This is Your Real Social Business Strategy Challenge

Most enterprises characterize themselves as intermediate in social business maturity - Altimeter Group The State of Social Business 2013

A few weeks ago, Altimeter Group published an infographic on the state of social business (see below), meant to promote their research on that same state of social business (in 2013), released in October. The "headline" of the infographic: "Social Media Matures, Yet Many Companies Still Lack a Strategic Foundation". The infographic mainly focuses on the use of social media in the enterprise, just a piece of what social business in the broader sense is really about. Yet, the main findings (the lack of a holistic and cross-enterprise level strategy) can be applied to other social business domains such as social collaboration, to name just one of many more, as well. We still focus too much on social media and not enough on strategy, business and the bigger reality of social business. Here is why. Let's start by taking a quick look at the Altimeter Group research. … [Read more...]

Stop and Rework your Digital Marketing Budget Right Now

marketing budget

While many are still trying to get their heads around social media and social business, the digital business challenges already go much further and involve all departments and functions in and around the enterprise. The digital marketing budget needs to follow the path towards customer-centric integration and company-wide enablement. Soon all business will have a digital business component until the moment we won't even speak about digital anymore. It's pretty clear that digital and social technologies have now entered all layers of the enterprise and its' ecosystem. Ignoring that is ignoring the future, the present and even the past of the connected, digital society. The customer journey and experience is increasingly digital and connected, we know that. Employees want digital tools and devices and the integrated nature of the different technologies (and their impact) happening around us, requires us to work, think and even budget differently. This is not new but it still … [Read more...]

Integrated Marketing: Why a Broader Customer View Matters

Great-customer-experiences-require-a-single-customer-view

Some of the main success factors in today's digital and social business environment are integration, a holistic strategic view, a focus on the 'people' dimension (why would anyone want to collaborate, for instance) and the optimization of the customer experience as the total sum of touchpoint and brand experiences/perceptions. This goes for all types of customers in the broadest sense, including partners and employees. In order to optimize the customer experience of customers and prospects - in the strict sense - across channels, departments and touchpoints, a single - or at least far broader - customer view and integrated marketing are of the utmost importance. However, disconnected systems and processes, a lack of strategy and a failing ability to work across the silos are among the many reasons why this single customer view is still impossible for numerous businesses. Marketers know how important it is to use customer data in order to improve their results and customer … [Read more...]

What Business Goals Can Social Media Serve?

Social media can serve many goals across all business functions

The changes in how people behave and buy as explained in this introduction to social media marketing are essential and show the many potential business goals and benefits of social media. Let’s take a more in-depth look. While social media programs are basically designed to improve and strengthen the efficiency of a multitude of business functions and processes, including marketing, customer loyalty, PR, CRM, business intelligence, customer service, HR and much more, they also allow you to turn these evolutions into opportunities and benefits. The exact ways you do it depend on your line of business (size, vertical industry, location and, yes, there are a few differences between B2C and B2B social media marketing), your role within the business, how current business functions are organized (and how they can be improved if at all possible with social media) and the degree in which you are able to respond and even anticipate on the main changes we mentioned before. In ths blog post … [Read more...]

The Principles of The Social Organization

The Four Pillars of the Social Organization by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant

A people-centric approach in marketing and business is nothing less than a must. Do you have it in you to "be" a social business? Then you might want to take a look at the pillars on which the social organization should be built. In their book “Humanize”, authors Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter state that these pillars are being “open”, “trustworthy”, “generative” and “courageous”. They are not buzzwords, as you will discover in the example in this post and by watching Maddie's Prezi at the bottom of this post. Jamie Notter and co-author Maddie Grant, did a great job carefully defining the – according to them - four basic principles and explaining them without getting caught up in hype. Jamie’s roots are not in social media (in which Maddie Grant is particularly active), but in management. For each of the four pillars, the authors of Humanize look at, among others, corporate culture, processes and structures as well as individual behavior, irrespective of a person’s place within … [Read more...]

Justine Sacco and the Power of Perception and Populism

Justinesacco.com: set up after the tweet by Aid for Africa

I never heard about Justine Sacco until last night. You probably didn't hear about her before either. Sacco was senior director of corporate communications at IAC. Before leaving for a trip to South Africa, where her father lives and she was born, Justine sent a tweet. The text: "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!". Ouch, stupid tweet and painfull for many people for many reasons (altough no one knew it was "authentic" when it went viral and I wrote the initial version of this blog post). What happened next? A Twitter storm unleashed, celebrities and media in the US started covering it, initial reactions were sent by her employer IAC (among others owners of Ask.com, Vimeo and Match.com), she got fired in no time and there was some kind of real-time thriller around the hashtag #hasjustinelandedyet because she was on the plane to Africa when the social media storm started and wasn't that oh so exciting? Because all this happened when Justine was on a … [Read more...]

The Need for Personality in Customer-Centric Social Media Marketing

16 attributes to building trust- source Edelman Trust Barometer 2013

Customer-centric social media marketing requires a personal approach. It’s about people connecting with people. However, many businesses still look at the tools and channels first and don't see the overall digital business picture. In virtually all business functions, people, personality and relationships are key. Faceless and big companies are looked upon with distrust. It’s an evolution that has been going on for years, especially since communication often was company-oriented and more a monologue than a dialogue. Social media enabled people to voice their opinions in very public ways and to have more control over how they interact with businesses regarding the when, where and how and regardless of the reasons why. This phenomenon contributed to the need of business to be more customer-centric, listen to their customers and move from monologues to dialogues, dropping the ivory tower and faceless mentality. Social media did not cause this; it just speeded up the process and … [Read more...]

Optimizing the Digital and Social Customer Experience

customer experience

Since McKinsey wrote about the 'consumer decision journey' and smart B2B marketers started looking at the customer, his life cycle and his journey first, the attention for that journey has never been higher. In its 2009 article on the consumer decision journey McKinsey wrote "Consumers are moving outside the purchasing funnel—changing the way they research and buy your products. If your marketing hasn’t changed in response, it should". It’s 2013. Yet, less has changed than should have. Time to start a series on optimizing the digital and social customer experience in a holistic digital business perspective. A customer-centric and multi-channel view, based upon the customer journey, in correlation with for instance content marketing as it's called now, touchpoints and persuasion/conversion architectures is not new. In B2B marketing we' ve been using it for quite some time. But apparently it's rather new in social media marketing and other marketing techniques. And it also seems … [Read more...]

Social Proof, Circles Of Trust and Your Customer

trust

The opinion of others is an important driver in the buying decision of people. It has always been so. Word-of-mouth is still predominantly an offline matter although it's really foolish to separate the online and offline dimension of peer advice in an omnichannel reality. While there are differences between the ways we buy consumer products and business solutions there are many similarities as well: we inform ourselves by taking into account the opinions of our circles of trust. As the B2B buying process is often a group decision and in specific markets, we rely more on analyst advice, it's important to make a distinction in defining these circles of trust and even look beyond the differences between B2B and B2C. It's really a matter of knowing how YOUR customers take decisions. The circles of trust and influence indeed differ. What we often call social proof also has impacts that are more emotional (social pressure, how we perceive others etc.) in steering our buying decisions … [Read more...]

Social Media ROI and Measurement: Questions You Should Ask

The need to measure social media ROI

ROI stands for Return on Investment. Period. If we talk about Social Media ROI in this post, we mean the return on investment of the business (predominantly marketing) investments in social channels, networks, strategies and tactics made to achieve predefined goals. The micro-level, the macro-level, the integrated level, the campaign level, the program level, the whatnot level: anything goes. Let’s talk about social media ROI from the Marketing ROI perspective. Because, in fact Marketing ROI or ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment), is not something new. It might be new to you soon because it's increasingly used as execs want to know what is the output of your input. Return. And Investment, right? … [Read more...]

Social Customer Service: Why You Must Offer it Right Now

Social customer service incoming request channels

Social customer service is a 'hot topic'. However, it's not a holy grail. You offer it for a reason and not because everyone tells you that it matters. You need to understand what role it plays for your individual business and your customers to start with. However, social customer service nowadays is simply a must, even if the degree in which depends on the context. Popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter have traditionally been used to air grievances about a company. Those who could not get proper customer service from a business found that social media provided a way for them to overcome their frustration and get what your business owed them. These complaints not only helped them feel better, but other people who had also been mistreated by the company, loved hearing "someone speak up." Before too long many other people began to join them and voice their grievances. This new use of social media as a way to vent consumer indignation even created a new … [Read more...]

How Toothpaste Proves the Consumer Disconnect

Toothpaste and the consumer disconnect

Do you know what the first reason is why marketers fail to connect with consumers? The fact they call them consumers and treat them as such. They even address them as consumers. It’s one of the many signs proving the continuing monologue mentality, self-centered marketing speak and consumer disconnect. Yesterday, I saw two different TV commercials in which the beautiful looking actors that were supposed to represent the rest of us were called consumers IN the commercial. And it just struck me how this happens so often. One ad was for a toothpaste brand, Colgate, and showed the usual pseudo-scientist, explaining what terrible mouth hygiene threats the toothpaste could treat, to some people seated around a table. These were the 'consumers'. When the commercial started, it actually showed 'Colgate invited consumers'. … [Read more...]

Why PR Should Not Own SEO (Nor Social Media or Content Marketing)

Optimizing customer segments - source Lee Odden

Since Google's Panda and Penguin updates, social interaction and relevant content have become more important for search engine optimization (SEO) than ever before. Social media, content marketing and search (SEO and SEA) must be integrated. In fact, all forms of interactive marketing should be integrated as it's not about the media and tactics in the first place but about the customer, his networks and his needs. We have seen the same mistakes happen regarding social media and email, the main topic of one of our other blogs, Social Email Marketing. Some people now say PR should own SEO as social and content becomes more important, among others. We don't agree. PR should not own SEO just as it shouldn't own social media. The debate about ownership should by now be over. … [Read more...]

6 Core Principles to Tap the Power of Social Community Participation

6 core principles of social media mass collaboration and community participation

Gartner reports that many business and IT leaders fail at utilizing social media effectively because they do not understand mass collaboration. Many businesses use a "provide and pray" approach, expecting online community participation to just happen. It's just one of the reasons why communities fail. What happens instead is that users have an initial interest and then lose that interest as they discover that the platform is too difficult to use collaboratively. Applying the six core design principles creates a better social media environment for meaningful collaboration and social community participation, Gartner says. … [Read more...]

Why Online Communities are Undervalued – and often Fail

community registration

Online communities existed before we even heard about blogs. Since social technologies and platforms popped up, the number of possibilities to facilitate, nurture and engage online communities has exploded. Strangely enough, communities are not given the attention they deserve by businesses. Most of the time, you will find community engagement and management ideas when looking for information on the topic. However, online communities are about much more than that. While we mainly talk about conversations and engagement in social media, community is the true force in a connected era. … [Read more...]

Do Consumers Trust Retailers More Than Social Networks?

Trust and private data

Consumers are said to rely more on the advice of their peers and even social connections than on businesses themselves. However, this doesn't mean they trust the social networks themselves when it comes down to sharing their data. Recently, the e-tailing group and MyBuys released some findings from a survey stating that the surveyed consumers feel more comfortable sharing data with retailers than with social networks. They do so even more when sharing data improves their shopping experience. I bet the same goes for other experiences as well. Most social networks suck at dealing with consumer data and don't take into account what their users want in that regard. They dictate on how they will use these data, and it does take some time to find where to change settings or stay up-to-date with latest changes. Even as someone who follows the industry carefully, I often lose track. … [Read more...]

Research: B2B Buyers Want Content

Channels used by B2B buyers to help find information - source Base One

Are you looking for proof that content marketing is the way to go in B2B marketing? You have it. There are many resources showing how important content is, how blogging reduces the cost per lead and why content marketing is an essential part of the marketing mix. However, there is just one solid way, besides actual demonstrated return, to make the case for content marketing: the behavior of the B2B buyer… Base One, helped by B2B Marketing, Research Now and McCallum Layton just released the 2012 results of their annual Buyersphere survey, looking at changing B2B buyer behavior in four European markets. … [Read more...]

How to Write Blog Headlines People (and your Goals) Deserve

This blog post in InboundWriter

You can write the most interesting and best content in the world but if your blog headline doesn’t attract attention, appeal and convince people to read on, why even bother? You wouldn’t be doing yourself, your content and your readers a favor, right? Brian Clark says that “on average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest." Discover how to write blog headlines - with a twist. Your blog headlines serve different goals and there are various elements to take into account before you start: your ‘targeted readers’, your goals, relevance and how people look for content. … [Read more...]

Four Multi-Channel and Touchpoint Marketing Models

Touchpoint Performance Model - source iMedia

Most marketers are starting to integrate their marketing channels and marketing automation is clearly taking the lead regarding the technology. Better late than never. However, simple integration will not be enough. While in multi-channel marketing the focus is still often on the channels, touchpoint marketing provides alternatives that revolve around individual customer and prospect touchpoints. A nice depiction of the typical multi-channel marketing is this graphic by Twiss that takes into account buyer life cycle, strategy, tactics, marketing goals and more without emphasizing the channels too much. Thanks to Dave Chaffey for sharing and commenting on it. … [Read more...]

Content Marketing: Content and Blog Frequency

Content Marketing Evangelist Joe Pulizzi

Content marketing is marketing. So it should serve your business goals, take into account the needs and the behavior of your different ‘audience’ segments and finally be relevant from the perspective of costs, benefits and resources. These elements have an impact on the frequency of putting out content via the different channels you use. Frequency is important, but it doesn’t mean you should create content on all platforms every day. Let’s take blogging as an example. When you blog you create expectations among your readers, also regarding frequency. If you blog a lot for a while, and then you stop, it’s impossible to create a valuable and lasting dialogue. Setting these expectations at the beginning is important. Find the right mix and certainly do the math on the cost and return on your blog efforts, compared to the needs of your readers and direct and indirect goals. … [Read more...]

Customer-Centricity: Four Guaranteed Ways to Estrange your Customers

branding

“Reconnect your brand.” That’s the slogan one of my former customers, who is active in the marketing automation space, started using recently as part of a rebranding strategy. However, it’s more than a slogan. Customer-centricity, hower, often remains a hollow motto. Brands and businesses are really disconnected from their customerse. Marketing is broken as I recently wrote. It has to do with personality, processes, trust and living up to promises. Furthermore, the changes in how people inform themselves, interact and decide, alienate brands even more. So, if brands are alienated, the question is how they can “reconnect” as in my former customer’s slogan? Time for some ‘tips’. It was once believed that a brand was primarily a matter of positioning. However, the role of perception and reputation plays a more significant role in defining what a brand and business really is. Customer-centricity is no longer optional. … [Read more...]

Social Media Evolutions to Watch

SocialMediaLandscape

We always have a tendency to estimate the value of something as it exists. Future potential is often ignored because we don’t follow or understand the trends enough, while the market place is constantly changing. The same goes for social media evolutions. We sometimes think that the landscape is mature and that the game is over: Facebook is the king of social networks; Twitter reigns in micro-blogging, etc. However, things change fast, very fast. Combined with a growing dissatisfaction with the policies and poor user experiences of some social platforms, new evolutions will shape the social media space. A few examples of how social platforms are evolving and what these social media evolutions imply: … [Read more...]

Real-Time Response is not a Holy Grail

London-2012-Olympics-Stadium-opening-ceremony-copyright-Pete-Tripp-iStockPhoto

They were dubbed the first social media Olympics ever. And they are. When London 2012 is over, gazillions opinion pieces will be posted with titles such as “Ten Crucial Social Media Lessons from the Olympics 2012.” In fact, it’s already happening now. I wanted to stay far away from them (whic doesn’t mean some will be probably good) but couldn’t resist after today… Social media has a few important characteristics. Two of them are the speed of real-time and the human dimension. Yep, social is indeed a people’s thing. We often herald the virtues of what we call a real-time economy. So do I, in a sense. The real-time nature of social is a gift for those who are ready to listen. … [Read more...]