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.
I (Lori Wizdo) have just put the finishing touches on the content for tomorrow's (Wednesday, March 28 at 10am PT/1pm ET) interactive webinar, Socialize Your Lead To Revenue Process. B2B marketers (even tech marketers) are not sure their buyers are really engaged in social media for business purpose. We'll see Forrester research that proves they are. We'll discuss how social marketing can address the issues I am hearing, over and over again, in client inquiries:
"How can we increase inbound?".... "How can we increase conversions?" ... "How can we shorten nurturing cycles?" And, most importantly, "Is social worth it?"
Despite the doubts and uncertainties, tech marketers plan to increase spending on social media for L2RM in 2012: 43% plan to increase social media spend for lead origination; 41% for lead nurturing. Tomorrow's webinar hopes to give some very pragmatic advice to help you jumpstart or scale-up your social marketing program.
In 2009, we started the Latin American Technographics® product to understand how emerging Latin American markets like Brazil and Mexico are adopting and using technology. During this time, we have seen some very cool findings with respect to social media and social tools. We found that:
Are you thinking about SoLoMo yet? My clients definitely are, and I haven’t been surprised by the number of questions I’m getting about it considering that 86% of US online adults engage in social media and 2/3 of online Generation Y fall into the SuperConnected category of Mobile Technographics®. But what does SoLoMo really mean?
It’s a concept that brings together social, local, and mobile media — and it’s intriguing to marketers because incorporating social engagement, local targeting, and the mobile customer into a single program seems like it should lead to especially creative and effective engagement. But I’ve been researching this topic over the past couple of months and I have a couple of concerns:
First, the way we talk about SoLoMo puts too much focus on the technology and easily lets marketers slip back into technology-first strategies driven by trends rather than audience insights.
Second, SoLoMo programs often take the form of a check-in offer today. This can certainly be an effective marketing tactic for retailers and brands with brick-and-mortar presences. But isn't there something SoLoMo can offer other brands?
The word is that promise of sCommerce (social commerce) and fCommerce (Facebook commerce) is more speculative than proven. What about the role of social media in government and governance? Mayors, other city leaders, and local organizations increasingly communicate and interact with their constituents via social media.
I don’t know about you, but my head is spinning from all of the articles and editorials about Google’s incorporation of Google+ content and other personalized search results. While there’s lots of conversation about whether the changes are good or bad for Google and the future of search, whether Google is opening themselves up to more anti-trust investigation, and whether Google was simply too late to the social media game to make a difference, I’m going to leave those arguments to others. I’m more interested in the potential opportunities and challenges for marketers that this integration of search and social presents.
It may give marketers an additional metric to track for social media. Google will be surfacing your brand’s Google+ social content directly into personalized results, for consumers who’ve added you to their circles. These search results may also include content that a consumer’s friends posted about you. That means qualified clicks on your social content—and that means possibly tracking how much search traffic you generate to your own sites through social marketing.
I'm delighted to be starting with Forrester as a Senior Analyst serving Interactive Marketers. I am based in our London office and will cover Global and EMEA specific topics.
A little bit about me . . .
I studied computer science in Edinburgh, Scotland over 20+ years ago when it was mostly a mathematical topic — heavy on algebra, programming, and other dry subject matter. While some of these topics remained in academia for many years I have seen how they have come to be nurtured under a more commercial light with recommendation systems and rich analytics solutions proliferating in the marketing technology landscape. These tools live alongside bleeding-edge techniques including neuroscience tools to measure pre-cognitive responses to media, messages, and experiences. It’s clear that the mad scientists and M(ad) Men are working side by side. Of course, marketing will always have a strong and essential dollop of artistic flair in the elixir but without doubt it is moving inexorably toward a science helped, in part, from the massive data sets now available through the web and social paradigm.
My experience in the industry has seen me work with many telecommunications companies, media publishers, startups, and hardware manufacturers on a wide gamut of products, marketing strategies and solutions to problems. Most recently I supported the BBC with short- and long-term CRM/sCRM strategies (across all channels) as well as implementing prototypes in the marketing resource management (MRM) and media planning space. In the mobile domain I recently completed some work with Vodafone Global on a system that wove its own mobile content together with third-party content using recommendation engine technologies and HTML5.
The shift towards the empowered consumer and employee is no more obvious than in Asia - particularly in Singapore, where a recent Google study showed that smartphone penetration is a whopping 62% (compared to 31% in the US). In fact, of the 11 countries in Asia surveyed, four of them (Singapore, Australia - 37%, Hong Kong - 35%, Urban China - 35%) had higher smartphone penetration rates than the US (and amongst 18-29 year olds, 84% of Singaporeans had smartphones, compared to 47% in the US!). With many of the more populous countries having young populations (average age: Philippines - 22.9, China - 35.5, India - 26.2, Indonesia - 28.2 - see World Factbook), the gen Y factor is driving employees to question whether the current way of working makes the most sense.
With so many young, mobile and connected employees, it is no surprise that CIOs across the region regularly complain about the company staff self-deploying devices, applications and services from the web or from app stores. The attitude of many IT shops is to shut it down - interestingly, the whole concept of "empowered employees" is quite "taboo" in some countries across the Asia Pacific region. A CIO recently told me that "smartphones and social media have come five years too soon" - referring to the fact he is planning to retire in five years, and that these technology-centric services are proving to be quite a headache for his IT department!