Top Twelve B2B Tech Social Marketing Highlights Of 2012

Last January, I kicked off 2012 with a report titled “The New Year Of Social Marketing”. The theme of that report was that B2B marketers would begin to emphasize the “social” of “social media” by focusing more on engagement and  interactions and less on broadcast marketing. I explained how marketers would continue to adopt social media listening and community platforms, that social media tactics would be used across various marketing functions within the organization and that marketers will start taking a community perspective to their social marketing strategies.

I humbly admit that my 2012 predictions were very conservative.  2012 was a remarkable year for B2B social marketing as seen by the acceleration of B2B social media adoption, rapid consolidation of  the social media platform market and the evolution of digital and social marketing. Savvy B2B tech marketers are quickly adapting to these changes in order to effectively (and efficiently) engage with prospects and customers.

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Jump Start Your Online Community

 

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.

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B2B Marketers, Get Inspired By Our 2012 Groundswell Award Winners!

Today, at the Forrester eBusiness Forum in Chicago, Nate Elliott announced our 2012 B2C and  B2B Groundswell Awards winners and finalists!  One of my most enjoyable tasks as a Forrester analyst is reviewing all of the Groundswell awards submissions. And I know many of you also look forward to seeing the innovative approaches that other B2B companies use to listen to and engage with customers.  This year, we received 45 entries and  we judged submissions across seven categories:  Listening, Talking, Energizing, Spreading, Supporting, Embracing and Mobile. 

 

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Unlike Apple's Map App, Our Community Roadmap Will Get You To Your Destination

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. 

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Marketing Is Alive And Well.

Over the past 2 weeks, we have seen a lot of buzz from a HBR blog post written by Bill Lee.  The title, "Marketing Is Dead" continues to get Bill's blog post quite a bit of mileage and even today, there is still much heated debate over the article's intent.   

The fact is, I agree with many of the points Bill makes in his post...except for the title.  A more accurate title would be"Traditional Marketing Is Dead In The Social And Digital Age", but the marketer (and analyst) in me always appreciates the impact of a bold and controversial statement!  Here's my take on the points Bill makes in his post:

- Traditional marketing tactics are having less relevance in an age where buyers lead the journey and increasingly tap into online resources and social networks for information.  Yes, marketers face the difficult challenge of competing for their buyers' attention in a crowded and noisy online environment.  Traditional tactics may have less influence on buyers in social networks, however they should not be abandoned!  Our research shows that buyers are still influenced by traditional tactics like physical events and even printed content.  Successful companies use an effective mix of complementary traditional and social tactics.

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B2B Marketers, It's Time To Influence Your Community Strategy With CLICK

Yesterday, I spent a good portion of the day with a Bay Area community platform vendor's exec and management team.  We discussed the current and future state of online communities, spoke about market growth and B2B marketing trends.  It was a passionate, energetic discussion...one of those rare moments when everyone at the table realizes that we all on the same page, each of us "preaching to the choir" about the incredible opportunities that online communities offer to companies across all industries. Opportunities that many B2B marketers miss.  

Well, the time has come for all of you to take advantage of these opportunities. Our Forrester research team has been quite busy over the last 2 months, working on a B2B Online Community Playbook that will provide you with all the research, tools, assessments and guides to help you plan and execute  your online community.  One of the critical reports in our playbook (what I like to refer to as the "heart" of the playbook)  is now available, and provides you with 4 unique community strategies and a simple framework, called "CLICK",  for building them: 

 

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Submit Your Entry For Forrester's 2012 Groundswell Awards!

Today we officially launched Forrester's 6th annual Groundswell Awards! Since I cover B2B tech social media/online community research, I am always looking for interesting examples of how B2B companies are getting exceptional results using social media. I use the B2B Groundswell Awards winners in a majority of my client presentations, reports, and webcasts, and these best practices are often a highlight. After all, Forrester's Groundswell Awards winners inspire others to set the bar higher!   

 
My colleague, Nate Elliott, provides some guidance to improve your odds of winning here. This year, we have added "mobile applications" in our B2B category. So make sure you consider your mobile programs in addition to your social media programs when you submit your entries!
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Silicon Valley Thought Leaders Discuss The 5 Social Media Trends You Should Care About

Last week, a few Forresterites and special guests took a break from the end of quarter crunch to participate in a panel event in our beautiful San Francisco office. The theme of our panel was "The Top 5 Social Media Trends You Should Care About." Our audience included tech marketers (mostly from Silicon Valley). We had a great mix of companies in the audience, which included both large enterprises and small startups. I moderated a great panel of local Bay Area thought leaders, including:

 
Jeanette Gibson @JeanetteG  Senior Director, Social and Digital Marketing, Cisco
Dan Ziman  @LostInTheFlog VP Corporate Marketing, Lithium Technologies
David Hurwitz  @Serena_Software, SVP of Worldwide Marketing, Serena Software
Zachary Reiss-Davis  @ZacharyRD, Researcher, Forrester Research. 
 
We spent a very interactive 90 minutes discussing social marketing best practices. Our panelists covered the following 5 trends: 
 
Social intelligence
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Your Business Tech Buyers Are More Social Than Ever

 I am writing this blog from a country club in beautiful (albeit rainy) Virginia. It seems like yesterday when I was in warm LA for the Forrester Marketing Leadership Forum. What a difference a week makes! Our sales enablement and tech marketing teams have a 3-day offsite here to dive very deep into our clients' problems and how Forrester can help solve them. In order to tackle these problems, we must start with the critical step of understanding everything we can about our customers. For example, Forrester has surveyed business technology buyers over the past 4 years to gather data on their on line behaviors. This data is commonly known as  Forrester's Social Technographics™ ladder. This intelligence is priceless to our Forrester clients, who more often than not are skeptical with regards to B2B buyers' use of social media. There is a general perception that social media primarily applies to consumers, not B2B buyers. Well, if you still don't believe that B2B tech buyers use social for work purposes, think again! I created an infographic to show that B2B buyers continue to engage online for work purposes and in more ways than you may think. They are commenting on your products, creating video, writing blogs, and posting status updates. And this just scratches the surface!

 
 
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Tech Marketers Have A Reason To Love LA...The Forrester 2012 Marketing Leadership Forum!

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." 

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