Many big companies take sales for granted. After all, they’re big for a reason, whether it be a unique service or simply providing so much for so little it’s inconvenient to go anywhere else. Even if they don’t go out of their way to reach customers, they will still get sales with a little bit of marketing. And this is technically true for some companies.
None the less, it is financially crippling. Even if the company still makes money, they could make so much more if they simply attempted to reach out to people using social media.
From an economic standpoint, social media is by far one of the most efficient and cheapest source of advertisement in history. By simply posting a post on Facebook or tweeting on Twitter, a company can instantly send out the equivalent of hundreds of pamphlets to hundreds of people. This makes it an incredibly useful source of advertising sales, new products and so forth.
Just look at how people can connect with TrueCar, Inc on Linkedin for an example of how to do it right. They have connections with every major social network, as every company now days should if they want to maximize profits.
There is another reason to use social media. Many larger companies have poor reputations, deserved or not. By being willing to connect with people ‘where they live’, so to speak, you can gain a lot of good will and this sales. However, in order for this to work a real effort must be made to connect to your customer base. Simply posting on the social media networks is not enough, you must openly participate in dialogue with people.
A good policy is to always reply to any messages sent to you or posts made on your walls, whether it be a thank you for a good message or an apology for a negative one. It is a good idea to hire a few people or even a company to handle your social media for you so you are not overwhelmed by a large volume of people, many of whom will end up feeling neglected if you cannot respond promptly.
Social Media is the future. Never before has there been such an easy to use way to instantly access millions of people. If a company can take advantage of this and connect with their customers, they will reap the rewards.
Study: European B2B Buyers use Content Marketing & Social Media for their purchase process, process complex though
The “2012 Buyersphere Report” conducted by The Base One Buyersphere Team interviewed 800 B2B customers in the France, Italy, Germany and the UK. The study reports that B2B buyers in Europe are actively using supplier-produced content and Social Media in order to speed up their purchasing decisions. It defines the importance of combining content marketing with inbound marketing tactics like (social media, search, or PR) for revenue generation.
The study concludes that B2B buyers find most whitepapers (86%) and blogs (71%) via web search. However, seminars and videos (44%) get recognition via e-mail. Still, search (71%) is the most important purchasing information sources, followed by word of mouth (55%) and Social Media (20%). However the general use of vendors’ web sites (73%), articles in the trade press (47%), supplier e-mails (39%), and downloaded white papers (20%) suggests that the world has not massively changed in the last two years.
Nevertheless, for the B2B world, face-to-face is again a key element in the influence process. Offline events and webinars get more and more influence on the information gathering and purchase process.
Mobile is on the rise: Accessing information from mobile devices is increasing. 13% are using their tablets and smartphones to access buying data. The way information is shared is still quite traditional though: 90% emails and 44% company intranet. Seems it is still a long way to become social.
In terms of Social Media the study made clear that B2B buyers are more selective when using modern media. LinkedIn generates half of the social media mentions with an increasing trend. When using Facebook for business only 5% were using the platform in 2012 compared to 15% last year. For the under 30 year olds Social Media was more useful than word of mouth. The report suggests that Social Media is WOM to this group which I would fully understand as well.
In the buying process B2B buyers use different information sources at different stages, the study reveals. First they are relying on white papers, industry press articles, and press advertising when they are defining the demand. When it comes to detect suppliers, web search, Linkedin and supplier websites become important. And when the final supplier is selected, supplier emails, Twitter, Facebook and word-of-mouth lose their importance. Interestingly enough, the importance of communities are almost stable in their influence throughout the purchase process. The study makes clear how important a multi-platform communication and clever content marketing strategy becomes in the future.
Some years ago I remember saying to my boss: “Content marketing will become the future”. Well, here we are…
Companies create their own media, attracting their customers through content services in different shape or form: text, audio, video or image. Marketing strategies are getting their turns with new social media opportunities by customers contributing to what brands are shaping for them. Paid is “out”, owned is “in”.
By creating their own digital publications inside their websites or with hubs through Facebook pages, Linkedin groups or Twitter accounts, the world of media has turned around as more and more consumers use the possibility to generate and add content to brands. Brand perception, compared to brand awareness in the past, gets some complete new impact that we never had in marketing history.
Some weeks ago, The Content Marketeer created some slideshow on content marketing which gives guidance and shows best practice to marketers from different companies like American Express, IBM or L’Oreal.
Furthermore, the guys from Copypress have now conducted a nice infographic that illustrates the Content Omniverse, as they call it. It offers facts and figures of YouTube, Facebook and other platforms which makes clear the power that these platforms have to leverage brand perception. The most interesting facts on this sheet come in the end – The Copy Content Universe.
- There are 7.38 Billion web pages indexed.
- An average day at WordPress gets 500.000 new posts but only 400.000 new comments.
- By 2013, user-generated content producers will increase from 82,5 to 114,5 Million.
The challenge to increase brand awareness through content marketing efforts will increase. But do the figures in the Content Copy Universe suggest that comments will go down while word-of-mouth will go up? What’s of more value for brand perception then? What does it mean from a user point of view? Will users be able to follow the big content marketing offering, or simply shift their attention focus in fast intervals? Will brand perception still be handle for brand marketers, and how will the value change through user generated content? Many questions. Maybe you have got some answers…
Many interesting infos have we seen concerning how companies and employers are seeing and opening up their minds about Social Media usage in their offices.
PayScale now comes up with an interesting collection of data based on how employers have adapted Social Media usage for their employees. Some key findings are in the following infographic which makes clear that companies are still in a control mode and have their difficulties becoming “The Social Enterprise”.
- Just a bit more than half of the companies (53%) have a formal social media policy.
- Still 42% of companies don’t allow any forms of Social Media activity at work.
- The smaller the company the more likely the company has a Social Media policy in place.
- With 65% the retail industry is the most evolved industry sector, followed by manufacturing and biz support.
- Energy companies are least likely to use Social Media versus media companies that do encourage their employees.
The infographic shows that there is some kind of ambiguity in the adoption of Social Media inside companies. Although most companies see value in employer branding, in recruiting people through Social Media platforms (80% according to LinkedIn) as well as for external communication like promotions, marketing and PR, many companies still don’t want to go the final mile in transforming their company into a “Social Business”. So, why are they banning the use of these platforms, if they see ROI for their employees in working with it? Isn’t the open and transparent use of Social Media in business more important for the future than it has ever been? For marketing and HR ok, for the rest of the employees not?
Just think about the fact that two out of five Gen Y workers rate Social Media above a higher salary (well, they don’t have kids and family liabilities…). When 56% don’t want a company than bans Social Media companies should rethink their HR strategy and see the value in a Community Centric Strategy…
What is interesting for marketers is how engaging Pinterest could be as the emerging new social network for pics and tricks. So which gender is using the platform the most? How much time are people spending there, and how much time compared to other social networks?
Here are some answers (US perspective) according to Wall Street Journal…
- Facebook stays as the most engaging platform with 405 minutes per month
- Pinterest and Tumblr come in second place with 89 minutes
- Twitter is number three with 21 minutes
- LinkedIn gets 17 minutes
- Google Plus only has 3 minutes
Although some people still mess about the value of social networking, some platforms have already proven their success and benefit for companies and brands. From a B2B point of view, LinkedIn and Twitter are probably the two platforms that make most sense to marketers.
If Facebook has some value for brands that might be seen more from a B2C perspective. LinkedIn and Twitter have immediate B2B business impact. And business people predominantly use it for people searches it seems to understand their 3 Ps of their business: profession, position and potential.
LinkedIn is the star in this space in terms of business input, lead generation and some deep information exchange with their groups. This infographic from OnlineMBA states some valuable and interesting data about LinkedIn…
- 150m+ professionals globally (LinkedIn company profile stats – February 9, 2012)
- 44m+ members in EMEA region (LinkedIn company profile stats – February 17, 2012)
- registered business professionals from over 200 countries
- executives from every Fortune 500 companies
- 74% have a college degree, 26% even a graduate degree
- 1% of users are responsible for 34% of the traffic
- 1 million new users every 12 days = equals 1 new user per second
- 69% of users with at least $60K annual income
- 39% of users with more than $100K annual income
- 2 Billion people searches in 2010
Isn’t it hard to get people on websites in general? And even more to keep them there reading as much of your business information as possible? How much time do your customers spend on your site? If you are not satisfied with the results you achieve with your visitors, here is some information that might boost your website staying time.
A recent research by the SaaS technology company Gigya helps companies and brands to become more social in order to engage more with their customers. And if they are doing their job properly, their aim is always to get people from social platforms to their website for a better conversion.
The Gigya research states that companies and brands, and obviously their websites, can increase the stickiness of their desired target groups with their website just by encouraging the coming back effect of visitors through social logins.
The Gigya’s results illustrate that site owners who implement Facebook Connect, Twitter sign in or Yahoo Login will be the winners. Users spend 50% more time on websites when they’re logging in through social networks. Just imagine if users spend four more minutes after a social login – whether it be on the Web, the mobile web, or apps. All of these options were tracked by the Gigya study.
The value of Facebook Connect in terms of giving an option to easily log-in on different other platforms and sites makes people carrying around their social graphs wherever and wherever they are online. And with all these connections our closest fellows, fans and friends find our restaurant reviews, cinema recommendations and places where I am immediately. With a target group of approximately 800 million users Facebook states a case for social sign-in opportunities.
The findings also show that it is the most popular source of social logins with 61%. It gets followed by Yahoo with 15% and Google 12%. It surprises me that Twitter is only at 10% and LinkedIn just gets 2% although we have over 120 million LinkedIn user. And users who logged in with a social network double the view of pages on a website.
Another interesting aspect is that with social plugins, users generally spend the most amount of time on the site, and page impression increase does obviously follow. Companies and brands should think about integrating value-add areas with log-in or comment or Newsfeed functionalities as the later come in first when it comes to spending more time with the site. So, add a comment section.
Some months ago, we already mentioned the importance of social sign-in processes with a study by Janrain and Blue Research. In that study, 42% agreed that companies offering a social sign-in option “are more up-to-date, innovative and leave a positive impression compared to those which do not offer this capability” on their sites. Well, it seems I should start thinking about integrating social sign-in here… From a comment technology point of view, which option would you recommend? Livefyre, Disqus,or the WordPress standard…? Open to suggestions…
The latest research from GetResponse shows the influence of social sharing on email effectiveness. The study which compared social sharing preferences of email marketers, analyzed Social Media sharing via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in over 2 billion email sent by customers of the email marketing provider.
The GetResponse study also found that 51.9% only use one social share icon, while 40.6% use two of those, 7.4% three, and only 0.1% four icons. Those companies that offered at least three social sharing opportunities succeeded with a 55% higher click-through rate (CTR). The findings state that the number of marketers who include social sharing buttons in their emails increased to 18.3%. This is an increase of 40% from last year.
It seems that marketers understand the benefit of shirring for their marketing efforts: more reach, more traffic, more engagement, more sales. Email including social sharing buttons had a higher click-through-rate of up to 115%: Emails that included social sharing buttons had a 5.6% CTR which stands against 2.6% CTR for those that did not use social sharing buttons.
The infographic below shows the main results of the GetResponse’s study but also illustrates the importance of connecting all social efforts with traditional marketing to succeed.
In 2011 Social Media caught the attention of most businesses and their bosses. Dream Systems Media visualized the most important data in a nice infographic that illustrates the main Social Media stats in 2011 and gives a starting point for 2012. The summary of data was done by Sarah Evans at AdAge.
As most of us know Facebook has grown their business to 800 million active users which is an increase of incredible 200 million users in one year. LinkedIn and Twitter were also very successful. LinkedIn has 135 million active users (64 million in North America alone!). Twitter knocked down the 100 million user barrier.
Some more key stats that the infographic points out…
- The average Facebook user has 130 friends and likes 80 pages
- Every week there are more than 3.5 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook
- 56% of consumer are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan
- 55% of Twitter users access the platform via their mobile
- 40% don’t tweet but monitor conversations
- 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter
- 30% of B2B marketers are spending millions of dollars each year on Social Media marketing
- Almost 30% of these users are not tracking the impact of this marketing
- 20% of Google searches each day have never been searched for before
And, believe it or not… From the more or less 7 billion people on earth 4.8 billion have a mobile and only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush.
In the last weeks, I came across the same issue in many meetings with clients. Social consumers increase their use of Social Media and social networks to state their opinion about a company, brand or service. Sometimes to rate the way companies make use of Social Media, or how they engage with them in campaigns or branded social hubs. Sometimes to complain about incredible customer service, or the quality of products. Sometimes just to link or share some content piece that attracted their attention.
The input described above by consumers can be summarized under the 3R’s: ratings, reviews and recommendations. These 3 R’s will challenge companies and brands in the future. Companies know that they have to find a way to deal with all the content published, as well as to establish ways to make use of it in the context of their business.
Years ago, we would have seen ratings on Amazon, eBay or rating platforms Ciao. Today, there are external and internal rating opportunities for customers. Most modern content management systems have implemented rating systems. Content and shopping pages have their 5-star systems, percentage scales or „thumbs-up-and-down“ to evaluate the quality of the content or product provided. Facebook, Twitter and other social sharing buttons act in the same way, reach out and distribute ratings to a wider audience to name just some options the social consumer has here.
While the chance to find yourself as a brand in a Twitterstorm was low in the past, the tables have turned. Companies like H&M, Motrin or BMW have become victims of reviews in the last years. Whether through crowdsourcing or blogging, reviews could leverage or damage your business success in a day’s time. The question remains the same for brands. Most consumers don’t differentiate between the trusted and personal reviews. In which reviews can they trust, what not, and what could end in a brand nightmare? The list of review sites is long, the one of personal blogs, social networking accounts, etc. even longer, and getting intense the more people review their personal views. And then, organizations have to bear in mind that 97% of purchase decisions are based on digital experiences.
Probably, the most dynamic part of the 3R’s is the recommendations part. In social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn) people hint, share and forward quick opinions about a film, a hotel or a show in minutes – and forget about it. Companies and brands need to take a position on these recommendations, or clear up the damage as best as they can. Well, if they find them and have the processes, people and resources in place to react. Some recommendations are still in the stealth mode as of semantic detection issues, or as they are only shared within the social graph of a person. And some recommendations are not even recommendations. They get catalyzed through social banner opportunities with Googe Plus buttons inside Google ads or via recommended people of the personal social graph in Facebook ads. And some will stay invisible for brands – most offline spoken words.
The challenge for companies in the future will be to educate social consumers on their way to social purchase. Social consumers often don’t pay attention to who said what, their gender, habits, age and preferences. Customers tend to be affected by a negative scale although it may be positive. 97% is not 100%, 4 start is not 5 star, the last opinion that was the only one negative, and so on. Most consumers don’t check who or how many people have rated the hotel on tripadvisor or booking.com. So, what is better? One rating in the 100% range, or 5 ratings getting 95%? A review where companies can react and improve the quality of their service? Or a recommendation that they could use as a statement to their blog? In my eyes, we will need to have seal of quality buttons that tell people to be aware of the fact that the 3 R’s are a good orientation for quality but not the final truth. And marketers should think about the best alternative to straigthen and strengthen their brands whatever effective the 3 R’s might be for their business.
Would you agree…?