If you don’t understand what social depth is, just go to your favorite retail brand website. Most likely, you will find either ratings and reviews and/or colorful photo galleries on the site, providing you with customers’ written and visual perspectives of the brand’s products. And if you are a business decision-maker, chances are that you have stumbled on an interesting blog or two on a B2B brand site. Social depth is not a new concept, but brands are increasingly coming up with creative ways to use social content to inspire and influence buyers who are on their website(s). This is because social content helps move buyers from exploration to a purchase.
At Forrester’s Marketing Forum next week (and in a soon-to-be published report), I will talk about three brands that have launched brilliant and successful social depth strategies. These brands really set the stage for innovative approaches and should provide you with inspiration as you think about your social depth marketing plans this year:
Today, Lithium officially announced its acquisition of Klout and its 60-plus employees. Klout has had its fair share of controversy over the years — primarily because its primary influence score tried to be a universal number, independent of context, and it provided limited offerings for marketers. So when the acquisition news leaked a few weeks ago, many of us who have been following both companies have been scratching our heads: Why would Lithium, a leading community platform vendor, spend hundreds of millions to scoop up Klout? Here is my and my colleague Zachary Reiss-Davis’ perspective on the acquisition:
Lithium claims that Klout will enable it to round out its social marketing offerings. Today, Lithium provides a robust community platform and a social engagement platform, providing marketers with solutions for establishing both depth and engagement. But the company lacks a solution to help marketers meet their reach objectives. According to Lithium, Klout will help it close this gap by enabling Lithium to implement future advocacy offerings and do so through Klout’s reach of 500-million-plus consumers.
I often ask marketing leaders how they organize their resources for social, and the responses are rarely the same. I hear everything from: "We have one person in PR who does social part-time" to "We have hundreds of full time social marketing managers across the globe." Despite this disparity, I find that marketers often share the same level of frustration when they try to advance their social marketing initiatives. Whether they have one social marketing manager or hundreds of social marketing managers, marketers claim that their existing resources are stretched.
Quantity does not equate to quality
Marketers tell us that a lack of dedicated employees is a big pain point. And if you dig a bit deeper, you will find that this is a daunting obstacle that prevents many organizations from scaling and optimizing their social marketing efforts. Marketers often feel that the only way to scale and optimize is to hire more social marketing managers. Yes, more dedicated headcount helps, but it is not the panacea. In order to be truly organized for social marketing success, you need a new perspective.
The 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards entry deadline is February 28, which is only 10 days away! There are many benefits to winning a Forrester Groundswell Award — but you must submit your entry by the deadline if want an opportunity to show the world your social marketing prowess! Below are some links to details so you can get started on your entry today:
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.
Like many marketing leaders, you may find it challenging to accelerate the advancement of your social marketing initiative(s) because you are at a point where you need to articulate how your social marketing program(s) contributes value to your brand's business objectives. Whether you are launching a pilot social marketing program or a long-term corporate initiative, eventually you will need to get in front of your CMO and state your case for getting more budget and headcount to support your programs. Easier said than done? Well according to many marketers, it is. In fact, marketers tell us that ROI and measurement are the top two roadblocks they face when trying to advance their social marketing efforts — the very two things that the C-suite often demands when it';s time to allocate marketing resources. It's the ultimate marketer conundrum!
The month of September marks many new beginnings: the first day of school, the first month of fall, the start of football and hockey seasons, the beginning of grape harvest season (a significant event for a California wine lover like myself!), the new iPhone 5S . . . the list goes on. And when there are new beginnings, there are new learnings. This is why September is one of my favorite months -- for me, September symbolizes advancement and progress.
For marketing leaders, there is no better time than now to start learning about how to advance your social marketing initiatives. Most likely, you have been using social media tactics for some time now. And if you're like many marketers, you may find that you are stuck in a social marketing rut. Perhaps you find yourself unable to optimize your existing strategies or unable to get the results you expect from your social marketing programs. Or perhaps you have hit some major road blocks that are hindering your progress:
The good news: my colleagues and I have been working on some exciting new research this quarter that will help you overcome these challenges and advance your social marketing initiatives. This research will be published in our Social Marketing Playbook and will help you to do these three things:
The August 30 entry deadline for Forrester's 2013 Groundswell Awards is right around the corner. If you have not submitted an entry yet, what are you waiting for? If you believe that you do not have what it takes to be a "winner" -- here is some insight on what we look for when judging Groundswell Awards entries. Since my research focuses on Social Depth, I will use the Forrester Groundswell Social Depth category as an example. But first, let me define "Social Depth":
In our latest social marketing playbook report -- which my colleague Nate Elliott summarizes in this blog post -- we define Social Depth as tactics that help prospects explore and buy your products. When you provide Social Depth on your own branded website(s), you offer detail about what your brand stands for and expose your prospects to real customer experiences.
Basically, if you are a B2B or B2C company and you have a . . .
In anticipation of our upcoming 2013 Forrester Groundswell awards, I have been reminiscing about our past winners. One of the great benefits of participating in Forrester's Groundswell Awards is that analysts often use the winners' (and finalists') submissions as examples of best practices. Personally, I have included our Groundswell Awards winners and finalists in event presentations, client advisories, and consulting projects. These winners have inspired many marketers who continuously seek innovative ways to incorporate social media in their marketing strategies.
One winner that I have referred to frequently — and is a personal favorite of mine — is L'Oreal. L'Oreal won a B2B Groundswell Award in 2011 for its National Salon Facebook program. Using the Buddy Media social relationship platform, L'Oreal provided its ecosystem of thousands of salon partners with tools that helped them easily enhance their business Facebook pages with branded content, how-to-videos, and appointment-scheduling applications. I have many reasons for favoriting L'Oreal's program, but my top three are:
L'Oreal's campaign reflects an "outside-in" perspective.This was a true B2B2C campaign that proves how important it is to address the needs of the customer. The campaign provided content and applications to end-consumers, helped partners with shrinking marketing budgets promote their services, and helped L'Oreal get its brand in front of a wide audience of consumers. It was a win/win/win!
After the past few months of immersing myself in vendor briefings, demos, customer interviews, scoring methodologies, and writing, I am pleased to announce that the long-awaited Forrester Wave™: Social Depth Platforms, Q3 2013 has been published! We included nine vendors in this Wave and evaluated them across 57 criteria to help marketers select the right technology partner to manage their social activities on their own branded website, microsite, or online community.
Social media has transformed the way that buyers discover, explore, and engage with a brand. As a result, many marketers have invested in establishing a presence on popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter yet are struggling with how to convert interactions on these social networks to a purchase. This is where social depth marketing comes in — by driving people to your own web properties, you can provide credible and current details on your products and services. And social features such as your own blog, ratings and reviews, discussion boards, online communities, and other types of user-generated content can inform and influence a purchase decision. We call these technologies and platforms "social depth platforms":
Social depth platforms are technologies that add social content and experiences to marketing sites.