Mashable.com's Chart on Social Marketing Benefits

July 9th, 2009 by Matthew Rosenhaft No comments »

Check out this chart from www.mashable.com below which provides survey results of the benefits companies are seeing in social marketing. I think it provides a great overview of the potential for social marketing. The only thing that I would add is the value of connecting with influencers (call it indirect communications) to reach a broader audience is not captured. I would add that as a category the next time they run this survey. I think they will be surprised how well this category results.

Also, social marketing is not just about social networking, but developing an online community into your existing website, building social profiles into your CRM efforts, and extending your multi-channel communications. Finally, it is about rethinking the customer experience to better orient around the 360 degree referrential buying process this is becoming the norm.

http://mashable.com/2008/12/29/benefits-of-social-media-marketing/

Why Fortune 1000 (All) CEOs Needs to Understand Social Media and Marketing

July 7th, 2009 by Matthew Rosenhaft No comments »

The reality is that very few Fortune 1000 CEOs (or even Divisional CEOs) will read this post. Actually, very few will read any posts. BUT here is why they should…

  • Marketing – Traditional marketing activities are getting diminishing returns; social marketing leveraging social media represents a shift to lower cost, higher return activities. Ecomomics is the driver. Mantra should be “Find more cost effective ways to drive revenue”.
  • Competition – The competitor that can figure out how to leverage online social relationship networks to drive customer acquisition at a faster rate grows faster.
  • Employee Productivity - Your employees can be much more productive leveraging these web 2.0 tools. Problem is that most organizations approach these tools at a tactical level and therefore only get marginal results. Some of the real innovators are using it to rethink and realign their value delivery systems.
  • Cost of Sales – Used to be that vendors that could short circuit an RFP could command higher margins. If your prospects are doing research on the web, you need to short circuit that process OR at least get in early enough to influence the process. You will lower your aggregate cost of sales.
  • Customer Relationships – Customers are demanding better information and better interaction throughout their lifecycle. Every major company has customer retention and referral programs. How is your organization trying to provide a better customer experience?

Could you cut lead generation, customer acquisition, or customer support costs leveraging social media? Can you demonstrate a ROI?

The short answer is “yes”, but having a Corporate Facebook page is probably not the right answer when someone on your board asks your CMO about how you will leverage social media …. or how you will drive sales growth over the next 2 quarters when you are also cutting marketing budgets. You could probably flog the troups to work harder to get the short term results, but the reality is that a lot of smart companies are crafting strategic approaches to social media to help change the market dynamics. If you are not getting the sales growth that you would like even in the face of a myriad of corporate initiatives, you may want to rethink “Social Media is a Fad” or isn’t really for <insert your market here>.

Why? Social Media represents a fundamental shift in the way people interact on the web. As a result, this impacts the way customers and employees interact in business. We all have B school case studies where innovative companies leveraged innovative technology challenge the established market order. There are just as many examples of where the established market leader crushed an upstart competitor by leveraging the same innovative technologies to maintain their market lead.

Your organization spends a great deal of money and time around preparing strategic plans, why aren’t you taking the same approach to social media? Could be a game changer for your business… or your competitor…

If you don’t have people in-house who can build and articulate real strategy with a Roadmap, Business Case, and ROI around social media & marketing, then I suggest that you acquire that talent post-haste. Even if you decide that you need a slow-roll approach to leveraging social media; having a strategic gameplan that is well thought out and justified is priceless. Especially if social media represents a fundamental paradigm shift in the way businesses interact with customers.

Social Marketing Needs Collaboration

July 6th, 2009 by Matthew Rosenhaft No comments »

The title sounds a bit redundant, but if you are like me, trying to maintain the volume of content for my blog, twitter feeds, linkedin groups, and facebook chats is difficult at best. Social marketing activities need to be collaborative to produce the quality and volume sufficient to “move the dial”. I will share some anecdotes:

  1. I made a recommendation to a handful of personal contacts that they needed to create a blog to give their marketing efforts a boost ( a mix of marketing and management professionals who were either doing it for their company or doing it for a job search). They needed to demonstrate their thought leadership in their particular domains. Out of the 5, they produced a grand total of 2 posts….. I couldn’t reasonably expect all of them to produce content, but I was curious to see how difficult it was for them to get started. I will share my alternative recommendation to them below.
  2. I read one of Guy Kawasaki’s posts about leveraging 4 assistants to research news to produce his twitter tweets. First, I have twitter assistant envy. Second, his name is really is a brand at this point. Third, he is leveraging a small community to produce sufficient content because there is no way a single person could produce that volume of content, let along original content.
  3. I have had coffee as of late with a number of people who are active participants in in social media, but choose not to produce original content, but rather are comfortable with the relationship building and redistribution of content. I think this is the right way to get started in social marketing. You can always introduce your own commentary and content once you have established a relationship network.

Having done a significant amount of consulting around building corporate online communities as an extension of the corporate website, I have had lengthy discussions around content creation. Most of the issues were of the “how do we actually create enough content?” with a close second in “How do we encourage participation?” The short answer is participation begets more participation….

I call it the empty restaurant syndrome. You go into a large, cavernous restaurant with multiple rooms with a capacity for hundreds and you see a small cluster of tables in the middle of the restaurant with more staff than patrons. Your impression is that the caliber of the food isn’t good. Take the same number of patrons and line them up outside of the hole-in-the wall pizza joint AND you are congratulating yourself for this amazing find.

It is the same with online participation. If you go into a group and there hasn’t been any post updates in months, you assume that the content isn’t worth your time because no one else is participating. The alternative is you see a long list of posts, but no real threads or connectivity. Volume does not equal collaboration either.

Very few people on the web can sustain the volume of unique content production to build a momentum and readership. Even fewer can do it part-time while maintaining a full-time position or run a business and personal life.

Beyond the basics of needing other people’s input to spark the creative juices, we also need the real time feedback to give us that tactile response and immediate gratification from someone commenting positively about ideas that you express. Whether you do it in 140 characters, in groups on the social networking sites, in your own corporate community, or as collaborative post swaps with other bloggers. The reality is that it is easier to respond to someone’s commentary than sit at a computer and toil away on your own.

I will also add that in my experience with building online communities, it does not take a large core group of participants to create a large volume of compelling content, but rather a leader who provides the evangelism, focus, and leads the topic discussions. Rather like a good MC on a panel discussion; seed the conversation, encourage participation, moderate discussion, and summarize the discussion to bring out the major points.

Now back to what the people above should do alternatively to starting a blog…. the short answer is that it depends. I would recommend that they participate in relevant topic groups in the various social networking sites (communities), provide commentary on the content they find online through twitter, and get comfortable with participating and writing versus trying to maintain the regular production schedule of a single publisher blog.

Or alternatively, if there is a sufficient number of internal people in their company, I would recommend that they create a group blog (mini-community) until they have sufficient content and discussion to warrant opening up to outside direct participation in a larger community. They should bring in articles, blog posts, tweets, videos, white papers, interview customers, etc all focused around the key messages and take-aways that you want to communicate to your target audience.

Bottom line is that we all need inspiration and collaboration for writing whatever form it comes in.

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Search Engines vs Social Media for Marketing Awareness

July 3rd, 2009 by Matthew Rosenhaft No comments »

Most companies’ websites are not on the first page of an organic search in the category. Probably half don’t even show up in the first couple of hits on their company name. This is the fundamental reason that social media is becoming more important to those companies. It is about distribution.

In the brick-and-mortar world, manufacturing and distribution were two well defined roles in business. Manufacturers created the products and then went to distributors (VARs, wholesalers, or even retailers) who distributed. The reason was economics; cost of sales and cost of distribution. Distributors broke up pallets, combined products into solutions, provided consulting, marketed, and managed the relationship with the customer. Manufacturers made the product and managed the relationship with the distributors.

I see the same model evolving with content on the web in marketing. Content manufacturers create the content (on websites, blogs, tweets, social networking posts, Youtube videos, and pictures) that is then redistributed (linkedin, referenced, clipped, forwarded, emailed, etc) to others on the web. Two critical roles are emerging; content manufacturers and content distributors. There is a whole class of bloggers and twitterers who don’t create anything, but play an incredibly important role of cataloging, annotating, and redistributing content for the particular interest of their networks. You need both.

I think you are seeing a fundamental shift in the way that people distribute information via the web from a traditional direct distribution model (My website is cataloged, I invite people I know, or emailed to a list) to an indirect distribution model where you need a distribution network to reach and influence the right audience. These distributors ( really influencers) are critical to getting the “word out”, but you better have something compelling, interesting, and relevant if you want distribution. They “pay” for the privilege of distributing your content with a real currency… “their attention”.

At the end of the day, SEO is still extremely important for all companies. If only for optimizing your site for secondary and tertiary key words, you still can pick up traffic. Pay-per-click also helps. Search engines are still the leading way to find information on the web.

The “but” in that sentence is that social media is increasingly becoming a strong distribution channel for generating marketing awareness. As in the real world, those manufacturers (marketers) who have the stronger distribution network…. win.

Social Marketing Changes Everything Part 3 – Business Case

June 30th, 2009 by Matthew Rosenhaft No comments »

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.