Archive for June, 2009

Social Marketing Changes Everything Part 3 – Business Case

June 30th, 2009

Continuation of Part 1 – Introduction & Part 2 – Theory

Unless your company does ecommnerce, Social Marketing generally does not have its own ROI. This has been a significant challenge for most companies thinking about how to leverage social media. How do you correlate social marketing activities with tangible business impact?

Most corporate social media participation has grown sporadically out of employee participation outside of their daily work life. Most of the participants in the social networks joined through invitation, but since there are not a structured way to use these networks, corporate planning has lagged on these networks. Many companies are now putting together structured social media plans as a part of their marketing efforts, but are finding a hard time building the social marketing business case.

The business case for social marketing really involves mapping your organization’s social activites back to your business objectives, strategies, and goals. Just because your team dabbles on Facebook, has linkedin profiles, and is playing on Twitter does not make a social marketing plan. The other side of the coin is that just because you can’t measure it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. The remainder of the post will outline a process for building a business case around social marketing:

  • Identify Key Market Influencers
  • Align Business & Social Marketing Strategy
  • Develop Social Marketing Roadmap
  • Build the Social Marketing Business Case

Identify Key Market Influencers –  starts with a reorientation of the traditional view of marketing’s role away from traditional marketing channels of communication. Instead, the model below is reoriented around the core of the customer experience:

Social Marketing Reorients Marketing Activities

Social Marketing Reorients Marketing Activities

  • Reorients traditional marketing towards the online network, relationship-oriented, and influencer-driven social interactions.
  • Leverages a multi-channel, multi-directional approach towards building relationships with a transition away from the structured marketing roles.
  • Focused around enabling the key interactions that support the awareness, influence, interest, buying, and referral processes.

Align Business and Social Marketing Strategy

First Step is to understand the market from the company’s perspective

  • Collect company’s Market Research – get everything you can get your hands on to get a baseline of the market
  • Understand Value Proposition, Competition, Positioning, Differentiation, Key Description Words
  • Company’s Goals, Objectives, & Strategies
  • Industry Trending
  • Website, SEO, & Social Media Presence Review – figure out your strengths and weaknesses
  • Team Social Media Perceptions & Capabilities – you will need buy in. Additionally, you may find evangelists in people you would have never thought.

Next step is to perform online market research to understand  the following:

  • Competitor Analysis – messaging, positioning, website, social presence
  • Industry – associations, sites, news, blogs, industry communities (public access only)
  • People – influencers, industry executives, analysts, press, buyers, consultants, bloggers, partnerships

Develop Social Marketing Roadmap based upon identified audiences, influencers, and existing relationships.

  • Map audiences and objectives with the desired interactions.
  • Prioritize the Social Marketing Roadmap (crawl, walk, run) based upon 3 mo, 6 mo, and 12 mo activities, budget, and resource requirements
  • Proposed Social Marketing Editorial Calendar to leverage existing content, corporate development, and user generated content. Think bite-sized chunks of reusable, repurposed content that can be leveraged across many mediums. Spread the workload across a broad spectrum of people. Look for activities where you can reuse the content; ie a webinar (answer the questions from the webinar in a blog post)

Building and Presenting the Business Case

  • Hard and Soft Cost Analysis – You need to have an understanding of the time, resources, and money
  • Strategy Review – Make sure that you have buy-in and participation
  • Budget Refinement -Understand the Resource Limitations; make sure you prioritize your activities based upon an expected return
  • Program Measurement – How will the organization measure and report?
  • Performance Metrics & Estimated Business Impact Executive & Team Presentations – Recruit Internal Evangelism

 Part 4 of the series will explore the possible elements of a Social Marketing execution plan.

Part 5 of the series will explore how to measure Social Marketing activities more in depth.

Social Marketing Changes Everything Part 2

June 29th, 2009

Continuation of Part 1 – Introduction

Continued at Part 3 – Business Case

The fundamentals of marketing are changing with the mass adoption of RSS. RSS allows the repackaging and redistribution of information into components which can be reused, reassembled, mashed-up, etc. RSS also allows each piece of content to have its own URL. As we transitioned from domains to pages to feeds to tweets, you are seeing increasing componentization of information.

Social Marketing is a direct response to this changing landscape. Social Marketing is the transition away from pre-packaged messaging to evangelism (education before engagement) with focus on user interactions, relationships, influencers, & experiences. Social Marketing represents a continuation of the shift from broadcast messaging to interactive. There are some contributing factors underlying this shift:

  • Sheer Size of the Web -According to Nielsen Netview, 168,670,941 active domains
  • Volume of SPAM emails - My email example: 715 spam messages caught as of Monday, June 29, 2009 10:22 AM
  • Need for Social Search- Search engines are still in their infancy (Google: Results 110 of about 590,000,000 for marketing)
  • Rise of Social Networks – Nielsen puts the interactions on social media larger than web mail as of February
  • Amount of Blog Posts- According to Technorati, close to 1M a day that also get pumped into the search engines

Through the linking, repackaging, and sharing of content; Social Media is playing a key role in bridging the information search challenge on the web. My blog is a perfect example of this. I started this blog as an vehicle to provide thought leadership and credentialling in finding a position as a marketing executive. About a month into building the blog, I realized that my traffic had transitioned from primarily being driven by the people that I know and met to inbound links from social media, other blogs, directories, social bookmark sites, etc. Because I am on a subdomain for wordpress, I don’t get the benefit of branding my own domain so search engines really don’t do anything for me. Even if I had my own domain, my posts on marketing show up in the middle of the 590 Million indexed pages on Marketing.

Without the the linking, repackaging, rating, and sharing of content that people do on sites like Twitter(tweets), Facebook(content and people recommendations), Delicious, Digg, News Aggregation sites, Industry hubs, etc, or the blog-rolls or even the large connectors on Linkedin with the LIONs (Open Networkers); how would anyone really find anything on the web.

Hence the challenge to marketing as the traditional ways that you reach potential buyers are being overwhelmed with the amount of messaging; telemarketing, email marketing, direct mail, tradeshows, webinars, etc. A large part of this is that the internet has enabled near-zero distribution costs for messaging, so it is almost as easy to send 10,000 as it is to send one.

The people who repackage and redistribute content or build relationships hubs play an equally important role as the creators. If you have 50 creators of content on a subject, you need one person to assemble, rate, and aggregate this content into meaningful information. The content and relationship distributors really play the equivelant role of market makers for the stock market. Without a market maker, you couldn’t have exchanges. Without exchanges, you can’t get a place to conduct the scale of trades needed to keep a market fluid. This role is going to continue to drive the market for information; in return, drive the impact on marketing. The bigger the size of the information market, the more importance the role of market makers.

That is why social marketing is so critical to marketing at large and why social marketing is changing everything. Think of information as a product that needs distribution. If you now need to make sure you have the widest distribution of content, you need to build relationships with the distributors. The manufacturer with the biggest, strongest distribution network wins. Traditional broadcast models for marketing presupposes a direct relationship. Social marketing presupposes an indirect relationship. If history is an indicator, then the indirect channels have more scale.

Social Marketing Changes Everything Part 1 – Introduction

June 26th, 2009

If I asked the question “Who wants better leads, increased revenues?” I would see every hand up in the room.

” Through social media?” I would still see pretty much every hand in the room raised.

If I told them that they would have to changes their approach to marketing, lead generation, customer satisfaction, and their view of their market, how many hands would stay up? If I told them that they would have to take some risks, expose themselves (metaphorically), do something unconventionally, challenge their team, etc. would you find any takers? a few…

Now, if I told them that every one of their competitors is planning on doing this and that they could choose to do it early to get “competitive advantaged” or they could wait and be a “me-too”. I would find the room in two camps, split between the optomists in the face of a economy poised to recover and the business convervatives who are trying to maintain what the have in the face of a recessed economy.

I read a lot online from social media “experts”, but other than they advocate the use of social networks like Linkedin, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Youtube, etc. for business (Screaming ad-like tweets “You too can make money”…) I struggle to break through the noise to connect with the real innovators who have a strategic approach to integrating social media into their full marketing programs.

Here is my two cents worth – Social Media is fundamentally changing Marketing. In my mind, it is not about how you add the social networks to your marketing channels of communication (they should be thought of as channels), but rather how you rethink marketing and brand management. The initial wave of website in the mid-90′s started to a fundamental shift in marketing. I talk to a lot of companies about social media, Web 2.0, social CRM, social networking, etc. Some think it is a FAD, most think it is fun and interesting, some are trying to use it for business, but some are taking advantage of the rest to drive growth. This shift in marketing is happening again.

I am not talking about occasionally sending something out to the 132 people on Linkedin, 675 college buddies on Facebook, and the 3750 followers that you have built on twitter (these aren’t my numbers). I am not talking about building online forums into your website. Not talking about use meebo to chat occasionally with an ex-colleague. I can go on, but the point is that social-optimized, Web 2.0 interactions are creeping into the way that we all do business. You can use them or you can rethink your approach to leverage them to “change the rules”.

If you are a “changes the rules” type, you will need to subscribe to the RSS feed and have to come back to read the rest of the series on Social Marketing Changes Everything Part 2 – 5. I can’t fit all of the explanation into the a single post. This multi-part series will provide information on social marketing and answer the following questions:

  • What is Social Marketing? (I can already hear, not another buzz word…. but think about my Web Marketing reference above)
  • Why is a new definition required beyond Social Media, Social Networking, Social CRM, or Web 2.0 Marketing? (gotcha there)
  • So what? Why should I worry about this? Hint: Revenue Generation and Customer Referrals (I assumed this would be important to you)
  • What does a Social Marketing strategy look like?
  • What does a Social Marketing Roadmap look like for this?
  • How do I leverage what I am already doing?
  • How do I build a Social Marketing Business Case?
  • How do I measure Social Marketing?

Now that I got the major questions out of the way, let move next into the definitions;

Social Marketing – The re-orientation of traditional marketing to reflect the new post-digital, network relationship oriented, and influencer-driven social interactions. Social Marketing leverages a multi-channel, multi-directional approach towards building relationships with a transition away from the structured marketing roles like; product management, marketing communications, PR, Channel Mktg, & sales support. Instead, marketing is reoriented around enabling the key interactions that support the awareness, influence, interest, buying, and referral processes. ( it is a mouthful, but I am working on getting it down to one simple sentence. Give me your thoughts and I will incorporate in my next post)

Social Media – Basically, you have the social networks that you participate and the online communities that you own which are built into your corporate website. See my post on Social Media is Like Fishing for more details.

Online Communities – communities of interest built upon a foundation of Web 2.0 social networking tools; profile, blog, wiki, social bookmarking, calendaring, media sharing, etc that enable the user to interact with other users and content through the website. See my post on Online Community Blueprint for more details.

Post-Digital - If everything is becoming digital, why does digital matter? The buyer doesn’t really care if the interaction is on the web, they just want to get what they need. A lot of marketing still segments online and offline which creates an artificial barrier to developing a seamless customer experience. Social Media is changing buyer behavior, coming more fluid, and marketing must adjust the model to to support the reflected changes. See my post on the Changing Role of the CMO for further explanation.

The next part of the series will explore a new model for thinking about reorienting marketing towards interactions.

Part 2 – Theory

Part 3 – Business Case

If Content is King, What Does that Make My Writer's Block?

June 24th, 2009

I have been suffering from writer’s block for about a week on my blog. I even had an editorial calendar and the blog titles written. I got busy in meetings and I couldn’t concentrate on writing. Although, I actually have some really cool perspectives on social marketing and CRM that I have been developing, but nothing that was ready for prime time. It was interesting to watch my blog traffic to see how it would hold up without my daily posts.

As I only posted one time last week, my traffic dropped slightly, but actually held for most of the week and spiked on the day that I posted. Now, I was looking for how close the relationship between the activities that I do to promote my blog (and myself) are tied to my traffic. I am doing a guerrilla level marketing program leveraging my blog, my social networks, and a $50/mo email marketing program. Essentially, the tools available to every small business without a budget. I don’t expect to become the next Seth Godin, famous marketing blogger, but I do expect that I can build an audience with very little resources. My results tell me that I have gotten outside of my own direct marketing efforts and I am now getting residual traffic from my prior marketing activities.

In addition to assisting me in finding my next opportunity(s), I am using my blog to provide a tangible case study of what can be done on a very little budget as representation of what the strategy could accomplish with a much larger budget. I am also using the concept of the blog as a repesentation of a corporate website. In my new social marketing model, the website is becoming the focal point of all the marketing activities. Prospective customers do not really care where the interaction is, they just want to get the information they need where and when they want it. I call this post-digital because when everything is digital; then digital doesn’t matter.

To that end, you have heard the phrase “publish or perish?” That describes blogging. Also, is an apt expression for creating fresh, compelling content with strong emotional hooks into your website.

So, back to my writer’s block. If content is king, then there are a few lessons that can be applied for companies looking at building content to help drive interest in their company:

1. Editorial Calendar – You need one for your content. It saved me last week in that it still kept me on pace to do at least one post. It also will help a team of people on track.

2. Be Consistent – I was getting great traffic when I was writing every daily, sometimes twice daily; even to a simple wordpress blog.

3. Be Relevant – I write for my audience, which is my contacts, who are business executives. I try not to write for techo-wonks about the infinite depths of a technical topic. My audience is also whom I partner, work, and sell so I want to be as approachable; to appeal to the “decision maker.” I can get more technical about software and infrastucture when talking with a CTO or CIO, but I save that for particular face-to-face meetings. I find technical specs hard to swallow as “easy reading.”

4. Content by Committee – Realize that it is almost impossible to sustain a huge torrent of content by yourself; let alone make it relevant, compelling, and fresh. That is why communities are so appealing with different voices, perspectives, interaction, and ideas. It doesn’t hurt that it drives SEO through the roof, provides a larger pool of contributors, and allows for different audiences.

5. Get it Viral – Keep in mind that you already have a relationship with your network, but you need to reach a broader group of contacts that don’t know you to drive more business. Sherry Heyl, Atlanta-based social media goddess and friend, talks about building consumble bites of content that can be distributed easily. The key to success is to get your morsels of content, “sound bites”, into circulation and distributed beyond your first and second degree contacts to go viral.

To that end, I am working on creating a social marketing planning framework that I will share over the next few weeks. The social marketing plan will assist companies in building online relationships, leveraging integrated website communities, building compelling calls to action to generate website traffic, managing effective customer experiences, and developing effective measurement systems for the above activities.


Corporate Social Media Roadmap

June 16th, 2009

One of my contacts on Twitter posted a reply back that “Social Media is a Fad”. I have been thinking about that for the last couple of days. There is a tremendous amount of momentum around leveraging social media for business. This isn’t the first time that I have heard this in the last several months, but I guess perception is reality.

So, to that end, I have outlined a social media roadmap for those who are trying to “figure out” if the hype will lead to something real. I have been around enough to have seen this conversation a few times; websites, ecommerce, web applications, and now social media. This simple roadmap is targeted to those who want to do something, but are having a hard time presenting a business case, especially in this economy.

Social Media “Crawl”

  • Make sure your team has a complete profile on Linkedin -It would be nice if they were on Plaxo, Facebook, Twitter, etc.; but make sure that the profiles are complete and up-to-date; including past roles. For a lot of potential buyers, awareness of your company comes through an employee’s profile. Make sure they have a good impression.
  • Make sure that everyone has the same basic description- For the company, links to the various pages on the website (including one to careers). Also, make sure there is consistency in the company name (ie. Abbreviations, LLC on the end, Website name, etc)
  • Create a social media policy for employees- There is a fine line between personal and private. Social media can blur that line, especially on Facebook with pictures. Make sure that policy also includes connections to partners, vendors, customers, and other employees. I am not recommending that you curtail their ability to interact with online relationships, but make sure there is protection for the company.

Social Media “Walk”

  • Inventory Corporate Online Relationship Networks – You will be amazed at who your team is connected and no one else knew it. “I needed someone who could do this” or “We need an introduction to X”.
  • Identify who or which companies are missing – a key to successful networking is getting outside your own network. A lot of times it is the 3rd degree relationships that can produce the greatest opportunities.
  • Run a networking program for employees – Sales people and Executives generally know how to network, but the vast majority of employees don’t. But, they represent the vast majority or potential introductions as they had lives and experiences prior to joining the company.
  • Build an Online Relationship Campaign- This isn’t going out and collecting 25,000 random twitter followers, but building online relationships (across multiple social media sites) with the key influencers, bloggers, buyers, vendors, and participants in your industry. If the saying is “Sell where the customer is…” ; you need to start a program of connecting to them online.
  • Start an enterprise blog on your website- designate a team approach to creating an online thought leadership center for your company. Tie your blog updates to your social media participation. I update my Linkedin, Twitter, & Facebook every time I create a new post. It provides content and value for your connections; at the same time, creates a call to action for your website.
  • Cross Pollinate Your Traditional Marketing Database with your Social Media Contacts- I add all of the new contacts that I meet into my Linkedin and other social media accounts. Social CRM is becoming the new “hot” thing as companies are trying to manage the multiple (potential) customer communication channels.
  • Multi-Channel Marketing now Includes Social Media- I have been integrating my social media contacts into an email campaign list that I send my weekly blog digest. I have gotten a tremendous boost to my blog traffic by integrating email, social media, and traditional networking. A multi-channel, integrated approach allows you to reach the potential customer where and how they want to communicate. Especially with our busy schedule and email overload, don’t assume because they did not repsond that they are not interested. They may not have really “seen” the message.
  • Be Respectful- don’t SPAM your social contacts with random messages. Make sure that what you send them provides value to your network. They may not want to buy, but they will respect your attempt at providing value to the relationship and credentialing your thought leadership.

Social Media “Run”

  • Building your own online community into your corporate website – Use social media components to create a more compelling interaction on your website. Also, this provides great search engine optimization, thought leadership, differentiation, lead qualification, customer experience management, etc.
  • Build public, semi-private, and private group areas in your community- Provide value without a login through public groups, but encourage them to sign up (membership) to see a lot more. The private group areas are then used to continue the sales pursuit and provide individualized customer support.
  • Integrate your community with your marketing and sales activities- By integrating your online community, you provide a call-to-action for your outbound sales and marketing efforts. Also, this allows you to leverage your corporate website more effectively during the transition from marketing awareness and interest to sales process and lead management.
  • Integrate your community with Social Networking sites- Google, Facebook, and Linkedin all have member APIs that allow someone to use their membership in third-party communities. This removes one major obstacle for people to participate; the dreaded sign-up.
  • Integrate your community with your Enterprise Systems- Integrating your existing content and data with your online community is important because it allows you to leverage the investment in your existing CRM, ECM, etc. systems more effectively.
  • Leverage Web Analytics and Lead Scoring -An online community provides a trememdous amount of interaction data that can be measured, scored, and utlized for lead qualification.

Social Media “Sprint”

  • Integrate your business processes with your online community – Customizing the interactions of the community for your business processes; customer experience management, sales support, Call-center, project delivery, supply chain, partner management, etc. This means that different audiences interact within the community, but have personalized experiences based upon their roles and goals. I serve up a different forecasting dashboard in the Product Management Group versus the Sales Group.
  • Reimagining your Information Architecture- Some of the leading organizations are rethinking the traditional ideas around organizational Intellectual Property. They are begining to build flexible information architectures whereby the “community” is really the presentation layer for their corporate systems. They build interfaces as “application mashups”. Your access to information and applications is based upon just-in-time rights management. If I am working on a project, I get invited to the project group that has all of the project history, notes, documents, and applications that I need to interact with the project team. This also then is extended outside the organization to partners and customers. The enterprise is no longer a “castle” with a moat and a drawbridge, but a modern city with buildings, doors, locks, security systems, etc. This allows for more effecient business scalability.

At the end of the day, I don’t see social media as a fad. I think the hype factor will dimish along with the effectiveness some of the early adopters have been able to drive, but I see online social interaction as the next logical step in the evolution of the web and business.