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.
‘The Social Media Revolution’ a phrase that has become ubiquitous over the past few years, is being used by people all over the globe. The fast-paced life we lead has created demand for easier and simpler communications. Consumers are no longer passive, but rather active producers of content. There is no doubt that the Internet is a wondrous creation, but what has generated an unexpected leap in web activity and really taken it to the next level can all be summed up in two words ‘Social Media.’ continue reading
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.”
Here is a link to a presentation I gave yesterday at the Content Marketing Strategies Conference in Berkeley. It’s about the role of Public Relations in content development and activation. Unfortunately some of the videos I used are missing in the slideshare version.
These the four key take-aways:
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.
A company cannot just start a twitter and/or facebook account without having any competences in this field. Well, (technically) it can. But acting in an unfamiliar but public arena generally bears risks and this is especially true for social media. But what if a company does not have the man power – or the know-how – to professionally run a social media campaign? Fortunately, there are PR agencies that offer professional advice.
But when social media is all about transparency and authenticity how can that be handled through an external PR agency? Ok, this seems to be a no-go and could mean the end of all social media activities in the above mentioned case.
But wait – taking a closer look at the issue, there is an approach to outsource major parts of an enterprise’s social media activity without interfering with the social web’s ethos. Most important thing here: major does not equal all. A successful outsourcing of social media marketing requires active partnering and contribution from both the enterprise and its chosen agency.
At the end, it is much more crucial that the created content sticks to the social web’s rules and expectations than the question of its originator. It is important that a consistent delivery of quality content is guaranteed. And that is a task a social media specialist who is familiar with the company’s business can fulfil even better – if he is not stuck in time-consuming approval processes.
Shortly after Friday morning’s US – Slovenia World Cup match, which ended in a draw following a absolutely terrible contentious officiating call, I logged onto Twitter to join scores of US soccer fans tweeting their collective disgust over the outcome only to reach Twitter’s ‘fail whale’ screen…my second ‘fail whale’ in less than a week of World Cup play.
These fail whales led me to do a bit of research about the popularity of Twitter around sporting events and how this is being utilized by marketers.
As it turns out, both the World Cup and the NBA Finals have been a bit overwhelming for Twitter. Records for posts in a single day have been broken and re-broken, with major peaks occurring around the times points are scored. As Benny Evangelista of the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out in a recent blog post, Twitter has experienced several site outages, slowness, bursts of error messages, duplicated or missing tweets and timeline problems that can be attributed to the World Cup.
Beyond a discussion of why Twitter’s architecture is unable to handle the tweet traffic of so many sports fans, this points to an interesting shift in the demographic of Twitter users (see Claire Cain Miller’s excellent NY Times article here). Where once the social networking site was composed primarily of early adopters in hi-tech hot spots, it has become apparent that the makeup of Twitter has started to reflect the interests of the general population.
As Twitter more closely mirrors a cross-section of the US and the world at large, it has become a valuable tool for measuring the buzz associated with any given product or event. In a recent Wall Street Journal blog post, Jennifer Valentino-DeVries describes how Twitter is now one of the primary measurement tools for determining which brands are winning the World Cup marketing battle. Much to the dismay of official FIFA World Cup sponsor Adidas, Nike has dominated World Cup online chatter, with a dominant share of Twitter mentions.
While ambush marketing has long plagued official sponsors, the rise of Twitter and social media creates new headaches for official sponsors. As brands learn to capitalize on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, their successful domination of world events is leading savvy marketers to ask whether the sponsorship of a major sporting event is necessary in the era of social media.
For the next Olympic Games, should companies shell out millions of dollars just to have exclusive rights?
While I believe that sponsorship of major events continues to have a significant ROI, sponsors must be aware that the marketing game has changed. As Nike has successfully demonstrated, to become the brand most commonly associated with the World Cup, a company must make use of social media to drive creative content across the Internet.
When considering the ROI for sponsorship of major events, one thing is certain–sponsorships alone will not ensure a victory. Word is still out on if scored goals will.
Whoever uses Facebook, Twitter and Co. knows them: people who just spread nonsense in the social web universe. At least the Twitter question has changed from “what are you doing?” as in the early days of 2006 to “what’s happening?” What should be clear is that “I’m drinking coffee” is not a message at all.
A few tricky brands took advantage of the overload of information and implemented the concept of “oversharers” in their social media strategy. Pringels for example gives annoyed users the chance to rebuke their friends’ share-mistakes with a button, called the “Overshare” button. Whenever it is activated your friend gets an e-mail from the Pringels help service that leads them to the Pringels website“helptheoversharers.com”
On average, approximately 1% of a site’s audience generates 20% of all its traffic through sharing of the brand’s content or site links with others. These “influencers” can directly influence 30% or more of overall end actions on brand websites by recommending the brand’s site, products or promotions to friends.
What this seans is that successful social media marketing isn’t simply about amassing thousands of followers, but instead precisely identifying the most influential members of your audience and recognizing them for their value. By directly engaging one influencer with exclusive opportunities, special offers, and unique content, you are indirectly engaging thousands of other people who are part of this influencer’s social sphere.
The first step is to indentify the 1%. What motivates them to promote your product or brand? For most people spending time to share content with friends or followers is not about fortune, it’s about fame. Make them famous, let them know that you see what they are doing and feed them with special content. Engaging in social media means before all else you must listen, audit and rate the social audience in your to communicate in the end with the right influencers.
I came across the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s history of Facebook privacy statements yesterday while investigating reactions to Facebook’s new information-sharing features, and the response they elicited from legislators. It got me thinking about the profound communications problem many companies are just beginning to confront.
Privacy is being forced to evolve - yes, by companies like Facebook and Google - but also by consumers who are sharing more and more about their lives without regards to their own privacy, and now, by their growing interest in legislating the issue, by our governments.
Brands that play in this space - and these days, which brands don’t - have to find a way to maintain the trust they have with consumers while experimenting with different privacy regimes (in the case of platforms like Facebook), or with the wealth of data that social platforms can make available to them. With so much changing, so fast, it seems unlikely that companies or consumers will willingly walk away from the potential benefits of tapping into the data, or, in the case of consumers, happily handing it over to derive some other benefit.
So while the world waits for the forced evolution of privacy to come to some sort of generally accepted conclusion, what to do? It seems to me that the only way to navigate these shifting sands is to follow some very simple communications rules:
There’s certainly more a company can and should do, but it seems to me that companies often lose sight of simple communications precepts that help them demonstrate to their audience that they care, as they invariably do, and take their audience’s concerns seriously. At the end of the day it amounts to following the golden rule, but don’t the pressures of business life often make it seem much more complicated?
By now, almost all the western world — and a good chunk of Asia and Africa — have all heard of Apple’s latest breakthrough product, the iPad.
The sheer number of impressions this launch has generated is in itself impressive. But what is even more impressive is the use of early adopters and key influentials to drive the story, enthusiasm, excitement and buzz for Apple, not the company itself.
Remember that Apple is not a company that is that into social media, yet check out the Twitter hashtag #ipad and end user blogs to get a sense for the mountain of coverage and interest generated for the iPad.
How does it do this? Good old-fashioned smart PR and a communications strategy that relies on the magnification effect of early adopters and influentials to amplify launch noise via traditional PR, Word of Mouth (WoM) buzz and aspirational excitement.
Here’s some of the ground rules:
1. Carefully pick and choose your hero product(s) for the year and put as much wood behind these arrows as you can. The iPad was THE launch of 2010 for Apple. The company maintains ongoing influencer relations, a thorough reviewer’s program, and ongoing engagement for other products, like their laptops, iPods, etc., but the focus was iPad and later this year iPhone OS version 4.0. That’s it. Laser-like focus, picking and backing your product bets, not spreading the wealth across a wide product range that all cry out for PR support, even though they may be close to end-of-life (EOL) and have reached the downward side of the S-curve. The other products bask in the halo of the hero products. See what the iPod did for Macintosh sales post launch? See what the iPhone has done for iPad sales?
2. Focus on long term influencer and early adopter relations and engagement. These are your natural allies. Cultivate them, let them talk for you because they ultimately carry far more weight and credibility than your own Press Releases, blog posts or advertising. Engage with not just technology influencers, but with business, social and celebrity folk that give you brand cache and style. It’s no accident that Stephen Fry is an Apple fan boy, so is half of Hollywood, thanks to decades of engagement with product placement on set and off set, with the stars themselves. Every episode of Seinfeld has a Macintosh and a small statuette of Superman in the background. Check it out next time re-run comes on. At one point, Jerry Seinfeld had a Mac too (and probably still does even though he did ads with Bill Gates last year).
So how does this translate into the iPad launch? How do these uber-strategies map with launch tactics? Well, here’s a synopsis:
The iPad launched officially on April 1, but embargoes were set for March 31. This means a wave of launch buzz and hype 24 hours prior to people being able to buy one (not counting the rumours and speculation in the prior nine months).
Key influencers were seeded with Product Verification & Testing (PVT) units three to four months out in some cases, depending on when these units were deemed stable enough and of sufficient quality to pass muster for people that will forgive non-production machine foibles because they love the technology and because they consider themselves Apple-insiders. These units went to key Apple business partners/friends (remember Google CEO Eric Schmidt got a pre-production iPhone and not so surreptitiously flashed it at Davos, where it stole the headlines rather than dry economic prognostications?), celebrities, technology gurus, etc. Also note that they all honoured the strict Apple NDAs — no insider wants to be ostracized and get thrown out of the club.
Journos/key bloggers in the US (a very select few, high impact folks) had their iPads under NDA for a week prior to launch, enough for them to play and enjoy, but not enough time for them to be too heavily critical. Launch reviews reflect that and it’s commonsense when you think about it. The shine always rubs off the shiny new toy the longer you have it. This early enthusiasm sets the tone for the launch coverage, providing the initial launch gestalt.
Celebrity Twitter-ers helped fuel the social media buzz. Stephen Fry was on the US West Coast at launch (funny how that happened) and put up video of the un-boxing of his iPad. He openly Tweeted he had one a day prior to the rest of the population. Robert Scoble did the same thing, except for the video of the unboxing (he later went out and bought two more iPads because his family kept hijacking his — and Tweeted about it). Reviews popped up the day before the official launch by Walt Mossberg and David Pogue in the US — two of the most highly respected tech journos in the country. Surgical media placement and engagement for maximum impact rather than a broad ‘hit as many as you can’ approach most companies take.
Foreign (that is, non-US) media got flown to a glitzy New York event and even if there was no pricing for their markets, they got to play with units at launch in salubrious surroundings and with high profile Apple execs. They in turn also had the opportunity if they were keen enough to buy their own units in the US, which judging by the coverage, a good few did, thereby continuing the buzz momentum.
And the result is, as you can see, a wave of initial great coverage that drives WoM, then sales and sets the tone.
More importantly its a self-reinforcing cycle of clever, surgical market engagement that fuels Apple’s mystique as a cult rather than as a technology company.
And the interesting thing is that other companies with ‘insanely’ great products could be doing the same to build their own mystique and stories. Mass communications doesn’t have to be massive, just smart.
Postscript: The iPhone OS 4.0 was announced a few days ago. Only Apple developers are supposed to have the beta code for testing. Stephen Fry, who last time I checked can’t cut a line of code, Tweeted yesterday that he had just installed it on his 3G iPhone. General availability for the masses is not expected until the northern hemisphere summer/autumn (fall).
Media Relations Myths