Archive for March, 2010

B2B marketers are well-positioned to capitalize on social media

In my last blog, I focused on how B2C companies are well positioned to capitalize on their fans—specifically, fans are likely to make purchases from a brand for which they are fans or followers.  At the end of the blog I was left with the nagging question.  What about B2B companies?  Can they capitalize on fans and followers?  While I don’t have the answers quite yet, a market study completed by business.com in 2009 (via eMarketer) provides me with some hope. 

Here’s why:  when it comes to social media, B2B firms are much more likely than B2C companies to focus on the metrics that can have a significant impact on their business.  Specifically, they pay more attention (from a metric measurement perspective) to lead generation, brand awareness and website traffic than B2C companies.  B2C companies on the other hand are more likely than B2B companies to focus on the more general metric of revenue. 

So, I haven’t found definitive proof yet of how B2B companies can capitalize on the financial resources and man hour expenditures they put into social media, but I are getting there.   Stay tuned for more B2B information.

Happy Marketing!

Social media fans are buyers, who’da thunk it?

As a marketer, I struggle with the ROI and/or ROE (Return on Experience) of social media.  Intuitively it makes sense, but I need cold hard facts to help me believe it.  It must be the market researcher in me. 

I was reading a study by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate that found that social friends and followers are more likely to purchases the brands for which they are a fan.  Specifically, they found:

  • More than one-half of Facebook fans said they are more likely to make a purchase for at least a few brands, and 67% of Twitter followers reported the same.  And…
  • Sixty percent of study respondents claimed their Facebook fandom made them more likely to recommend a brand to a friend…this was even higher among Twitter followers – nearly eight in 10.

So if fandom drives purchases, what gets to someone to become a fan in the first place?  Well, the Chadwick Martin Bailey addressed this question as well.  According to the study, the top reason to friend a brand on Facebook was to receive discounts, followed by simply being a customer of the company and a desire to show others that they support the brand.

Interestingly, on Twitter, the main reasons for becoming a follower (fan) were to receive up-to-the-minute information and exclusive content; only 2% of study respondents followed brands on Twitter to show their support.

So, it seems that regardless of whether you are currently measuring the impact social media on your business, securing fans and followers on social can be a profitable venture for companies.  My only concern lies in the belief that the data presented above really only applies to B2C companies, not B2B companies.  I hope to provide more support for B2B companies in future blogs.

Happy Marketing!

Social media: fish where (and when) the fish are

Fish where the fish are.  It’s a old term/phrase/general wisdom that, while over used, it more important today than it has ever been.  Why?  Well social media of course!

In the “old days” of interruption marketing, marketers had the luxury of time.  By time, I mean they didn’t have to worry about their target audience only being reachable from 7:45pm until 10:15pm each night.  They could just cast out their large marketing nets (direct mail and print advertising campaigns) and capture a majority of their market.  Today, we are no longer throwing our large marketing net out across the ocean.  Instead, we are fishing in ponds, lakes and rivers—otherwise known as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (in that order).

Here are some stats that help prove my point.  According to the March 2010 “Gadgetology Report” from consumer electronics site Retrevo:

  • Almost half (48%) of social media users log in to the sites either during the night or as soon as they wake up.  How many marketers are there with their nets at that time of the day or night?
  • Coming as no surprise given the hours my 17 year old niece keeps with respect to Facebook, users under 25 were more likely to check or update their social network status after bedtime, with nearly one-fifth saying they did so anytime they woke up during the night.
  • Almost as many younger users (18%) checked the sites in the morning before getting out of bed, while 17% of respondents of all ages turned to Facebook and Twitter before TV in the morning.
  • iPhone users were notably more likely than average to do each of these activities, with 23% saying it was how they got their morning news compared with 16% of all social media users.

Here is where my nearly 40-year-old brain sighs and wonders what this world is coming to… earlier surveys, from both Retrevo and Crowd Science, indicated that users were checking out social sites while driving, in the restroom or on a date.

And, according to the 2010 poll:

  • One-half of users under 25 did not mind electronic interruptions to meals;
  • One-quarter were OK with messages in the bathroom; and
  • Just over one-in-ten (11%) were up for communications during intimate moments.  Okay if this ever happened to me, more than crap would be hitting the fan…

By the way, I got the data presented above from eMarketer.  As I mentioned in my prior blog “Marketers’ social media integration and life cycle statuses”, eMarketer is a great social media and all around marketing resource.

So remember, do your homework (market research) and fish where and when the fish are.

Happy Marketing!

Marketers’ social media integration and life cycle statuses

If you are anything like me, you are always seeking out information to better understand and strategize the value of what you are doing, but what others are doing as well.  So in the vein of what others are doing, I read a great post on the eMarketer’s newsletter.  (FYI–eMarketer always puts out great data.  If you don’t subscribe to their free newsletter, you should).   Among other things, it talked about Unica’s research on the proportion of marketers that are integrating their social campaigns with other channels.  The most important information (in my humble opinion) from the eMarketer newsletter (via Unica) was this:

  • The proportion of marketers integrating their social campaigns with other channels varies widely depending on the tactic. While a majority of voting features, product reviews, user-generated content and RSS feeds are integrated with other campaigns, that is not true of efforts on social networking sites, blogs or microblogs.   The main ways marketers are integrating their social campaigns are in regard to timing, creative themes and branding.

This newsletter also addressed another topic you might find interesting.   This time the data comes from Marketing Sherpa.

  • In November 2009, MarketingSherpa surveyed US marketers about their stage in the social media life cycle–many were still in either the trial or transition phase. But a substantial percentage had progressed to using social media strategically in their research, objectives and actions. That entailed having a formal process that was routinely performed for social campaigns.

Click here to see the eMarketer tables associated with the data.   Social Media Info From eMarketer

So, it appears that we marketers have a long way to go with respect to integrating social media.  But, we are getting there!

Happy Marketing!

Market Research Takes a Seat at the Social Media Table

With social media getting so much attention from the marketing community these days, it was inevitable that the market research community would be jumping in.  Since I wear both hats— marketing and market research—I am always searching for ways to integrate what I am doing from a marketing perspective with what I am doing from a market research perspective.  That said, integrating social media marketing and market research techniques was definitely puzzling to me. 

So what did I do?  I went “social” to get the answer.

The market research industry is vast, yes there are a lot of research geeks like me out there.  I have found that the best place for me to locate best practices and forward thinkers in this industry is to go to my key LinkedIn groups: Next Gen Market Research, Market Research Bulletin and Market Research Professionals.  After reviewing what the market research community was saying and a bit of my own experience, here’s where I stand with respect to social media and market research.

Where market research fits in social media today:

Listening

  • Competitive Intelligence—this is the best source of competitive intelligence out there!  For me, twitter is the best source of information gathering on competitors.
  • Industry Intelligence—similar to my feelings on competitive intelligence, you will find more critical and insightful information about your industry on Twitter and through blogs than you will find anywhere else. 
  • Communities—Now more than ever, having an online community for your company is critical.  Whether you build it yourself or pay someone, you need to build it.  These communities can provide you with a wealth of knowledge about your customers, your prospects and your products/services—at relatively little cost.

Recruiting

  • Study Recruiting—Companies such as LinkedIn and Peanut Labs are harvesting sample from social networks, why not you?  I love LinkedIn for recruiting the hard to find business decision-maker.  It is also great when trying to find experts in specialty fields such as medicine, technology and gaming.  Facebook and twitter can be a great way to recruit for consumer and business studies as well.

Message Testing

  • Twitter—for me personally, I would use twitter to test headlines.
  • Linkedin—this is a great forum for testing messages, particularly if you have the right group.  These types of tests can be more complex than ones tested through Twitter and Facebook.
  • Facebook—this one is tricky, but you can obtain great information about your products, services and messages from your fan page, but I think you might have more of a “respondent focus problem” on Facebook than you would on your own community or a LinkedIn community. 

But, watch out for the pitfalls of social media market research!  You are a slave to the social media application you are using. Thus, you are at the mercy of the LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook webmasters.  Here’s some of the pitfalls I have seen/experienced:

  • Your Twitter account gets turned off for no good reason—someone listed you as a spammer
  • Twitter meltdown day—messages won’t go through for minutes or hours at a time
  • Limited invitations—LinkedIn only allows 50 invitations at a time
  • Deleted images—Facebook and LinkedIn will delete, without notice, pictures that others have deemed as offensive

I would love to hear your social media market research stories…both good and bad.

Neurmarketing Study Supports the Effectiveness of Direct Mail…

I was reading an article summarizing the findings of a new neuromarketing study conducted by Royal Mail through Millward Brown, employing the University of Bangor’s psychology department and fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), which sheds some light on how the marketing medium used can be just as important as the message when it comes to building an emotional connection with consumers.

And, I have to say I am pretty excited with the findings.  They support the case I made in a prior blog, Direct Mail Is a Viable Option for Small Business, that direct mail can be an effective part of a company’s marketing mix—thus, direct mail is not dead!

While the research conducted was qualitative in nature, only 20 subjects studied, the results are nonetheless very important.  Without getting into my “research geek” mode, which I am apt to do, here’s the crux of what they found:

  • Physical media—direct mail based material—generated more activity in the parietal cortex, an area closely associated with the integration of visual and spatial information; suggesting that print-based material is more ‘concrete’ for the brain, and can act as a cue for memory.   The print marketing methods were “seen” as more “real” by the brain because of the multisensory nature of the materials.
  • Direct mail-based material was also associated with responses which suggest greater ‘internal’ thinking – suggesting that this material is processed more in relation to subjects’ own feelings and memories.
  • Online materials on the other hand elicited responses associated with greater difficulty in maintaining attention on the task. Researchers noted that online materials proved harder to focus on; and engaged areas of the brain associated with greater filtering of irrelevant information in order to attend to the task, such as the temporo-parietal junction.

So what?  

As a marketer, you need to choose wisely when it comes to the media you use for customer and, more importantly, prospect communications.   

  • Print media may be more effective for complicated or detailed messages; online seems better suited for short, easy to read and less comprehensive messages.
  • Print media may be more effective for the first or introductory communication from a brand campaign, an online message appears better suited as brand awareness/consideration reinforcement tool.

Thanks to Royal Mail, Millward Brown and the University of Bangor’s psychology department for putting together such a great and useful neuromarketing study!

Why businesses just aren’t getting social media…

I admit it. I am a novice when it comes to social media.  I enjoy blogging and tweeting, but I am only doing this for me…not for a business that sells social media or internet marketing.  That said, I have learned a lot in a very short amount of time about what works and what doesn’t on social media.

Since I never go a day without learning something new, I attended the social media panel discussion last night at UNR.  I really enjoyed the panel discussions because the panel was made up of a good blend of those doing social media for a living and those who do it as a passion (to build their own personal brand).  For the record, the panelists were Mike Henderson – One to One Interactive, Flip Wright – The Glenn Group, Todd Felts – UNR School of Journalism, and Bret Simmons – UNR College of Business

So, after attending last night’s conference and a little bit of soul-searching, here are my thoughts and humble opinion on what companies (both big and small) are doing wrong with social media:

  • Considering/treating social media as just another cog in their interruption marketing strategy wheel—this is a brave new world, you have to step out of your interruption marketing comfort zone.  You will be much better off if you treat social media as a relationship building tool and not a marketing tool. 
    • The point of social media is to make contact with your target audience and have engaging, one-to-one conversations with them.  If you are good at this, the sales will eventually come. Isn’t this interesting?  It is just doing business the “old fashioned way”….virally!  We are not longer a slave to our geography
  • Not having a true social media strategy—Social media seems so easy that many people don’t have a real strategy behind their social media efforts.  They just jump right in and hope for the best.   When that happens, their social media presence to the outside world appears scattered at best.  In addition to wasting your precious time and other resources, not having a social media strategy can really negatively impact your company brand.  It’s just like any branding effort, if you don’t offensively and defensively protect your brand, your competitors and other “naysayers” will be able to define your brand for you.  If a business is getting it wrong, it’s likely because they aren’t:
    • Listening—the number one thing you should be doing on social media is listening.  You need to actively find those talking about your brand—both positively and negatively—and engage them.
    • Bringing (useful) content—Dr. Bret Simmons always says content is king.  And that is an absolute when it comes to social media, especially twitter.  Remember, those of us actively using social media aren’t really interested in you, but what information that you can bring that I don’t already know. 
    • Blogging—and that is really sad.  The “money shot” in social media is driving people to a blog site where you can demonstrate that you are an expert. That’s where your sale will be made.
  • Not putting in the time—I don’t want to scare you but, while “free”, social media takes a lot of time to get it even remotely right.  If you want to do it and do it right, you’ve got to put in the hours (yes hours).  For those of us in the Gen X and  Baby Boomer generation, if you don’t have the time or patience…hire a Gen Yer (or younger even) to help get you started.

 For those of you thinking about jumping into social media full force or just starting a blog, good luck.  And, I am happy to help wherever I can (sharonmarkovsky@gmail.com).

Good luck!  Build your social media strategy today…before your competitor does!

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