It’s time marketers stop collecting data for data’s sake and start it for culling insights. That’s where social analytics comes in. Social analytics is the evolving business discipline that studies social media metrics to help marketers use the findings to drive business intelligence. If you’re new to this, have no fear. Look to the 15 influencers listed below for guidance on the topic. They can help you get started or finesse your approach. Here are the Top Social and Web Analytics Experts to follow (in alphabetical order):

 

Gary Angel, president of Semphonic.  Recipient of the Digital Analytics Association’s Award for Excellence as the Most Influential Industry Contributor.

Don’t miss: 3 Paths to Digital Optimization: Zen and the Art of Enterprise Analytics

Key Takeaway: To get the greatest value from analytics, you need an integrated approach.

 

Connie Bensen, Senior digital strategist at Dell

Don’t miss: Best Practices for Social Media Monitoring ROI

Key Takeaway: Great tips on how to avoid spam and noise: add exclusion criteria to your searches.

 

Keith Burtis, co-founder of MeasureMob

Don’t miss: Getting Started in Analytics From Tape Measure to #Measure

Key Takeaway: Three resources to get you started with analytics.

 

Alistair Croll, principal analyst for Bitcurrent, contributing author to Web Operations, Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwidth.

Don’t miss: Writings: December 2011/January 2012

Key Takeaway: A sampling of Alistair’s thinking, including 2012 trends and how companies should think about big data.

 

Susan Etlinger, industry analyst at Altimeter Group

Don’t miss: Research Report: A Framework for Social Analytics

Key Takeaway: Measure your company’s performance against the Social Media Measurement Compass.

 

Nathan Gilliatt, principal at Social Target, co-founder at AnalyticsCamp, founder at SocialMediaAnalysis.com

Don’t miss: Applying Intelligence and Analytics to Online Statements

Key Takeaway: Insightful matrix of Intelligence/Analytics plotted against Fact/ Opinion

 

Taulbee Jackson, CEO and president of Raidious

Don’t miss: Social Media Analytics – AMA Michiana

Key Takeaway: At the end of the day, you are trying to determine ‘how good is the content?’

 

Avinash Kaushik, digital marketing evangelist at Google and author of Web Analytics 2.0 and Web Analytics: An Hour A Day

Don’t miss: Beginner’s Guide to Web Data Analysis: Ten Steps to Love & Success

Key Takeaway: An excellent getting started guide to web analytics.

 

John Lovett, senior partner at Web Analytics Demystified Inc, author of Social Media Metrics Secrets

Don’t miss: You’re Using the Wrong Social Media Metrics

Key Takeaway: Understand corporate goals, align business objectives, tie metrics to measures of success and then define operational tactics.

 

Jonas Klit Nielsen, CEO and founder of Mindjumpers

Don’t miss: Executive Series: Listening on Social Media is about Insight Management and Analyzing Data

Key Takeaway: Listen first to relevant conversations, then break down the data to relevant insights.

 

Katie D. Paine, CEO & founder of KD Paine & Partners; author of Measure What Matters

Don’t miss: KDPaine’s How-To-Get-Good-Data Checklist

Key Takeaways: Both humans and computers make mistakes, so check your data regularly.

 

Eric Peterson, CEO and founder of Web Analytics Demystified Inc., author of Web Analytics Demystified, Web Site Measurement Hacks and The Big Book of Key Performance Indicators

Don’t miss: Finally! Standards Come to Web Analytics

Key Takeaway: Google Analytics has become the de facto standard for web analytics.

 

Sean Power, data scientist at Cheezburger; contributing author to Web Operations, and Complete Web Monitoring

Don’t miss: Complete Web Monitoring, (O’Reilly, 2009)

Key Takeaway: Learn everything from why, what and how to implement measurement in your organization.

 

Jim Sterne, founder of eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and the Digital Analytics Association and author of Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing Investment

Don’t miss: eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summits

Takeaway: Learn from Jim in person at a summit near you.

 

Marshall Sponder, senior analyst and founder of WebmetricsGuru.com and author of Social Media Analytics: Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using Metrics

Don’t miss: Lack of Processes (or the Wrong Processes) biggest problem in Social Media Reporting and ROI

Key Takeaway: You need a standard process for measurement.

 

 

To learn more about what social analytics and how you can approach it, consult with our new position paper Social Analytics for Marketing and Sales Effectiveness.

Let’s hear it from you, marketers: Did we list all your top analytics gurus? Did we miss anyone who deserves to be included? Sound off on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and on Pinterest.

The Super Bowl XLVI was a social media success thanks to the Indianapolis Super Bowl XLVI Host Committee and team at Raidious, who created and managed the first ever Super Bowl Social Media Command Center. Using the Awareness Social Marketing Hub, our on-demand social marketing management software (SMMS) as the exclusive backbone to their operation, the Host Committee was able to capture the game’s excitement via social channels and extend the value of the game online. Forty-six avid social media experts from Indiana worked side-by-side with a staff of 50, including student interns from nearby universities, to make the Super Bowl XLVI a memorable and safe experience. As a result, the Social Media Command Center generated over $3.2 million in value – through amplified social reach and engagement, estimated at 64 million impressions at kickoff alone. Thanks to our friends at Raidious, we bring you the social side of the Super Bowl XLVI as a fun infographic:

If you are interested to learn more about the social muscle behind one of the largest sports events, join us our free webinar “Championship Social Media: Lessons From The Super Bowl XLVI Host Committee Social Media Command Center on Feb 23 at 2PM EST.  Also, stay tuned for an in-depth case study on the Super Bowl XLVI lessons learned and best practices in March.

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State of Social Media Marketing 2012We are excited to share our annual report on the State of Social Media Marketing – Top Areas For Social Marketing Investment and Biggest Social Marketing Challenges in 2012. The team at Awareness connected with 320 marketers from a cross-section of industries, company sizes and levels of social marketing experience.  Our annual State of Social Media Marketing report comes with insights from those leading the efforts at the C-level and those who manage the social marketing function within their organizations, as well as a number of business leaders who are helping to bridge the social gap within their enterprises.

Here are some interesting findings and insights that are contained in this report from our CEO, Brian Zanghi.

2012: The Year of Growing Social Marketing Maturity

Social marketing is entering a stage of maturity and with it, savvy, socially-oriented businesses are starting to embrace social as part of their companies’ DNA.  This transition comes with an understanding that siloed approaches to social marketing are not effective, and a realization that scale with social marketing comes with the adoption of new organizational structures, processes and technology infrastructure that can help the enterprise scale and optimize in a continuous fashion. Expect that in 2012 focus will shift to active social media management for increased lead generation and sales.

C-level Involvement with Social Marketing

We were excited with the response levels from C-level executives (39% of respondents) and the information they shared.  Top-of-mind for executives and senior managers is ROI, integration of social with lead generation and sales, and expansion of social presence and reach. It is clear that the C-level wants more proof before they allocate additional organizational resources to social marketing.  This is why only 8% of our respondents reported 2011 budgets of over $50,000 per year, with 12% of the organizations reporting teams of 5+ social marketers.  At the same time, executives need to realize that to give their social marketing initiatives a chance, they need to invest accordingly in the effort.  Our prediction is that to resolve the cost-benefit conundrum in 2012, executives will start to adopt new processes and technologies that will not only help them scale the effort, but get the data that clearly links to ROI.

The Right Social Marketing Infrastructure

Social marketing maturity will increasingly be defined next year as the practice of adopting new processes and technologies that will help the enterprise scale their initiatives.  2012 will see savvy social businesses moving beyond the “let’s allocate a few people resources to social” mentality to incorporating robust social media management platforms. These platform will provide the ability to monitor and analyze social conversations, while creating effective response and content mechanisms to increase customer engagement and ultimately sales. Our industry is reaching this maturity tipping point – 78% of marketers reported monitoring social media channels for mentions of their brand at least a few times a week, while 62% reported monitoring industry conversations with the same frequency. Although 19% of surveyed marketers reported using a social media management platform, these are the leaders who will be reaping the most benefit from their efforts.

Expanded Use of New Social Marketing Platforms

Experienced social marketers report that they plan increased usage of social marketing platforms beyond the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) to include: Blogs (91%) YouTube (86%), foursquare (59%), SlideShare (43%), Flickr (50%), and Tumblr (30%). Driven by increasingly fragmented user consumption habits, companies clearly see the need to expanded social presence that will allow them to follow and engage their prospects and customers on multiple channels and networks.  This proliferation of channels and the corresponding need to successfully engage in all of them will make the job of social marketers increasingly more complex. This, in turn, will necessitate the adoption of robust tools to manage presence, monitor and report on activity, and tie efforts to the organizational bottom line.

The State of Social Media Marketing report contains additional insights on top social marketing investment areas, top challenges for 2012, top social media platforms used today, the role of LinkedIn in reaching the C-suite, along with a fun section on the top news and analysis resources marketers use to stay on top of the latest and greatest in our industry. For full, free access to the State of Social Media Marketing report, click here. If you would like to be included in the survey for next year’s report, click here. You can also access the 2012 Social Marketing and New Media Predictions, to hear from marketing strategists David Meerman Scott, Brian Solis, Erik Qualman, Paul Gillin, CC Chapman, and Steve Rubel what 2012 has in store for us.

We welcome your thoughts, reactions and feedback.  Let us know how the insights and findings presented in the State of Social Media Marketing report will help shape your thinking in 2012.  Don’t hesitate to ask us the tough questions – as we embark on 2012, we promise to continue to provide deeper dives into best practices, successes, and notable trends to help you, social marketers, do more and do better.

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Social Media MarketingAs we embark on 2012, the team at Awareness, Inc. consulted with the best and the brightest in marketing, strategy, technology, business and social media marketing to help us identify the top news, analysis and trends resources for social marketing and social technology.  Our industry is among the most dynamic, with many voices reporting, analyzing and advising on social technology, social media developments, successes, and best practices. To help you navigate the active social news space, we compiled this Ultimate Guide to the Top Marketing, Technology and Social Media Resources.  This guide aggregates resources quoted by leading strategists such as David Meerman Scott, Brian Solis, Erik Qualman, Jason Falls, and Jay Bear, top analysts and influencers Jeremiah Owyang, Debi Kleiman, Laura Fitton, David Berkowitz, brand leaders such as Ekaterina Walter, Michael Pace, and Pam Johnston, and agency visionaries Steve Rubel, Mike Troiano, and Jonas Klit Nielsen in our free report on 2012 Social Marketing and New Media Predictions, to name just a few.  The Ultimate News Resource Guide also contains the collective input from over 300 marketers from a cross-section of industries, company sizes and levels of social marketing experience (we recently polled these marketers for our upcoming annual report on the State of Social Media Marketing to be published in mid January) and asked them about their top information resources and their sources of inspiration.

Here it is – the 55 Top Marketing, Technology and Social Media Marketing News, Analysis and Trends Resources in alphabetical order:

1.   AdAge @adage

2.   AgencySpy @agencyspy

3.   All Things Digital @allthingsd 

4.   Altimeter Group @altimetergroup

5.   Around the Net in Online Media

6.   Around the Net @aroundthedotnet

7.   Awareness, Inc. @awarenessinc

8.   Big Think @bigthink

9.   BoingBoing @BoingBoing

10.  Brian Solis’ Blog @briansolis

11.  Bull Dog Daily Reporter @BulldogReporter

12.  Business Insider @SAI

13.  Chris Brogan’s Blog @chrisbrogan

14.  Convince & Convert @jaybaer

15.  Customer Collective @yourcustomers

16.  Darwin Awareness Engine Blog @darwineco

17.  Direct Marketing Association @DMASocialMedia

18.  Editors and Publishers @EditorPublisher

19.  eMarketer @eMarketer

20.  Exploring Social Media @JasonFalls

21.  FastCompany @FastCompany

22.  Forrester @Forrester

23.  Gartner @Gartner_inc

24.  Harvard Business Review @HarvardBiz

25.  Jeremiah Oywang  @jowyang

26.  Lifehacker @lifehacker

27.  Mari Smith @MariSmith

28.  MarketingProfs @MarketingProfs

29.  MarketingSherpa @MarketingSherpa

30.  Mashable  @mashsocialmedia

31.  Media Post @MediaPost

32.  MediaGazer @mediagazer

33.  Newsmap @Newsmap

34.  Pulse @pulsepad

35.  ReadWriteWeb @RWW 

36.  Robert Scroble @Scobleizer

37.  SmartBlog on Social Media @SBoSM

38.  SmartBrief on Social Media @SmartBrief

39.  Social Commerce Today @marsattacks

40.  Social Media & Marketing Daily

41.  Social Media Examiner @smexaminer

42.  Social Media Times @socialtimes

43.  Social Media Today @socialmedia2day

44.  SocialMediaMakerting.com @socialROI

45.  Socialnomics @equalman

46.  Summify @summify

47.  TechCrunch.com @techcrunch

48.  Techmeme @Techmeme

49.  The Next Web @TheNextWeb

50.  Trendsmap @Trendsmap

51.  Venture Beat @VentureBeat

52.  WSJ Media Marketing @WSJMedia

53.  WSJ Tech @WSJTech

54.  Wired @wired

55.  Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) @womma

Besides these top resources, today’s marketers heavily rely on their Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook feeds to get to the top news and developments in our industry.  You can follow these Twitter lists to easily get the latest from some of the top experts, and from our top resources, listed here. If you are looking for the top CMOs using Twitter, then look no further than this list of Top CMOs on Twitter.  You can also read about how CMOs are engaging with Twitter. And one final Twitter tip – if you want to know when your top journalists are tweeting about your brand or relevant industry terms, use this new handy tool from Muck Rack.

And as David Meerman Scott reminds us, some marketers also get their insights from their peers – they make it a conscious effort to attend industry events and conferences where they get first -hands insights from their colleagues on what works and what’s in store next.

Don’t be shy – let us know if we missed some of your favorite resources. Experts and marketing leaders you follow not on this list? You have our word – we will update this top list based on your feedback. You can also download our free report 2012 Social Marketing and New Media Predictions, containing insights and predictions from 34 business strategy and marketing experts. Connect with us on Twitter #AwarenessSMM on Facebook at Social Media Marketing Best Practices and Social Media Marketing Mavens Pages or LinkedIn at the Social Media Marketing Mavens Group.

Photo Credit: webtreats  154 Blue Chrome Rain Social Media Icons Used Under a Creative Commons License

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The Social Customer Adam MetzOn our quest to understand the state of social marketing dynamics, we invited author and marketing strategist Adam Mertz (@theMetz) to share his insights about what’s at the heart of social marketing – the social customer.  In his book The Social Customer: How Brands Can Use Social CRM to Acquire, Monetize, and Retain Fans, Friends, and Followers, Adam explains the advantages of socially-minded companies, which proactively manage the social customer. We were excited to have Adam offer an hour-long webinar on the principals covered in his book – watch the webinar here.

Let’s start with who the social customer is. Adam defines the social customer as anyone who uses social media at least once a month. Others like Michael Brito (@Britopian) have gone as far as defining six types of social customers.  And if you’ve read Brian Solis’ (@briansolis) recent blogpost The State of Social Marketing 2011-2012, then you know he talks about the social customer as “someone who first goes to their social networks of relevance to learn about products and services”.  If you are wondering how many of your current customers are social customers, follow Adam’s recommendation and use this free Social Technographics Profile Tool from Forrester Research. Forrester’s Josh Bernoff (@jbernoff) and Ted Schadler (@TedSchadler), using methodology they developed in Empowered, have created this free tool to helps brands classify their consumers into seven levels of social technology participation. Brands can easily add demographic data to determine the percentage of social customers they service, along with their customers’ corresponding levels of social engagement.

Once you have established the size of your social customer pie, you can then tackle the next step – that of determining if your company is well suited to play the role of a “social object”. A “social object” status for a brand is the brand’s ability to create content and messages that people can actively discuss, interact with, and share via social media channels. A Lady Gaga song, for example, is viewed as a social object once it’s mimicked, re-recorded, and posted to YouTube by thousands of fans.  Brands need to be willing and open to be ogled, “liked” or disliked, or else they may as well stick with their traditional toolset. Here are a few of the “social object” qualifiers brands need to embrace to engage successfully with their social customers (For those interested to learn how to position their company or brand to achieve the social object status, download the first two chapters of The Social Customer for free):

1. Your company wants to talk directly to your customers one to one

2. Your company wants to talk to customers on a day-to-day basis

3. Your company is willing to monitor social conversations and is able to turn them into actionable items, pronto.

If you believe that these qualifiers align with your company and brand, then consider the following use cases that help give your brand the social spark. Adam’s work is based closely on the research by Altimeter analyst Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) and Constellation Research CEO R “Ray” Wang (@rwang0) first published in Social CRM: The New Rules of Relationship Management.  Building on their work, Adam defines 23 use cases for social customer relationship management. Here’s a peak at Adam’s social marketing use cases that will help you to enhance your social customer engagement efforts:

1. Social Marketing Insight – Build your customer social profile; know where your customers are spending time online.  When integrated into your marketing strategy, this knowledge is invaluable. It allows your marketing team to be incredibly effective by delivering highly targeted messages.

2. Rapid Social Response – Monitor real-time conversations; make sure that you know what people are saying about your brand. Thanks to social monitoring technology, marketers can monitor the social landscape for hiccups about their brand and triage accordingly.  Adam uses the example of the Bank of America’s Google + brand jack incident this past November, where someone created a phony Bank of America account and was posting about “freezing all assets.”  This is a great example of why you should be monitoring your brand. Give yourself the opportunity to act quickly and save face.

3. Social Campaign Tracking – Use social media to test your marketing campaigns or product enhancements. The social customer is often a prosumer – part producer and part consumer, who will offer feedback for free! Polling your Facebook fans could save your company time and money. For instance, marketing agency 360i advised their client Velveeta to poll their customers on two different packaging designs.  The poll generated significantly more activity than their typical posts and ultimately affected Velveeta’s design decision

4. Social Event Management – Enhance attendees experience; by leveraging social technology and platforms, you can help attendees make more connections. Adam’s example is Google’s Cloud Conference, Atmosphere 2011. This event attracted over 350 CIOs including Flint Waters, CIO of the state of Wyoming, Bryson Koehler, SVP of Global Revenue and Guest Technology at IHG, Michael O’Brien, CIO of Journal Communications, and Christine Atkins, VP of Group IT at Ahold, among others.  These CIOs came together to share business strategies and efficiencies for collaboration in cloud.  The attendees kicked off the conference by downloading an app, which asked a few questions around specific connection preferences. The app then matched people and let them connect with each other on-premise. Be useful by focusing on the needs of your customers, use face time most effectively to make lasting connections.

5. Social “Pull-Through” – Empower your customers to fight for your brand; it’s all about supply and demand and a happy social customer will become your brand ambassador, influencing your partners, suppliers and prospects.

To get the full advantage of Adam’s insights, watch the webinar here.  You can also visit Adam’s blog, where he provides tools and offers free classes, audio chapters, and more. To add to your understanding of the social customer and get additional insights on how to best engage them, you may also consider the following resources: Here’s What People are Looking at on Facebook Brand Pages for insight on how consumers look at brand pages; How to Turn Fans into Brand Ambassadors to learn techniques on how to empower your social customer to promote your brand, and The Rise of the Social Consumer and the State of Social Marketing 2011-12 to learn about the current state of the social consumer and their decision making styles.

How do you engage your social customer? Do you have a prosumer success story?  Have you caught a phony in real time? Has your social following paved the way for a product? Let’s continue the discussion in the comments below, on Twitter at hashtag #EngageAwareness, on Facebook at Social Media Marketing Best Practices, or LinkedIn at the Social Media Marketing Mavens Group.

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I recently connected with Karen Rose, Social Media Strategist for the National Home Office of the American Cancer Society (ACS), based in Atlanta, GA, as part of our interview series on effective use of social media in driving thought leadership, awareness and lead generation. Awareness could not be more excited to be the social media marketing platform partner of choice for ACS – there are a few national brands that have elevated their social media presence and engagement to the ACS levels.  It was great to get a deeper perspective on ACS’ approach to Social Reach (read about key social marketing success metrics in our free eBook The Social Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing), their take on the increasing importance of social marketing, and ACS’ unique ability to listen, engage and educate their passionate followers.

A bit of social media overview for ACS first.  Besides their National Home Office, there are 12 regional divisions of ACS, each managing their social marketing independently, with social media agendas and strategies of their own. At the National Home Office level, ACS uses primarily Facebook, with its Fan Page counting close to 250,000 members, and Twitter approaching 200,000 followers. ACS can be found on MySpace and LinkedIn too. The ACS team actively publishes content which includes supporting multiple blogs such as Dr. Len’s Cancer Blog, authored by Dr. Lichtenfeld, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the National Office of the ACS, Expert Voices, authored by experts who discuss timely cancer topics, and the Choose You blog, encouraging women  to put their own health first.

I started by asking Karen about ACS’ social philosophy and the role social plays in the organization’s overall marketing mix. ACS has embraced the social web as one of their most impactful marketing channels – “we really just need to be where the people are”, Karen put it simply. Karen and her team started to track conversations about cancer in the “early” days of social media. They quickly realized there was a lot of inaccurate information and misconceptions about cancer being published and shared on a daily basis. “Our team had to intervene”, Karen shares with passion, “we needed to provide sound medical advice and offer ACS’s vetted resources to help patients and their loved one cope with the disease”.

It is not surprising that Karen and her team are maniacally focused on responsiveness. “We use the Awareness social marketing hub and have incorporated our national call center with the Hub now”, comments Karen. ACS monitors discussions on their Facebook and Twitter channels 24/7- yes, including nights, weekends, and holidays. By listening to conversations and responding to people in real time, ACS can influence discussions and direct people to the variety of ACS web resources where information and advice are vetted and clinically sound.

“We want to inform people about the many ACS resources we have so they can stay well and get well “, continues Karen. ACS’s goal is to inform and educate about screenings, guidelines, support groups, and medical resources. “ACS uses social as the spokes of our hub to pull people back to our web properties”, comments Karen.

It was quite revealing to hear Karen talk about ACS’ selection of social media platforms and their strategy for building presence on social networks such as Facebook.  The ACS main Facebook Fan page –  American Cancer Society, focuses on cancer, cancer-related topics, survivorship, and care giving, and serves primarily as an information and educational resource.  Other nationally managed Facebook Fan pages, such as Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Relay For Life, are event-based. The Relay For Life Fan page, backed by over 110,000 passionate followers, exists in support of a fun-filled overnight event, celebrating survivorship, and to raise money for research and various programs coordinated by ACS. The ACS More Birthdays Facebook page, with over 300,000 Fans, was created to celebrate birthdays and  survivorship. The Choose You Fan page is directed towards women, who want to have their own conversation about prevention. ACS’ approach to building multiple targeted pages on social networks such as Facebook based on users’ needs and passions was validated as a best practice in our recent analysis of over 100 customers using the Awareness social marketing publishing platform. Our analysis showed that best-in-class companies have at least 13 Facebook Fan pages and 10+ Twitter accounts, allowing them to better target the needs of niche communities (you can download our free eBook The Social Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing for more details).

With such deep and engaging presence, I asked Karen to share some of ACS’ social successes.  One of the most impactful campaigns for them is a  More Birthdays campaign, which started a few months ago. ACS had several artists and musicians create special art pieces, music and videos, to help ACS followers celebrate birthdays. The artists’ collective body of work was then used to create “Happy Birthday” messages delivered to cell phones and as e-cards. The campaign became so popular that a number of fans responded by submitting their own “Happy Birthday” video responses. “The reaction and sharing of these video messages is phenomenal”, comments Karen. This viral response prompted the More Birthdays team to launch a user-generated artwork contest, including song and video submissions, with the winner to be featured on the More Birthdays Facebook page next to the established artists. At the time of the interview, the contest was still underway, but based on the initial response and number of submissions, I can tell this campaign is off to an amazing start. Karen attributes the success of the campaign to the fact that ACS has given their audience a great outlet to share their stories. “The More Birthdays campaign opened it up for people to allow them to honor a loved one or tell their story”. And in the process, every video and artwork was connected to an aspect of work being done by the American Cancer Society, tying birthday songs to important cancer facts. “In a sense, we have empowered our followers to help us tell our organizational story”, continues Karen. “This can be truly powerful and long-lasting”.

Karen’s advice to today’s hesitant Chief Marketing Officers who are still not sure social is relevant for their organization? “Do it”, she says,” People are out there, they are talking about your brand, they want to interact with you,” she adds. “It’s important to be there to represent yourself and your organization the way you want to be represented.”

So to any of your marketing skeptics, we join Karen and her team in saying: do it, embrace social to its full potential.  Empower your customers to share their stories and see how they weave your own brand DNA into them.  And for those of you who actively use social in your marketing – please don’t be shy.  Share your successes with us and our community of savvy social marketers by commenting on this blog, on Twitter, Facebook at Social Media Marketing Best Practices and in our LinkedIn Social Media Marketing Mavens Group.

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We all wish we had a crystal ball we can peek into and see the future.  Short of counting on miracles to lead our way, the team at Awareness connected with some of the best and the brightest in marketing to ask them the difficult questions around what 2012 has in its social marketing store for us. 34 marketing strategists – globally recognized leaders such as David Meerman Scott (@dmscott), Brian Solis (@briansolis), Erik Qualman (@equalman) and Paul Gillin (@pgillin), brand marketers such as Ekaterina Walter at Intel (@Ekaterina) and Michael Pace at Constant Contact (@mpace101), and marketing advisors and consultants from top agencies such as Edelman, Mindjumpers, Holland-Mark, and Raidious, gave us their time and shared their insights and prognosis for our eBook on 2012 Social Marketing and New Media Predictions.  We can’t thank them enough for their thoughts and support of our community.

The 2012 Social Marketing and New Media Predictions is organized in six parts:

-        Part One: Predictions for the biggest (social) marketing developments in 2012.

-        Part Two: The role of “big data” in (social) marketing next year

-        Part Three: Expectations around key new technology that will likely have the most impact on (social) marketing in North America as well as globally;

-        Part Four: The role of mobile in (social)

-        Part Five: The top challenge for marketers engaged in social next year

-        Part Six: The top marketing news resources these experts consult to stay abreast of news and developments in social marketing

Expert Spotlight: Here’s what globally recognized marketing strategist David Meerman Scott shared with us:

David Meerman Scott-        The Biggest Social Media Development in 2012: “Social media gives us the ability to communicate instantly, yet most marketers have not developed the communication skills to address real time,” observes globally recognized marketing strategist David Meerman Scott. “Marketers have been trained with a campaign mentality, spending weeks planning, designing and executing in a sequential manner. Social marketing is changing that. We now need the ability to react instantly to breaking news, changes on our websites and negative customer feedback. Marketers need a new mentality, infrastructure and workflows to meaningfully participate in real time.”

-        The Role of “Big Data”: “Data has been with us for a long time,” observes David Meerman Scott, “but it is only recently that marketers are realizing they need sophisticated tools to harness that data and make sense and use of it. As a result, marketing departments will add a new job function that will play a role similar to that of bond traders in financial institutions in that they will rely on instant, real-time data to make informed decisions. The marketing ‘bond traders’ will be analytics experts who will look at three types of real-time data: news feeds from sources such as Dow Jones, Reuters and Bloomberg; social data from platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google +, YouTube, blogs and LinkedIn; and data from websites to answer key questions such as number of people visiting your web properties, content they are interacting with, the impact of reorganizing content and presentation, and speed of response to close rates.”

-        Key New Technology to Impact Marketing in 2012: Marketing analytics. “A modern marketer going into 2012 – 2014 will need an analytics team that understands, lives and breathes data,” says David.

-        Role of Mobile on Marketing in 2012:  ”Mobile devices are certainly important, and next year is going to be about the ability to add location to the mobile experience,” shares David.

 

How does David stay in touch with the constant changing landscape of marketing?  ”Conferences,” he says”…talking to the people who are implementing innovative ideas, CMOs and CEOs, public relations and marketing agency leaders.” To read what other experts had to say about 2012, download our free eBook 2012 Social Marketing and New Media Predictions.

About David Meerman Scott (@dmscott ): David is a marketing strategist, seminar leader, and keynote speaker. His book The New Rules of Marketing & PR opened people’s eyes to the new realities of marketing and public relations on the Web. Six months on the BusinessWeek bestseller list and published in 26 languages. David has live and worked in New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Boston and has presented at hundreds of industry conferences and events in over twenty countries. Read his blog at http://www.webinknow.com.

Let us know your thoughts.  What do you think is in store for us marketers in 2012?  Where do you see the biggest opportunities?  What do you think will keep you up at night? Let’s continue the discussion in the comments below, on Twitter at hashtag #2012Awareness, on Facebook at Social Media Marketing Best Practices, or on LinkedIn at the Social Media Marketing Mavens Group. To a successful 2012!

 

 

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In a day and age of fragmented media consumption, brands increasingly compete not with other brands but for customers’ attention. How do we grab people’s attention if we don’t know them well?  How do we engage them meaningfully, over time, when what we know about them is mostly purchase history coupled with demographic data?  Enter Social CRM.

Let’s start with some definitions. Paul Greenberg (follow him on Twitter), the author of CRM at the Speed of Light, defines Social CRM as a “philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation.” Collaborative conversations are tough to pull off when what we know about our prospects and customers is limited. Fortunately, technology has evolved to offer a new platform where consumers choosing freely to engage and share deep connections with brands.  By harnessing deep preference insights found on social media platforms, we can tailor content and offers to the specific likes of our audience.  Enter the Awareness Facebook Campaign Manager.

Facebook Campaign Manager is included in the Awareness Social Marketing Hub allowing customers to implement end-to-end promotions on across the social web while capturing and integrating deep social profile data with leading CRM and marketing automation platforms, such as Salesforce.com, Marketo and Eloqua. The Facebook Campaign Manager enables deep social profile data collection that includes email address, other Facebook “likes”, birthday, relationship status, and education.  This information is then augmented with other social profile data collected and stored in the Awareness Hub and in turn integrated with leading CRM and marketing automation systems such as Salesforce.com and Marketo.  Equipped with these insights, marketers can then build the business rules, workflow and processes to engage in collaborative conversations.

To help the brands using our social media management platform to kick start some of these conversations, we have enabled the creation and management of custom Facebook tabs from the Hub at no additional charge.  Brands and agencies managing social marketing activities on behalf of brands can choose from a set of templates for frequently used promotional elements such welcome tabs, coupon offerings, and YouTube channel integration (we plan to add new templates regularly).  Or they can create and design their own Facebook tabs using simple HTML. The key benefit of the new Facebook Campaign Manager is that brands can now track conversations and build social profile databases to better understand and engage their followers.

With 60 percent of brands planning to increase content market spending in 2012, as reported by “B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends”, marketers will be looking at ways to maximize their content efforts. If you think social marketing is better suited for B2C brands, consider this: on average, B2B marketers spend over a quarter of their marketing budget on content marketing and employ 8 different content marketing tactics to achieve their goals. B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report also shows the percentage of social media platforms used by B2B marketers – Twitter and Facebook are two of their top choices, as shown in the graph below.

So if you are looking for ways to maximize your social marketing and content efforts, consider trying out the Social Marketing Hub and the Facebook Campaign Manager.  To learn more about it, please attend our Facebook Campaign Manager Webinar or request a demo.

 

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If you are serious about your social marketing program, you are likely focused on executing across a number of social platforms.  My opinion ideas are a dime a dozen and execution is key to success – that is of course, if your ideas are right to begin with.  A good friend of mine often uses the phrase “GOYADI” (short for: Get Off Your Ass And Do It) to reinforce that message. The good news is most people engaged in social marketing take that approach to their work.  The problem is that they sometimes forget to stop and check in on the progress to date.  This is the reason why I often recommend that clients stop and check in on their progress a couple of times per year.

The social web changes at an unbelievable rate and the programs and plan we put in place just a few months have the potential to quickly grow outdated.  To add to that, we are often biased by our choices, and sometimes are too close to our programs to know if we are doing the best we can.  This is why the team at Awareness created How to Objectively Audit Your Social Marketing Efforts white paper.  We hope you will use our suggested objective methodology to assess your progress and identify new ways to optimize your social marketing efforts.

An objective audit of your social marketing program will help you answer these key questions:

-        How well are we doing with social marketing?

-        How do we compare to our competition?

-        What can our social marketing teams do better?

Some Process Highlights:
Start with some objective analysis of your Social Reach along with an analysis of the likelihood that your products or brands are or will be discussed in the social realm in the future.  You will learn that Social Reach is the estimated number of potential and existing customers you can reach via your presence on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  Your reach is an important first baseline – you are as big as the number of people you can reach and touch (for a deeper conversation on how to grow your Social Reach, check out The Social Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing eBook).

Proceed by analyzing the volume and types of digital conversations surrounding your category and products.  You will likely find that new entrants are vying for your customers’ and prospects’ attention.  Understand who they are, where they are investing and what they are talking about.  This will help you assess if you have sufficient resources and focus to participate and dominate these conversations.

Remember – keywords are the new digital currency.  Create a list of top strategic keywords you want to own and see how well you rank for them with the top search engines.  You have to be good at connecting with your prospects and customers – wherever they are, however they search for your solutions.  Our proposed step three – the SEO Healthcheck, helps you better understand your rankings and keyword authority. You will learn that to succeed with search engines, you need to use landing pages – our research shows that best-in-class companies across all sectors are using landing pages to get to the users who have a clear idea of what they need.

Equipped with this data, you can build your own Social Marketing Effectiveness Dashboard.  This dashboard becomes your benchmark against your peers and against your own progress.  Updating it at least twice a year will help you stay focused, nimble and relevant.  It will also help you identify untapped opportunities for traction and growth. To bring this objective assessment to life, we connected with our friends at Percussion Software, who kindly agreed to be our featured company example.  Percussion Software provides Web Content Management (WCM) software that helps businesses increase traffic, drive conversion and improve social interaction. The company recently invested in a new marketing team, who will use the provided objective assessment as a baseline to measure their improvements and create a targeted approach to social media and SEO practices. Special thanks to our social marketing agency, Scratch Marketing + Media, who helped with the analysis for this paper.

Additional Resources:

If you would like to review other resources on the same subject, I recommend:

-  SMO vs. Engagement: Why They’re Different and How You Can Rock Both by Mashable’s Community Manager Meghan Peters. You will learn the difference between social media optimization (SMO) and engagement.

6 Components of a Successful Digital Marketing Audit by Mark Smiciklas published on Social Media Explorer earlier this year.

Curious to hear from my peers. How do you keep your social marketing program focused? Do you run health checks of your social and SEO programs and how often?  What methods and tools do you use? Comment below so we can continue the discussion…

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Content RulesI had the chance to connect with C.C. Chapman (@cc-chapman on Twitter), the co-author of Content Rules, and a sought-after marketing strategist, to get the latest and greatest in the world of social marketing.  C.C.’s strategic consulting encompasses work for some of the most admired brands, such as American Eagle Outfitters, Coca-Cola, HBO, and Warner Bros.

It was great to hear C.C. confirm that brands are “finally starting to wake up to the fact that they need to do something about social.” Where he sees a lot of them falling short is “diving in head first” or, what he calls “shiny toy syndrome.”  A lot of brands are still not thinking strategically and are “chasing whatever the hot tool of the week is.” C.C. reminded me that social and content need to integrate with all aspects of a company’s business – from customer service to sales.  “If you’re not integrating it, if you’re just trying to snap it on like a Lego and hoping that it’s magically going to work, it’s going to fail,” he says.

Rather than repeating some of the mistakes of their predecessors, C.C. suggests that today’s marketers can learn from the best when approaching social marketing. The top leaders setting the social agenda and the best practices for C.C. are Ford, HBO, and Cisco.

Ford is his favorite, as the company has embraced social in every aspect of its business.  Ford is active in almost all social media channels one can think of – not just using each social network as a single destination point, but tailoring its presence based on the passion points of fans.  For example, Ford has multiple Facebook Fan pages for some of its marquee brands, such as Ford Mustang, which has close to 1.7 million fans; Ford Focus with over 300,000 fans; and Ford Racing, which has over 125,000 fans and counting. “They’re a massive company, but it wasn’t overnight that they magically embraced social”, points out C.C. Ford’s team, led by industry legend Scott Monty, has been following a long-term strategy, which is “really the only way to be successful,” adds C.C.

Similarly, HBO has been integrating social into every aspect of its company – touting close to 4.5 million fans on Facebook in the United States alone. The company makes use of subtle things, such as adding a hashtag to the opening credits of its shows and to its HBOGo app, which allows its millions fans to watch their favorite HBO programming on the go – via iPhones, iPads, and iPods.

C.C. also sees a lot of big brands being truly creative with their marketing campaigns (now increasingly social in nature). He really likes Gap’s new jeans video campaign – the Pico Creative Loft series that tell the story of the company’s 1969 jeans brand in a documentary format (here’s a peek at one of the videos from the campaign). And before any of you skeptics out there can say that social marketing is better suited for end consumer brands, C.C. is quick to point to Cisco – a company that C.C. always brings up as a great example of how such a company can use social media effectively because “they do it better than anybody – they’ve really got social down pat.” The company uses video and humor (watch its 100th episode Cisco Unified Computing Celebration here). Cisco’s secret to marketing success? It knows its target market and know how to win them over, says C.C.

Success in social marketing comes with setting specific goals from the get-go, C.C. says.  He always advises companies to start with the end objective in mind. “Is it more views, more email sign-ups, sales, donations? Work back from there.” Specific outcomes work best. Increasing the number of views is not enough, but increasing the number of pages views by 10 percent is a very actionable goal that marketers can meaningfully pursue, he points out.  Besides such concrete metrics, C.C. says companies need to monitor what is being said about them and measure how engaged current followers are, in addition to tracking the number of people following a brand’s Fan page or reading a company’s blog. C.C. is also a believer in the power of online influencers – those who have the clout to make or break a product.  But he is also the first to tell you that companies need to know their customers first and foremost and go after channels and content that are engaging for them on their terms.

C.C. shared our enthusiasm at Awareness for the potential of integrating social media management platforms with CRM systems, as “the more information you have about customers, about the industry, about everything, the smarter business you can be.” He adds that “it’s all about relationships.”

His parting words for today’s Chief Marketing Officers serious about social? “Don’t create a separate social department.” When companies allocate social resources, they need to integrate them directly into their marketing, PR, and customer service – the first three areas that, according to C.C., have to be integrated with social. He then goes on to advise newcomers to social marketing to start small, but “make social an aspect of everything your company does, making it easy for people to talk about and share your campaigns.” Finally, empower your customer service department to listen, respond, and interact with customers over social channels. Success with social marketing comes from “empowering and training your people to be able to use social channels and to know that they’re ok to do it.”

In case you missed it, here is a webinar we recorded with C.C. and his Content Rules Co-Author, Ann Handley:

As always, we invite you to share your social success stories and your reactions to the insights and advice provided by C.C. Do you empower all of your employees to interact with customers across your social channels?  How do you ensure that employees are trained about both the risks and rewards of being a more social, open, and transparent enterprise?

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