Social Network Leaders for Business

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Adobe’s CMO.com did a great job in summarizing the leading social networks for business in one nice infographic alongside their CMO Guide to The Social Landscape. The marketing technology company checked each of the platforms according to four criteria: brand awareness, customer communication, SEO and traffic generation.

Obviously and not surprising, the leading platforms are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. From our experience not all marketers are aware of the importance to change the contents for each platform and not just run them in different timings. The target-groups on the various platforms may be quite different, thus their interests in content and context as well as their wants and needs might vary extremely – although they might be the same people sometimes.

YouTube will probably become the leading platform when the whole world is more driven by Millennials and their input. Although you might be thinking about funny videos, going viral now, most of the business content can be manuals, employer branding stuff, or even product explanation videos. The opportunities are massive and it is time for marketers to realize.

In the B2B space, Slideshare might be a new platform for marketers. The chances are big here as well, as companies and brands get the option to show presentations from various standpoints. Especially, if the company is addressing different stakeholders in a purchase process, it is sometimes good to open up some thoughts before the meeting, so stakeholders can prepare. And, how often did presentations before meetings not go through as of company email file restrictions…?!

Obviously, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest play a role from a corporate brand perspective. And Google+ especially from a SEO and content marketing point of view. However, we are still at the beginning and every case needs to be evaluated on its own.

Any important platform you are missing in the top 8 social networks?

CMO_Social_Landscape_2014

The Challenge: Measuring ROI on Social Media (Infographic)

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After three years, the guys at MDG Advertising have updated their last infographic on ROI on your social media „The ROI of Social Media: Is Social Media Marketing Effective?“ This new version will be helpful to challenge your business objctives, your metrics and the understanding of how to leevrage your social media reccruiting efforts. The good thing about this infographic is that it shows 45% of social media marketers can build new partnerships through social media. Furthermore, an astonishing 72% of respondents claim that Social Media has helped “closing business.” And, 6% more respondents state they used successfully Social Media to recruit people for their business.

These are their 3 main factors of measuring from MDG Advertising which can be used as a guideline to foster your social media program.

Social Media Understanding
Look beyond the sales numbers and cost structure. Do your brand monitoring first, not for one month but for at least three in a row and on a daily basis. Then, try to figure out how your brand perception and recognition has changed latey (with or without latest social media efforts). Which significant issues have changed your brand perception? Which tools have help identify the changing brand perception?

Business Objectives
Most companies and their leaders start and change their social media program when the trial-and-error mode has proven the fail of the social media strategy. You better start defining your business objectives first, and one thing is for sure. You do not start, just because your competitors are active in social media platforms. Maybe you want to have a look at your brand perception and web conversations first, then you ask what engagement do your customers show in the various channels. Does all this engagement make an impact on sales? And how is your brand perceived along the social web clutter?

Measuring Figures
According to the infographic, CMOs use the following metrics to measure their social marketing efforts. It shows that as in earlier years, quantity comes first, however I would suggest you better go with quality. How says what and when, and how does this affect other consumers of your brand.
68% Site traffic
66% Conversion
63% Number of members
50% Revenue
43% Number of page views

You have good different thoughts about it? How does your company or brand measure the ROI on Social Media? Share them with us, or just have a look at the infographic, and maybe some ideas on the ROI of Social Media will come up then.

MDG Advertising 2014 ROI SOcial Media

Study shows, how B2B decision-makers consume vendor content

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Some weeks ago, we spoke about a study that described what B2B decision makers expect to read on vendor websites. Now, a new study of 352 buyers (predominantly large businesses) from The CMO Council and NetLine shows that the majority of organizations (94%) favors to curate and circulate relevant content in their organization before finally deciding to purchase B2B solutions and services. For years, marketers thought B2B buyers and influencers alike are simply using vendor-related content from time to time.

The study makes clear that there is no real sharing structure to be made out from company to company. However, there are three main patterns that the study highlights in their results:
From the Middle Out (35%): Execution-level executives search and find content about vendors/products and make the purchase. Senior management gets educated thorugh them why the decision was made.
From the Bottom Up (30%): Junior or mid-level employees find vendor-related content and share their discoveries with senior management. Then they make the final decision.
From the Top Down (29%): Senior managers find the content, then share it with lower-level managers for analysis and final purchase.

CMO Council Netline B2B content sharing

The same as with the sharing patterns, there are three key personas within the businesses who act according to their own behaviors, expectations and needs.
Researchers: Primarily focused on new industry reports/research to inform them of advancements in solutions, trends affecting the markets, and opportunities for improvement.
Influencers: Interested in both thought leadership found in trusted third-party channels and vendor-branded technology specifications, data sheets, and use cases. Their special interest is in summarized content, i.e. infographics, videos, and blog comments.
Decision-Makers: Want to stay informed through broad research reports and analyst commentary. However, they expect to have access to detailed data to enable better decision-making at the tail end of the purchasing funnel.

Spot On!
The study reveals some further interesting insights. The vendor selection is major to moderate influenced by online content, find 88% of the B2B buyers and more than a third (38%) find that online content provides strategic insights and shapes the purchase decision. The content that is valued the most is research reports and studies (65%), technical spec and data sheets (50%), analyst reports (46%), whitepapers (35%) and posts on trade publishing sites (30%). The power of Google and the vendor website comes out as well: When more than two third state they start their vendor-related content sourcing with search engines and portals, it shows that the best training the marketers is to read the two B2B studies and draw some conclusion out of it for the future of your own content, PR and marketing acitivites. And if you cannot find a solution, we are happy to help…

Survey: Most CMOs and eCommerce execs lack understanding of the mobile experience

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Harald Wanetschka  / pixelio.de

Harald Wanetschka / pixelio.de

Mobile is dividing the marketers world. While some say, it is critical to their business objectives, two-thirds admit that they don’t have a strong understanding of the mobile-user experience. This is the main finding of a recent IBM Tealeaf study amoung 582 chief marketing officers (CMOs) and e-commerce leaders. For most companies it is clear how customers behave during the initial awareness stages of the sales funnel. Still, they lack understanding around the purchase stages and the reasons behind cart abandonment.

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.

Spot On!
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.

CMOs: Feeling unprepared for digital challenges ahead? 4 in 10 say YES…!

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Sometimes surveys bring out the final truth about the status in which chief marketing officers (CMOs) find themselves in. One of the latest reports by Accenture, titled „Turbulence for the CMO: Charting a Path to the Samless Customer Experience“ was done with 405 senior marketers from 10 countries. It makes clear that almost 4 in 10 CMOs think they don’t have the right set up to manage their business challenges in front of them. They are missing the right tools, resources and people.

The annual survey shows a decline in 5% in preparedness compared to 2011. Especially, the digital transformation is lacking behind. Compared to 2011 10% find it challenging to improve their workforce’s responsiveness to digital shifts. Furthermore, CMOs also stated that they find it difficult to keep up the efficiency of marketing operations (8% increase!).

CMO Digital Orientation Accenture 2013

Some deeper findings indicate what CMOs main interest in the business will be. The most interesting observation in the results is that digital orientation has the biggest gap between importance and performance among the five marketing capabilities.

The top priority for them is profitable growth (87%) and operational efficiency (85%). The good point for agencies and consultants is that CMOs have this as a bigger objective that cutting their marketing budgets (58%). From a long-term perspective, consumer expectations for specific experiences have the biggest impact on marketing strategy (65%).

And I am sure, you will detect some more interesting findings in their infographic.

CMO Challenges Accenture2013

Study: Content Marketing is becoming big in B2B, focus is shifting…

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A recent study by Curata identified the main drivers of content marketing activities in B2B companies. The findings are based on Curata’s poll of 465 B2B marketing professionals in October 2012 from business owners, VPs of Marketing, CMOs, managers, marketing consultants and agencies.

The study explains that content marketing continues to become more and more important for B2B marketers. However, the drivers for content strategies are shifting towards thought leadership and market education.

The results show that 87% of responding B2B marketing professionals use content marketing for business goals targets (5% increase to 2011). Content marketing gets followed by SEO (67%) and event marketing (60%) as further leading channels in marketing strategies in 2012.

Further findings of the study show that although engaging customers (81%) has top priority for their content marketing efforts, thought leadership and educating the market are increasing in their importance for the business. More than half of B2B marketers (56%) state thought leadership as a key objective (13% increase to 2011). Also, educating the market (47%) increased by 3% to last year. Just 24% see SEO as a key objective (still a 5% increase to last year). Former top marketing tactics (print/TV/radio) went down from 32% to 26% this year.

Spot On!
Lead generation is still one of the key marketing goals for B2B marketers according to the survey. Most B2B marketers (82%) see driving sales and leads as their top marketing goal. Establishing thought leadership (42%), increasing brand awareness (40%), or increasing Web traffic (32%) follow in the next places. Content curation is also getting traction as the next step in content marketing. 57% of B2B marketers see it as an important evolution step. However, content curation is in it’s infancy when only 34% of curating content marketers have done it since six months or less. Quite scary I found that a staggering 43% of B2B marketers don’t measure the efficiency of their content marketing efforts. I found interesting that the topic brand advocates was not on the spot in terms of content marketing in this study.

Interview: „Social Business = Creating a smarter workforce & a proven solution to business challenges“

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One-on-one interview with Ed Brill

Ed Brill is Director, Social Business and Collaboration Solutions, at IBM. Brill is responsible for the product and market strategy for IBM’s messaging, collaboration, communications, and productivity products, including Lotus Notes and Domino, IBM SmartCloud Notes, IBM Sametime, Lotus Symphony, IBM Docs, and other related social business solutions. Brill’s focus is on extending and growing the success of these solutions through customer engagement, partner ecosystem development, and harnessing the breadth and depth of the IBM organization.

The Strategy Web spoke with him about the relevance and future of Social Business.

Why is Social Business not only a buzzword?

Leaders in every industry are leveraging Social Business technology to disrupt their industries and create competitive advantage. They are improving productivity and unleashing innovation by tapping into the collective intelligence inside and outside their organizations. With social, they’re creating a smarter workforce and proving that social business isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a proven solution to business challenges.

According to Forrester Research, the market opportunity for social enterprise apps is expected to grow at a rate of 61 percent through 2016. According to IBM’s CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.

What does it take to make a business „social“?

Organizations have quickly learned that a Social Business is more than just having a Facebook page and a Twitter account. In a Social Business, every department in the organization has embedded social capabilities into their traditional business processes to fundamentally impact how work gets done to create business value. A Social Business utilizes social software technology to communicate with its rich ecosystem of clients, business partners and employees.

Social business is a strategic approach to shaping a business culture, highly dependent upon transparency and trust from executive leadership and corporate strategy, including business process design, risk management, leadership development, financial controls and use of business analytics. Becoming a Social Business can help an organization deepen customer relationships, generate new ideas and innovate faster, identify expertise, enable a more effective workforce and ultimately drive its bottom line.

What does it mean to change the culture of a company?

Changing an organizations culture to embrace social must start from the top. Senior leadership must buy in and promote a culture of sharing, transparency and trust. Recent studies by IBM see this shift, today’s C-Suite recognizes the potential of social. Consider this, according to IBM’s 2012 CEO Study, today only 16 percent of CEOs are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years. Similarly. IBM’s 2011 CIO Survey of 3,000 global leaders indicated that more than 55% of companies identified social networking as having a strategic significance to their company’s growth. And finally, 2011 IBM CMO Study reports that CMOs are using social platforms to communicate with their customers, 56 percent view it as a key communication channel. These senior leaders are the key to social business adoption and there’s a real shift occurring, social business is now a business imperative.

What role is the flexible workspace playing in the process?

Companies are able to build virtual teams out of expertise and leadership, regardless of their physical location or title on the organization chart. Today’s workforce expects to be able to share, post, update and communicate with colleagues, customers, and ecosystem using social tools to get real work done. Through those tools, employees who work remotely, use flexible „hot desks“ in company offices, or open floorplans can leverage tools for instant e-meetings, video and audio tools, and embedded applications to process knowledge and activities faster and deliver more value to the organization.

What’s your advice for companies to become a „social business“?

Companies around the world are now focused on becoming Social Businesses, Forrester Research estimates that the market opportunity for social software is expected to increase 60% annually. But perhaps the most daunting part of becoming a social business is how to start the journey. That’s where creating a Social Business Agenda plays a vital role. In order to become successful in social business, an organization needs to create its own personalized Agenda that addresses the company’s culture, trust
between management and employees and the organization and its constituencies, engagement behind and outside of the firewall, risk management, and of course, measurement. The sponsorship for such an activity can be driven by leadership, lines of business, or other organizational catalyst roles.

Study shows: Customers are social, Brands not…!

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The IT company IBM were the first to make brands aware of the perception gap between what customers want from brands on Social Media, and what companies see as necessary. Some new studies from the Chief Marketing Officer Council and Lithium make clear that this perception gap widens.

What customers want…
The CMO Council asked 1,300 customers from around the world in a multiple-choice study. They discovered that 67% followed or liked brands to receive discounts and special offers. 65% replied that they connected with brands in order to get access to games or competitions while 60% want to connect with other customers.

What brands see…
The astonishing fact is that when the same survey was held with 120 CMOs (chief marketing officer), the results showed similar figures with the IBM study: Only 33% of the CMOs believed that their Social Media fans and followers were engaging with the brand for some kind of incentive or reward. Even more, just 27% understood that their customers were after exclusivity in terms of experience and savings.

Spot On!
Social Media is not a top three priority for one in ten CMOs. The reason is not changing for years probably. 67% said a lack of time and resources makes up for their poor efforts. This is even more amazing when we consider that 72% of the customers use Social Media to connect with brands. AND: 80% are more likely to try a product based on a friend’s recommendation on Social Media, which probably means a Social Network. There is no explanation that could make sense for this Social Media ROI (=Risk of Ignorance).

PS: This little infographic illustrates the digital divide between customers and brands.

Study: The importance of cross-channel sales

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Most companies wonder how the purchase funnel looks like when consumers evaluate products they think about buying. A recent study from ATG helps: 30% of consumers reach out to more than three commerce channels to research a product and make a purchase. This shows that retailers and merchants need a broader cross-channel approach to boost sales and enhance customer purchase decisions.

The consumer study found that more than three-quarters of consumers use two or more channels and nearly one-third work with even three or more channels to research and purchase products. While we have all expect that mobile use and social media find their way into consumers‘ online commerce activities, it is surprising that traditional catalog channels are still popular.

„Merchants have heard the call for a stronger cross-channel strategy for many years, but what has been lacking is a deeper explanation about why this is so important. We are seeing a multi-channel revolution now, with a vast majority of consumers using multiple channels and now almost one-third actually relying on three or more channels to complete transactions. Retailers must direct their energy toward fulfilling the unique role and sales potential of each channel. This research illuminates the expectations consumers have for the Web, call centers, the store, catalogs, and email.“
Nina McIntyre, Senior Vice President Marketing and CMO, ATG

The key findings of consumers‘ cross channel experiences…

– 78% use two or more channels to browse, research and make purchases; 30% said they use three channels or more

– 78% of all consumers say they use catalogs to browse and research products or services at least four times a year BUT 40% of those consumers never purchase products or services through catalogs.

– 43% start their research online or with mobile devices. BUT They need to call customer service or call center representative to complete the transaction because the product or service information cannot be found online!

– 39% browse via the online or mobile channel and then make purchases in the store because they prefer to touch and feel the product – reason for 36% is product and brand comparison

Interesting findings on mobile commerce (emphasis on the 18-34 age)…

– 27% of all consumers 18 and older use their mobile devices to browse or research products and services at least four times a year, and that number jumps to 41% for the 18-34 year-old age group

– 13% of all consumers 18 and older and 23% of the 18-34 age purchasing at least four times a year via their mobile devices; 8% of the later are doing it weekly

Spot on!
The study highlights how important it is to link online and offline sales communication and give the customers the same purchase service in multiple channels. It will always be difficult to understand where customers make their final purchase decision and where they finally buy though. This additional study by Google underlines the trend for an offline and online purchase decision mix. One things is for sure again: The need for more awareness around the incorporation of commerce activities in social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter is gaining momentum.

LinkedIn – The importance of using invitation texts

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In the last months, all social business networkers on LinkedIn have shared the same experience. They have received different invitations from people all over the world with the following invitation text…

„I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
– Surname Name“

Short, targeting, and easy to understand – for everybody all over the world. Hmmmm….?!

This raises some questions in my head on the importance of invitation texts. And I would appreciate your views and get some feedback of people who also use LinkedIn for social business networking.

Personalization
Is it ok to use the standardized version of the invitation text by LinkedIn? We are all marketers and we know that personalization is key. So, isn’t it better to re-phrase the standardized text version and write a short PERSONAL message?

Curiosity
If somebody is not writing a personal message, is it a sign that this person wants me to respond to him/her, and ask WHY this person wants me in his/her business social network? Even think about the impact on playing a psychological game on hierarchy thinking. Or is it just the peek a boo effect? Or is it just a hunters and collectors business?

Test
If somebody leaves the standardized personal message, the contacted person might think this is a TEST on his/her social networking capabilities. So, companies might check how serious job applicants take social networking, how quick potential employees respond, or how much somebody is engaged in social media in general. Or just to test if this person understands effective lead generation?

Spot On!
Should not LinkedIn change its service? The one who is contacted cannot see what the contacting person has ticked in the box in terms of the business relationship, he or she is referring to.

What is your view and experience on invitations by social networks – especially from a business perspective.

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