Executives Fail to Focus on Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social media marketing has gained its place at the table. eMarketer estimates 80% of companies with at least 100 employees will use social networks for marketing this year, up from nearly three in four last year. By 2012, usage will be even greater, and, in turn, efforts are becoming more sophisticated.

Most companies now recognize a well crafted social media strategy is a vital part of the marketing mix. In fact, a study from Jive Software and Penn, Schoen & Berland found 78% of executives thought a social business strategy was somewhat or very important to the future success of their business.

Despite this realization, most executives are still only in the tentative stages of making social strategy a priority.

The survey of executives who have final say or significant input on social business strategy found that only 27% listed social business as a top strategic priority. Nearly half (47%) admitted a social plan was necessary but not a strategic priority and 19% said social business strategy was simply not necessary.

Meanwhile, executives were also not overly optimistic about their current social strategy efforts. Only 17% felt their social strategy was ahead of the curve. About four in 10 (42%) felt their social strategy was just keeping up and 33% felt they were behind.

A different study from Forbes Insights and Coremetrics showed a similar amount of enthusiasm for social strategy. Only 11% of US and UK executives surveyed at large businesses listed social media strategy as a leading priority in 2011—tied for last place with mobile marketing. Social media strategy will receive a small boost in 2012, though, with 19% of execs listing it as a leading marketing priority for the coming year.

Many companies may be using social media marketing, but those that choose not to focus on a social strategy risk falling behind the curve in integrating social media with their overall marketing goals. Recognizing the importance of strategy alone isn’t enough; companies should start implementing a plan.


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When Eyeballs and Dollars Don’t Match Up

No one can be faulted for thinking that the size of someone’s Facebook friends list is a proxy for that person’s level of influence. After all, people who are influential are often also popular, and in a Facebook and Twitter world popularity is measured in friends and followers.

But a new report from Vocus and FutureWorks principal Brian Solis throws a healthy dose of skepticism on the supposed correlation between popularity and influence. The report—provocatively titled “Influencer Grudge Match: Lady Gaga versus Bono”—surveyed 739 marketing and communications professionals who work with influencers to gauge their perceptions of what makes an influencer.

A surprising 90% of respondents answered “yes” when asked whether there’s a big difference between popularity and influence.

Marketers Worldwide Who Think There Is a Difference Between Popularity and Influence in the Social Media Space, Sep 2010 (% of respondents)

Nearly the same percentage, 84%, believed that there was a correlation between an influencer’s reach and his or her ability to drive action. This indicates that respondents made a clear distinction between popularity and reach, and regarded the latter as the key that determines a person’s influence.

The survey did not define any of these terms, so it was up to the respondents to interpret them. From the results, it’s apparent that respondents regarded popularity as the sheer number of contacts on a social network and reach as the ability to actually communicate meaningfully with some number of those contacts. As one respondent put it, “A person can have only a few contacts and greatly influence just those few.”

Asked which type of social network participant would have the most measurable effect on an outcome, 57% picked someone who has “a handful of fans/friends/followers that are tightly connected,” versus 8% who picked someone with “millions of fans/friends/followers with little or no connection.” Quality over quantity.

Type of Person Who Is Most Influential in the Social Media Space, Sep 2010 (% of marketers worldwide)

Despite this data, many marketers are on a seemingly relentless quest to beef up their own social network profiles and reach users with lots of friends and followers. In the Vocus-Solis study, 57% of respondents said they’d be willing to pay for an influencer to help them “drive actions or outcomes.”

Further, Twitter recently unveiled its Promoted Accounts platform, which allows marketers to essentially pay for access to users based on the sizes of those users’ networks. Quantity over quality.

And an eROI study of social metrics tracked by US marketers found that two-thirds tracked changes in the numbers of friends, followers and fans. More qualitative measures such as reach of messaging were much lower on the scale. Again, quantity over quality.

Social Media Metrics Tracked, Apr 2010 (% of US marketers)

Story by Paul Verna, Senior Analyst

Social Media Working Better for Retention Than Acquisition

Campaigns to acquire new customers have not taken off

Social media marketing has been around for several years, and as marketers begin to converge on best practices and use the channel in more uniform ways, it is emerging that their top goals are brand awareness and cultivating customer loyalty. Conversely, customer acquisition through social media is less important.

A July 2010 survey of US marketers by the Direct Marketing Association and COLLOQUY found that brand awareness was the most popular objective of social media efforts, followed by customer growth and loyalty.

Primary Social Media Objective of US Marketers, July 2010 (% of respondents)

A July eROI study similarly showed brand awareness was the top goal of US marketers using social media, and business-to-business (B2B) marketers reported the same to BtoB magazine and Business.com. In April, search marketers surveyed by MarketingSherpa cited increasing brand awareness and improving brand reputation as the two objectives for which social media marketing was most effective.

The DMA and COLLOQUY also looked at average marketer spending in various areas of social media marketing and how it changed over time. While marketers started out in 2008 spending similar amounts on branding, customer loyalty and customer acquisition, by 2009 customer acquisition budgets had failed to grow as quickly as the others. Customer acquisition budgets more than doubled twice between 2008 and 2010, but they still lagged behind the even more dramatic growth of spending in other areas.

Average Social Media Marketing Spending Among US Marketers, by Objective, 2008-2010 (thousands)

The report noted that customer acquisition is a more important goal for smaller companies, which often use social media as an inexpensive marketing channel. Those companies are devoting budget to gaining new customers through social media, but by definition their budgets are small. They are overshadowed by large companies who have chosen social media primarily as a venue for cultivating customer loyalty and spend more heavily in that area.

Social Media Training Day Kuala Lumpur & Singapore

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Mike Andrew Social Media Training Courses I just wanted to say what a buzz we all had at the Trueventus Social Media MBA that took place last week in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The team on both days were really involved and participated in each session making them very enjoyable from my point of view as the presenter of the sessions.

As you can see from the attached photo we all really enjoyed each of the 4 sessions on the day and I look forward to more of the same in the not to distant future.

The next round of sessions take place in Fiji on the 23rd and 24th August with our 3 day MBA for Marketing professionals course in Dubai kicking off on 19th to 22nd of September.

Fiji is full but there is a small number of places left for the Dubai sessions, to book or to get a brochure outlining the 3 day event, please visit the following link http://www.trueventus.com/event.php?intid=12

I hope to see you there.

Digital Migration Hurts Traditional Media Revenues More than Expected

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The ongoing migration to digital media is damaging traditional media categories more than expected, according to a new white paper from PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Digital Migration Slams Publishing, Radio
The annual decline in 2009 revenues in several traditional media categories was more severe than originally forecast, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers research. Most striking was the decline in out-of-home revenues, which fell approximately 13% in 2009, compared to a forecast of about 7%. In addition, radio revenues declined about 9%, compared to an approximately 7% forecast.

The other two media categories which had a 2009 revenue decline more severe than originally predicted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers were newspaper publishing (approximately 12% compared to a forecast of slightly more than 10%) and consumer magazine publishing (about 11% compared to a forecast of about 9%).

Most Digital Categories Grow Beyond Expectations
In contrast, most digital media categories which experienced annual revenue growth in 2009 increased more than originally forecast. Most significantly, internet advertising revenues, which were predicted to decline about 3% in 2009, rose about 4%.

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In addition, revenue growth significantly outpaced expectations in categories such as internet access (about 8% compared to a forecast slightly more than 5%) and filmed entertainment (3% compared to about 1%).

The only exception was the revenue stream from video games, which only grew about 3%, compared to a forecast of about 8%. PriceWaterhouseCoopers analysis suggests this was primarily due to a number of high-profile developers delaying the release of new games originally scheduled for 2009.

Print Media Ad Spending Mostly Lags
Print media, on the whole, continued to lag the overall ad market in Q1 2010, according to recent data from Kantar Media. Consumer Magazine spending fell 3.9% from a year ago, while Local Newspapers dropped 5.6%. There was improvement in some narrow segments, as Sunday Magazine expenditures jumped 13.7% and National Newspapers increased 9.1%, primarily from gains at the Wall Street Journal, according to Kantar.

B2B Marketers Have Little Social Media Engagement

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Almost 60% of B2B marketers have little or no engagement in social media, according to a recent study by digital marketing firm White Horse.

B2B Marketers Less Engaged than B2C
The results of “B2B Marketing Goes Social” indicate that while some B2B marketers’ social media engagement statistics are similar to those of B2C marketers, overall B2B marketers are less engaged in social media than their B2C counterparts.

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A combined 59% of B2B marketers have only a basic social media presence (45%) or are not actively engaged in social media marketing (14%). In contrast, a combined 44% of B2C marketers have only a basic social media presence (26%) or are not actively engaged (18%).

B2B Execs Have Low Interest
Results indicate that both B2B and B2C marketers have difficulty with executive social media buy-in. However, a much higher percentage of B2B marketers (36%) report low executive interest than B2C marketers (9%). Twenty-three percent of B2B marketers report their executives are curious but need education, compared to 39% of B2C marketers.

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Another 27% of B2B marketers say executives support the use of social media but are not actively engaged, as do 39% of B2C marketers. Interestingly, the two groups converge at the top level of having executives who support and are actively engaged in social media (14% of B2B and 13% of B2C).

B2C More Involved in Almost Every Type of Social Media
Usage of social networks is essentially among between B2B and B2C marketers, and B2B marketers are somewhat more engaged in podcasts and slightly more engaged in third-party forums.

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However, B2C marketers are more engaged in every other type of social media tracked by the survey. The difference is most pronounced in utilization of user-generated content and least significant in utilization of company blogs and hosted forums

Differences in Social Media Obstacles
Survey results indicate that while a sizable percentage of both B2B and B2C marketers have little or no social media engagement, the obstacles they face are somewhat different. The three leading obstacles B2B marketers face are insufficient personnel to maintain (about 50%) and a three-way tie between lack of organizational knowledge, preference for traditional marketing and perceived irrelevance to their field (about 45% each).

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Interestingly, insufficient personnel to maintain is also the top obstacle for B2C marketers, but was selected by a much higher 65% of B2C respondents. This was followed by a three-way tie between lack of organizational knowledge, need to prove ROI, and concerns over negative feedback (about 50% each).

Social Media Aids Customer Acquisition
Many B2C and B2B companies are successfully using social media networks to acquire customers, according to the “State of Inbound Marketing Report” from internet marketing firm Hubspot.

When social media customer acquisition figures are broken out by B2B and B2C companies, it becomes clear that B2C companies generally obtain much more value from their social media marketing efforts. Fifty-one percent of B2C companies have acquired a customer from Twitter, compared to 38% of B2B companies. The difference is most stark in customer acquisition figures for Facebook, which 68% of B2C companies have obtained a customer from but only 33% of B2B companies.

When it comes to professional social media network LinkedIn, however, the usefulness trends reverse. Forty-five percent of B2B companies have obtained a customer from LinkedIn, compared to only 26% of B2C companies. Figures for company blog customer acquisition are closest in range, with 57% of B2C companies and 43% of B2B companies obtaining a customer through this channel.

Social Media – Is Quality over Quantity More Effective

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kevin-rudd I had a little snigger to myself after reading an article in the Saturday papers that had suggested that Kevin Rudd, the current Prime Minister of Australia, had artificially boosted his Twitter follower numbers to make himself appear more influential in the social media world. The article goes on to suggest that a substantial number of his Twitter followers are based outside of Australia in countries such as Ecuador and Belarus.

If Kevin has inflated his numbers, he has done nothing that a lot of other individuals haven’t done to appear more influential in their chosen field, in fact I wrote an article about this called How to Fake Your Twitter Followers last year.

It’s easy to fake and inflate your social media following on sites such as Facebook and Twitter to make yourself look like a guru, but what is more of an issue to me, and I’ve seen it starting to appear more and more in business lately, is when KPI’s are tied to how many followers a marketing manager can generate.

This sends a totally wrong message to Marketing Managers that numbers are more important than quality when it comes to your social media community.

To me, quality amongst your social media followers should be far more important, and choosing who you should follow back is also a consideration when it comes to being recognized by search engines such as Google, they place more emphasis on quality of connections than they do on numbers of followers.

Tying a marketing managers KPI’s to how many followers they can generate is nonsense, it displays a total misunderstanding of how social media should be used by senior management in these companies, KPI’s should be based on developing a solid following of consumers who will engage with you, who will buy your product or service and who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer as a company.

Trying to judge your ROI is going to be far more difficult as well, having an artificially inflated following will not convert into sales, why? because the majority of these followers have no interest in your company or product, they’re just along for the ride.

Your KPI’s should be based on building a solid community of quality followers.

Using this strategy is far more effective in creating increased sales and conversions than concentrating on building large numbers in social media, particularly when looking at your ROI.

So remember, the catch phrase is quality over quantity, it’s far more effective in the long term if you want your social media strategy to be successful.

Using Facebook & Twitter Alone is Not a Social Media Strategy

I recently came across a speaker and coach who during a recent seminar stated that all business needed to participate in social media was a Facebook page, now this coach is well known in the real estate industry as a motivational speaker and sales trainer, he is also a working real estate agent operating a very successful office, so the business owners who attended this session will believe what he says, unfortunately for them his advice is not only wrong, it is totally misleading.

So lets state for the record, a Facebook page and Twitter account do not constitute a social media strategy, in fact it is far from it.

This again highlights how you can be misled by so called social media experts who run around the country spruiking advice like this.

Facebook and Twitter are only part of a broader overall strategy and these are tools, which you use to communicate and socialise with your customers.

This raises the other big issue that companies have, and that is they don’t know how to be social, in most cases business gets involved in social media becuase your competitors are doing it, not because it opens up communication channels with your customers and allows your business to be social.

Today everyone of your customers is a reporter and every reporter is a customer, so being able to directly tell your story to your customers is a very valuable component of an online corporate communication strategy.

Before you start using a tools based strategy, which is what you have if you are just using Facebook and Twitter, think about what sort of relationship you want with your customers, connecting with them is a very valuable asset to your business in building lead generation, sales and loyalty.

Social media is fuelled by passion, so work out first, who you are, what you are and what you are trying to communicate, before you start. Most companies take elements of the business that are not really passionate and try and make them social, elements such as features and benefits etc.

Creating your own unique content is really important with social media, content and  passion become the king. Translating that into other mediums is also very important. Creating blog posts for example and then turning those posts into Podcasts and Video and distributing via YouTube and ITunes.

Video is a massively under utilised tool in business, and I predict in the next 12 months will have far greater influence than it does today. You now have the potential to have a streaming TV channel at your disposal, every piece of content you generate can be transferred to video.

There is more to creating your social media strategy than just Facebook and Twitter, stretch the boundaries with social media, remember it’s about passion, it’s about you, it’s about your brand and most of all it’s about your customers.

Reach out to them across all the channels available to you, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Will Social Strategizing Bring ROI?

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Only One-half of companies have a social strategy

A majority of US marketing professionals claim social media is now “invaluable” to their business, according to April 2010 research from online marketing firm R2integrated.

While relatively few marketers reported social was pointless and overhyped or too complicated to deal with, most are still not increasing revenues or otherwise profiting from their social efforts.

Although one-half of respondents said they had a social strategy in place—considered critical for success in the social space—only 35% thought they were making money.

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Strategy does help, though. Respondents who said they profited were twice as likely to have a formal strategy. They were also more likely to have staff dedicated to managing social media.

Marketers’ main goal in implementing a strategy was better lead generation, followed by brand monitoring.

The biggest obstacle for social strategies was not having enough data to come up with a measure of return on investment. Management buy-in was also a problem, and more than one-fifth of respondents said their audience was not active on social media.

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“Marketers clearly recognize the need for, and see the potential of, social media, but are still trying to develop models that increase real engagement which then leads to profitability—if that’s a goal for implementing a social strategy,” said Matt Goddard, CEO of R2integrated, in a statement.

“Despite the presence and popularity of social media, many companies remain relatively unfamiliar with its practices, pundits, and principles,” he said.

Marketing management firm Unica reported in March 2010 that strategic integration of social with other marketing efforts varied by channel. MarketingSherpa found that in late 2009 only one-quarter of social media marketers had reached the strategic phase.

Most Marketers Use Social Media, But are New to It

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A majority of marketers are using social media in their marketing efforts, but most have only been using it for a few months or less, according to a new survey from SocialMediaExaminer.com.

Nine in 10 Marketers Use Social Media
Findings of the “2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report” indicate that nine in 10 marketers (91%) are currently using social media as part of their marketing efforts. Small businesses were slightly more likely to be using social media.

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A majority of marketers are using social media in their marketing efforts, but most have only been using it for a few months or less, according to a new survey from SocialMediaExaminer.com.

Nine in 10 Marketers Use Social Media
Findings of the “2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report” indicate that nine in 10 marketers (91%) are currently using social media as part of their marketing efforts. Small businesses were slightly more likely to be using social media.

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More B2B companies have been using social media longer (79.5% reported months or
more) than their B2C counterparts (68.7% indicated months or longer).

Most Marketers Use Social Media at Least Six Hours Weekly
A combined 56% of marketers use social media for six hours or more a week, and 30% use it for 11 hours or more on a weekly basis. It’s interesting to note that a combined 12.5% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media.

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The largest group used social media one to 5 hours per week (about 38%). Forty-three percent of people in this group are spending four to five hours per week on social media activities. Three quarters (76%) of marketers are spending at least four hours each week on their social media marketing efforts.

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More Experience Equals More Usage
There is a direct relationship between how long marketers have been using social media and their weekly time commitment. For people just beginning with social media, the median weekly time commitment was one hour per week. However, for marketers who have been doing this for a few months or longer, the median jumps to 10 hours per week.

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Almost Half of Global Marketers Use SocNets
Close to half of global marketers currently use social media in their marketing efforts, according to a recent study from marketing technology provider Unica. Reflecting the rapid explosion in the popularity of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter among consumers, a combined 80% of marketers currently use social media or plan to in the future. Forty-seven percent of marketers currently use social media. Another 23% plan to use it in the next 12 months, and 10% plan to use it in more than 12 months. Only 11% have no plans to use social media, and 9% are not sure.

In addition, comparing US and Canadian marketers with their European counterparts, the study reveals that a much higher percentage of marketers in North America (58%) currently use social media than marketers in Europe (34%).

About the Survey: SocialMediaExaminer.com surveyed 1,898 respondents, of which 98% were business owners or employees, 1% were students and 1% unemployed, via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and email during a five-day period in January 2010.