B2B companies have been utilizing social media in a variety of ways for several years now. I’m no longer hearing B2B marketing and communications people say “should we be using social?”. Today what I’m hearing is “how can we apply a strategy to what we’ve put in place? How can we show that our social media efforts are helping sales and the bottom line?” It is with that bottom line orientation that we started work on an evolved approach to leveraging social media for B2B companies at Ogilvy and within our technology PR practice specially.
Today we launched a new offering called Digital Influence for B2B. Check out our launch announcement. We aren’t new to using social media in B2B environments. What we are saying is that there is ample data and experience now to evolve our thinking and tighten our approach. Specifically:
The B2B buyer journey is starting earlier with prospects utilizing organic search, content and comments of others to influence their consideration lists. (often without the knowledge or help of sales teams). IDG has great customer engagement research that shows just how many pieces of content a prospect wants to consume before they’re ready to talk to sales.
Digital influence for B2B companies ought to be aimed at driving awareness, sales consideration and conversion and therefore requires an integrated team of specialists in B2B communications, social media and sales enablement.
B2B organizations should be encouraging their employees and ecosystems to engage in social media. B2B decision makers say colleagues are a top source for information influencing purchase decision-making (Forrester) yet many B2B organizations are slow to develop advocacy programs in social media to share the opinions of employees, customers and partners
There’s tremendous opportunity for B2B marketers and communicators (including Tech PR professionals) to consider the ways they can help optimize social media in the B2B environment. Our POV is simply to keep things anchored in the buyer journey and think cross discipline. The collaboration across marketing, sales, and PR has never been more important or valuable.
Media, often chastised for their slow recognition of the impact of technology, is now embracing the digital world and rapidly reinventing its business. That was the theme shared by a panel of media representatives at DCWEEK yesterday. A case in point offered by Angie Goff, with NBC Washington: she raised eyebrows from bosses two years ago when she solicited input from viewers through Twitter, but now it is the station that actively promotes her Twitter handle on-screen while she broadcasts.
Insights from the panelists on the state of media today in a digital world:
• Angie Goff, NBC Washington, on Crowdsourcing: “What people like drives our news content. Whether a journalist or not, everyone has a voice. We are crowdsourcing with people that know more than journalists. We make people feel like they have a piece of the news. I’m surprised that more news outlets don’t have social media reporters that sort through content and data.”
• Vijay Ravindran, Washington Post, on Audience-Building: “Moving from a general content provider to a specific content provider is challenging. You have to know what you are best at and you need a concentrated strategy. We are for Washington and about Washington, we are not a national paper of record.”
• Susan Poulton, National Geographic, on Quality Journalism: “As we opened up to other audiences, some at NatGeo worried whether the quality of photos and the quality of writing would be the same. What we found was that the level of curation was raised by attaching the NatGeo brand and some of the photos submitted were just absolutely amazing.”
• Vijay Ravindran, Washington Post, on Monetization: “Everyone has been focused on building audiences and there has not been much innovation around monetization. There will be a flood of innovation surrounding monetizing original content or it will get smaller and smaller. Those are the only two options. The key for the music business when it went digital was to own the total experience not just the music.”
• Angie Goff, NBC Washington, on Content Creation: “More than ever now, there is a need for constant content. We don’t care where it comes from, but the key is making it relevant and something our users have shown an interest in. We don’t want to be a commercial.”
At the Pivot Conference #pivotcon these past two days in New York, there has been a great spirit of sharing and learning among social media stakeholders at major brands like Unilever, Gap, American Express, IBM, Bloomberg to name a few, their agencies and the ecosystem of technologies that serve as the backbone and analytics of this discipline. Knowing Pivot is very focused on consumer-facing brands, I was delighted to hear a few good examples from b to b technology companies and technology PR professionals too.
A few themes at the conference have stood out, such as:
Conference speaker Charlene Li of Altimeter Group acknowledged what most in the audience were thinking, that these themes are words that are increasingly thrown about, but she was focused on drilling into what do they really mean in the realm of social media.
Her message: That being online representing your brand, say on Twitter, and responding to consumer concerns is simply not enough anymore. Charlene contends that individuals want brands to know and understand them. That It’s not about technology, its about relationships.
So here is how Charlene suggests brands can prepare to do more than simply respond in social media:
There has been a great spirit of learning and humility here, acknowledging that nobody has all the answers and that to be successful in social, you need to be prepared to develop sound social strategy, but also amass the drive to champion its adoption and best practices throughout your organization. And I guess that is the point. Your company culture needs to embrace the inherent openness of social in order to be successful in social. How else can a brand be authentic? (Yes, that word again).
In 1983, as a reporter for the Financial Times, I interviewed Steve Jobs. It was one of many such meetings – but one that I have never forgotten.
This was what we would now call a “pre-brief” about the original Macintosh – a breakthrough product that in many ways changed the way we use computers.
Steve was determined to impress me. I was very determined NOT to be impressed! This guy had a reputation for turning journalists’ heads. It was called the “Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field” and many had succumbed to it.
The interview was in his office on Brandley Drive, in Cupertino (close to the Apple HQ but not in it. He had handed over the CEO role at Apple to John Sculley). By then the renegade Macintosh development group was officially sanctioned by Apple PR – but only just! The company’s primary focus was on office computers.
There was a pirate flag flying over the entrance, a Harley Davidson in the lobby, and a grand piano in the central area inside. Steve’s office was furnished in blonde wood…and was quite Spartan. Was this a PR setup or for real, I was asking myself!
I was ready to ding Steve with tough questions, but he began by asking me if I would like something to drink. I fully expected the PR lady (who came to be a good friend over the years) to fetch the drink, but no! I watched as Steve meticulously brewed, poured and served me a cup of tea (with milk, of course). And I knew that he had won this battle of wills even before the interview began.
It was a little thing that made a big impression. A very Steve thing. One of his many talents was to know exactly how to win people over. And he did it to great effect.
Steve was not always charming. I recall being in a meeting with him a few years later and witnessing him ream out a product manager after I asked an awkward question. The guy told me more than ten years later that he had never forgotten the experience.
Steve was incredibly demanding of his people, incredibly egotistic and eccentric at times, incredibly insightful, yet to use his own phrase, “insanely great”.
Another keen memory of Steve was on the day he returned to Apple – not officially, but as a “consultant”. This must have been in 1996. As I recall, it was the Friday before Christmas and Apple called a press conference. The weather and the traffic were terrible. Only Apple could pull this off!
I got there just in time to hear Gil Amelio, then Apple CEO, announce that Apple was acquiring NeXT computer – the company founded by Steve after his 1985 ouster from Apple.
Steve made a surprise appearance, bounding down the steps of the auditorium only to say that he could not take questions because he had been up all night negotiating the deal. That didn’t stop me. “What the hell are you up to?” I asked him. “”Oh Louise, I am not interested in returning to Apple. I have a family now…” he told me. Somebody snapped a photo and sent it to me. On this occasion I was not caught up in the distortion field. I felt sure that Steve was back at Apple.
Fortunately, my instincts were right. Over the past 15 years Steve Jobs has taken Apple Computer to new heights and “changed the world” (as he liked to say) with new generations of personal computers, phones and tablet computers.
The last time I saw Steve was in the lobby of Intel’s HQ in Santa Clara. He was chatting with a group of Intel people and I did not interrupt. He was skinny and gaunt and it was shocking to see how his illness had affected him. I wish that I had been bold enough to say again: “Steve, what the hell are you up to?” I am sure he would have had a great retort.
Mike Vizard, former editor-in-chief of Infoworld and CRN, former editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise and now entrepreneurial blogger with the IT Business Edge Network, attended CSC’s Technology and Business Solutions Conference in Orlando, Florida, recently, as did I. One evening, CSC hosted a social event by the Hilton Orlando pool and Mike generously gave a couple of hours of his time to talk about the technology industry and the evolving media landscape.
Mike’s blog is called “IT Unmasked” and he definitely unmasked for me some of the mysteries of blogging today. A few of the topics Mike opined on can help all PR professionals:
Every public presenter today should assume his or her remarks will be tweeted and aim to find just the right words that will succeed with both the audience in the room and the audience on Twitter. These parallel aims require different skills and, ideally, today’s public presenter prepares to succeed at both.
Recently, I attended CSC’s Technology and Business Solutions Conference in Orlando, Florida. While there, I listened to half-a-dozen presentations and developed tweets for use by CSC’s social news bureau. I observed in this time what statements were most “tweetable” and these observations may help you as you plan your next presentation.
My observations don’t make for a comprehensive or final list at all; however, they offer a “sideline perspective” that can help you write your next speech or write one for someone else.
In three days of listening to presentations, I observed that the most “tweetable” remarks from the conference speakers had one or more of the following traits in common:
· They were declarative. “We appeal to customers that want more than sidewalk sales of computing capacity.”
· They were opinionated. “Loyalty cards are buying my business, not my loyalty.” “The greatest enemy of application modernization is legacy thinking and parochialism.”
· They use colorful analogies. “There’s no pixie dust in the cloud.” “Cloud is a little like legos.”
· They were short. “Your data is not enough.” “Climate models are the epitome of big data.”
· They were surprising. “All CIO surveys are a waste of time.”
· They were predictive. “We believe today’s innovations are approaching the levels of the dot-com era.” “I believe hybrid is the way we are going to experience cloud over the next 5 to 10 years.”
Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak at the BLUE Mind Summit at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. It was the first conference in history to bring together leaders in neuroscience and ocean exploration. It was an incredible experience and you can read more here on this initial blog post by Wired’s Sheril Kirshenbaum.
So what the heck was I doing there, you might ask. Fair question.
Inspired by our Global CEO, Chris Graves, at Ogilvy PR, we have been following closely how certain advances in neuroscience are translating into the discipline of public relations and communications.
After the jump is the presentation on Slideshare and my speech. A big thank you to Dr. Jennifer Scott for helping me in put this together (Jennifer is on the Board of SeaWeb who partnered with Ogilvy on this presentation). continue reading
My family travels quite a bit for work and pleasure. This past year has been a particularly busy travel year. While living in and flying often to United hub cities over the past 20 years or so, I became a loyal United flyer pretty early on and our kids have followed suit. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise in 2010 when both of our kids, under the age of 12, made United Premier status. This got me thinking about Kid customer loyalty. Our family can’t be that unique, two traveling parents who take their kids with them a lot. So what does United do uniquely to engender loyalty in a family/household that is 100% loyal? Turns out not much. Sure, the kids collect miles and get free upgrades, just like their parents. But isn’t establishing brand loyalty with kids, preteens in this case, like hitting the jackpot for consumer marketers? The fact that air travel is one of those hard-to-switch categories once you’ve achieved status, makes me wonder why United wouldn’t try to lock in my kids now for life? Would it be so hard to add more kid-friendly CE gadgets to the United miles for gifts options? Or offer them Netflix-like movie usage while in the Red Carpet room?
So what does this have to do with tech PR? The PR profession has always listed ‘customers’ as an obligatory target audience in PR plans, but the truth is we haven’t always had consistent access nor purview with this important audience. With the arrival of technologies like social CRM that invite customers to engage with brands from customer care, innovation and enthusiast perspectives, I’d argue that the PR profession has never been in a better position to help engender brand loyalty. This is a step beyond leveraging social media with customers.
When I think of my family of four traveling over the holidays this year, all of us with Premier and higher status on United, I can’t help but think what a huge lost PR and customer loyalty opportunity that was for United. Not that we were somehow so unique, but more-so that United would want to focus on this Frequent Flyer Family, and do whatever it could to engender and promote it. They knew who was traveling ahead of time, the kids’ ages, and their United status. Why not ask more families like us to blog about it? Check-in as a family at different United Family online locations? Submit a video chronicling what travel is like from a kids’ perspective? Provide service enhancement suggestions? (side note: my kids are way better travelers than a lot of adults I see. They can beat most people’s bin-to-gate time, hands-down.)
So PR peeps, let’s deliver in 2011 on that component of the PR plan that pledges to treat customers like a priority audience. Think beyond the social contest and fan page. Which brands do a good job of engendering loyalty across everyone who lives under the same roof? And United, if you are listening, I am all ears and would love to engage with you as the representative of a very loyal, enthusiastic traveling family.
Recently I gave a talk at SMU (Singapore Management University) on the future of social media and its impact on businesses. Here is a blog post by Michael Netzley on the talk.
In a nutshell, I see 4 key drivers that will shape the way we work: Enterprise 2.0, Mobile, Content and Video, and finally Crowdsourcing. All of them are related in one way or another.
If you think that only 10 years ago we were dealing with Y2K, that Google was just one and a half years old, that we were excited by the first USB flash drive… We can only imagine what’s ahead, in the next 10 years.
FHM Germany replaces website presence in favour of Facebook
By the end of July FHM a re-known lifestyle magazine in Germany will dismantle its homepage. Instead, FHM wants to manage its internet activities via a Facebook fan page. “We are where our readers are, on Facebook. Interaction with our readers is our most important focus”, argues a representative of the publication.
OK, everybody seems to be on Facebook and of course giving up a homepage in favour of a Facebook page will save some resources and costs. The decision raised some buzz in social media in Germany when marketing experts and social media discussed the pros and cons of becoming dependent to a third party with its own interests, and how this would result in less opportunities in terms of branding, functionality and tracking.
What is even more interesting is the fact that FHM sees “no future” for its homepage. Looking at the numbers confirms this view. Only 8.000 users per day visited the page, its Google visibility was relatively poor as were the inbound links. As the old site seemed to have low relevance for the target group it would be interesting to know what makes FHM think that this would change on Facebook.
Simply transferring an apparently unsuccessful concept to another platform would not be a very strategic answer and it would not even be very consistent from a financial POV as any budget spent on a concept with low perception would be a poor investment.
As social media is not a one-size-fits-all solution the answer to the question of whether a brand should move to Facebook or not is a quite individual one. But the answer is always NO if it is done without a content and engagement strategy that is tailor-made for the new address. And by the way, it’s a myth that success in social media comes for free.