Posts Tagged ‘social funnel’

Six Tenets of Social BehaviorOne of the aspects I enjoy most about my job at Awareness is the ability to hear and share insights about the future of social marketing and to connect with inspiring thought leaders such as Errol Apostolopoulos, head of innovation at Optaros, an e-commerce solution provider focused on innovated experiences for leading retailers and brands such as Rue La La, Puma, and Macy’s. Optaros is focused on social commerce innovations that create new closed-loop experience for increased revenues, along with back-office enablement of services to improve product information and management efficiencies.

On the social innovation front, Errol and his team spend a lot of time helping leading brands and retailers tap into social connections to drive new business. I chatted with Errol on the lessons learned from his work and the emerging best practices in social commerce that transcend the boundaries of commerce and can be applied to all social marketing efforts and industries.

The Three Pillars

Errol started by sharing his philosophy on what makes social marketing successful. In his view, there are three pillars to a full social strategy:

1. Social marketing activities that drive product awareness and traffic;

2. Conversion best practices using tools and tactics along your product catalog experience, such as rating and reviews, that support the consideration stage during the buying cycle; and

3. Social commerce, which is a new way of shopping that takes the social context into account from the get-go.  “Private sales have no search button; it’s a browsing experience that’s built on a time-based  group behavior, exclusive to a shopping club,” explains Errol.

Social Commerce and the Social Internet

Social Commerce and the Social InternetThis entirely new buying experience is built on a social business model. “There is no SEO, there is not the traditional customer acquisition strategy,” he said. It’s all done through viral advocacy and incentives that are driven by the customer membership. Enter the age of the “Second internet, or the social internet.” What Errol is referring to is the “evolution of the awareness that people are interconnected now.” This power can be utilized to do many things. It’s no longer an individual browsing or shopping experience. At first, the Internet gave us the power to research, where Google was the prominent player. It was about the individual researching and getting information, the individual finding out what to buy. To a certain degree, this first push was driven by “the convenience and wealth of information that I now have access to.” This new social movement, with its leader being Facebook, is all about the fact that “we’re connected and aware of each other. It’s not a one-to-one relationship between me and the brand; it’s a whole interconnected group, and our nature to be socially connected now is an experience that drives new ways of behaving,” continued Errol.

The Six Tenats the Drive Social Behavior

Six tenets drive social behavior and social psychology[1], Errol said, and these tenets come into play in varying degrees when people make decisions. These tenets are not only the drivers of social behavior, but, in Errol’s view, also the recipe for success for any social marketing strategy or campaign.

1. Social Proof: We as individuals tend to follow the crowd. Crowd-sourcing businesses that have successful used this principle abound – from music discovery platforms like OurStage to fashion prediction communities such as Krush.

2. Authority: People want to follow an authority, such as a brand, retailer, or an expert. For example, when a well-known designer like Naeem Khan, who has twice dressed Michelle Obama for black-tie state dinners, says feathers are going to be the next new fashion trend, people would have a desire to buy apparel and accessories with feathers.

3. Liking: We’re willing to follow people we like, admire, or find attractive. Look no further than Kim Kardashian’s Twitter followers which are approaching 10 million.

4. Interest: People tend to make decisions that are aligned with their particular self-selection, interest group, or passion point. “If I’m a golf enthusiast, I want to have the latest equipment or the latest gear, because I want the world to know that I’m a golf enthusiast,” explained Errol.

5. Scarcity: Things that are rare have higher value. If there are only five left of a product, “there’s this indication that other people all found it valuable, so it must be.” This is what private sales experiences tap into, said Errol, where “there’s limited inventory and you have to get there quickly or else it’s going to go, because when you arrive there are all these other items that are sold out.”

6. Reciprocity: We have an innate desire to pay it forward, or share and make decisions based on a service, incentive or a group reward provided to us. We are more likely to want to repay that reward. This is the basis of viral advocacy and viral customer acquisition.  If people receive great customer service, they will likely become an advocate of the service. “Zappos is a great example of great customer service,” shared Errol.

Equipped with these six great social behavior insights, I asked Errol how social commerce leaders measure the return on their efforts. “It’s ultimately the same as with any other initiative – it is about revenue, membership, repeat business, and cost of customer acquisition.” Additionally, he recommended connecting and engaging with key influencers, those most likely to influence their group to buy a certain product or service. “Look for the people who are your best brand advocates; measure their ability to spread the word and impact buying behavior with their circle of influence.”

To see the six social behavior tenets at play, look no further than the current two leaders – the private sale and the group buying industries. “The private sale was a $0 industry in 2007 and is now over $3 billion. Rue La La was bought by GSI Commerce within two years for $250 million; Gilt has only been around for four years and has over a billion-dollar valuation,” he said. Group buying players, led by Groupon and LivingSocial, have all been focused on marketing for local businesses, but ultimately, Errol believes, that the experience is going to evolve and “tap into the willingness to get a collective group of people to help either sell product or work together to get a benefit by participating in a particular program or experience.”

Are you the next Rue La La? Have you employed the six social behavior tenets to grow your business?

Pay it forward by commenting on this blog, Twitter: Follow us on Twitter, Facebook at Awareness, Inc., Social Media Marketing Best Practices and Social Media Marketing Mavens pages, and in LinkedIn Social Media Marketing Mavens Group. To learn how successful companies are employing the power of social marketing, download a copy of our free eBook “The Social Marketing Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing.”

[1] Errol shared that he is a big fan of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini and some of the references were derived from that book.

Podcasting with David Meerman Scott and Paul Gillin from 2008For our recent eBook “The Social Marketing Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing“, we interviewed a number of leading marketing strategists and experts in social media. Many of their insights are in the eBook, but we weren’t able to use everything they shared with us. Beginning with this blogpost and continuing over the next several weeks, I’ll share some additional pearls of wisdom from those interviews.

B2B marketers often ask how they can apply principles of social media marketing to their business. Two of the experts we interviewed for the eBook offered advice specifically for B2B companies, so I thought that would be a good place to start. In this installment, Paul Gillin, a veteran technology journalist who advises marketers and business executives on strategies to optimize use of social media and online channels, and David Meerman Scott, an internationally recognized marketing strategist, seminar leader, keynote speaker and author, offer advice to B2B marketers.

If B2B companies do nothing else in the social realm, they should focus on search engine optimization, advises Gillin, who recently co-authored a book about B2B social media marketing. “There is a limited domain of keywords that people use when they’re looking for solutions, so if you optimize through various channels for those keywords, that’s the low-hanging fruit of lead generation.” He recommends not only a search-optimized web site, but also a blog for its power to attract buyers. Blogs are “the closest thing to a no-brainer for B2B in social media terms because of their excellent search engine performance.”

Similarly, search rank is the first social media metric that comes to mind for David. “Smart companies understand what it is that their potential customers are searching on because they’ve actually interviewed their potential customers,” he says. That deep understanding allows companies to develop salient social media content that incorporates the terms and phrases used by customers. “Create content not for your own ego, but for the people that you’re trying to reach. The biggest failure I see are companies that just create content about their products and services in an egotistical way. They don’t understand the people they’re trying to reach.”

Gillin suggests a couple of examples of the benefits of thinking like a customer. A maker of portable computers might prefer to describe its products as “notebook” computers, but a far larger volume of search queries use the term “laptop.” Walmart calls its people “associates,” but that term won’t do it much good in reaching searchers who use the far more common term “employee.”

There are myriad resources for marketers at B2B companies to identify the specific terms customers care about. Gillin suggests marketers turn to the people inside their organization who are closest to the customers: the engineers, the service people, product designers and product support teams. The idea is “not necessarily for you to be that source, but for you as the marketer to translate that expertise” with a goal to “speak in the language of the customer.”

“You are part of a team,” says David, “and your part in that team is to be able to create really interesting content.”

Social marketing presents a number of other opportunities for B2B marketers. For instance, interaction in the social realm can help identify new customers. Gillin recommends monitoring social platforms such as LinkedIn, as well as highly specialized vertical platforms, where individuals are asking questions relevant to your company’s products and services.

Social marketing is also helpful to the sales process. “The more you know about the customer, the more time you save the customer, the more individualized the solution you can offer the customer, the better the chance of getting the sale,” says Gillin, who observes that social customer relationship management is “getting traction as a way of simply building better customer profiles.”

Another means of driving sales through social marketing is multichannel syndication of content, a ” big trend over the last couple of years,” says Gillin. Multichannel syndication employs multiple social media platforms, and often multiple accounts on each platform, to achieve a broader reach and drive engagement. “It’s hard work,” says Gillin. “It’s easy to have your blog entries go out as RSS feeds and be posted to Twitter and Facebook, but you’re not going to have success if that’s all you do. You’ve got to go out and engage with people in the medium.”

For marketers just getting started, resist the temptation to take on more than you can realistically support. “Focus on a limited number of tools and learn how to use them well. It’s better to do a few things well than a lot of things poorly,” advises Gillin. Once you’ve learned to do something well, determine its value. If it’s working, continue to invest in it. “You don’t need a social media strategy. You need to understand the value of social media and you need to apply it to your business strategy.”

For specific advice on how to employ social media monitoring and search engine optimization, download our free eBook: “The Social Marketing Funnel: Driving Business Value with Social Marketing

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.