Interview: “Social influencers move prospects through the consideration cycle”

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Kevin BobowskiIn order to demystify the myth around social influencers, brand fans and brand advocates, we will discuss the topic in the future with different leading marketing specialist of emerging platforms and different cloud marketing providers.

In this first interview The Strategy Web spoke with Kevin Bobowski, Vice-President Marketing at Offerpop, about social influencers, their relevance for brand perception, and how he sees the future of brand advocates.

TSW: Will social influencers and brand fans ever play a role in the sales process of companies?

Kevin Bobowski: Brand advocates and social influencers already play a key role at every stage of the customer journey – often simultaneously. Through sharing branded content and recommending products, they build brand awareness, move prospects through the consideration cycle, and help convert those prospects into customers. Companies must do more to nurture the relationships with influencers and advocates, formalizing their involvement in the buy cycle.

TSW: Why is it so challenging for marketers to find and leverage real brand fans?

Kevin Bobowski: I think that most social marketers have a sense of who their real brand fans are. The challenge is in translating that knowledge into real business value. To do this, social marketers must break out of the “social silo” and play a bigger role in impacting marketing strategy. For example, they might work with email marketers to create campaigns that target brand advocates they’ve identified with exclusive rewards. Their ability to communicate their insights across marketing organizations will have a long-term impact on conversions.

TSW: What is a successful tactic to build a strong database of brand fans?

Kevin Bobowski: Marketers should run consistent, engaging social marketing campaigns. These campaigns build strong, active fan bases, and hit other key goals like email capture and sales. One standout tactic: hashtag campaigns. They incentivize fans to share user-generated content, which deepens their relationships with brands. Many brands promote them through traditional channels like TV, and encourage participation through multiple social networks. This grows their viral reach, leading to fan growth and engagement.

TSW: When is a brand fan converting into a superfans?

Kevin Bobowski: Our definition of a superfan is a customer who consistently shares your content, advocates your brand, and influences others to form relationships with your brand. Marketers should track the interactions, loyalty and influence of their fans, and use those insights to create more targeted, ROI-driven marketing efforts across every channel.

TSW: How does Offerpop help to boost the value of brand advocates?

Kevin Bobowski: Offerpop social campaigns help brands boost the value of brand advocates in a number of ways. Number one, we encourage fans to amplify brand messages (through retweeting, sharing, etc.) Number two, we help brands run campaigns that inspire engagement and brand affinity. Brands use our platform to capture rich data about their fan base, which enables them to cultivate relationships with them through multiple channels, like email, direct mail, etc. And they also help brands capture user-generated content, which brands can choose to showcase in a number of ways. All of these actions help brands deepen relationships with their advocates and increase the virality of their messaging.

TSW: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Kevin Bobowski leads all marketing efforts at the social marketing platform provider Offerpop including branding, product marketing, demand generation and digital marketing. Prior to Offerpop, Kevin was the Vice-President of Product & Solution Marketing at ExactTarget where he was responsible for the strategy and execution of ExactTarget’s go-to-market strategy, demand generation programs and product launches.

Rise of Social Media as a Profession (Infographic)

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When I started my blog some years ago, people in my industry were shaking their heads and wondered what the benefit was to be a “social media professional”. Some asked why I was wasting time on social networks like Twitter, Facebook & Co., and what the ROI is in writing blog posts and then sharing them. Some wondered how I managed to stay on top of the main trends and developments in the “social web” world. Well, time is passing by and people start to be getting answers.

In the last years, many companies have thought about hiring a social media specialist, or have even given it a proper job description. Still last year, we went into companies and found some young interim or part-time freelancer being responsible for the feedback on the 3R’s (ratings, reviews and recommendations!) of their own social customer. Often these people earned nothing but a smile from their colleagues.

These days seem to change. Can it be that companies understand the value of engaging with their customers on the social web – the place where they not only spend a lot of their spare time? They actually do marketing, sales, customer service, employer branding and much more for companies and brands. Some companies still have not understood though…

Now, the social marketing platform Offerpop has created a nice infographic based on data from LinkedIn that shows a staggering 1,357% increase in social media jobs posted on LinkedIn in the last three years.

Rise-of-Social-Media-Profession

Big Data Opportunities (Infographic)

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We discussed this topic in many panels at dmexco this year, and in the last couple of years I assume not many buzz words have made their way through so many blogs and articles: Big Data. Some see the value of it in measurement and analytics for marketing purposes. Others try to identify new potential and hire Corporate Data Scientists for their web strategy to leverage the potential of unstructured data. And some are still on their way to understand how their data can be embraced to exchange with the data of some partner or even their clients.

The topic Big Data will stay. Just look how much data is generated daily: 2,5 Exabyte. A number that doubles every year according to an infographic the guys from Elexio have put together. It illustrates the potential for companies and how Big Data might generate bigger opportunities in several sectors. Especially, in retail or e-commerce where Big Data let’s brands analyze customer behavior and deliver more personalized messages in order to create an exciting user experience, more engagement, and sure i the end more sales. However, sometimes you wonder if they are doing it right.

As Big Data also let’s us analyze offline data, some clever marketers might combine those with online data to get a clearer view of consumer activity. On the one hand, this might be good as it keeps them from delivering the wrong banner or engagement outdoor advertisement and content to the wrong customer. On the other hand, there might be people arguing that Big Data is still in its infancy as long as companies cannot extract critical and unstructured data from the valuable data that creates a new customer journey experience.

The main challenge will be how we bring Big Data and security together in the future. Consumers get stressed these days as they realize that promotion banners and branded content are following them across channels – with products and services which are often not wanted, or already bought. But how can companies deliver a seamless customer experience? How can they make use of Big Data that boosts their lead generation or sales numbers while still showing careful approach that consumers appreciate?

With all the social media sharing and curating of content via social networks and their buttons, does it really make sense talking about Big Data and security? Or, do we need organizations that audit how companies handle customer data? What rules do companies and brands need to obey to enable a social and secure shopping experience? Many questions that we will discuss on a panel at the ChapmanBlack “Future of Digital” event in Berlin next week. Sure, I will change those afterwards…

Please find the infographic of Elexio with latest insights into the new opportunities that Big Data can offer to brands and companies.

Big Data Infographic Cloud

Study: Fortune 500 are getting better in Social Media

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They are on increasingly on Twitter (77%), Facebook (70%) and Youtube (69%): Fortune 500 companies. However, in terms of blogs (34%), Google+ (35%) or Pinterest (9%) they seem to be a bit behind or not seeing the value. And the report obviously forgot to look at LinkedIn. This is the findings of one of the latest research pieces of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

Fortune 500 Companies Blogs 2013Although from our perspective, blogging is seen to be the essential starting point of a social media strategy, most companies are not there yet. Not all industries see corporate blogging similar. The use varies significantly by industry. It is striking that no company in the pharmaceutical and tobacco section blogs. In contract, 53% of Fortune 500 companies in the telecommunications industry do. Almost 80% of the blogs show regular activity, have got RSS feeds, appreciate comments and offer subscription.

Fortune 500 Companies Social Media 2013Twitter is used in eight out of the top 10 companies (Apple, Chevron, Exxon, Ford Motors, General Electric, General Motors, Phillips 66, and Wal-Mart). All these companies offer frequently status updates on Twitter. Just Berkshire Hathaway and Valero Energy are missing out. Interestingly enough, Facebook has got most followers on Twitter. Google comes in second, then Starbucks, Whole Foods Market, Walt Disney, JetBlue Airways, and Southwest Airlines. 

On Facebook only Exxon is not showing up with an account. The rest, nine of the top 10 companies (Wal-Mart, Chevron, Phillips 66, Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, General Motors, General Electric, Valero Energy, and Ford Motors), has got a Facebook page. Obviously, the special retail shows strong use of Facebook (96% with a Facebook fanpage) versus 44% in the utilities sector. That Facebook has most Facebook fans is not surprising. Coca-Cola is number two with 66 million fans, followed by Walt Disney, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and Target. These companies all collected more than 20 million fans. 

Spot On!
What we found interesting in the report is the mention that 59% of companies link to the social platforms from their corporate homepages, whereas for the other companies it required the research team some additional searching. Looking at further social networks and results shows the different strategies. From companies ranked in the top 10 just Berkshire Hathaway has got its own YouTube account. In terms of Google+, 35% use their Google+ accounts actively while 19% set up corporate accounts which are unactive. 50% of the top 10 companies got actove Pinterest boards (Apple, Exxon, Ford, General Motors and Wal-Mart). And although Instagram is now a part of Facebook, only Ford Motors opened an account here, as Wal-Mart is the only top 10 company making use of Foursquare.

Study: Digital advertising found “annoying and invasive”

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Sometimes studies bring some flashback to your mind. This time it was some study results that reminded me of two of my four moderations of the dmexco Night Talks.

In a recent country comparison study by Adobe half of the respondents made clear that digital advertising is distracting, invasive and annoying – in the UK less than in Germany and France though. The study which asked 1,750 marketers and 8,750 consumers across the UK, France and Germany, shows that two out of three users find TV campaigns still more important than online ads (US 66%, UK 70% and Germany 67%). Consumers even responded online ads were “annoying” (US 68%, UK and Germany 62%), “invasive” (US 38%, UK 45% and Germany 17%) and “distracting” (US 51%, UK 44% and Germany 31%).

Mark PhibbsThere is still some negative perception of digital advertising that the repondents described in their feedback. However, web ads came in the top three preferred advertising tactics in the UK. In France print magazines (31%), billboards (24%) and TV ads (23%) were the leading three categories. For Germany, print magazines were also the leader with (28%), billboards (23%) and window displays (21%) came in second and third. In the UK 39% favoured print magazines, 23% TV ads, and 12% websites.

Some weeks ago, I have been interviewing Mark Phibbs, VP Marketing EMEA at Adobe on the dmexco hot chair in Cologne. Nice seeing some statements on the study from him:

“Some digital advertising is failing to hit the mark. While digital provides great promise, often it is not being delivered in an emotionally compelling or targeted way.”

Adobe Banner Ads not wanted

The storytelling boom was again also highlighted in this study. Even in the ad world content plays an important role. 68% of UK users responded that ads should tell a unique story which mentioned John Lewis and Guiness as good examples. One of the main ingredients should be the humour factor of the story. Funny is the driver for happiness, and outplaces “sexy” ads (92% thought so).

“We think online advertising can learn from traditional advertising in three ways. Is it beautiful and eye-catching? Is it integrated? Do consumers have control over it? Creative agencies have had decades to get traditional advertising right. It’s not wholly surprising that online and digital isn’t resonating to the same degree – not only is it still relatively in its infancy as an advertising channel, but the digital landscape and the corresponding opportunities for brands are constantly changing,” said Phibbs.

Spot On!
The study also made clear that targeted banner ads based on programmatic buying in Social Media like i.e. in Facebook could be “creepy” (76%). Even more, 49% would like a dislike button in Social Media for it. Again this reminded me on my last dmexco Night Talk moderation in Munich when I could ask Scott Woods, Commercial Director Facebook DACH, how it can come that I get banners for social networks 60+ years old people. Facial recognition (do I look so old)? Bad programming? Bad automation or bidding process? Maybe the people behind? The answer was “Well, technology can only do what it is capable of!” Fair enough… It seems we will have to live with that weakness for some time.

dmexco Night Talk Munich 2013

Microsoft Study: 40% of employees see a lack in workplace collaboration

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The management view of the future workplace is still not yet fully evolved to a real social workplace. The main concerns are still loss in productivity and security concerns which still don’t give employees access to social tools. This is the main findings of a new study commissioned by Microsoft. However, employees (40%) still believe that there isn’t enough collaboration in the workplace.

The question managers asking themselves remains whether social tools help foster better teamwork, or not. And whether here lies the disconnect between employees and the management, and where companies should have a look at when they want to detect the reason why employees brought their own technology and software to the modern workplace. Via social networks and testing them out, employees found tools to share content, communicate across business borders and grow business through networking.

Microsoft-Recognizing-Value-In-The-Workplace-Study

The report with nearly 10,000 respondents in 32 countries states that 34% think their company underestimates the benefits of social technology. The misperception of management versus social tools becomes more obvious when 37% believe they could perform their jobs better if management gave access to the use of social tools.

“Freemium products let employees try new tools in small groups before the IT department even knows about them. Work is becoming more global and less routine. People are more dispersed than ever and there’s a stronger need to stay connected regardless of location. The workplace is changing, and that’s causing tension.” Microsoft’s Brian Murray, Director Enterprise Strategy, Microsoft.

Spot On!
Although the perception of employees remains positive about the value of social networks, management stays resistent to change their attitude towards social workplace. Probably as they are backed up by Gartner reports concluding that 80% of enterprise social networks won’t deliver real business value. The Strategy Web would argue that most managers have never thought about getting a deeper insight in a social business strategy, hene the social workplace opportunity.

The question is whether it is just easier for managers staying away from a cultural change and all it’s implications like new technology, training and management coaching? But maybe some managers want to answer this question after reading through this infographic…

Microsoft-Social-Tools-in-the-Workplace-Study

My quote of the year 2013 – Social Media, Social Networks and Social Business

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Credits: © Mirma - Fotolia.com

Credits: © Mirma – Fotolia.com

In 2010, I started pinning down my main message to companies and their C-level managers in one quote. Thereafter, different quotes evolved which I collected in the vision area of the “About” page.

The value of such a quote is for some managers marginal and for others massive when using it to explain the transformation of the business into a digital community-centric company or brand. Take it for what it is, and for what it’s worth for you, or let’s discuss it.

For this year the quote will be about social business strategy…

“Social Networking is business intend. Social Media is business duty. Social Business is business freestyle.”

Just before you start asking… By “business freestlye”, I address all departments in your company (like marketing, sales, customer service, HR, or other) that are responsible for planning, using, handling, and organizing the business tactics and strategy around the brand, product line or service offering of business relevance.

Some facts that might be interesting for each one of those..
Social Networks – Which are growing fastest?
Social Media – Facts, Figures and Stats 2013
Social Business – Some Facts 2013

PS: If you do it right, your workforce will freak out like the guy in this post. Believe me…!

Target-group men: 10 Stats for better marketing

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Obviously, there is a difference when targeting men and women. Their purchase behaviour differs in many ways. Who is searching more for coupons, bargains or the latest gadets? According to a report by Microsoft, marketers should have an eye on the right mix between banner advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) tactics in order to address and find men at the right time with the right content in the right context.

Many men, especially young dads (between 25 to 40 years), are influenced by the impact of social networks, according to the report by Performics which we reported quite a while ago. Interestingly enough, 58% of them use four or more sources for their purchase decision. Utilizing social media with story-telling about products and services will make the appropriate impact on men, will give them insights on how companies and brands against their competitors.

Check the infographic published by Brian Honigman and have the 10 stats in mind for the next marketing campaign or tactics when addressing the male audience when your business wants to influence the purchase behavior of men.

PS: If you are interested to see the difference to women, you might have a look at the latest Blogher study here

Target-Men-Marketing-2013

Study: Social networks eat up most time of web usage

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It is a question many marketers ask themselves on a daily basis: “Where do users browse when they are on the Internet?” A recent study by Experian is spot on here. It reveals that people spend most time browsing social media platforms. Entertainment websites (9%) and shopping (5%) as well as business and checking emails are following with each one achieving 3% are coming in the following places.

The research was checking peoples’ browsing habits in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. By distilling the overall Internet browsing time from 2012 into one single hour, the study found out that respondents spend 27% of every hour on social networkings. The U.S. was the leading country with 16 minutes per hour, followed by Australia 14 minutes and United Kingdom with 13 minutes. However, the time spend with social sites is overall a bit decreasing compared to 2012.

However, the figures vary depending on what device respondents were using. When respondents were on mobiles, they tend to spend the most time working on email. Again, the U.S. spent about 23% of every hour being busy on email on mobile devices in the first quarter or 2013, then closely followed by browsing social-networking, entertainment, shopping, and travel sites. Still, when using a personal desktop, people will most likely spend over a quarter of their time browsing social sites,

Experian Email Study 2013

“With smartphones and tablets becoming more powerful, our data clearly indicates the difference between mobile and traditional desktop usage further enabling the ‘always on’ consumer mentality. Marketers need to understand these differences, as well as regionally, to ensure campaigns can be tailored for better and more effective engagement.” Bill Tancer, General Manager Global Research, Experian

Spot On!
The desktop finds it’s end as we all know, and social media is the driver. Mobile emails get read more than emails seen from desktop, states some new benchmark report data from Informz. For this study in 2012, the company analyzed 1 billion emails from 800 associations. In fact, the study made clear that more links, shorter headlines, focussed lists and flexible send-outs are key to drive awareness to the email newsletters. If we bring these two studies together, we will understand the close connection between mobile and social.

Facebook/IDC study finds, email top activity on smartphones

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Some say, email is a dead media, some know it is not. At least not on smartphones in the U.S… For American adults email is still the most common activity on smartphones. In the second place comes Web browsing, closely followed by using Facebook. This is the result of the “Always Connected” study from IDC. The study is based on feedback from more than 7,400 iPhone and Android users between 18 and 44 years old.

IDC Facebook Email top 2013These are the main findings of the study….
– 78% check email on smartphones
– 73% browse websites
– 70% using Facebook in some way
– 131 minutes per day communicating on their smartphones
– about 33 minutes of the above are spend on Facebook.

Now, it has to be mentioned that the study was sponsored by Facebook. The study supports the fact how important Facebook is for the communication via smartphones. It also makes clear how much time users of social networks spend their daily time when they are out on the streets, at work, at shopping or following sports activities. Obviously, most of the time is spend on Facebook – in eight different activities, people responded that they are almost 4-5 times more likely to be on Facebook than using Twitter or LinkedIn.

IDC Facebook Facebook Twitter LinkedIn comparison 2013

Spot On!
The value of the study can in some way put into question, although we have seen many studies in the last years that demonstrate the importance of direct one-to-one communication on Facebook and the mobile use of Facebook. Another study by Localeze/15miles/comScore Local Search found that not email but search is the main activity of the mobile users. However, the approach of the study was different. It looked at people not only in the 18-44 years range and it proved the use of smartphones and tablets. there must be a reason why Facebook sponsored this study. I would not be surprised if they will publish some new mobile advertising opportunities soon.

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