Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Tag

I Have More Twitter Followers Than You

We recently got that feedback from a company that we were introduced to provide social marketing services and consulting. Struck a chord worthy of a blog post. It is a consistent theme as of late on what is the value of social media participation. How do you keep score? How do you measure ROI?

First, I will respond to the more “twitter followers” statement. SO WHAT? For all of those folks who are building massive follower lists on twitter without a relationship, are you really getting value out it in your business? Do you have a strategy to convert these “eyeballs” into business relationships and revenue or are you just collecting names to spam? Do you have a plan?

I think there is a middle ground. Despite working nationally and internationally now, I have been building a list of Atlanta based marketers because I couldn’t find one. I have published it and I am adding to it all of the time. It is my “give to get” to the community. Yes, I get followers from it and I get name recognition, but the real value to my business is that I am integrating that list into my offline branding. I am also giving back to the community.

I am interested in participating in the larger Atlanta marketing community because I live here and I want to be a part of it. I don’t get to many events due to family constraints; young kids and most meetings scheduled in the evenings or early morning right in the heart of family time. I do a fair bit of speaking so I get to talk about my favorite topic “social marketing”, but the reality is that I want to be more connected.

On the twitter front, I don’t tend to write pithy 140 character pearls of wisdom. I write longer, more meaty blog posts. I also don’t tend to forward research reports, or other content to my contacts because I want to create a reputation as a thought leader; hence why I spend the time that I do researching and writing my own take on the market. I use twitter to send out the headlines to bring people back to my longer blog posts.

So, in summary, I blog, I participate on the social networks, I integrate my offline marketing with my online relationships. I practice what I preach. Now if I had a larger marketing engine, I would be spending more resource dollars in building a sustained presence that reinforced our expertise, gave back to the market more original content, shared case examples, and tried to help the market synthesize the large amount of noise around social marketing. I do what I can do.

But, I don’t see having more followers as a way of keeping score. I would rather see a company or individual have fewer, better quality relationships that large numbers of followers on twitter. At least on Linkedin, you can get email addresses to build into your social CRM efforts. I actually send out an occasional email digest of my latest blog topics to my social contacts via email. This serves as a reminder of what I do, makes it easier for them to get the information, and allows them to forward as they see fit. I run an opt out program on those emails and I track the clicks, forwards, etc. The point is that a good integrated social marketing program can be qualitative and integrated, but a badly designed program becomes about meaningless numbers….

Now, that being said, you are welcome to follow me on twitter directlyat www.twitter.com/mmrosenhaft if you want the occasional headlines of my blog, or just sign up for the RSS feed.  If you are Atlanta-based and in marketing, I am happy to add you to my list of Atlanta Marketers http://twitter.com/mmrosenhaft/atlanta-marketing

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What We Know About the Social Enterprise for 2010

As we wind down 2009, I have had a few moments to think about where we are going with this whole enterprise social media, online communities, social marketing, etc. So, here are my “true-isms” for 2010:

1. Marketing via Social Media is becoming mainstream. Most of it is ad hoc  and mediocre, but there are some notable exceptions and that list is growing. Finding less people saying “why” and more people saying “how”.

2. Innovators are starting to change the rules. When you see a market disruption, the early indicators are the ability to gain market share at low cost by disrupting the status quo. Doesn’t mean that twitter is your end all strategy, but you are finding companies that are leveraging multiple web 2.0, social, community applications to streamline the way they do business; either gaining new customers or efficiencies in servicing the ones that they have.

3. Customer Experience is becoming transparent – if your service sux or is barely mediocre, you need to be concerned. Social media is optimized better that static websites. This means the ANGRY blogger who writes a scathing review of their poor customer experience will get ranked higher than all of the money you just spent on broadcasting to the market.

4. Social Marketing is a “downhill” spend versus some alternative marketing channels that are “uphill” – Means that you get the snowball effect from a $1 spent in social marketing because you get the target audience, influencers, and search benefits. Alternatively, if you are having to spend dollars at trade shows, etc. you have to spend to counter the social marketing of your competitors, it is to a limited audience, and it is gone once you spend it.

5. Social Marketing doesn’t work if you apply a traditional marketing approach to the social networks. You cannot just message and broadcast your advertising or PR messaging on social networks and expect people to engage. The analogy is word-of-mouth marketing in the offline world. Do you hire a street team and then have them drive up and down the block with speakers blanketing the neighborhood with a speech? You laugh at the analogy, but that is exactly what many “interactive” major brands are doing online.

6. Social Media, Marketing, etc will extend from the public networks into the enterprise. We are having conversations with partners and CIOs around business intelligence, lead generation and tracking, customer experience management, enterprise application integration into internal communities, information architecture, employee engagement, organizational productivity gains, integration of external and internal communities, contact center integration, supply chain enabled applications, business process integration, corporate governance and compliance, MBOs, cross-functional alignment, ROI, etc.

7. Social Media is following the same path into the organization that the original “website” did… in the process became web applications, processes, ecommerce, etc. The original web solved a problem for people in aggregating and distributing information. Social Media solves the opposite problem in that it helps people with context and filtering.

8. The “Social Enterprise” is growing up. The last three years have seen pockets of cottage industry level “consultants”… but, everyone claimed to be a social media consultant. Saw the same thing in mid-90’s as everyone was a web consultant, but the difference by the end of the decade was that the real consultants figured out how to map back to business strategy and tie the web to business objectives, ROI, and core business issues. The real consultants figured out that they needed standardized, repeatable methodologies that were scalable across the enterprise (and enterprises) and transferable to their clients. The applications they developed focused on “big” problems and the size required sophistication and strategic understanding. 2010 will be the breakout year for many consulting organizations as they move from tactical point applications to enterprise solutions.

9. Organizations that have embraced the new collaborative economy and all of the challenges and opportunities in 2010 will face hurdles in converting to the social enterprise, but the smart ones will understand that the risks are too high. Smaller companies, non market leaders are looking for an edge or opening to exploit and grab market share or enter new markets. In a down economy, you have to leverage what you have better. The larger companies that cannot adjust can find that market share is a trailing indicator of performance (how we did) versus social media which is a leading indicator (what people think).

10. From 1989 to 1999, 62 of the top 100 companies on the Fortune 100 list changed. 62 came off and 62 new ones entered the list. If you think about it, 62 of the top, most respected market leaders got caught from behind and eclipsed in one decade with the selective use of a new technology and widespread business process reengineering. 62 of those CEOs and other executives probably said, “web?”, not going to affect our business. I wonder how many of them retired early…. I wonder how many of the top companies and executives will still be on the list in 2020…

When Marketing Goes Too Far

I had coffee yesterday with John Caslione discussing his new book that he wrote with Philip Kotler called Chaotics: The Business of Managing and Marketing in The Age of Turbulence. As we were discussing the “New Normality” (www.chaoticstrategies.com), I was explaining how we did social marketing and how word-of-mouth marketing isn’t new, but word-of-mouth marketing is relatively new to the web. He stopped me and told me that I needed a better description for the new marketing model. It got me thinking so I looked on the web to see how people are describing this:

  • Social Media Marketing
  • Social Marketing
  • Relationship Marketing
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Social Network Marketing
  • Evangelist Marketing

I woke up this morning with the “right” description. It isn’t Word-of-Mouth marketing over the web, it is “Net Word Marketing”. We help companies spread the “word” over the web and social media…

Thinking that I was on to something, I decided to try it out on my wife to see her reaction. “Honey, I decided that we do Net Word Marketing, what do you think?”

Well, as I caught her as she was helping one of our sons get ready for school; so I think that she didn’t hear me very well… “NERD Marketing, I already knew that…”

Needless to say, I am still working on the better description of what we do…

The Blatantly Obvious Three Gets of Social Media

As we meet and greet in the world as evangelists for a strategic management approach to incorporating social media into business, you readily identify other folks who “get it”. They describe themselves as “get it” people and they describe others as part of the club. The other two camps can be described as the “I think I get it” folks and the “I don’t get it” translated into the I don’t get it and really don’t care.

“Get it” – Already have prior experience in social media, probably understand digital marketing, it, software, etc. They have seen the power of social networking; may or may not play with twitter, but understand that social media must mature to satisfy the other camps. They are usually early adopters or visionaries, but definitely social media evangelists. They don’t need a business case to see how this applies to their jobs and their companies. Not a generational characteristic. We see more mature senior executives who are already there with their subordinates playing catch up. The younger generation gets the social media interaction thing much easier because they have entered the business world with these tools. Their challenge is that they do not have the business experience to craft corporate strategy so they tend to be focused on the tools and tactics. ROI gets mapped at the business functional and strategy level which is hard for them to develop the business case to sell the rest of their organizations.

“Think I Get It” – Generally more mature (not necessarily older) business executives who probably would “get it” if they had the time to research and play with it. We find this to be the case with mid to senior level executives who were laid off. They gravitate to it and are becoming proficient out of necessity and the luxury of free time. The employed people in this group are savvy business people, but are buried under with management and business responsibility. Probably have personal responsibilities so playing online if they are not naturally inclined to do so is pretty difficult with their schedules. Amazing how this group activates with a really tangible business case that applies to their company and market. They already have the business acumen and the web disruption experience so it becomes a translation exercise for them to “get it.” 

“Don’t Get It” – this group has probably thought briefly about it and then moved on as they haven’t seen the relavence of social media to them; either personally or professionally. We many times see the pride in this statement. We see the “my kids are on it” or “I played with it” or “I am on Linkedin, but don’t really use it.” In truth, it is generally due to indifference versus ability to get it. However, when we present the business case for a strategic approach to social media, they intuitively see the value. The skepticism turns to intuition as they map this back to their mid-90’s web experience. They then figure out that they need a proactive plan and delegate to someone in their organization or realize that they have no one and figure they will get to it when it reaches a level of criticality that forces them to react.

As you have surmised, I am describing any new technology adoption. Social media is not some exotic, weird “kid” thing. Social media will be a business disruption due to the simple fact that it is a reflection in the change of buyer behavior. Buyers are doing research by reaching out to other buyers and market influencers because they do not want to wade through the pages and pages of junk search engine results. Much easier to find an expert and see what they say. Simple, but extremely disruptive to traditional business; marketing, sales, customer support, service delivery, billing, employee relations. All of these functional areas are being impacted with this level of transparancy.

Whether you “get it”, “think you get it”, or “Don’t get it”; you had better believe that some portion of your market and customer base already does…

Traditional Sales and Marketing Roles are Blurring

Reposted in full version from www.salesjournal.com blog as guest columnist

I can hear the collective groan from the Sales Journal readership, but social media is blurring the traditional lines. Sales now needs to be concerned with participating in linked-in groups, answering linked questions, participating in community forums, reading blogs, sharing tweets on twitter, sharing photos, Facebook, etc. along with their traditional lead generation activities. Sales organizations now have to worry about broadcast messaging to communicate the product value proposition and greater educations across a wide audience.

Marketing now has to focus on the 1:1 relationship whether out on the social networks or in the corporate community/website. Marketing now gets measured on lead productivity, the value of discussion versus broadcasting, and the effectiveness of their ability to assist the sales pipeline. This is far more intimate and front-line than many marketers have been traditionally involved. Additionally, the marketing organization has to worry about the specific prospect’s motivation and the customer experience.

Social media changes the rules as the relationship dynamics are more fluid because the buyer behavior is changing. The 1:1 conversation can now happen in a public forum or be forwarded (re-tweeted) to a broad audience. Customers are also doing buying research on social networks and blogs.

In the last few years, this research has gone from search engines towards social search where they value the recommendations from participants over the traditional advertising messages from marketing. Also, they buyers are doing their research prior to engagement with vendors. If you are not in their research, you are not on their short list. This means that you have to do education prior to engagement; which is the definition of evangelism.

This is causing a considerable amount of disruption in the market and within companies. You can see the whole emotional spectrum played out; fear, skepticism, frustration, doubt, distain, and even elation. Marketing is being held more accountable for results and Sales is being held to a higher standard for managing communications.

I see this as the natural evolution. Customers don’t want to be “sold”, they want “to buy”. That means they want education earlier in the sales process; which means you need to adjust the way you support their buying process. Hence, the shift in roles between sales and marketing to align more along stages of evangelism versus functional silos. Sales and marketing should be held accountable to the same results if they are working on the same objectives. The roles will be more fluid, but the expertise is still there and can be very synergistic if leveraged correctly.

Three Areas for Thought

On the People front, you need to assess how your sales and marketing organizations are aligned. Are they designed to optimize the business or the customer experience?

On the Process front, you need to rethink your approach to branding and content development to empower Sales to have the 1:Many conversations. Can you create component messages that can be tracked and measured?

On the Technology front, do you have the right tools to support the 1:1 and 1:Many conversations across social media, manage the library of corporate IP & marketing content, and manage the lead conversion from the social environments?

Institutionalizing Social Media for Large Organizations

My friend, Jeff, made the observation that social media has the ability to change the rules for the little guy. Kind of like boxing, a good small man can be a larger man, but a good man can beat a good small man. Size still matters, but skill can also still be a game changer.

Same in social media, first mover advantage does allows small players to get traction, but that does not preclude secondary major entrants from catching up. It may cost them more, but unless the new entrant creates barriers to entry that are sufficiently difficult to overcome by entrants buying their way into a market, they better have a niche or market integration strategy to adjust.

Couple this with my recent conversations about the mix between developing intuition and validating assumptions in new product development. Same set of assumptions and market dynamics, but the mix that an entrepreneurial company will balance approach to the market versus a mature player is far different. The 80:20 rules still apply, but the entrepreneurial company will focus the 80% on intuition and the mature player will focus 80% on validating assumptions.

Hence the time to market and the difference in approach between small and large players in social media. Small companies can jump on participating online. See a unfulfilled opportunity, jump on it. Mature organizations have to weigh the impact on existing operations, customers, plans, budgets, etc. May see the same opportunity, but when you are moving a small army, it isn’t as easy as “picking up the tent”.

So how does this map to social media? Mature corporations have mature planning processes. Some are good, others bad, but the reality is that large organizations weigh risk management equally as important (and some cases more) as innovation. Small company fails, you lose a few bucks and you move on. Large company fails;  they can lose a lot of customers, money, jobs, and investor’s money. Stakes are higher, you gotta make sure that you cover the bases.

Social media represents more of the innovation side of the 80:20 rule analogy above – innovation. It has the ability to be disruptive. Social search taps into the emotional side while search engines & standard search tap into the intellectual side. If I trust person A’s opinion on a topic and follow their links to find a product, that is actually an emotional decision. Yes, I intellectualized the decision, but emotionalized the “trust”.

Social marketing, evangelism, social networking, social CRM, collaboration, and all of the related terminology are really about systematizing the human interactions that have been lacking on the web. Websites were about content. Now they are about content, relationships, sharing, collaborating, and communicating. It is what we do every day offline, just moving more online. Great opportunity to fix a lot of poor customer relationships from over-automation. Think every bad call center experience that you have had; voice prompt hell, untrained customer service reps, crappy scripts, and frustration.

Now, think about that one shining example of the customer service rep who actually could figure it out and saved the day. They were bright, articulate, knowledgeable, and had a real conversation about you. In a sea of bad interactions, the human element shines through. That is the beacon on the hill for social marketing. Think agile manufacturing for “customer relationships”. My mantra these days is that you cannot have a relationship with a system and transactions don’t make relationships. Relationships are built on interactions; good ones and bad ones, but your relationship is the sum of your interactions (online and off).

Put this together and you will see that large organizations need to build the business case and the strategy for “how to move the army”. They need to institutionalize planning around social media to incorporate the impact on the organization and to validate the planning assumptions. Many already understand the innovation, but getting consensus on the direction requires some assistance in translating the social media innovative vision into call-center, product management, operations, finance, sales, and senior management strategic planning.

A Shameless Self Promoting Plug

I had an opportunity to be interviewed on the Atlanta Business Radio Show this morning. Can’t miss any opportunity to evangelize on social media and marketing. Here is the link to the podcast (my portion of the interview starts about 15 minutes in):

http://atlantabusinessradio.businessradiox.com/atlanta-business-radio-interviews-nicole-siokis-with-momcorps-and-social-marketing-strategist-matthew-rosenhaft/

Actually, I want to thank my hosts, Amy Otto and Lee Kantor, for a truly fantastic experience. It was my first radio interview and they made it very easy with the right softball questions to help me out. Also on the show today was Nicole Sioskis, regional owner for Moms Corp (www.momscorps.com) is a specialized matching service for professional mothers (and some dads) who desire to work part-time or on a project basis with organizations that need high-caliber talent on a part-time or project basis.

Help Wanted: Grammer Checkar

A friend of mine offered to edit my blog. He tells me he reads my blog to get caught up on the latest trends in marketing. He also tells me my grammar is horrendous and I need an editor. He has begun to send me edited versions of my blog posts. The fact that he is a professional writer does lend credence to his claim regarding my grammar. In my defense, I review my blog posts at least twice before sending and my grammar mistakes still get through.

In my day job, I always have editorial reviews for that reason. If I can get a software developer, even better. They are known for their grammar skills. I guess bug fixing at 3AM will sharpen your syntax and grammar skills….

My friend also needs help on one of his projects. We swap services; though full disclosure, there is no monetary value placed on either of these services. But, I think that there is a lot more of the “swapping of services” with the rise of social media.

When I was in grad school over a decade ago, my paper was on first mover advantages over the web. I wrote a paper on the challenges that near zero distribution costs would have on entry barriers for software companies.

Now, I am seeing the impact that near zero distribution costs are having on services. The barter economy preceeds the money economy by thousands of years. So, believe me when I am telling you that; I am not running into the room telling you that I realized that I just figured out why apples fall from trees. (Mark, good luck fixing this sentence)

I think the rise of social media is lowering the costs for matching the buyers and sellers of services. Part of the challenge has been in finding good information to identity and determine the quality of the service providers. Hence the need for an intermediary who played the role of market maker who could validate the quality for the buyer. Recruiters were a good example of this trend. Your neighbor who recommended a tree service was another.

Now, we are seeing the rise of online service provider rating services who allow users to directly access the reviews by past customers. We are seeing notices for assistance directly on social media sites; i.e. I saw a linkedin question to find a technical support specialist for a specific engagement. Social media lowers the communications costs associated with matching buyers and sellers. This is not a new trend, but we are seeing the extent that it is becoming more mainstream.

Hence, my professional writing buddy, who trades editing for a professional review of his marketing website. The ability to hit your rolodex (now virtual rolodex) for a subject matter expert is becoming more extensive and extendible. Additionally, the ability to find reviews of those providers at the same time is making services transactions easier to conduct. With paypal, neither party needs to even leave their homes… or change out of their pajamas. Very scary thought….

Wish List for Social Marketing Metrics

I get requests to review social media related platforms all the time; functionality, metrics, and integration. Some of these platforms are really good and some of them will die a quiet death. I make it a point to not discuss any specific platforms just because I want to stay strategic in this blog. But, I think there is value in outlining what I am looking for in the way of platform measurement capabilities that will support my social marketing strategy. Here is my wish list of activities that I want to measure and for which I am trying to collect tools; some of which is available and some is still not ready for primetime…

  1. Automatic Chatter Analysis – who, what, where, when, why, and how with comparisons, triggers, analysis, and a dashboard.
  2. Synchronization of My Social Networking Contacts – cross platform and multiple networks with the ability to start with one and find someone on another; i.e. uploading a twitter contact and have the ability to synch with LinkedIn or Facebook or email.
  3. Social CRM – then do that for all of my company’s contacts, dropped into a CRM system which I can then manage multiple contacts, campaigns, and relationships
  4. Online Community Lead Scoring – apply lead scoring to my own hosted community. I want to be able to identify when activities in the community indicated greater interest and send that into my CRM or multi-channel marketing system for follow up.
  5. Multi-Channel Reach Measurement – include social networking channels, twitter, blogs, back links, SEO, & SEM. Not just email and web analytics.
  6. Social Influencer Scoring – compare the various potential lead influencers to compare; blogs, communities, social networks, twitter, forums, sites, etc.
  7. Lead Source Analysis – Need a better way of being able to identify and track indirect sources for leads. I can use the latest web analytic tools to identify pages, but I need a way to elevate that to identify the sources of leads to compare and contract; i.e.  2nd generation re-tweet triggers a wave of people to our website. I want to be able to match the tweet to the twitter user to the lead. This would require some serious integration between social media and web analytics with a healthy dose of marketing legwork.
  8. Strength of Social Marketing Channels – Once you can track, then you can evaluate.
  9. Cost of Lead Acquisition by Social Marketing Channel – This is the Holy Grail; to measure the cost of lead generation by channel. Cross match it to revenue from leads and lead source and you have ROI.
  10. Social Marketing Brand Strength – Measurement of reach, calls to action, and actual action. There are some metrics out there with proprietary formulas, but this is still nascent.

If automatic ROI calculations are still some point off into the future, then what can we measure today and how can we justify our expenditures on Social Marketing? My answer is that it depends on the “how’s”; how big, how complex, how sophisticated, how much is your budget, and how much time? You can track a great deal with the tools currently available which is more sophisticated than much of the traditional brand-oriented mass communications channels that exist today. So, the good news is that we are moving in the right direction, but it is still more art than science. Well, at least until the platform vendors provide the above capabilities.

Wanted: Passionate Advocacy in Response to Cynical World

Ever seen a really creative ad that has no connection to the product brand. Chances are that the real reason is that the creative director had no connection to the product that they were selling and decided to showcase their creativity instead of communicating passionate advocacy of the product. Welcome to the marketing equivalent of “the paycheck player.”

We are seeing it show up everwhere in marketing… earnest promotion of products and services intent on connecting with potential buyers replaced with snarky, cynical, disconnected, shock marketing. I am not saying that humor doesn’t have a strong place in marketing; it is critical. But, humor without the central components of marketing is cynical: passion, authenticity, empathy, & connection.

Passion –you need to believe in your product or service. We all struggle with tasks that we need to do, but don’t feel passionate about. Changing diapers was definitely that for me… but, when you string together a series of client or projects that you cannot emotionally connect long enough; you can wake up one morning and no longer be passionate about anything that you do in work. You are a mercenary with no loyalty or connection, but doing it for the money. Hence, the creative director scenario above. The movie Jerry Maquire was about that… “Show me the money” and “We live in a cynical, cynical world”.

I have been “lucky” in my career to have chosen the path sometimes less travelled focusing on being passionate about the product, sometimes to the detriment of security or financial success. But, I can’t see just going through the motions of marketing and then saying “Let’s throw a clown into the ad, people like clowns…” I think this is why people are gravitating to social networking and away from advertising. They are looking for authenticity.

Authenticity– As a father of a young child (with one on the way), I am constantly reminded of the wonder of the world through a child’s eye. I also feel the constant tug for delivering a really great experience, but cognizant of how commercial children’s marketing has gotten. There are some shows that I have seen with him that look like one big product placement. I have begun to appreciate the trade-off between polished production and authentic experience. As an adult, I get tired of the canned ads, fake testimonials, and the clearly manipulative “buying process”.

Empathy – I think sometimes that the science of buyer behavior forgets that the buyers are actual people. I am for automation and buyer behavior modelling, but I reject the win-lose value proposition behind some of the science. I think that there is a difference between optimizing the shopping cart process to make it easier for buyers to check-out versus pop-ups to “convince” them that they really wanted to buy.  My fundamental belief is that if you have done a good job of understanding your target audience, understood their motivations and circumstances, clearly articulated a value proposition that they understand, and developed your offering to meet that buyer’s needs; you will close more business than if you had missed the mark, but follow all of the “buyer behavior” techniques. Connection is the art that I still believe trumps the science.

Connectivity – Part of the rise of the social networking sites is that search engines are logic based and people are emotional based. Search is algorithmic; eventually everything has to get back to 1’s and 0’s. We, as humans, don’t think like that. We are messy, inexact, curious, and irrational at times. “Social search” allows for the emotional side to take over. When you ask a friend for a recommendation on a product, you are weighing that person’s opinion over all of the experts that you can find out on the web. Rational, not really. Authentic, trusted, connected, and passionate; definitely. Search engines can be very efficient, but the force ranking of items does not take into account the different motivations or the intelligence of the individual.

In my opinion Social “Search” fills a hole in search that search engines cannot fill. It works for a basic reason; finding a passionate evangelist who has already done the unbiased research for you is priceless when it comes to buyer support.