Archive for July, 2011

In 2004 I launched my first corporate blog.  At the time I was running sales and marketing for a small software company and was focused on demand generation through ‘traditional channels’ like email, banner ads, direct mail, etc.  I still remember the reaction I got from the team when I told them we would be launching a new blog.  To quote a line from one of favorite movies, A Christmas Story, ‘they looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears.’

Fast-forward to 2006.  That blog had grown to become an integral part our marketing mix and was directly responsible for a high percentage of our inbound leads.  We learned quickly that those ‘blog leads’ were typically higher quality leads than those that we generated from other vehicles.  The company had evolved from viewing the blog as something we were ‘experimenting with’ to a critical component of our brand.  It positioned us as thought leaders and allowed us to tell our story in a way that attracted buyers and nurture relationships with our prospects and customers.

I was reminded of my first blog story several times while developing the content for the eBook we released this morning, “The Social Marketing Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing”. Although social media is no longer seen as a fad, many companies still struggle with how to participate in it and generate meaningful results.  While companies’ social media understanding has evolved from ‘should we be on social media? ‘ to ‘How can we improve our social media activities?‘, brands still grapple with the key question of  the value of social media. That simple question of value transcends company size, industry and focus.

Our team at Awareness realized that while social is still evolving as an industry, we don’t simply need new processes, how-to’s and a set of measures – our industry needs a new decision framework.  A framework that offers companies a scalable way to think about and participate in social, allocate resources, and measure the impact to their bottom line.

The Social Marketing Funnel sits atop and alongside the traditional sales and marketing funnel and serves as a way to nurture buyers throughout their lifecycle. By utilizing and understanding the Social Marketing Funnel, brands are able to identify demand before buyers enter the traditional sales funnel.  They are also able to better manage their relationship with buyers throughout the buying process and customer lifecycle.

Social Marketing Funnel

The research also uncovered a series of metrics and key performance indicators companies can use to track their overall progress and better understand the value of social media including:

  • Social Reach Velocity: gauging a brand’s ability to attract new social profiles across social media platforms over time.
  • Social Reach-to-Traditional Lead Ratio: measuring a brand’s ability to move social profiles into your traditional marketing funnel.
  • Social Profile-to-Sales Ratio: tracking social profiles that turn into customers over time.
  • Content-to-Contact Ratio: understanding the impact of content on generating new contacts and inquiries.
  • Share of Social Conversations: measuring a brand’s ability to dominate social conversations.

I’d like to personally thank all the individuals who participated in this research for their time, their insight and their overall willingness to help with this project including David Meerman Scott, Jason Falls, Jeremiah Owyang, Nathaniel Perez, Erik Qualman, David Berkowitz, Paul Gillin, Christine Major, Jonas Nielsen, Justin Holmerud, and Andrew Patterson.

We hope you enjoy the findings of this book and we are looking forward to your feedback and comments.

Pitching the Benefits of Social Media to Executives Part 2: Handling Points of Resistance

In part one of this blog series we discussed “Four Initial Conversation Points” in pitching the benefits of social media to executives.  While setting the initial discussion is important, it’s also important to be prepared to understand the aspects of social media marketing that have caused hesitation or even fear for executives.   These points of resistance are likely to arise during your discussions with executives.

Point 1: Reputation hits: “What if people lash out against our brand in public?” Knock Out!

The reality is that whether you are present in social channels or not, there will be people voicing their happiness – and unhappiness – with your brand.  If you’re listening in these channels and addressing occurrences quickly and professionally, you’ll to at be able to handle negative comments in a way that actually benefits your brand, rather than leaving them unanswered in public for others to find.

Suggestion: Point to the many conversations about your brand, industry or competitors that are already happening on the social web.  Be sure to position even the negative voices as opportunities and be prepared to outline how you could – or would – respond to these voices.  Pointing out that the conversations are happening – whether or not your brand is there -  will allow you to make the case that you need to be part of the conversation.  Making the conversations tangible by pointing to actual dialog and events will make it much easier for executives to endorse.

Transparent Laptop ScreenPoint 2: Transparency and control: “Won’t putting ourselves on social platforms give too much control to our users, and leave us open to showing more than we want to about our brand?”

In many cases, issues of how transparent you want to be as an organization and how much control you want to leave in the hands of your audience can be crippling.  Whether it’s a comment about a brand on a public forum, or a customer service interaction on Facebook, having conversations about your brand on platforms that are visible to a larger community is intimidating.

A related concern is using social media as a customer service outlet.  Your brand will be the receiver of both good and bad publicity, and if someone isn’t happy with their experience, they may make it known. As suggested above, if these negative comments or customer inquiries go unanswered it only makes matters worse.

Suggestion: As with the issues of reputation outlined in the point above, control causes executives to wonder if it’s wise to proactively provide social platforms for people to interact.  In general, putting the following three items in place beforehand will help you engage publically in effective and positive ways.  Be prepared to discuss them and how you would manage your social interactions as well as your team internally.

  • Have a person or team dedicated to listening and responding in these channels is a necessity
  • Use a Social CRM tool to listen to social media channels and provide a central place to manage your assets is a great addition
  • If your organization has a PR team, coordination between them and your social media team will make the experience even better

Point 3: Shelf life: “Isn’t social media just another fad?”Shelf Life

Another concern involves assuming social media is a short-lived trend, and to invest significant time or resources would be a waste.

Recent studies show that 75% of small businesses are upping social media usage this year.  This is one of many stats suggesting that it’s on the rise, and doesn’t look to be slowing.   Collecting numbers not only on social media marketing use, but also social media use in general would make selling the idea sound more legitimate.  For instance, did you know 20 million Facebook users become fans of Pages every day?

It’s also worth looking at specific organizations similar to your own that have successfully implemented and used social media in their marketing, as well as examples outside your industry.  This latter list is especially helpful if you come from a more traditional space.

Suggestion: Point to the growth rates of the space and be sure to make the case that social media continues to both grow and evolve.  Highlighting growth rates, like those mentioned above, will give you the ammunition you need to make executives understand that the space is here to stay and is worth your time and investment.

In part 3 of this series I’ll talk about tying social media marketing to the bottom line and how to position that discussion with executives.  Expect to see Part 3: Measurability and ROI during the last week of July 2011.

Photo Credits:

All photos captured from Flickr using a Creative Commons License

This morning Awareness announced a new module for the Social Marketing Hub called the Social Intelligence Dashboard.  The new module is a single solution for measuring all social and non-social marketing activities through one interface.

Why is the Social Intelligence Dashboard both cool and valuable?

Marketers are exposed on a daily basis to an overwhelming amount of data – both from social channels and from traditional marketing tools like marketing automation platforms, email systems, web analytics tools, CRM systems and more. The challenge is how to sift through all this data and figure out what it all means.  This tsunami of data has left many marketers and wondering, ‘what is the value of social media?

This new module gives marketers the ability to create their own reports and dashboards by combining data from multiple sources like, Omniture and Google Analytics – into one interface providing the details they need to go beyond the standard social media measures like number fans or followers to metrics that provide insights into their social marketing programs.

Deeper Social Intelligence

The Hub absolutely provided some of the insights available in the social intelligence dashboard before.  The big difference the Social Intelligence Dashboard provides is flexibility.  It provides a simple interface to create new reports and dashboards based on business needs and allows you to tie in non-social data to get a clearer picture of your overall social activity.

The new interface allows you to modify out of the box reports while providing the ability to create new one through a simple drag-and-drop interface.

Social Intelligence Dashboard

It also gives users the ability to access, export and manipulate the raw data which provides the ultimate flexibility for brands who want to use a separate 3rd party business intelligence tool to get to the core of their social media activities.

One other cool feature is the amount of export options.  Each report contained with the dashboard can be exported to Excel, Powerpoint, PDF or CSV giving marketers the flexibility to format the data any way they see fit.

Why I’m excited about it?

I’m not only one of the people that sell the Hub, but I am also a user.  I’m excited because in the time we have been utilizing the Social Intelligence Dashbaord – throughout the beta process and beyond – we have already been able to uncover insights that have changed some of our social media activities and how we market our products and brand.  This like really understanding our conversion from social channels to our sales pipeline, who are our influencers and understanding content performance across each channel over time have provided new insight on how we market.  I’m mostly excited to see the impact it will have on all our customers.

Want more details?

You can check out this video and also stop by our social intelligence dashboard demo webinar this Thursday at 3PM.