Winners of the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards

Today at the Forrester eBusiness Forum in Chicago, I had the pleasure of announcing the winners of the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards. For the seventh edition of our awards we introduced all new categories, based on Forrester’s Marketing RaDaR model, and the way social programs can support the Marketing RaDaR. So our awards this year included the following categories:

  • Social reach marketing. This category recognizes social programs that effectively delivered marketing messages to new audiences — whether by word of mouth or by using paid social ads.
  • Social depth marketing. This category recognizes social programs that helped prospects explore products in detail and make a purchase decision — such as corporate blogs and communities, and marketers’ on-site ratings and reviews.
  • Social relationship marketing. This category recognizes social programs that engaged existing fans and customers in order to increase their loyalty and lifetime value — something that most commonly happens through branded profiles on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Mobile. Okay, we admit it: This one’s not necessarily social. But this category recognizes the great use of mobile tools and programs to reach business or marketing goals.
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Twitter Marketers Are Still Looking For Answers

Most of the large marketers we survey tell us their companies are active on Twitter. But just as marketers say they’re not getting enough value from Facebook, Twitter marketers are still looking for greater value as well. In fact, our new report today reveals that only 55% of companies that market on Twitter say they’re satisfied with the business value they achieve:

Why are Twitter marketers still looking for greater value?

  1. Marketers are using Twitter for the wrong objective. Marketers’ most common objective on Twitter is to build brand awareness. But consumers are most likely to become a fan or follower of a company in social media after they’ve already bought from that company. This means that marketers would have more luck using Twitter to engage their existing customers than to find new ones.
  2. Twitter must do more to support marketers. Twitter’s marketing business is still relatively young — its ads have been generally available for only about 3 years — but that business must mature quickly. Marketers say they need more guidance, education, service, and support if they’re going to use Twitter successfully. And just 44% of marketers say they’re satisfied with Twitter as a marketing partner today.
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Continuing The Conversation About Facebook

Our recent report on why Facebook is failing marketers has caused quite a bit of conversation — with some supporting our findings and others disputing them — and we think that’s healthy. We fully stand behind our data and our conclusions, and we welcome the chance to further discuss what’s working and what’s not working in social media. Conversations like these can only push the industry forward and help all social marketers and sites become more successful.

In particular, we wanted to address a few common questions people are asking about our research:

  1. Facebook’s score didn’t look that low. Are they really failing marketers? Facebook offers marketers access to the largest audience in media history and it knows a remarkable amount about each of its users and their affinities. By all rights, Facebook should be driving significantly more value for marketers than other sites and channels — but according to our survey, they’re not. Forrester’s Data Center of Excellence has looked at this data many different times, through many different lenses, and every view of the data supports this conclusion.
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An Open Letter To Mark Zuckerberg

Mr. Zuckerberg:

Facebook is failing marketers.

I know this statement sounds remarkable, perhaps even unbelievable. After all, you offer marketers access to the largest audience in media history and you know a remarkable amount about each of your users. As a result nearly every large company now markets on Facebook. Last year your company collected more than $4 billion in advertising revenues.

But while lots of marketers spend lots of money on Facebook today, relatively few find success. In August, Forrester surveyed 395 marketers and eBusiness executives at large companies across the US, Canada and the UK — and these executives told us that Facebook creates less business value than any other digital marketing opportunity.

 

Marketers say Facebook creates less business value than any other digital marketing opportunity

Why are business leaders less satisfied with Facebook than with any other digital tool? We believe there are two reasons.

First, your company focuses too little on the thing marketers want most: driving genuine engagement between companies and their customers. Your sales materials tease marketers with the promise that you’ll help them create such connections. But in reality, you rarely do. Everyone who clicks the like button on a brand’s Facebook page volunteers to receive that brand’s messages — but on average, you only show each brand’s posts to 16% of its fans. And while your company upgrades its advertising tools and offerings monthly or more, you’ve done little in the past 18 months to improve your unloved branded page format or the tools that marketers use to manage and measure those pages.

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Where in the Customer Life Cycle do your audiences use social media?

You know by now that studying your audience's social behaviors is the first step in building a great social strategy. But most models for evaluating audiences’ social usage simply tell marketers how much their customers are using social -- rather than examining how commercial those social behaviors are, or what marketers should do in response to those behaviors.

To succeed in social media, we think you should map your audience's behavior to the customer life cycle. Why? Find out in our video below:

Forrester Groundswell Awards Update

This week, our team finished judging the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards and notified the winners. If your entry was selected as a winner in any of our 11 B2C, B2B, or B2E categories, you've heard from us by now.

If not, I want to still thank you for entering this year's awards. We know the time and effort that companies put into their entries -- and we want you to know that gave every submission full consideration. We received more than 140 entries this year -- including many of excellent quality -- and it was often hard to choose the best in each category. You made the judges' job difficult, and for that we applaud you.

Want to know who won this year's awards? Stay tuned: We'll be announcing the awards both on this blog and at our 2013 Forrester eBusiness Forum on November 5.

The Social Technographics Score helps marketers create better social strategies

We firmly believe that the first step in building a successful social program is to understand your audience’s social behaviors and preferences.

Since 2007, Forrester’s Social Technographics® ladder has helped marketers understand how social their audiences are, and in which social behaviors those audiences engage. But social media adoption has matured, and today the vast majority of online users engage with social tools. For marketers, the question is no longer whether their customers use social media, but rather how best to use social media to interact with those customers.

So we decided it was time to develop a new framework to help marketers analyze people’s evolving social behaviors and benefit from this evolution. Today, Forrester is introducing a new model — called the Social Technographics Score — that:

  • Focuses on commercial social behaviors. Many surveys reveal the social behaviors in which audiences engage but make no distinction between peoples’ social interactions with friends and their social interactions with companies. In contrast, our new Social Technographics Score is based on how audiences interact with and talk about companies, brands, and products.
  • Helps marketers choose among social strategies. Most models for evaluating audiences’ social usage tell marketers about their customers’ behaviors but don’t tell marketers what to do in response to those behaviors. In contrast, our new Social Technographics Score measures where in the customer life cycle audiences are most likely to use social tools.
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Database of Affinity: The Race Is On

Earlier this year, we introduced the Database of Affinity: a catalogue of people's tastes and preferences, collected by observing their social behaviors, that could be the Holy Grail for more-accurate brand advertising. And since then two of the companies we featured in our research -- Facebook and Google -- have been working hard to realize this vision:

  • In June, Google introduced Affinity Segments -- a tool that allows marketers to target audiences based on the products and categories for which they've expressed preferences. We think Google has room to add more and broader affinity data to these segments, and to do richer analysis on that data. But Affinity Segments blends multiple signals into a single targeting tool -- which makes this an important step forward from the simplistic affinity targeting most social sites now offer.
  • More recently, Facebook built a team to analyze its affinity data. MIT Technology Review reports that Facebook has assigned eight people to its 'AI' team. Their goal? To address one of the key shortcomings we'd identified in Facebook's business: its inability to bring meaning to its data. It's always been clear that Facebook has one of the largest collections of affinity data online; we hope this move will help the company better leverage that data on behalf of marketers.
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One Week Left To Win A Forrester Groundswell Award

[UPDATE, Sepember 2013: Entries for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards are now closed. More than 100 companies entered more than 130 social programs this year, and we're looking forward to reviewing them and recognizing the best at our 2013 eBusiness Forum on November 5.]

The entry deadline for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards is just one week away - August 30, 2013. These awards recognize programs that showcase the effective use of social media to advance an organizational goal. We've got new categories this year - check out our video for details - and over the past week, my colleagues have given their advice on how to win an award for 'social reach' and for 'social depth.' Today, I want to give some tips on how to win an award in our 'social relationship' category.

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It's Time To End Social Exceptionalism

Today, social media is part of nearly every marketer's strategy: More than 90% of the marketers we survey are already using social tactics.

But the sobering reality is that nearly a decade into the era of social media, more social marketers are failing than succeeding. Why? Because of a problem we call “social exceptionalism.” Rather than regarding social media as just another marketing channel, marketers act as if social is somehow unique:

  • Some treat social media as an island. Too many marketers never connect social to the rest of their marketing programs. But social messages that don't match the rest of your marketing program are unlikely to contribute much value.
  • Others ask social to carry the weight of the world. No matter how social your audience, no one channel can shoulder the load of an entire marketing program on its own — as many marketers ask social to do. Successful marketing always relies on finding the right mix of platforms and tactics.
  • Most use unproven metrics to track performance. Marketers have moved past tracking only fans and followers — but few have gotten much further. Too many measure recently invented metrics like "engagement," and too few track the brand impact or conversion rate of social programs.
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