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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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I originally published this post on ReadWriteWeb on August 2, 2011

on Brands have evolved from asking “Should we be on social media?” to “How can we improve our social media activities?” At the same, they want to understand “what is the value of social media?“  That simple question of value transcends company size, industry and focus.

Three months ago, Awareness set out to answer the question of uncovering the value in social marketing by conducting research and meeting with social media practitioners and experts alike. During the interview process, we asked the group to tell us what advice they would provide Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) as they set out to design, manage and measure their social marketing strategy.  Here are their insights:

    1. Have a plan!Jason Falls, principal of Social Media Explorer:
      “Go into social with a plan. Social channels are like other marketing channels – treat them with the same diligence. Don’t just test the waters – commit to social. It is the way of the future.  Test and iterate. Integrate social with your marketing and business initiatives – social marketing cannot exist in a vacuum.”
    2. Passion is contagious – David Berkowitz, senior director of Emerging Media and Innovation for 360i
      “Don’t think of social only as a way to drive leads and sales.  Social is about passion – Oreo has over 22 million fans because the brand has given voice to the passion of its consumers.”
    3. Focus, test and learnPaul Gillin, author ofSocial Marketing to the Business Customer
      “Focus on a limited number of tools initially and build your portfolio where you see tangible traction.  Develop a center of social marketing expertise to avoid repeating the same mistakes other brands have made.  Consider hiring social marketing experts to help you develop that expertise.”
    4. Think like a publisherDavid Meerman Scott, marketing strategist and author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR
      “In the world of social, companies need to think like publishers. The first thing that companies need to do is understand where they rank in search engine results. Smart companies know what their prospective customers are searching on. They then create social content – blogposts, YouTube videos, webinars, etc. that leverages key words to improve search engine rankings.”
    5. Integrate social into your businessNathaniel Perez, head of social experience at SapientNitro
      “If your level of maturity with social marketing is low, rely on agencies and consultants to help you succeed. You will need carefully integrated content, processes, and governance in order to succeed. Social is not media-centric, it is customer-centric. Once you have gained experience, work towards integrating social deeper within your business. Plan your resources around the following key functional areas: research and insight, engagement and community building, media planning and integration, and data and analytics.”
    6. Understand your goals and tie into existing business processes – Andrew Patterson, manager of new media at MLB Advanced Media
      “Start with understanding your goals with social. Where and how you want to participate is a business decision. Look at your industry and beyond for best practices.  Choose a social media publishing and monitoring platform that serves your specific needs. Social requires full integration with your current analytics systems – make sure you partner with your vendors for success.”
    7. Budget and prioritizeJeremiah Owyang, industry analyst with Altimeter Group
      “Allocate your social marketing budget based on your level of social marketing maturity. In our February 2011: How Corporations Should Prioritize Social Business Budgets, Altimeter reported that the average social media annual budget in 2010 was $833,000, but that figure fluctuated based on annual revenue and social marketing program maturity. Use industry benchmarks to allocate your budget.”
    8. Commit to social long termJonas Nielsen, co-founder and managing partner of Mindjumpers
      “Go in for the long haul, and don’t put social in the hands of junior brand managers.  Social is one of the one important channels of the future – your own media that will position you to spend less resources over time – for marketing, customer service, and product development.”
    9. Start by focusing on existing customersErik Qualman, author of “Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Businesså
      “The best companies understand social touches every aspect of their business. Start with answering why you want to run social programs and what success looks like.  Remember: only a portion of your social efforts can be tracked directly down to sales.  Most of social is relationship-based – it is a longer-term investment in your brand. Focus with your existing customers – they will spread the word for you. Welcome to the world of mouth.”

What do you think?  Do you agree with the experts?  What would you add to their list?

The complete results of the study are available in the recently released eBook: “The Social Marketing Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing” and attend the Social Marketing Funnel Webinar on August 18th @ 2PM ET

As part of my new gig at Awareness one of the first things I did was to bring in Chris Brogan and the team at New Marketing Labs to add value both to Awareness and our clients.  I have been a fan of Chris since I met him back in 2007 while we were planning the first New Marketing Summit (now Inbound Marketing Summit).

Over the last couple of months Chris and I have had a lot of discussions around corporate adoption of social media.  We were curious to see if big business are adopting social media, how they are you using it and what business/marketing goals they are achieving by using it.  To uncover the answers to these questions we decided to conduct a survey of a select group of marketers to get their input on the state of social media marketing in businesses.  The survey generated over 600 responses from marketing executives at mid-to-large sized organizations, and in addition, we interviewed executives from 5 large organizations who have adopted social media as part of their marketing strategy.

The ebook is free and you can click here to download it.  Also, Chris and I will be reviewing the results of the survey in a Twebinar on March 9.  If you have some time click here to register and join us.

I am excited to hear what you think.  Please leave comments below or feel free to email me directly at mike(dot)lewis(at)awarenessnetwork(dot)com.