Should Marketers Check In?

Should Marketers Check In To Location-Based Social Networks?

Location-based social networks (LBSNs) have been all over the media lately. Foursquare hit 2 million users. Twitter launched, revamped, and re-launched Places. CNNMoney partnered with Gowalla around its popular annual “100 Best Places to Live” list.  There’s even a social experiment -- PleaseRobMe -- that was started in response to the hype around this new social sharing technology.   So it’s no surprise that we’ve been getting a lot more questions from marketers lately about these services.  Marketers want to know who’s using these services, how often they’re using them, what they’re using them for, how marketers can get involved, and whether they should.

We dug into our research to try to answer these questions, and at a high level what we found is that just 1% of US online adults are using LBSNs weekly, while 4% of them have tried them at least once.  The sample size of this 1% of adults who use LBSNs regularly is small, so our findings on their behaviors are directional only, but our research shows that these users are typically young, male, well-educated, and influential.  In fact, LBSN users are 38% more likely than the average US online adult to say that friends and family ask their opinions before making a purchase decision. 

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A Guide To Community Management

Just a few short months ago, I was an implementer of community and social media products and programs.  The success I had in those roles, and the knowledge I carry with me now, is thanks in part to the Forrester research reports that helped guide me along the way — so I’m especially excited to now be the author of one of those documents.

My first Forrester report is called the Community Management Checklist (Forrester clients can click the link to read it.)  It’s an overview of the process marketers need to follow and the important-but-sometimes-overlooked concepts and ideas to keep in mind as they work towards launching or engaging with their community.  

Through my research, I identified four phases of the process that can be handily summarized by the acronym PALM:

Planning: Laying the groundwork, setting objectives, exploring existing conversations, making necessary early decisions.

Alignment: Building internal consensus and processes.

Launch: Attracting and retaining members.

Maintenance: Cultivating relationships with your members and turning them into loyalists.

In the document, I’ve covered many issues that marketers have told me they’ve struggled with, so I hope you’ll find that it gives you actionable advice to help you during your own planning process. If it sparks other thoughts or questions, let me know in the comments here or on Twitter — a quick comment from you might turn into an important research topic for me.  

Crowd Factory Launches New Social Campaign Product

Crowd Factory announced today a new product for marketers: CrowdWorks Social Campaign -- which it describes as a way for marketers “to acquire new customers through simple social sharing and custom social marketing campaigns while easily tracking ROI.”

The key word there is simple.  What Social Campaign offers marketers is not complex end-to-end community/social/conversational/engagement marketing functionality and services.  It’s a curated set of light social applications (like sharing and ratings) -- which it refers to as social gestures -- that marketers can use to impact the business goals they’ve already established for their campaigns.

The interface is as simple as the feature set too, which may be a welcome change of pace for marketers who are used to requesting design and coding work from already tapped development resources.  Crowd Factory says it takes 10 minutes, and no technical skills, to customize and deploy a social gesture, and having seen the dashboard, I can believe it.  Of course, that 10-minute time-to-launch comes only after the platform has been approved by whatever internal departments need to sign off on technology platforms, but once that step is completed, the dashboard is in fact a platform that can be used over and over to customize and deploy new social gestures without additional help from tech resources.

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Nice To Meet You!

As you might have read, the Interactive Marketing analyst team has been growing. What you might not know yet is that I’m one of the new recruits.

I’m one of those practitioners who’s been working with social media since before we called it that — early on at Bolt.com and most recently at Time Inc. Check out my profile for more details about me.

I imagine it’ll come as no surprise that social media is one of my coverage areas. I’ll be looking at the operational, tactical side of social media — especially topics related to community management. Speaking of which, my first piece of writing as an analyst was published in this month’s issue of CRM Magazine. If you have a chance to read it, I hope you’ll come back here and share your feedback.

In addition to social media, I’ll be tackling some emerging topics for interactive marketers, like e-readers and other mobile devices. My early research agenda is sketched out and my first document, a checklist to prepare for community management, will be published in the next few weeks. Following that, I’ll be working on the Community Platforms Forrester Wave, but if there are particular questions you have about any of my coverage areas, or specific pieces of research that would be of interest or help to you, please add a comment and let me know.

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