Selling through social media has always been a challenging business. However, all brands and companies we have spoken to in 2014 wanted to turn around Social Media from a brand reputation channel into a sales opportunity touchpoint.
Obviously, many of the companies had already failed. Most of them as they were either too greedy, or just not prepared to go in a bar without expecting someone to sell them a drink – or respectively, to buy their products and services after the brands or companies have posted their first status updates. In my eyes, it is time to shift expectations and start anew. 2015 should not be your year of sales disappointment, it should become your year of redefined engagement.
All companies aim for the same goal. Customer engagement is what companies are waiting, hoping and praying for. Thus, they pump out tons of content pieces from their latest brand sponsoring activities to the best white papers and case studies they can offer until they cannot find any content piece in their PR or marketing repository that has not been shared across the globe. And by accelerating the content via Facebook, Twitter and the likes, they expect their KPIs to become real.
And then, the guys from SocialFlow conducted a study in summer last year. analyzed organic posts with almost 1.5 billion social actions, showing them 99 percent of those updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ create little to no engagement at all. Did brands use engagement the wrong way? Where their tactics bad? And if so, what were the obstacles they did not obey?
Let’s look at the following three tactical approaches. Ask yourself if you really follow the three rules of engagement.
1. Engagement: Think cross-department, cross-partners and cross-employee
Companies still tend to be structured in silos. Internal politics, department thinking and career ambitions rule out what could be replaced by community engagement, employee engagement initiatives or engagement incentive plans. Still, most responsible managers don’t know or forget how networking inside the company and with all external forces like resellers, retailers and partners might might leverage selling opportunities.
Now, whether it is limited digital capabilities of employees or the HR department that is often only involved in social media in terms of setting up social media guidelines, companies should start realitzing that their social media manager is not the company’s silver bullet. HR and marketing need to align forces and work closer together: Culture, relationship building and trust creation is not only a sales business which got nicely highlighted by a study from Altimeter at the end of 2014.
Setting up processes, programs and platforms that work towards a common goal, that get updated by various minds, by different perspectives and manyfold views attracts the engagement of more customers. The formula is easy and proven: More brains can be in more conversations and generate more engagement.
2. Engagement: Learn cross-platform, from „free-meal“ to „pay-for-play“
Companies and brands seem to accept that social media is not a „free-meal“ any longer by investing in consulting companies to help transforming their social media efforts into social selling enagement. Facebook is leading in driving engagement to brands according to Simply Measured’s 2014 Facebook Study which analyzed the Interbrand Top 100 Global. Photos accounting for 77% of total engagement, and link usage to around 16%.
However, brands still haven’t respected the fact that getting people to listen and read their marketing messages by posting in social media is changing dramatically. When Facebook turns the algorithm into „less promotional“ this year, companies need to start redefining how they approach their customers more subtile. Even if they will be addressing them with building clusters (or circles), contacting them via the „@name“ phenomenon or hashtags. The wording needs tob e chosen carefully, and we can be sure other networks will follow that example.
Thus, the next big thing will be the shift from investing in traditional media to spending more money in platforms that leverage social networking engagement. Products like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator or individual targeting through the combination of data analytics and marketing services, will become the new sales kid in town. Where marketing and media decision makers have invested in nebulous target-group definitions, social networks can cluster target-groups by their individual interest in content, in pictures or in videos.
The only shame is that smart data (and especially media and sales data exchange) across platforms does not work yet. So, banners and sponsored posts will continue to haunt customers although they have already bought a product or service a banner promotes to them. Clever managers invest in blogger programs, in brand advocates and loyalty programs to drive up and cross-selling opportunities. Don’t just think about content!
3. Engagement: Understand cross-quality values
Just to make this clear from the beginning: A LIKE is not only a LIKE, like a Retweet, Repin or Reblog is not just a meaninglesss interaction of some lazy engagement. In many seminars, we see marketers that still center their KPIs around quantitative engagement figures while under-estimating the chances that are covered behind such „automated“ customer interactions: joy, interest, passion, emotions, etc..
Clever sales people use such quantitative engagements for profiling their customers’ habits, experiences and interests in their social CRM database or sales management systems. They value every single customer engagement as they know when to turn quantitative into qualitative engagement, and how to turn it to their favor in meetings, calls and conversations. Knowing that a client has liked a shared golf or football video can be the start of a long-term relationship and open up doors for introductions to others.
Customers will be happy if they get good content to share with their own peers and community. They appreciate the dedication (seasonal content), commitment (consistency of service) and the quality of engagement (high interactivity) that brand accounts offer to them according to a study by the Engagment Labs. Appreciation, well-understood from customers and companies, is the key to social media engagement.
The link between customer engagement and employee engagement was not only proven in a study by Answers Corporation lately. In many examples with customers and experts have we experienced that social media engagement is not rocket-science, however the process of setting it up plus using and finding the right technology is a challenge. Still, the rules of engagement are changing in social media, especially in social networks. Facebook is the former RSS feed, just with the difference that you can sponsor it now. Youtube is the new search engine. It’s 2015! Redefine your engagement mindset!
In a quantitative study with 1,200 respondents, which also included some qualitative secondary research and some new form of „blography“ component, it made clear that streaming has become a mainstream behavior. Almost four out of five (78%) participants of the survey had streamed music in the past three months. The streaming habit on the way to purchase is most often (91%) a form of auditioning music before buying it – especially YouTube has an important role in this process.
The age group of 22-30 year olds is even more active than their older and younger counterparts. Streaming music has become a daily habit for them (63% do it daily). As the group sample was taken from their target audience, it might be a reason that this result is even higher than in usual user studies.
The young generation of „streamers“ listens to radio as an important source of information to this group. However, the study credited broadcast and the Internet as sources of music discovery. Interestingly enough the study states that the act of listening seems to be passive. User do not seek to find their music, it basically comes to them. It could be a prove that the music industry has understood how to use big data to favor the music taste of their users.
Obviously, TV is another major discovery platform for this generation. 88% of respondents mentioned that they searched for songs on TV shows next to listening to them. This could become another important opportunity for track-identification mobile apps (like i.e. Shazam).
The path from discovery to purchase (which in this study can mean several things, including “streaming it incessantly”) is interestingly charted. The role of streaming in that path is often a form of auditioning music before buying, according to 91% of participants, who use YouTube for that purpose.
Not surprisingly, the respondents state that downloading music via P2P networks is not popular for them (60% see it as „risky“ or „wrong“). Still, this does not mean that the idea is completely gone from their minds. Sharing music data with friends via DropBox or other sharing platforms is a common practice for music fans. However, if 81% of participants believe this is a support to bands they admire can be doubted. Maybe the music fans haven’t quite understood how their bands make money. It probably „beams up“ the bands relevance and popularity more if 63% of fans follow artists on Facebook and share the bands‘ news in their personal networks.
The team at We Are Social have created an interesting presentation on „What Makes A Great Brand“. However, I can already hear some of you social geeks saying, moaning and arguing what is missing in the slides and what you could better, maybe start reading and thinking about it first, and then try to find some more brands that have changed the way customer perceive brands today.
The slideshare presentation comes from a a project done in cooperation between We Are Social and The World Federation of Advertisers on Project Reconnect. This initiative was created to understand brands with a deeper meaning by listening to what people really want from brands and advertising. The idea behind it was to align marketers practice and customer expectations. Viewers get to know insights made while talking with marketers about inspiring marketing trends and approaches.
For years, I have been working in the B2B industry and have looked, maybe a bit envious, at those friends who were working for BMW, MINI, Red Bull, LVHM, going to fancy parties with the guys from GQ, or those who enjoyed other sexy lifestyle moments out there in the B2C universe. When I was telling stories about B2B channel strategies, brand campaigns of mainframe providers, B2B community communication, and even if it was around web TV in the year 2000 and around brands like IBM, HP, Intel or Avaya, nobody seemed to be excited about B2B marketing the way I was. Not many eyes smiling (only with a sense of sympathy maybe). Not many questions were raised or asked. Not much fun.
Being a B2B marketer can be a challenging and somehow self-motivating task. But there are reason why I have never lost the energy in being one. And the funny thing with user-generated content and storytelling is that I do not even have to write why I do what I do (maybe good and bad that is). I just had to listen to those like-minded souls out there on Twitter, expressing their inner feelings and their drive for the fun in a B2B world.
Dough Kessler really took his approach to „The Search for Meaning in B2B Marketing“ but I would sign this for my career as well… and just have to curate his great presentation in order to make people understand my career and my B2B marketing story.
When the MINI Paceman was first promoted at the Detroit Motor Show in 2011 as a concept car, I said and wrote to my fans, followers and friends: „This is gonna be my new car!“ To some of them, it came as no surprise. Some knew of my passion for the MINI brand. Some recalled my words from brand strategy workshops, from keynote speeches or marketing seminars. Some remembered pictures of me in front of my former white MINI Cooper, and they were surprised I am selling it. Some responded and asked questions about features of the new Paceman; even I could not answer those days. Today I can.
But… Many of them did not even know of the new concept, the new brand, the new design, the new small SUV category that MINI kind of invented, and so on. I did. I saw the potential. I just got infected by the brand. I wanted a new MINI Paceman. I loved the outlook: Getting the keys handed out for a MINI Paceman.
I have thought a long time about writing this post, or just forgetting about it. But I am a challenger…
Today, the IAA 2013 is opening their doors in Frankfurt. Car brands are proudly presenting their latest auto concepts. Managers posing in front of their new innovations in modern steel or carbon. They are shaking hands with those that make them look good. But who does really make them stand out? The technical suppliers? The revenue driving resellers? The social influencers? Or those who hold up a sign in the streets without being incentivized or getting cash saying: „I love this brand!“ Those who stand out, and those who make stand out: the brand advocates?
Maybe today is the right time to write a blog post and tell a story that to many of my fans, followers and friends sounds unbelievable – but MINI, I tell you, it is the absolute truth. I write it in the night when other people are sleeping. My clients tomorrow won’t care whether I had enough sleep, or not. I write this, when there is more important things on the desktop than leveraging a brand that does not listen, nor understand. Am I mad? Am I not clever? No, I am honest. I am what I am. I am a real MINI Paceman advocate.
Beginning of February 2013, I sat down with my MINI car sales representative and told him that I want to buy a Paceman. I wanted to be one of the first in Munich. I wanted to sign the contract. Now. And I asked whether he could open doors to the marketing, PR or social media department at MINI when an idea hit my brain just in the minutes when I sat there: Two of my clients have called me their „pacemaker“. The word transition from pacemaker to paceman was not too far off for me. So, some brilliant thought (at least in my mind) awoke in my head: Why not call yourself „Mr. Paceman“?
A concept created in a brain flash: Website domain. Web space. Web blog. Unique content published in a Paceman. The life of a Pacemaker in a Paceman. Lifestyle. Design. Speed. My life.
While the reseller configured my MINI Paceman, I bought the website domain, set up the blog with a little help of a friend and scribbled the whole concept on my smartphone. I told my MINI sales rep about the idea when I had signed the contract. He was enthusiastic about the concept and saw a lot of other potential cooperation opportunities.
I was ready to start publishing. Publishing about the pleasant participation for my MINI Paceman. The color. The design. The coffee holders. The changing interior lights. The engine. And so on. Publishing about the pace of my days, my experiences with the new Paceman, my life in a MINI Paceman nutshell. I wanted to share pictures of MINIs. I wanted to post design ideas of other MINI freaks, and find the first MINI Paceman pics, I might come across. And a lot more…
Now, obviously I knew about brand protection and brand rights. I knew that -before I started buying the domain- I should get in touch with some MINI brand contacts and get some formal permission to use the brand name. I thought: „Just do it!“
So, I wrote emails to MINI, their PR department, their marketing department, their social media people, and their agencies. I even contacted strategic partners from MINI. I wish I hadn’t done it. I felt like a little unloved kid being pushed from one corner to another in order not to cause any trouble for anyone, in order to shut up. MINI did not move. I continued. The answers I got where just some lines making clear that I am not allowed to use the brand for my purposes.
Hang on! My purposes? Is that the power of a big modern brand, is that arrogance, hubris or simply ignorance?
If I promote a brand I like, invest time, offer to wear their branded merchandising clothes and have even bought the brand product before (and maybe a far too expensive brand product), why should I not be allowed to do marketing and PR for that brand to my fellow peers? A target-group that MINI is chasing with banners, print ads, wallpapers, outdoor marketing, newsletter mailings and a lot more.
Doesn’t this mean, I am actually doing what MINI pays others for; marketing agencies, PR people and media houses with the old „quid-pro quo“ game: editorial coverage for advertising dollars? Those institutions that create corporate publishing products for brands which cost these brands a fortune?
Shall I then be happy and not get crazy, when I get the feedback: „We might consider that you are writing a guest post on our official MINI blog.“ Hurray! What an outcome of my activities! Sorry MINI, you missed the point! I am not just a buyer. I am not a normal influencer. I am more. I am a MINI Paceman brand advocate, if you know what this means MINI. If not, you might just read the study by Ogilvy)?!More than seven months later, the blog is still online – online without any content at MrPaceman.com. The case has been mentioned by me in at least 20 seminars and on several stage appearances at events. Events where even the BMW marketing departments or some of their agencies participated. I saw people shaking heads, heard their words asking how ignorant and un-clever brands can be, and read their tweets and updates trying to get reactions to this case from MINI. MINI did nothing. For seven months now, the MINI brand managers did nothing.
Yesterday, some silver surfers passed by my MINI Paceman. One of them, a man in his seventies approached me when I got out of my Paceman: „Great car. Cool design and colors. Is this new? Have never seen this car before…“ His wife replied: „This is one of these new SUV cars but just in a MINI format. Nice high access. Like it!“
Would this make up for a really cool advertisement? Now, just imagine, I had written about such stories, shared a picture with these older people and spread the word around the world about my life in the MINI Paceman. Don’t you think these stories, these emotions, these experiences might have made a difference in the way the MINI Paceman gets positioned, promoted and had pulled sales leads?
„Advocacy goes deeper. Advocacy is emotion-driven. Advocacy is loyalty. Loyalty is commitment. Loyalty is passion. Loyalty let’s forget the rules of logic, of facts, of the rational. Advocates drive on the streets of loyalty and breath it’s air.“ Martin Meyer-Gossner on brand advocacy, September 2013
Did I make the benefit of brand advocates clear to you, MINI? Ok, then get into the next MINI Paceman and drive to me. Let’s speak!
PS: All of you out there who think MINI should make a move towards brand advocacy, share this post and maybe that will make them clear what opportunity they might have missed. And let’s hope some other brands learn from this case…!
The study „Reducing Customer Struggle 2013“ conducted by Econsultancy shows that marketers now attribute 19% of their total website traffic to mobile devices. Delivering positive customer experience is for 40% of respondents a bigger challenge that on the Web. Herein, bad navigation, small screen sizes and difficulty completing forms were seen as the most serious mobile challenges.
Experiencing a poor custmer experience results for 89% of respondents in working with a competitor. But it seems marketers start understanding the omni-channel customer as they are turning to big data and digital analytics in order to better provide a better mobile experience. And some seem to be real experts in the mobile field: 7% of businesses indicate they have an “excellent” understanding of the overall online customer experience.
The integration of online and offline is still a struggle for most businesses. Most marketers know that information about offline locations, contact details and opening hours on their website is key. But when it comes to establishing a social presence for offline products or services and mobile or local search engine optimization, 93% of the repondents could not get the visibility into individual customer engagement via digital channels.
Seeing their lack in understanding the modern mobile culture, 73% of companies surveyed plan to increase investment in online channels this year. Not surprisingly as mobile is making its way to generate results even in mobile advertising. 6.9bn USD in mobile subscriptions globally seem to be an argument and make 72% invest more in mobile channels. 53% will increase their invest in social. Interesting though that the value of social listening is for most seen ineffective but still they agree social gives insight into what is working and what is not. The looser seems to be offline. More than two-thirds of marketers indicated they either plan to decrease or maintain the same level of investment in offline channels such as stores, shops and branches.
This is a fantastic ambient campaign from the New Museum in NYC. It simply hijacked 5.000 pay phones all over New York City. Each of the phones is recalling a piece of history from 1993 when NYC was changing massively from a cultural and urban stand point. If you are in NYC, simply call 1-855-FOR-1993 from any NYC pay phone and just listen to what happened in 1993.
Some day, I have to be at CES, just to say I have been there, I assume. But time is money and the more projects you are juggling on a daily business, the less time there is for events. And the questions is if it all worth the traveling. So, the CES 2013 passed without me but the three main web connected inventions that caught my attention, shall be summarized briefly in this post.
At different events in 2012 you could hear many speakers talking of the car becoming the most expensive but also most connected mobile device in our lives in the future. CES speakers were following kind of the same lines. When Will Smith was handling many issues while driving his car in iRobot, it seemed all too far away for us those days. Now, just some years have passed and AUDI is already showing the first prototype that allows drivers to travel via autopilot with the option to check emails and social channels when driving under 30 miles per hour. More and more, the car is emerging towards a connected multimedia vehicle which also offers new advertising and marketing approaches through mobile and navigation systems that bridge new opportunities for brand integration. This Beet.TV interview with Rob Norman, Global Chief Digital Officer at GroupM, tells us how…
Magic Glass & Augmented Reality
When we have written about the Google Glass and the short film „Sight“, the vision of integrated and intelligent augmented reality technology seemed even further away from reality. At CES, another company called Innovega showed their version of augmented-reality eyewear. They previewed their invention of a wearable transparent heads-up display, enabled by iOptik contact lens technology, which delivers mega-pixel content with a panoramic field-of-view. An unbelievable „enjoyment of immersive personal media“? Well, the video shows us in two parts Innovega’s glasses why the approval of the FDA would be welcomed soon. And then I can see a future, where we will have the latest content and ads from our brand right in front of our eyes…
Do you still think, TV commercials are one-way communication? You might think again. Audible Magic, an audio fingerprinting and recognition technology company, will be able to detect content and then react on a second screen. The company will partner with three advertising companies (Accelerated Media, DG Mediamind and Cheshire Duo) to create interactive commercials. Those ads shall trigger users by detecting relevant content and then send „relevant“ brand content to the viewer. Imagine you are watching a new James Bond film on TV with all their great commercials around „Skyfall“, Audible Magic’s technology recognizes the content and sends you a coupon or a video commercial on a second screen with a nice discount offer.
Although I have listened to Ford’s Community with similar visions where via GPS billboard content shall sync with a smartphone app to be remembered while passing those billboards, it still sounds quite far away.
But the other innovations have shown that the future is just around the corner sometimes. Maybe I need to go to CES 2013 next year to find some more brand power options. You never know…
There were days when I thought it is better to stay out of the discussions around the changed terms and conditions for Frequent Travellers and lounge access. A long time did my trips hit the airports with the lounges where Lufthansa still values the status of a Frequent Traveller (FTL) as a „superior customer“. „Acces granted for FTL passengers!“
Now, in just some weeks it happened to me twice that I got the answer: „Access denied for FTL passengers!“ I think, it is time to write some words in order to give Lufthansa the chance to reply to all the clutter that goes live on the Web. So, Lufthansa – please listen up.
Amsterdam Schiphol and London Heathrow! In both airports Lufthansa cancelled their contracts with the lounge partners for FTL passengers. However, there are rumours going on that in 2014 when the new Terminal 2 opens, that situation might change. True? Wrong? We don’t know! Lufthansa, is not monitoring or listening it seems.
The lounge access topic might have some financial background. Still, I wonder if Lufthansa knows what kind of economical impact this might cause. Lufthansa, do you believe in the power of Social Media? Seeing your massive activities on social networks I assume you do. But, why do you not answer the conversation that is led by some link in position 1 on Google for the quest: „Lufthansa FTL London Heathrow“? Doesn’t that show how much Lufthansa values FTL passengers? Sorry, Lufthansa! In my eyes, you want to get rid of the FTL status. Correct…?
And let me give you another reason why I believe that. I am just illustrating briefly the situation of a business man traveling around Europe quite often, and in my eyes approx. 50 times is often.
If I am allowed to have access to the lounge, I don’t lose time. Time is money, is efficiency, is essential for doing my business. Access means: No need to find a quite and comfortable place, buy my drinks and food, or ask myself why I pay your Bought Media. Lufthansa, understand that FTL passengers think about the benefit of paying you the extra thousand year-on-year to get to that status?
Amsterdam, London, or anywhere else. The lounge is the main value for FTL passengers to continue flying more often with you than with other airlines. No access to the lounge means, I will fly i.e. British Airways, one of you biggest competitors for the UK region. And there are many obvious reasons for this i.e. in London Heathrow: Cheaper flights, newer terminal, nice gates, better shops with more popular brands, a Fish restaurant, and, and, and… Do I have to continue the list? No? Thank you, Lufthansa, for making my time efficient and my critic spot on. That’s what I want you to understand!
In the end, the „lounge-access-thing“ is just a numbers game. I doubt that your stakeholders at Lufthansa is good in understanding how to scale the business. Sorry Lufthansa, but I doubt you are clear about the long-term effect this „multi-level-lounge-access-nonse“ might cause. Why? Let me tell you what happens, if I don’t have access to the lounge. Quite frankly…
No revenue for Lufthansa
Revenue for BA:
(without tax, petrol & stuff – average deal, booked early in advance, etc.)
Personal or Company Win: 80,- EUR
Result: Me or the company can safe money or be drunk & data addicted (ok, I am…), if I spend that on a bar at the gates in Heathrow!
I don’t believe the lounge rent, my two drinks and one sandwich costs those 80 EUR, right? So, not granting access to lounges for FTL passengers on different airport makes me think whether…
a) Lufthansa is testing whether you kill the FTL status.
b) Lufthansa doesn’t appreciate the money of Frequent Travellers.
c) Lufthansa has not made their business homework.
Lufthansa, please tick!
Taken it from an Earned and Owned Media perspective, I would suggest you know how often people fly with you, how much you could do with that, how you could engage on networks, how this would catalyse your brand perception, what that would do with people usually flying some oither airline, how this scales in sales. If not, contact The Strategy Web and we will tell you how Social Media scales your business, Lufthansa, predominantly if it comes along in a positive way.
Did I make the benefit of lounge access clear to you, Lufthansa? Next time I am flying, I will make sure I get my travel assistant check the lounge access before booking the flight. I cannot believe you are not interested in our business (feeding you), our needs (scaling your business) and our money (enabling acceleration and growth)?!
Gimme some arguments why I shall still fly with you when I am busy…??? Come on, Lufthansa!
While Facebook turns more and more to search and ad exchange budgets, Google is still riding the mobile wave. In many moderations over the last two years, I could listen to their attitude towards building mobile websites, and why these are important to the business of the future. However, companies often resist to face the mobile evolution and still stick to their conventional desktop websites. Not to mention what this does to their brands when the user experience is driving into a nightmare of usability and readability.
To get more attraction for their mission, Google has now published some research data on their blog that will help them to evangelize in the mobile business world approach. The benefit for Google is obvious. The more people use mobile sites, the better the experience in mobile usage, the more people tend to approach the Google search which means more marketing budgets into their hands.
In their research of about 1,100 U.S. adult smartphone users conducted by market research firms Sterling Research and SmithGeiger, Google gives some handsome advertising tips to make marketers better understand and evaluate the power of mobile.
The key findings can be summarized as follows…
– 67% of smartphone users state a mobile-friendly site makes them more likely to buy a company’s product or service
– 74% are more likely to return to the site with a good experience later.
– 61% made clear that when they don’t find what they’re looking for (in roughly five seconds), they’ll click away to another site.
– 50% of respondents said even if they like a business, they’ll use its site less often if it doesn’t work well on their smartphone.
– 72% see a mobile-friendly site important to them, however 96% have visited sites that aren’t.
The Google study advices marketers to create a fast mobile site with big buttons and text, and simplify the mobile experience in terms of keeping steps to complete tasks to a minimum. For sure, Google did not forget to promote the site with Google mobile ads with some good results: two-thirds of people who use search find a site. Their conclusion is that „having a great mobile site is no longer just about making a few more sales. It’s become a critical component of building strong brands, nurturing lasting customer relationships, and making mobile work for you“. There is not much more to add.
Still, we would be happy to hear from your mobile experience – with or without Google. Did you change your site lately and what did it do to your sales?