When it comes to social selling, many companies and brand believe that content marketing is the secret sauce. But content marketing is not a lead engine when not controlled, qualified and distributed properly. A recent report by Beckon states that the average amount of image and video content from brands created and posted tripled since 2015. But not for the good.
The report finds that 90% of consumer engagement like Likes, shares and comments was generated by only 5% of that branded content. „In other words, 19 of 20 pieces of content pieces get little to no engagement,“ it concludes. Considering all the buzz around content marketing that we could hear at digital events like dmexco, these numbers are quite interesting. And the doubtful success some companies pretend to have with it raises the question if marketers are not trying to sell too much with content marketing as Mike Templeman suggests in his latest article on Entrepreneur.
Beckon also shows that the volume of content from some brands is incredibly high. The data service company tracked 29,000 and 50,000 individual pieces of content by each one brand. It becomes clear that companies are wasting content and obviously do not know how to make most out of it. The data of the insights for the report was collected from companies like Coca-Cola Co., Gap, Microsoft, HP, Reebok, and others that Beckon is working with.
Beckon CEO Jennifer Zeszut states in an interview that some brands seem to have the primary key performance indicator (KPI) on content to generate more of it. Obviously the study proves that case with the numbers.
The reports claims that the value of paid versus owned media seems to be unbalanced which seems to be a proper explanation considering how social networks are changing today and becoming more of paid media platforms. Furthermore, the report finds that there is just a 7% increase among its clients in paid or so-called „working“ media. Compared to that nonworking spending of their clients increased by 50% year over year, it shows how uncontrolled the budgets are spend in content production.
And despite the fact that programmatic is not everybody darling, the Beckon findings showcase that digital media bought programmatically by their clients generates twice the return on investment of other digital buys. However, just about half of measured digital spending was bought programmatically.
But the question is why this content is not triggering engagement. According to Beckon, often the lack of quality control at companies is a challenge. Many content teams simply overlook the content process by delivering guidelines and checking the produced quantity of content. However, they lack on proper content delivery and distribution. Content marketing is nice tactic but you need to know how to leverage social selling properly with the right strategic KPI set. Then content marketing gives you the right business impact.
The popularity of messaging apps is increasing. Whether it is the Facebook Messenger where all companies hope for the latest secret sauce on messenger bot technology or Line and WeChat which already offer company profiles. It becomes very clear that messengers are different in terms of functionality, technology set-up as well as the value for brands and companies. Very often in seminar that we hold these days, messengers get mixed up with social networks, and the functionality is not very much clear to marketers. Understanding the differences and the opportunities for brands has become really challenging for them. And knowing which messenger apps are used in which countries and regions will make the lives of marketers easier.
Therefore, the team at Forrester has created a report called „The Future of Messaging Apps„. The report offers a simple overview of the most important facts around messaging apps, user figures and above all summarizes the opportunities for companies as Marketingland summarizes it. And although the world and marketers get mad around Snapchat, the overview states that seven out of ten leading apps got more users than the „yellow messenger“, and also Viber, Kik and Line get more ground and challenge other platforms like Skype which was leading not so many years ago.
The evolution of messengers for brands is interesting to have a closer look at. Unsurprisingly, Asian messengers are leading. WeChat already has got some 10 Mio. company profiles, and even Line has got 2 Mio. of those already. Although Line is not familiar to many brands, they have turned around 1,1 Mrd. USD already ($ 224 Mio. via Stickers which seems to be a good monetization strategy). The messengers Kik (also offering ad opportunities for brands) and Telegram started their own Messenger Bots. On the other side, we realize that WhatsApp is starting to approach companies these days to elaborate on business requirements. So, it will be interesting to see what kind of brand solutions they are coming up with in the future.
Please find the overview in a graphic as follows…
According to the study of Harris Poll (conducted on behalf of Lithium Technologies), that addressed more than 2,300 consumers of all generations, more than half of all digital natives (56%) report to cut back or stop the use of social media platforms entirely.
Even more, 75% of the responding Millenials stated that they feel stalked by brands on social platforms. The reason: The eager way brands do target them in their news feed with the ambition to build trust and loyalty with their customers or consumers via social media platforms in the U.S.
So, what does this mean for brands? Do brands have to live according to a transformed version of the former cold call prevention: „Don’t stalk us, we follow you!“? The study suggests that direct targeting on social platforms via advertising might result in losing customers. It would be more effective to engage and to be present on the channels they use frequently. And also if brands might be tempted to leverage the huge purchasing power coming from the modern generations (Millennials and Gen Z make up 50% of the population), brands need to be careful not to waste the potential of social media and really meet their personal expectations. How challenging this might be in the end…
„The promise of social technologies has always been about connecting people, not shouting at them, and the brands that don’t do this risk their very existence.“ Rob Tarkoff, President&CEO, Lithium Technologies.
But how can brands build trust, the study also asked? A question that is also raised in a bi-annual study from Nielsen and might be evaluated in comparison with those results. Obviously, online is their general source of information but their trust in online exceeds that of former generations by far.
While in the Nielsen study, personal „recommendations from people I know“ are leading, Lithium sees „online sites with product reviews“ as the highest form of online trust creation. That websites are definitely not „dead“ can be seen that both studies see websites kind of in the second place. And, whereas Lithium sees „communities of like-minded people“ in the third place (just think about what their main product was…), Nielsen sees editorial content still a very important source.
In terms of service, the Lithium study shows that Millennials contact brands online (79%) and expect a response back within the same day – almost 10% more than Baby Boomers. So, if brands do not actively monitor and engage with the younger generations online, their brand loyalty might go down soon. The best way to interact with Millennials is described in a quote the study also delivers…
„I go on social media to see and know what my friends are doing. I don’t want to see ads clutter my news feed. If I’m interested in a product or service, I know where to look. Social media is a place for us to connect with our friends, not be attacked by advertisements.“ Mallory Benham, Graduate Student (23)
So, what are your learning on targeting Millennials and Gen Z via ads on social media?
Social selling is a team sport
The sales team impacts all departments of an organization, including client success, product and IT. But arguably the place where sales – and social selling – has the greatest influence is on the marketing team. And vice versa.
According to Sirius Decisions, 58% of marketing and sales teams say they are seriously misaligned. Some of the repercussions of a sales-marketing duo with no alignment? Lost leads, bad content and blind decision-making.
Sales and marketing teams need to get on the same page to ensure efforts aren’t going to waste (and feelings aren’t getting hurt). To be successful, sales and marketing must focus on 3 key aspects of a strong social selling initiative:
A crucial aspect of social selling is the sales professional’s ability to provide valuable content – articles, white papers, videos, podcasts and more – to prospects in their network. Misaligned marketing departments can spend time and resources creating content for sales, but it is useless if the content doesn’t meet the needs of the prospect or if sales can’t even find it.
How do you fix it? By understanding the buyer’s journey, sales and marketing can together determine what types of content fit best for prospects at different levels of the funnel. Then, marketing can curate a database of content that is easily accessible and relevant for salespeople to use throughout their process.
Implementing a well-run social selling program provides the sales organization a predictive, guided approach to everyday sales. In an environment where nearly 60% of the B2B buying process is done by the prospect before they ever speak to sales, reps need guidance on how, when, and where to connect on social networks. Marketing and sales need to understand and agree on their buyer persona so marketing can provide the resources that will guide sales to success.
How do you fix it? For social selling to become part of a sales professional’s everyday process, it must be easy for them to identify the best way to engage with prospects online. Marketing and sales must collaborate to identify the ways in which their buyers navigate the buying process. This enables marketing to develop relevant campaigns and channels for sales to leverage in their social selling practices, resulting in the most important aspect of all…
Too often, misaligned sales and marketing teams hurt themselves and end up doing more work when they let good leads slip through the cracks. Whether it’s marketing campaigns missing the mark on the right buyer, or sales failing to follow up on solid marketing leads, it’s a lose-lose situation.
How do you fix it? First and foremost, clearly define what each team will commit to accomplishing in order to support each other. As the saying goes: Build the social selling process, and the leads will come. When marketing provides sales the resources and tools to become problem-solving thought leaders in their networks, everyone wins.
„Never leave Social media to marketing alone. Marketing spreads the brand and product messages. Sales plants conversations, seeds solutions and harvests on needs.“ (Martin Meyer-Gossner on Social Selling)
This is a guest blog post by PeopleLinx CEO Kevin O’Nell. PeopleLinx helps B2B enterprise sales teams activate socialselling with individualized guidance.
Sorry millennials! Us, the Baby Boomers, we have suspected this for quite a while. While you might be reading this post on your smartphone, you are probably somewhere in a park, in a bar or a coffee shop, chatting up some of your fellows. Ever considered to stop reading this during the conversation, or better before you started talking?
In a recent study by Flashgap (which findings come close to a study from 2014), it becomes clear how obsessed millennilas are with social media and how much it is affecting their social lives. The study states that 87% of millennials admitted that they are distracted by their smartphones when they are going out.
Now, this might be some predjudice from males but females seem to be slightly more addicted. 76% of females replied they do check social media platforms 10 and more times when they are out of home. Their male counterparts are less active with just 54% answering accordingly.
Now, the question is why the millennials are so engaged in their social media lives? The answer ist hat more than half of all millennials (54%) fear to miss out on the latest news, when they are not checking social networks regularly.
The funny thing is that many millennials (74%) do post when drunk, but in the end regret it afterwards. Whether it is the drunk selfies, any kind of revelations of love to exes friends or any other sort of revealing messages that go along streams and messages. 71% of millennials regretted posting a picture on a social network after more than 3 drinks.
So, why is Flashgap promoting this study? They have got a new app that might become the answer to saving millennials from social media nightmares. Flashgap is a time-delayed photo-sharing app. With over 150,000 users, Flashgap could really become a solution. And guess what?! The app was inspired by the bachelor party film, ‘The Hangover’. Surprised?
In many posts have we written about the relevance of influencer marketing and how it differs from the value of brand advocates. Today, many marketing organizations and brands have understood the power of influencer marketing and dedicate a significant amount of their budget to them. And there are good reason for it which we can see from one of the latest infographics in the market provided by the guys from The Shelf.
Shoppers trust in influencers and use them as their third-most-consulted consumer decision information source. Although brand and retail sites are still in the lead as an information source. Blogs already come in right after them, even ranking higher than well-trusted social networks like Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.
Years ago, we have made clear that the 3 Rs of the social consumer will be leading the decision making process in the future: ratings, reviews and recommendations. The infographic is another proof for our thesis those days. These days, influencer are more trusted than brand content where recommendations have got the biggest power with 92% of consumers trusting in those. Reviews have become the second most trusted source (70%). People also try to stay on top of thought leaderwith blog content that is consulted by 47%.
Although the opportunities are there, only two out of three marketers (65%) invest in influencer marketing so far. and every second company separates their budgets for sponsored social content from other budgets (52%). Still, the amount of investment is not „nickles and dimes“ anymore for brands and companies. Every fourth company already spends over $500,000 already.
Why influencers play an important role inside your content strategy is obvious. They can explain products from various subjective and objective angles. They can play an important role in your community management when negative input needs tob e turned into positive arguments. They can have a big impact in your content production strategy in having an external view on your business and relevance in the market, and thus become your „search-engine-optimizers“. And, they will play a significant role in your sales approach if you take your time to think about it (or maybe talk to us if you don’t have an answer).
Have a look at the infographic and decide yourself if and how you would like to use influencer marketing in the future.
Not many companies are leveraging the power of social selling so far. Just recently have the guys at PeopleLinx released some findings on how companies and brands are using social media for their sales efforts. And it becomes clear that they still have a long way to go to incorporate social media into their sales process.
The main findings of the study among 277 B2B sales and account management professionals in U.S. B2B companies (500+ employees) show mainly three things…
1. Salespeople & social selling. Nearly three out of four marketers (73%) state that at least one social network is valuable for their sales efforts. LinkedIn (76%) is seen as the most valuable of the „big four“ social networks, followed by Facebook (44%), Google+ and Twitter (16%).
2. Salespeople & sales process. Social media is not part of the sales process. Just 31% of respondents include social in their process as just one out of four is clear about how to use social in the sales process.
3. Salespeople & Social media sales training. Only 11% of sales reps answered that their company offers training on social selling. Surprising as the adoption rate accelerates from 28% to 74% when training gets offered and executed.
Salespeople who want to be relevant to their customers in the future will need to adopt to social media and use it for their sales efforts if they want to stay on top of the curve. The team at Sales For Life now came up with some nice infographic which also makes clear why companies should better jump on the social selling train. Any questions?
The guys at BuzzStream and Fractl conducted some research, asking more than 900 people on why they unfollow brands on social networks. With their And the infographic The Unfollow Algorithm they share their findings with us.
First of all, the big winner seems to be Linkedin. Almost only half of all companies or brands (49%) need to fear that they get unfollowed by their users. More problematic seems to be Facebook: 25% of the respondents said that they unfollowed a brand’s official social media page in the last month. And, also Twitter is losing out: 12% of Twitter users stated they unfollowed a brand in the last few days.
So what are the main reasons for the „unfollow algorithm“? Well, the main reasons is that content of brands becomes repetitive and boring – 21% made clear they will unfollow a brand then. The frequency of posting is also ritical for users. If a brand posts too frequently (over 6 times per day) people will unfollow the brand page.
And what do people want? Almost every one in four (22%) claimed that „images“ is the most preferred content type posted by brands.
What is your opinion, and why would you unfollow a brand on a social network?
Very often the question in our seminars come up which platforms, content types and tactics to use on social media. Now, a recent report by Eccolo Media enlightens us – although it has to be mentioned that the basis for the survey was a fair small number of 100 people responsible for influencing or making B2B technology buying decisions (33% influencers, 67% decision makers) but conducted in a series of three different reports.
The survey makes clear that just about every one in three B2B technology buyer (38%) states to not have seen any content from vendors on social networks over the past six months that influenced a business purchase. And now just think how much time you invest in all your information process towards B2B buyers.
It also found that 34% of responding people claimed they have seen vendor content on Facebook in the past six months that helped with a purchase decision. Now, this might be as the base was predominantly US marketers but still it shows the power and influence of the biggest social network also on B2B tech buyers. LinkedIn came in as the second most influential network. 32% said they found meaningful content there, Google+ was mentioned by 28%, YouTube 27%, and Twitter 20%.
The early stage decisions in the sales cycle is for tech buyers most useful when it comes to finding content on social media. However, the challenge is awareness (31%) and understanding (36%).
In terms of the content most welcomed and consumed 25% of the surveyed people think case studies from vendors on social media are best to work with. Further content types they liked to consume were technology guides (16%) and whitepapers (16%).
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!