B2B Marketers Eye Social Media, Web 2.0 Tactics

Lauraramos [Posted by Laura Ramos]

Last Wednesday, Dan Klein — who heads up tech industry consulting here at Forrester — joined me on a teleconference to talk about how B2B marketers should “Define Your B2B Social Media Strategy.” Web 2.0 marketing is a subject of great interest to business marketers as almost 700 signed up for the Webinar, just over 300 attended, and 120 participated in a pre-show survey. The vast majority of the invitations went out to Forrester clients and, judging by the list of attendees, the participation ranged from large tech firms to small business services providers. Folks from software, hardware, telecom, agencies, start ups, database marketing, and media were present.

What did we learn from this interactive session? Here are a few highlights:

1) Social media use in marketing is just emerging. While 2/3 say they use email and Webinars in their marketing mix today, only 35% or fewer use blogs, online forums, video produced by marketing, podcasts, customer contributed content, or other Web 2.0 tactics.  Surprisingly, 42% said they are using social networks like Facebook — up from the 25% who said they did in our earlier 2008 research. (Click on the tiny picture below to see the data up close.)

Social_media_webinar_survey_3

2) Benefits are hard to gauge right now. Depending on which tactic they use, between 30 and 36% of respondents said it was “Too early to tell” whether using social media translated into marketing success.  In contrast, 25% said landing pages and Webinars successfully helped the generate leads in a measurable way.

3) Marketers are sticking with what works. As a result, 65% or more of the survey respondents said that Webinars, landing pages, video marketing, and online forums figure significantly in their 2009 marketing plans. On the other hand 55% or more said that RSS feeds, podcasting, widgets and virtual worlds were marginal or irrelevant in their futures.

4) And, finally, the most popular questions were about how to understand customers’ use of social media. They included: How do we figure out what customers are doing socially? What is the best way to get this information? How do we understand how Web 2.0- savvy our buyers are? How do we assess customer use of social media?

It’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?  How to reach customers through this brand-spanking new medium. But it’s the wrong question for marketers to ask if they want to be successful with social media.  Social media use is about creating dialog and relationships with a community. The community says what is important, not the marketing folks. This is going to be a very hard lesson for B2B marketers to learn because it means putting the right people — technical, customer-facing, problem-solving people — in front of the community and letting them engage in an open, trustworthy manner. And they may not get the corporate messaging right everytime…

In this new Web 2.0 world, the right question is: how do I get to know my audience better and what they want from social interaction? For this, Forrester developed Social Technographics and the POST methodology, which we talked about briefly on the Webinar.

If you’d like to know more, check out our research on POST and Social Technographics. Or you can join me in Cambridge, MA on August 13 for my “Making B2B Marketing Work” work shop, where we will talk more about social media, among other topics.  In the meantime, let me know what successes you are finding as you explore incorporating social behavior and Web 2.0 tools in your marketing.

Tags: , , :: Add to del.icio.us

Comments

re: B2B Marketers Eye Social Media, Web 2.0 Tactics

Social Media offers b2b marketers an almost unprecedented way to engage with customers and prospects.But the first thing marketers have to learn is that the old marketing approach/mindset doesn't work and that, if they really want relationship with their customers they will have to give up control of their message.I think this is the hardest thing for marketers to get their heads around because they fear a negative impact on their brand, plus messages have always been tightly controlled so they are squeaky polished. Social Media content is primarily user-generated and marketers cannot control it.Marketers need to see Social Media as a unique way to participate in conversations that are already going on about them. Some companies are there already, many are not yet.The fact is Social Media users dismiss most mass advertising, PR and corporate messaging. Along with most Facebook users I do everything I can to avoid ads appearing in my personal profile. But if there's an opportunity for real dialog, most users happily engage. Social Media users trust peers, friends and family for recommendations rather than the company message. Which means the corporate messaging should be pretty much absent - it comes across as dull dry and boring. Social Media users are looking for two-way conversation, participation, listening on the part of companies, and intimacy (all of which traditional marketing lacks). Users want companies to offer them content of value and demonstrate to them that they understand their needs and that their services can meet those needs better than the competition. If marketers can't do this (as opposed to PR) users will head to the competition, who, chances are, can.There are a number of different ways to engage with customers (including blogs, forums, wikis, podcasts, polls etc) but these need to be based on a radically different approach - that of building relationships organically. RSS - which from your post is little used right now by marketers - is actually one of the easiest ways for marketers to begin engagement in a small way - simply because you can offer users useful content without them having to visit your website. Blogs are another tool for conversations and interaction. As a first step, marketers need to find out what their customers like to do do by simply asking them. Then they need to see how they can participate in the online conversation and use their feedback to strengthen the relationship. Companies that have already achieved success with Social Media (for example Intuit, Boeing and Dell to name just three) are worth checking out - bearing in mind that to have succeeded they must have made mistakes - and learned from them.I'm hoping there will be a lot more comments on this very topical subject.

re: B2B Marketers Eye Social Media, Web 2.0 Tactics

I agree with "The community says what is important, not the marketing folks."We also find in the course of our business that this truth is also paralyzing to our clients. First, it causes anxiety since this is a significant mindset and process change, and it is a change from total control in the traditional marketing paradigm to one that is almost no control for the marketer. There is also the lack of skills to be conversational and interactive with stakeholders. Secondly, there is hesitation for the financial risk of any significant cost project when there is such anxiety.But in general, most people are bullish on the potential and agree that the paradigm is nascent and is worth investing in it. There is tremendous amount of education going on as evidenced by the webinar.We suggest that the key to getting educated is actually to practice DOING it with a small scope, low cost effort. Skills cannot be developed by just reading about it. Even in large enterprises, there are many small scope communities e.g extranet of suppliers, product focus group with key or passionate customers, and intranet for employees of companies with dispersed locations. How about an Idea Factory for employees to post suggestions to save energy within the company! These are some examples of low risk collaborators in social community projects.Jeremiah Owyang has recently compiled a catalog of providers at http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/08/04/forrester-report-vendor-pr.... There are numerous low cost choices. Some (including Orbius) are even free to try. Many recent entrant providers are quite full featured, even comparable to many custom built systems without the high cost. Start with something easy for your learning process. Learn and then change and refine quickly as you get feedback. So I hope people don’t let cost be an issue for them to get started.Community platforms generally have a way to define the rights and privileges of the various community participants. Not everybody needs to be given total freedom to do everything, at least not initially. Use that to start with what you are comfortable with, and then relax the constraints as you feel more comfortable.The last part of the post suggests many questions to answer. I suggest people “get on the bicycle and start riding” with a small scope, low risk, low cost project to sort these out. You cannot do all your learning by reading.C.H. Low, CEO, Orbius

re: B2B Marketers Eye Social Media, Web 2.0 Tactics

Totally agree C.H. Your point about paralysis is an excellent one. Also, I think that the sheer number of options available in Social Media can in itself be overwhelming - and that's in addition to coming to terms with a reduced ability to control their message.It's also a challenge for marketers to articulate exactly what they DO want from their Social Media efforts - how to choose from what's possible, what's realistic and what's necessary in a medium that is still evolving? And as with anything, a plan or strategy is key.It is good to know that b2b marketers believe in the potential of Social Media... and you are spot on when saying that starting small, with one single thing is the way to get started. Since most Social Media tools cost little or nothing to implement I would hope cost isn't a deterrent. Marketers have to get out there and get in the game because they are missing opportunities. As you say, that's the only way to learn what works - for them. I think providers can help by showing them the "how" as well as the "what."

re: B2B Marketers Eye Social Media, Web 2.0 Tactics

Online marketing is for now leaded by MarCom agencies and companies MarCom depts seem to be waiting for their advice before moving. But the point in doing so is Social Media is changing agencies job and business model from building websites and online advertising to content generation and community management. And that's not what they want since they don't have the abilities inhouse right now. Which generate companies to test crappy campaigns without dealing with the real deal: connecting with people.Until marketers go out and get in the game, as Nicky says, agencies would keep on providing with online advertising in a social media field, which is meaningless. Marketers have to take the lead and make agencies work for them, not do things in place of them. And above all, social media meaning engaging the company with its consumer community, agencies won't be able to do anything. It's company's work and duty.

re: B2B Marketers Eye Social Media, Web 2.0 Tactics

A very interesting post. My take is that serious B2B marketers are integrating social media and social networks into their B2B marketing strategy right now. Six months ago, this wasn't necessarily the case.For instance, I just interviewed Jean Foster, the VP of Marketing for BT Americas, about her use of social media and the specific revenue generating results she has seen. Listen to the podcast here: http://tinyurl.com/6klgye

re: B2B Marketers Eye Social Media, Web 2.0 Tactics

First, social media is a set of tools that comes with a notion of how those tools might be used (more personable and less cold, hard business). But once we get past that definition, it’s important to realize that social media tools are a great way to build relationships of trust and develop business connections long in advance of needing them.-----------micheelbuzz marketting

re: B2B Marketers Eye Social Media, Web 2.0 Tactics

At the end of the day, even b2b's need to add value for their clients and ensure that those relationships are strong and of value.Various components of social media offer b2b's a great opportunity to be at the forefront of helping to create new philosophies and strategies in how they communicate and connect with their customers.We are definitely finding traction with b2b's wanting to get more involved in social media but they are hesitant and are still thinking that social media should command more of the "experimental marketing" dollars rather than integrating it has a normal marketing expenditure. What the community needs is a couple of successful fully integrated social media marketing campaigns to serve as an example of b2b's utilizing not just a few components of social media but an actual strategy so that you can dive into specific areas to see how those social media tactics and strategies affected their bottom line.WilsonBreakout Solutions

re: B2B Marketers Eye Social Media, Web 2.0 Tactics

At the end of the day, even b2b's need to add value for their clients and ensure that those relationships are strong and of value.Various components of social media offer b2b's a great opportunity to be at the forefront of helping to create new philosophies and strategies in how they communicate and connect with their customers.We are definitely finding traction with b2b's wanting to get more involved in social media but they are hesitant and are still thinking that social media should command more of the "experimental marketing" dollars rather than integrating it has a normal marketing expenditure. What the community needs is a couple of successful fully integrated social media marketing campaigns to serve as an example of b2b's utilizing not just a few components of social media but an actual strategy so that you can dive into specific areas to see how those social media tactics and strategies affected their bottom line.WilsonBreakout Solutions