Google Bets Big On "Data Out" And The Database Of Affinity

Last week we published a report on how "data in, data out" practices are the future of social relationship platforms  and just a week later, Google has made a big bet on the "data out" side of that equation. 

In the report, we say that "'data out' will prove the value of social and improve the rest of your marketing [. . .] [by] powering effective targeting in everything from banner ads to TV spots." Readers familiar with our research will know we're talking about the database of affinity: a catalogue of people's tastes and preferences, collected by observing their social behaviors, that could revolutionize brand advertising.

Well, last night, Google announced it was shifting the focus of its Wildfire division (previously a full-service social relationship platform) away from managing brands' profiles on social networks and toward extracting social data to help it better build the database of affinity.

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How "Data In, Data Out" Solves Social Marketing Challenges

It turns out that marketers aren’t very happy with the social relationship platforms that help them manage their Facebook and Twitter accounts; in fact, most would recommend you not choose the technology partner they did.

There are lots of reasons for this dissatisfaction, but the biggest is that most vendors just aren’t solving the problems that social relationship marketers face. Yesterday we published a new report detailing social relationship marketers' top challenges:

  1. Measurement. Most just don't know what impact, if any, their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts have.
  2. Content. Marketers struggle both to decide what type of content to publish, and then to find good content assets to use.
  3. Staffing. Many say they just don't have enough human resources to handle the every tasks of social relationship marketing.
  4. Scheduling. Marketers don't know when to post their content for maximum impact.
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Why Won't Marketers Recommend Their Social Vendors?

In 2013, we published a Forrester Wave™ evaluation on Social Relationship Platforms — the technologies that help marketers publish content to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, as well as monitor and respond to customer posts on those sites.

We evaluated established SRPs like Spredfast, Sprinklr, Shoutlet, Adobe Social, and salesforce.com’s Buddy Media, and found that none of them were good enough to fall into our “Leaders” category. Why? For one thing, most had significant gaps in their offerings.

But we also found that many of their customers weren’t terribly satisfied. Even though all the clients we spoke with were referred to us by the vendors themselves — and so presumably were amongst each SRP’s happiest customers — most had some reservations about the features, functionality, and service the vendors provided. In several cases, we were shocked by how little the reference clients thought of their technology partners.

One year later, we decided to check in on whether marketers had grown any more satisfied with their social relationship platforms. For a new report out today, we asked 56 marketers who used a variety of SRPs whether they’d recommend their vendor to a colleague — and found that overall, social relationship platforms have a Net Promoter Score of -16. Yes, that’s negative sixteen.

 

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Today's The Deadline To Enter The 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards

We've already got dozens of great entries online for this year's Forrester Groundswell Awards  and we'd love to see your best social programs as well. Winners receive a nice shiny trophy, a winner’s badge for your website, a free pass to the Forrester Marketing Leadership Forum in San Francisco, a chance to accept the award on stage, and lots of recognition in Forrester speeches and reports.

But you can't win unless you enter  and the deadline is midnight (ET) tonight. Get your entries in, and hopefully we'll see you in San Francisco this spring.

Forrester Groundswell Award Entries Are Due February 28

You have ten days left to enter the 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards  and to receive recognition for your successful social programs. Winners receive a nice shiny trophy, a winner’s badge for your website, a free pass to the Forrester Marketing Leadership Forum in San Francisco, a chance to accept the award on stage, and lots of recognition in Forrester speeches and reports.

Not sure which category to enter? Check out this video, which explains all our categories.

Remember: The deadline is February 28, 2014  and you can enter here

How To Win A Forrester Groundswell Award For Social Relationship Marketing

We're now accepting entries for the 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards – and our research associate Sarah Takvorian is here to share her thoughts about how you can with in the Social Relationship Marketing category:

Want to send Forrester a valentine this month? Submit your entry to our 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards and show us your love for social marketing. The deadline for entries is February 28, and we’ll be presenting the winners at Forrester’s Marketing Leadership Forum in San Francisco this April.

For this eighth edition of our awards, we will continue to evaluate both B2C and B2B entries using Forrester’s RaDaR research for social marketing, selecting winners across three categories: Social Reach, Social Depth, and Social Relationship.

In 2013, we received nearly 150 entries from all over the world – but only a handful could win. Think you belong on the winner’s podium? Let’s take a look back at the two winners in last year’s Social Relationship group. This category recognizes social programs that engaged existing fans and customers in order to increase their lifetime value. (If your social program was designed to create loyalty and repeat business, it was probably an example of social relationship marketing.)

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Calm Down. Facebook Isn't Dying.

If you work in social media, you've been hearing variations on a theme for the past week: Facebook is in trouble! It's lost young users! It's getting crushed by upstart social networks! Eighty percent of its users will disappear in the next few years!

But as was the case with Mark Twain, reports of Facebook's death are an exaggeration:

  • That Princeton report seriously misses the mark. Last week, two Princeton PhD students circulated a report predicting Facebook would lose 80% of its users by 2017. They used epidemiological models to predict that, like MySpace before it, both the rise and fall of Facebook would look like the spread of a virus. But the research wasn’t peer-reviewed, and wasn’t published in any journal, and you can perhaps see why. Facebook itself did a pretty good job of pointing out the limitations of the researchers’ methodology. And I see another problem with this study: The MySpace ‘virus’ hardly mutated in all the years it infected the world, but the Facebook ‘virus’ mutates frequently. One of Facebook’s greatest strengths is its practice of regularly adding new features and functionality to its site; this both ensures it infects new users and also makes sure existing users don’t become immune to its charms.
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Categories:

Enter the 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards!

We're now accepting entries for the 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards — the deadline is February 28 — and we'd love to recognize your social marketing programs at our Marketing Leadership Forum this April. But in what category should you submit your program?

Just as in 2013, our award categories are based on Forrester’s marketing RaDaR research. Both our business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) awards will offer three categories:

  • Social reach. This category recognizes social programs that delivered marketing messages to new audiences. (After all, people can’t discover what you’re selling if they’re never exposed to it.) If your social program was designed to create awareness for your brand or product or promotion, it was probably an example of social reach marketing. If you focused your efforts on word-of-mouth marketing, paid social advertising, or thought leadership work, it also probably fits into this category.
  • Social depth. This category recognizes social programs that helped prospects explore your products in detail and make a purchase decision. If your social program was designed to close existing prospects or leads, it was probably an example of social depth marketing. If you focused your efforts on on-site social tools like blogs, ratings and reviews, or communities that help prospects get information from existing customers, it also probably fits into this category.
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Now Accepting Entries: The 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards

Every year since 2007, Forrester has recognized the very best social marketing programs from around the world — and I’m thrilled to announce we’re now accepting entries for the eighth annual Forrester Groundswell Awards.

The rules are simple: Entries should represent the effective use of social technologies to advance an organizational goal. The more data you can offer to prove this, the better your chances of winning. You can enter using our online form. If you win, you get a nice shiny trophy, a winner’s badge for your website, and lots of recognition from Forrester.

And this year’s deadline is February 28, 2014. (We've changed our timeline this year so that we can give out the awards at our 2014 Marketing Leadership Forum in San Francisco in April.)

So which categories should you enter? See our video for more details:

Remember: The deadline is February 28. You’ve got eight weeks to prepare and submit your company’s best social work. We look forward to your entries!

The Dark Side of the Database of Affinity?

Last year we introduced a concept called the Database of Affinity — a catalogue of people's tastes and preferences collected by observing their social behaviors — and proposed that the greatest marketing value of social media won't come from marketing to people on social sites, but rather using this database of affinity to improve the marketing that happens everywhere else. And in 2013, several social networks started to pursue this opportunity: For instance, Facebook launched an artificial intelligence research team and Google started selling "affinity segments" targeting on its properties.

But are social sites going too far in their effort to build the database of affinity? Perhaps. Recently we've seen reports that some social networks are tracking not just the information that you choose to share, but even information you choose not to share. For instance, Facebook has admitted to studying "aborted posts" — the things people type into Facebook (as status updates, in comments, and on other people's timelines) but then choose not to post. Likewise, both Google and Foursquare apparently use their mobile apps track users' locations at all times, even when people aren't actively using those company's apps.

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