How To Approach Your Social Marketing Initiative

At Forrester, we’ve always strived to help our clients address their challenges from a number of different angles, and now we’re formalizing this approach with an idea called playbooks. Each playbook we write is focused on one specific business challenge and is designed to give you every detail you’ll need to be successful.

Our interactive marketing research team is hard at work writing playbooks that cover mobile marketing, email marketing, digital media buying, and more — and I couldn’t be more pleased that our first interactive marketing playbook is the Social Marketing Playbook. We’ve worked to create a playbook that’ll help you:

  • Discover social marketing. You’ll see how firms like Unilever and De Beers defined a vision for fitting social into their marketing plans; you’ll be able to survey the social landscape around the world; and you’ll learn how marketers like Charles Schwab and NASCAR built the business case for social spending.
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Facebook Still Doesn't Get Marketing

On its first quarterly earnings call, Facebook left it to Sheryl Sandberg to talk about how the company makes most of its money: marketing. And I was encouraged by how much she discussed the topic and how Sheryl stressed over and over the importance of proving ROI to advertisers. But I remain deeply unconvinced that Facebook can give marketers what they need, for two reasons:

  1. Facebook thinks it can prove value in generalities. When Sheryl says she recognizes the importance of proving ROI to advertisers, she means that Facebook is trying to prove that Facebook marketing can work for advertisers in general — not that it does work for any one advertiser in particular. Facebook’s efforts here to date have been in generating a handful of case studies to which it can point: "Look! Facebook marketing worked for these three advertisers! That means it works!" But marketers don’t need proof that some Facebook marketing programs work; they need proof that their Facebook marketing program works. Better yet, they need to know which of their tactics are working and which aren't so that they can learn and improve. That would require better metrics for all marketers, rather than just a handful of case studies from a few marketers.
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Announcing The Sixth Annual Forrester Groundswell Awards

It’s that time of year again! That is, it’s time to look back at the very best social programs your company has run in the past twelve months, and to prepare your entry to the Forrester Groundswell Awards. This year’s entries are due on September 5, 2012 – and you can enter using our online form. We’ll be presenting the awards at Forrester Forums in October.

We’ve been lucky enough to recognize some fantastic social applications since we started these awards back in 2007 – and we’d like for you to have a great chance of winning, too. To improve your odds, we recommend you focus on two key points:

1.       Enter in the right category.This year we’ve got 17 categories spread across three divisions: Business to Consumer, Business to Business, and Business to Employee. (If you’ve entered in previous years, you’ll notice that our two B2C divisions – North America and International – have been combined into a single global division; and that our Management division has been renamed Business to Employee.) Choose the division that best describes your program’s audience (B2C, B2B or B2E), and then choose the award category that best describes the objectives of your program (for instance, Listening, Talking or Supporting). If you’re not sure which category fits best, you can review the descriptions of each category on our FAQ page.

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Why You Should Use Social Marketing In China

Our clients are asking us more questions than ever about marketing in China. So we’re responding – by increasing our presence in the market, by launching our first marketing & strategy event in China, and by publishing more research on the country. In fact, today my researcher Jenny Wise and I published two new reports on marketing in China: The Key To Interactive Marketing In China and Social Media Marketing In China. Below are Jenny’s thoughts on social media in China:

If you’re marketing in China, social media offers an enormous opportunity: Chinese online adults are the most socially active among any of the countries we survey worldwide, and a whopping 97% of metropolitan Chinese online adults use social tools. And this isn’t only driven by the younger generations — we find that on average Chinese Internet users ages 55 to 64 are more active in  most social behaviors than US Internet users ages 25 to 34.

But a Chinese social media strategy is not that simple to implement, especially for Westerners accustomed to marketing on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – none of which operate in this market. So before you take the leap into social media in China, be sure that you:

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The Right Way To Globalize Your Interactive Marketing Programs

I have a tailor named James.

Well, I say I have a tailor, but in truth I’ve only commissioned one item – a jacket – and it’s not done yet. I had an initial fitting about 10 days ago, and I’ll collect the finished article next week.

I decided to find a tailor because I was tired of off-the-rack suits that never fit quite right. So James took more than a dozen measurements. We talked in detail about sleeve lengths, and lapel widths, and how I liked my jackets cut. And once he’d made a sample, I tried it on so James could get the details just right. I expect it’ll be a perfect fit.

When you look at your company’s marketing efforts from one country to another, how well would you say those programs fit? In the past year I’ve worked with a bank, a consumer goods manufacturer, and a pharmaceutical company that are all struggling with how to globalize their interactive marketing programs. And while most of them had a couple different issues holding them back, there was one common theme: The global programs rarely fit the local markets.

Local interactive marketing managers tell us they’re also tired of shopping off-the-rack — in their case, being handed one-size-fits-all sites and strategies that aren’t tailored to their markets — and that they usually don’t have enough resources to make the proper alterations. The result is a choice between using ill-fitting global programs that don’t meet local needs or creating cheap one-off local efforts that don’t meet global guidelines or standards.

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Facebook Needs To Take Marketing Seriously

My colleague Melissa Parrish and I have been thinking about the Facebook IPO. Our thoughts:

The world’s biggest social network will complete its initial public offering in a few days, with a valuation based largely on its strong history of innovation. But we have to wonder: Will Facebook ever focus any of that innovation on helping marketers?

After all, Facebook is fantastic at introducing great new features and services for its end users. The moment another social tool gains the interest of enough users – whether it’s Twitter’s rapid public chatter or Foursquare’s location-based check-ins – Facebook updates its own site to offer similar features to its legions of users. We’ve rarely seen a company borrow from its competition as quickly or as well as Facebook. And that focus on better serving end users has seen Facebook grow quickly over the years, even in the face of consistent privacy concerns.

But as good as Facebook has been at evolving to serve consumers, that’s how bad it’s been at serving marketers. In the past five years Facebook has lurched from one advertising model to another. Remember when the site charged marketers to host branded pages? Or when every page featured banners from MSN’s ad network? (You may choose to forget Facebook Beacon; Mark Zuckerberg would certainly prefer you did.)

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To Succeed In Social Media, Lower Your Expectations

I've been hopscotching Europe this week, seeing clients and colleagues in London and Istanbul — but my thoughts have been in Los Angeles, where in a couple of weeks I'll be giving a speech called "Taking Social Media From Cool To Critical" at the 2012 Forrester Marketing Leadership Forum.

I chose that topic because it’s a concern I hear almost every day — and sure enough, I heard it from several clients on my travels this week. "We’ve put time and resources into social media marketing, because it seemed like we had to, but . . . it’s just not having much of a business impact." By comparison, four or five years into the era of search marketing, most companies were making a killing from their SEM programs. The same goes for email marketing. But here we are four or five years into the era of social media marketing — and for many companies, social media is still a curiosity, a sideshow that attracts lots of interest but adds little value. It's still cool, but at most firms, it's just not a critical part of the marketing plan.

I think the main reason marketers still struggle to make social pay is simple: They overestimate social media as a marketing tool. Let me be clear: I'm not bashing social's value for marketing; social media can have an enormous impact on the success of your marketing programs, as we’ve seen time and time again. The point I'm making is that it can’t create that success all on its own. You need to use it as merely one tool in your marketing tool kit.

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How Facebook’s IPO Could Transform Marketing

Media reports suggest that Facebook will file for an IPO this week that could value the company at $100 billion — and leave the company sitting on $10 billion in cash. I’m not a financial analyst, so I’ll leave it to Wall Street to discuss and debate that valuation. But the fact is this newfound wealth could not only allow Facebook to solve its biggest business challenges, it could also help Facebook finally achieve its longstanding goal to change how marketing works. So how should Facebook use its IPO windfall?

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I'm Back In NYC

I'm really pleased to announce that I've moved back to New York City. I actually started my interactive marketing career in New York almost 15 years ago, and I started my analyst career in New York nine years ago. But for the past seven years I've been plying my trade elsewhere: in London, Berlin, Vancouver, and then back in London again. Now, after half a career spent abroad, it's great to be back home.

What does this mean for my research coverage? Not much, really. I've still got the same job on the same team, and I'll still be focused on the same topics I've covered for years:

  1. Social media marketing. I've been writing about social media since 2004, and I've got no plans to stop now. Last year I published Five Ways Interactive Marketers Should Use Social Data, Social Media Marketing Metrics That Matter, and It's Time To Make Facebook Marketing Work. In 2012 I'll continue to lead our coverage of social media marketing with research on the staff and resources you need to succeed with social media, how marketers can take their social programs to the next level, and even how Facebook might justify its valuation. I'll also keep actively researching how social media can best fit into the marketing mix, most notably through an idea we call The Interactive Brand Ecosystem
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Know About Interactive Marketing In China? We'd Like To Give You Some Free Data!

Yes, really. If you make decisions about your company's interactive marketing programs in China, I want to give you some data you probably don't have access to: Survey data on how your peers and competitors are using interactive tools in the country.

You see, I'm working on a handful of reports covering the interactive marketing landscape in China — based on a long trip to the country in August and September of this year, as well as dozens of interviews with marketers and agencies in the country — and now it's time for my final piece of data collection: a marketer survey. So if you set or influence interactive marketing plans in China, and you've got 5 or 7 minutes to spare, I hope you'll take our short online survey. Just leave your email address at the end of the survey, and we'll get you an aggregated copy of the survey results.

And if you don't know about intearctive marketing in China, just sit tight: We'll be publishing some very interesting highlights from that survey right here on the Forrester blogs shortly.