marketing (i.e., "Travis Martin") colleagues and I have a very energetic, interactive, and fun session in store for you. Join us to learn how to improve your marketing strategies by using "journey marketing" to engage with your customers. Peter Burris and Chris Kelley will kick off our TM track session on April 18 with "Driving Revenue With Journey Marketing." I will follow Chris and Peter with "Getting From Good To Great: How To Create A Winning Social Marketing Strategy." On day two, Lori Wizdo is presenting: "Engage Customers With Lead Nurturing" and Peter O'Neill and Tim Harmon close our TM track session with "Marketing To Customer Value."
I've been hopscotching Europe this week, seeing clients and colleagues in London and Istanbul — but my thoughts have been in Los Angeles, where in a couple of weeks I'll be giving a speech called "Taking Social Media From Cool To Critical" at the 2012 Forrester Marketing Leadership Forum.
I chose that topic because it’s a concern I hear almost every day — and sure enough, I heard it from several clients on my travels this week. "We’ve put time and resources into social media marketing, because it seemed like we had to, but . . . it’s just not having much of a business impact." By comparison, four or five years into the era of search marketing, most companies were making a killing from their SEM programs. The same goes for email marketing. But here we are four or five years into the era of social media marketing — and for many companies, social media is still a curiosity, a sideshow that attracts lots of interest but adds little value. It's still cool, but at most firms, it's just not a critical part of the marketing plan.
I think the main reason marketers still struggle to make social pay is simple: They overestimate social media as a marketing tool. Let me be clear: I'm not bashing social's value for marketing; social media can have an enormous impact on the success of your marketing programs, as we’ve seen time and time again. The point I'm making is that it can’t create that success all on its own. You need to use it as merely one tool in your marketing tool kit.