My colleague Nate Elliott and I have been thinking about the Facebook IPO. Our thoughts:
The world’s biggest social network will complete its initial public offering in a few days, with a valuation based largely on its strong history of innovation. But we have to wonder: Will Facebook ever focus any of that innovation on helping marketers?
After all, Facebook is fantastic at introducing great new features and services for its end users. The moment another social tool gains the interest of enough users – whether it’s Twitter’s rapid public chatter or Foursquare’s location-based check-ins – Facebook updates its own site to offer similar features to its legions of users. We’ve rarely seen a company borrow from its competition as quickly or as well as Facebook. And that focus on better serving end users has seen Facebook grow quickly over the years, even in the face of consistent privacy concerns.
How many times have you been asked, “What’s your social strategy?” As Facebook’s IPO grabs the headlines, and new social sites like Pinterest and Tumblr grab consumers’ attention, many marketers are wrestling with what brand building looks like in today’s social world. But the real question you should be asking yourself is, “How does social media change your brand strategy?”
Marketing leaders now view social media as critical for brand building. In our February 2012 Marketing Leadership Online Survey, nine out of 10 marketing leaders told us that social media is fundamentally changing how brands are being built in the 21st century. In fact, they view it as second only to search for brand building. But many are still struggling to determine how to integrate it into their marketing plans. The truth is, while social is a great new tool, it lacks the power to build a brand alone. Marketing leaders such as Coca-Cola and JetBlue recognize this and are integrating social with paid and owned media to build a 21st century brand experience. In my new report, "How Social Media Is Changing Brand Building," I identify three ways social media can help marketers harness the power of social to build their brand by 1) building a relationship to become more trusted; 2) differentiating through an emotional connection to become more remarkable; and 3) nurturing loyal fans to become more essential.
How is social changing your brand building strategy? What challenges are you facing in the social brand building world? Comment here, or join the conversation in our community of marketing leaders.
Adopting a social mindset requires a change in culture. Tough to accomplish. Now layer on top the added complexities of a B2B sales cycle, strict industry regulations, and dozens of regional markets. Welcome to the world of Clive Roach, Social Media Strategist at Philips Healthcare and keynote at our upcoming Forrester Interactive Marketing summit in London on May 23. Clive has managed through these complexities to create successful B2B influence marketing programs in customer communities like Philips NetForum and public communities like LinkedIn. I recently caught up with Clive to learn more about how he did it. I hope to see you in London where Clive will share the full story!
CO: What’s unique about nurturing influencers in a B2B environment?
CR: Building relationships is the key aspect of nurturing influencers in a B2B environment. In many B2B industries the sales cycle can be quite long, and much longer than in B2C situations. It is important to work towards long lasting relationships, where you can learn about the needs and interests of the influencers that you have identified and that you supply them with information and continue to have dialogue that is useful to them. In that way both parties have a win-win outcome. It is also possible to find out the channels within which they are most effective.
CO: You gained the buy-in of Philips board on your social media strategy proposal. What tips would you give to others to gain the support of the C-suite?
In 2007, Forrester published our first report on engagement. We defined it as "the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence that an individual has with a brand over time." Fast forward five years: marketers still prioritize engagement in both principle and practice. Why? Two reasons, really. First, it's the right aspiration. When a brand gets it right and earns a place in the ongoing dialogue, its customers become its fiercest advocates and a kind of outsourced marketing department. Second, it's hard to do. Today, we're talking about ongoing interactions that somehow manage to stay authentic and personal despite the explosion of devices and customer touchpoints. So, as marketers, I believe that we prioritize engagement because we enjoy the challenge (Solving it makes victory all the sweeter!).
On May 23 in London, I'm hosting our inaugural Interactive Marketing Summit on the topic of Mastering Digital Engagement. Our external keynotes include Debbie Weinstein, Senior Director of Global Media Innovation at Unilever; Clive Roach, Social Media Strategist at Philips Healthcare; and Jermaine Dupri, Grammy-award winning producer, CEO of So So Def Recordings, hip-hop artist, and songwriter. I'm a bit in awe of their fabulousness. You can expect our keynotes to address key points such as:
If you wanted to see the full spectrum of cloud choices that are coming to market today you only have to look at these two efforts as they are starting to evolve. They represent the extremes. And ironically both held analyst events this week.
OpenStack is clearly an effort by a vendor (Rackspace) to launch a community to help advance technology and drive innovation around a framework that multiple vendors can use to bring myriad cloud services to market and deliver differentiated values. Whereas Oracle, who gave analysts a brief look inside its public cloud efforts this week, is taking a completely closed and self-built approach that looks to fulfill all cloud values from top to bottom.
Engaging citizens in government isn’t a new concept. Referenda, ballot initiatives, and recall of elected leaders are common in the US and other democracies. Even the EU has recently sought to involve citizens through its European Citizens’ Initiative. This new program, however, has started in an era where new modes of constituent engagement are easier and cheaper. Obtaining the signatures required to place an initiative on a ballot or bring an issue to government leaders’ attention no longer requires endless hours in front of a shopping mall. New social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, or even more local sites like Everyblock in the US or Iniative.eu in Europe make it easier to reach out to citizens and for citizens to reach out to their governments.
And, the pattern extends across types of government and geographies. Political activists in Nigeria are using social media to drive election reforms. Political unrest and even revolution throughout the Middle East garner support via social media sites. Recently, citizens in China used social media to block destruction of trees in Nanjing.
New tools specifically tailored to citizen engagement — such as citizen reporting platforms, open data infrastructure, and competition platforms — even further transform governance. These tools provide citizens with not only a voice but also a role in the governance process.
We listened to marketers of the world’s biggest brands when they asked, “What’s the impact of Facebook on my brand?” and we decided to take a look for ourselves. We proudly present our latest research, “The Facebook Factor.” In the report, we answer the pressing question, “How much more likely are Facebook fans to purchase, consider, and recommend brands, compared with non-fans?” We used logistic regression modeling to find out. The impact? We call it the “Facebook factor,” and I urge you to read the report to find out how you can leverage our methodology to assess the Facebook factor for your brand.
In the report, we use four major brands as case studies to assess the Facebook factor for Coca-Cola, Walmart, Best Buy, and BlackBerry(Research In Motion [RIM]). Guess what? Facebook fans are much more likely to purchase, consider, and recommend the brands that they engage with on Facebook than non-fans. As the graphic below shows, Facebook fans of Best Buy are about twice as likely to purchase from and recommend Best Buy as non-fans.
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.
Forrester fields hundreds of client inquiries each year on the topic of social business and collaboration. And the trend doesn't appear to be slowing. Often the first question is, "How far behind are we?" Well here's the data. You judge for yourself. According to Forrester survey data from 1,332 executives and IT decision-makers:
49% will have investments in social networking solutions in 2012.