Am I a social media laggard?

I frequently get a variant of this question from many of my B2B marketing colleagues and I usually answer it with a big, fat “it depends”.  Are your customers using social media?  Are important conversations happening online without you (that you should be a part of)? To be honest, I felt that way about two years ago when I was CMO of a fast growing software company.  It seemed like these new social media channels sprung up over night and everyone (except me) was an expert. Without knowing your particular B2B market, I am going to go out on a limb and take the bold position that there is still time to become an “expert” in social media and use it effectively to grow your business.  I know, I know, that is a broad generalization but don’t take my word for it.  Ask some of your customers what they are doing.  Search for your company’s name in Google blog search. Do a few Twitter searches. Check out Twellow to see if any of your competitors are on Twitter. My experience is that most of the action in the social media world is in the B2C realm.  That is not to say that the “enterprise” types are ignoring these new media, but they are no where near a point of oversaturation. Opportunities exist in many markets to become a thought leader.  It is up to you whether it is worth the investment in time and money to make it happen. I’ll give you three simple things to do dip your toes in the social media pool. Sign up for a handful of LinkedIn groups.  There are many of them.  Follow the conversations and drop in an occasional comment. Find three blogs in your space and start reading them. Check out what your competitors are doing with social media (ie blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Slideshare, etc) You will notice I didn’t say “go sign up for Twitter” or “start a blog”.  You need to figure out if these media make sense relative to your business goals and competitive environment. In the end, social media is just media.  You need to align them with your objectives and ruthlessly test them.   Only you can answer the question about how they fit and if you are a...

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Getting started with B2B social media

I spend so much time these days talking about social media that I sometimes forget that these are relatively new channels. The most common question I get these days is “how do I get started”?  Facebook? Twitter? Blogging?  I know it’s a cop out but the answer is a big “it depends”.  Without exactly answering the question, here are a few things to consider when thinking about a social media program for a business that primarily serves other businesses (is B2B). Your goals: What do you hope to achieve?  Is it about awareness building?  Maintaining relationships with existing customers?  Being a part of the general conversations about your brand?  Selling more product? Your audience: Are they using social media? How frequently?  How big is your audience? Level of engagement with your brand: How important is your product or service to your customers?  How interested are they in interacting with other customers? Where they congregate online today: Which sites?  What level of technology adoption/comfort? Internal drivers: Who will represent your company?  Who is using social media today? What is the commitment level from management/the organization? Content: Who will seed the conversations?  Do you have content to share/syndicate? Regulatory: Are there any compliance or regulatory issues to consider? Do you have an approval processes? Resources: How much budget?  How many people will be involved? Measurement: How will you know if you are successful? What are your KPIs? Like the game of poker, social media takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.  There are many options and strategies.  As I have advocated in the past, the best way to identify the right media is test many, kill off the losers and scale up the winners. Good luck and let me know if I missed any other things to...

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Is PR relevant in a social media world?

Regular readers of the ‘slice know that I frequently rant about the need for marketers to be more accountable.  Given the challenge of measuring the direct impact of PR, I could take the easy position that you should kill your PR program because you can’t measure it.  In the past year,  however, I’ve entered this debate in the unusual position of a defender of PR as a growth driver.  My experience in turning PR on and off in companies has shown me the lift (and drop) that comes from a well crafted program. What?  Mr. Tangyslice is going to recommend investing in a program with limited direct measurement?   The answer is yes and here is my logic. Old media is not dead (yet). I know that the prognosis isn’t great for old media but the national TV nightly news still has millions of viewers and depending on your product or service, you may need all of those eyeballs. Traditional press still has online outlets to syndicate your content. PR is about telling your story.  Without editorial outreach you are missing a powerful way to get a third party to validate your message. It isn’t just about traditional media.  Social media is an important part of any integrated PR plan. Content is still king. A well formulated PR plan will generate fresh content for  all of your channels.  I know this is a very “push” view of the world, but sharing is one part of joining the social media discussions and there just isn’t that much new content out there these days. There are still many opinion makers in “old media”. Have you checked out the number of followers the “old media” reporters and news anchors have on Twitter? They still writing about you. Whether you formally participate or not, the press is still writing or talking about your space.  It is pretty much always better to be involved. If you have news.  If you have a new product or service, PR and word of mouth remain really powerful and leveraged ways to get the word out. PR is cost effective.  On a pure cost per impression basis, PR can be a really cheap way to get your message out.  The bigger question is whether or not you reach the right people with you message. So how do you avoid falling into the accountability trap? In a perfect world, we would all have spare budget to measure awareness before and after our campaigns.  Absent that, you can start with clear and measurable goals.  You probably have a sense of your baseline sales,  traffic and lead flow and can look at...

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Interesting presentation on marketing accountability

Reflecting on Marketing Accountability View more presentations from Alain...

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Are you measuring the right things?

I’d like to share a story about a time when I thought I was measuring the right thing (but wasn’t). I had decided that paid search was the right answer for my business.  Many of my competitors were buying keywords and there was plenty of traffic in the space.  The popular terms were bid up to the $2-3 dollar price range and based on my conversion assumptions, I thought I could get the customer acquisition cost tuned to the point where we would have a strongly positive ROI. After about six weeks of adjusting bids, killing off bad ad creative, inserting new ads, and reorganizing ad groups, BINGO, the cost per customer landed within about 5% of my target.  Needless to say, I felt pretty good and was thinking it was time to “pour some gasoline on the fire” by making a big budget request.   It seemed like a sensible thing to do given the acquisition cost and conversions rate. Before making the “big ask” for budget I decided to take one more look at the numbers.  I wanted to make sure these new sign ups would become productive long term customers.  My back-of-the-envelope estimates prior to the campaign had assumptions for the average revenue per customer.  The real data, however, showed that these customers yielded 75% less revenue than our “typical” customers, pushing this campaign into the red.  I was relieved to discover this before dropping  a large sum of money into this medium. The moral of the story: make sure you are measuring the right things and they are connected to real results. In most businesses, activity-based measures like leads or traffic are directional indicators.  In the end, revenue and sales are what really matter. So, what are you doing to connect your marketing activity to bottom line...

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