The Four Social Programs Every Marketer Should Study β€” A Free Webinar

Nate Elliott

Nearly all marketers say they use social media. But many aren’t getting much value from their investments. Despite marketers’ excitement about social media, many say the channel simply doesn’t offer enough return on their investment; for instance, barely one-half of those who buy Facebook ads say they’re satisfied with the business value those ads provide. The sobering reality is that a decade into the era of social media, many social marketers remain baffled by the channel.

The good news? There are success stories you can study to see how social media can work for companies like yours. In April 2014, Forrester announced the winners of the eighth annual Forrester Groundswell Awards. The awards recognize the very best in social marketing — focusing on programs that go beyond engagement metrics to deliver real business value to both B2C and B2B marketers in a range of industries.

Forrester clients can check out our report, The Four Social Programs Every Marketer Should Study. But even if you’re not a client, we’d like to offer you this content in a free Webinar on September 18 — just click here for details.

If You Are Thinking About Paying Your Influencers...Stop

Kim Celestre

Paying influencers, which Forrester defines as independent bloggers, industry analysts, and mainstream journalists, is a bad idea.

Public and analyst relations professionals have been managing influencer programs since long before the first utterance of the words "social media." They know how to strike the right balance of keeping influencers informed while gently motivating them to engage with their brand through 1:1 relationship building. Unfortunately, social media has ignited a population of "influencers" who are in it for the financial rewards more than for developing their personal brands. This has led to many brands jumping on the "pay for play" influencer program bandwagon, which, for some, has led to terrible results. For example, Microsoft learned the hard way back in June when its agency blasted out a paid blogging campaign invite to a large audience of influencers. And other brands that have been caught paying bloggers and influencers to write positive product reviews have also paid the price.  

Paid influencer programs diminish the authenticity of the message you are trying to amplify, have legal implications (if not carefully implemented), and can really irritate influencers who detest pay-for play-programs. Yet over 35% of marketers still use financial incentives. My simple advice: Don't do it!

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What To Expect From Berlin's IFA And From Apple's Upcoming Announcements

Thomas Husson

Will the iPhone 6, to be announced on September 9, have NFC and a Sapphire Crystal display?

What about the new Samsung Galaxy Note 4, to be announced at Unpacked on September 3? And will the new Nokia Lumia 730 (a.k.a Superman), to be announced on September 4have a 5-Megapixel rear-facing camera?  

This week's scheduled launch events from Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, Motorola, LG, and Apple will cause lots of comparison about device features – with about 15 new devices to be launched along the IFA show in Berlin.

It simply does not matter.

Forrester made the call that competition shifted from devices to ecosystems about two years ago. New devices are simply vehicles for increasing the value of the entire digital relationship across a rich digital platform.

As my colleague Frank Gillett puts it, “Samsung's challenge is to establish an enduring relationship with customers, rather than being an interchangeable Android device maker – and it will take more than a new Galaxy Note to do that.”

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Content Distribution Is A Hot Mess Right Now

Ryan Skinner

[UPDATE 4 Sept: I have updated this post to the original draft, which includes specific and strong recommendations to publishers and marketers. They had been redacted, but a colleague asked "What would you DO about this?" so I saw fit to reinclude them. These are my answers; there are no easy solutions, but these are a step towards guidelines. Updates at the end of the piece, in bold.]

Publishers Are Engaged In Self-Harm, With Marketers As An Accessory

You remember when the email spam problem maxed out almost a decade ago? Or when content farms threatened to turn Google search results into useless piles of keyword-slurry? Or peak belly fat?

There should be a word for the moments when the mechanisms that aim to keep our electronic information corridors running well fail.

It’s shaping up to be one of those moments for the content distribution space (and particularly its subdiscipline native advertising, or sponsored content).

You can pity the reader who arrives at an article on many publishers’ websites today; I’m talking about you, Guardian and Forbes, but also you, New York Times and Washington Post. How is the reader to know if the article they’ve come to read is the product of a straightforward pay-to-publish play, an informal “link exchange” relationship, an “influencer” play, an independent opinion piece, or a piece of pure editorial? They can’t.

For the record: The “clear labeling” commandment is a fig leaf. By the time a reader has gotten so far through the article that they’re wondering why it keeps promoting a particular mindset, product, or opinion and started searching for cruft around the article, the trust in the information, the source, and the medium is lost.

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Jive And Salesforce Reaffirm Their Commitment To Customer Communities

Kim Celestre

Today, both Jive and Salesforce announced updates to their customer community offerings. Although their updates do not include any groundbreaking innovations (where is McKayla Maroney when you need her?), I find it interesting that Jive and Salesforce have significantly dialed up their marketing efforts for their external-facing community solutions. Historically, both vendors have primarily focused on their internal enterprise community tools and seemed to be on a gradual trajectory to building out their external customer-facing community products. Today's announcements reflect my position that customer communities are becoming the tour de force of social marketing strategies. In fact, last year we published a Forrester Wave that evaluated the ecosystem of community platform vendors in which Lithium was the leader. In that report, I discuss how brands will increasingly seek out the best-of-breed social depth tools and/or enterprise community platforms that facilitate digital interactions with their prospects and customers — on their owned web properties. In response to this demand, Jive, Salesforce

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The Beginning Of The End For The "Programmatic" Ad Network

The acquisition of [X+1] by Rocketfuel signals the beginning of the end for “programmatic” ad networks. Since the industry’s shift to programmatic, countless ad networks have changed how they market themselves, adjusting their sales language to mimic legitimate programmatic platforms. The “programmatic” ad network insertion order-based and flat-rate business model has prolonged the black box opacity that spurred the need for demand side platforms and exchange based media buying. It’s only fitting that one of the industry’s most successful “programmatic” ad networks — Rocketfuel — is addressing client demand by making a move that launches them into the digital marketing SaaS market.

There is a lot to be said about the success that Rocketfuel has had in the industry; they have done great things for marketers looking to automate audience prospecting and retargeting. They certainly have done an amazing job marketing their programmatic chops, with the success of their AI product and their success with agencies running performance based campaigns. Their recent revenue growth and the fact that Rocketfuel had the capital to acquire a DSP/DMP in [X+1], are testaments to the success that they have had in the industry.

Despite their success, prolonging opacity for marketers in this market is a short-term strategy, and Rocketfuel is positioning itself for long-term success.

Coming from the agency trading desk world, I did not partner with Rocketfuel for several reasons:

  • Rocketfuel works with marketers and agencies on a flat-rate business model, which is aligned with traditional ad network buying.
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Beacon Marketing: Be Wary Of The Hype

Thomas Husson

Beacons have a great deal of disruptive potential as they bridge the digital and physical worlds. I quite like this quote from Steve Cheney, SVP at Estimote: “Beacons as a platform are really a wedge into ‘appifying’ the physical world. They give context to a physical space. They are a way of actually extending the network intelligence to the edge again, something that has been missing since the desktop era. Beacons are truly a way of giving your smartphone eyes—place dumb signs around you and let your phone discover and read them.”

Beacon technology offers new opportunities for marketers across a wide range of industries and verticals. In particular, they enable marketers to:

  • Engage consumers in their mobile moments via in-app interactions.
  • Improve the customer experience.
  • Understand customer behaviors by leveraging analytics.
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Let's Talk About Programmatic

Programmatic – one of digital marketing’s buzzwords of 2014. It seems today everyone is doing programmatic ad buying – and if you’re not, then some would say your media strategy is lagging behind. 

Most marketers are still trying to make sense of the programmatic buying space and answer questions like:

  • How should I be using programmatic and what can it do for my brand?
  • What types of programmatic technology should I be using?
  • Am I getting the most out of my current programmatic approach?
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Two Things To Consider Before You Invest In A Social Content Curation Platform

Kim Celestre

Chances are, you've recently visited a brand's webpage and stumbled upon a visually appealing, Pinterest-like media gallery with photos of happy customers and the brand's products. Today, media galleries are all the rage as marketers attempt to capture the priceless content their audiences are generating on social networks and at live events. But before you run out and invest what's left of your 2014 marketing budget on a social content curation platform (see Figure 2 from this report) make sure social content curation will help you:

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A European Market For Social Media? Does Not Exist

Ryan Skinner

An agency head told me how he was on a call between the European head of marketing for a US brand and that brand’s board of directors. The chairman asked the marketing honcho, “How is the European market?” The marketer answered, “There isn’t one.” Awkward silence. “That is, there is no European market. There is a French market. A German market. A British one. And so on. I can tell you about those.”

In no other sphere of marketing are these national differences magnified more than in social media. Social media is, by its nature, participatory and thus takes on the form, tone, and color of its users. Social media in Germany is German social media. In France, French social media.

Then brands enter the picture. That social media strategy hatched in Dallas or Dublin, with a sum earmarked for translations, will not cut it.

Three reasons cookie-cutter strategies will fail in Europe:

  • Europeans as a broad group are less likely to engage with brands on social media than, say, in the United States or metro Hong Kong.
  • Europeans’ usage differ significantly country to country; Italians usage is not comparable to German usage.
  • Each market boasts strong local players that excel at the intricacies of their market’s social media usage.
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