If you’ve ever been on social media, or even watched the news lately, chances are you’ve seen the fad of unofficial national holidays and resulting hashtags. Whether it’s National Pizza Day, National Taco Day, or my personal favorite, National Dog Day, these random holidays are influencing the way users interact with each other and even more so, the way brands are advertising, particularly on social media.
“Social media is not just a spoke on the wheel of marketing. It’s becoming the way entire bicycles are built.” – Ryan Lilly, author
Social media, two words that were relatively non-existent 15 years ago, have now become a vital part of everyday business, so much so that entire campaigns are now focused around them. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are some of the top social channels used by businesses today.
Before your company dives deeper into social media, it’s important to remember what your company stands for and what you want to portray across each platform. Your brand, target audience, leadership team, company policies and imagery all play key parts in how you will be received on social media.
They always say that everything old can be made new again. On Facebook, we’re jumping back to the 1920s. One of the newest developments on the social platform is the rise of silent video. Before we cue Charlie Chaplin and bring back silent films of the early 20th century, let’s dig into the trend.
In a recent blog post, Facebook revealed some interesting information about viewers’ video-watching habits. According to the social platform, users watched more than 100 million hours of video on Facebook every day. To add to that, Digiday reported that as many as 85 percent of Facebook video views are silent.
Within the last couple of years, Facebook made videos autoplay in a user’s newsfeed – silently.
And that’s probably because Facebook also found that “when feed-based mobile video ads play loudly when people aren’t expecting it, 80 (percent) react negatively, both toward the platform and the advertiser.”
As social platforms gained popularity, the issue that lingered for years was how they would make money by capitalizing on the networks that had been developed and widely adopted by brands and consumers alike. Advertising seemed like the answer, and all things pointed to a shift from organic reach to paid platforms. With algorithm updates like Facebook Zero, which slashed brands’ organic reach, it’s gotten harder for their messages to be seen by even those who have opted in. The writing was on the Facebook wall, and social media platforms turned into pay-to-play arenas where brands must advertise to survive.
If we step back and evaluate the social marketing landscape from a high level, we have to ask ourselves, are we really that surprised about this transition? And better yet, how do these changes affect consumers’ perception of brands’ place on social media?
Big companies like Google have coaxed brands into advertising with programs like AdWords for years. Upon searching, these paid results appear at the top of the screen before the most popular search results. It’s like Google was setting the stage for social platforms to advertise.
As a marketing discipline, social media has reached its challenging teenage years. In terms of strategy, it’s not so young that anything goes. While there are new channels popping up constantly and experimentation is always encouraged, there are established best practices for both B2B and B2C brands. At the same time, it isn’t as seasoned by time as a discipline like traditional public relations.
For most marketers, there are well-respected guidelines about how, where, when and why PR should be brought into the mix. When it comes to social media as a marketing tool, many brands have worked through the awkward junior high years of defining their social identity. Yet while 92-percent of marketers reported in a Social Media Examiner survey that social media is important to their businesses, many are still trying to grow their social media practices into sophisticated, functioning resources of their organizations.
Recently, Meltwater and Forrester hosted a webinar on using social insights to drive business results. In it, researcher and presenter Samantha Nao advocated for investing time and resources into gleaning actionable nuggets from social data. A brand’s entry in the social media world begins when its presence is established on strategically chosen channels and a strategy for activity is defined. But following birth, there is a maturation process from, “Hi! This is our first tweet!” to gathering insights and turning them into business recommendations that can impact operations, customer service, leads and more. Likening the scale to achievements in mobility, Forrester proposes that marketers move along a social intelligence maturity scale from crawling like baby to soaring like Superman.
Here’s how to assess where you’d fit in:
- Crawl Stage – The crawl stage is where it all begins. In this phase, marketers are active on their own social media channels and are monitoring topics related to their businesses. They are listening to social media conversations taking place with them, about them, about competitors and about an industry; but they’re not going beyond that. It’s an awareness phase.
- Walk Stage – In the walk phase, marketers are taking customer insights and validating them through social data. This could mean taking a hypothesis from the sales team about the most important factor in a purchasing decision and using social data to prove or disprove that. The walk phase is similar to market research.
- Run Stage – When you’re ready to run, it’s time to start combining social and traditional customer data through dashboards, scorecards or custom metrics.
- Fly Stage – The business value of social media intelligence really takes flight when an organization has advanced to the point of integration. The flying stage includes integrating social and traditional customer data in the customer database through social listening, appending existing records or collecting social information through opt-ins.
Forrester found that most marketers fall into the crawl or walking phases, while only 6 percent have matured to superhero status. Just like in life, everyone starts out on the floor; but at M/C/C, we are experts in helping our clients run the most sophisticated marketing programs.
These are some of our tips for developing your social marketing maturity and getting the most value from social data.
- Bring other groups outside of marketing in to join the analysis process of social insights. Collaboration between social marketing, customer service and sales teams can be particularly fruitful for B2B businesses. For example, if you are a data center colocation service provider that has the most engagement on content with a financial industry focus, that could serve as a clue for the sales team to pursue financial leads more aggressively or even elevate that effective content to them through a more personal channel such as email.
- Feed recommendations from social insights into real-world operations changes. An example of this could be for a national home auction solution provider who has long established geographic markets flagged as having the highest demand. If a high amount of interest and activity from users in a geographic area that has appeared dormant outside of the engaged social media community, then reconsidering the way properties in that area are organized and presented online could result in a thriving new market and higher number of bids.
- Finally, if you want to fly, the key is to make the match between social user names across multiple platforms with the best corresponding record in your customer database. Remember that only 6 percent of marketers are currently doing this. From here you can really begin to document your customer’s pain points and know what is relevant to them.
Don’t be like Peter Pan. It’s time to grow up in social media, and we’re here to help.
With 380 million registered users worldwide, LinkedIn has become the go-to social media network for business professionals. In fact, 35 percent of community members use the network daily. In the last 12 years, LinkedIn has evolved from a resume holder to a robust network of individuals representing more than three million businesses.
Research shows that 50 percent of LinkedIn members are more likely to purchase from a company they engage with on the social platform; thus making it the perfect place to engage with customers, clients and potential partners about what you do best – your business. There are multiple ways to capitalize on these opportunities. Here are my top five for business-to-business brands:
At the end of every year, marketers gather ‘round in Facebook groups, Twitter chats or comment chains on agency blogs to make predictions about changes afoot in the coming months. Topping the trend lists for 2015 were content marketing as an integrated, company-wide strategy, like Kevin has written about before, and the shift in allocation of digital marketing budgets from primarily social media management and monitoring to paid advertising on social media platforms.
In fact, a study done in partnership between Adobe and the CMO Council found that 53 percent of senior marketers are currently spending part of their digital dollars on social media community growth and engagement. If you’re reading this, that’s probably not news to you. It’s likely that you’re part of the 53 percent. But if you’re also a frequent purveyor of M/C/C’s marketing intel for marketing experts, then you’re well aware that organic community growth and engagement on the largest and most traditional social platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, has plateaued and very quickly – like as quickly as you can say, “I-P-O!” – and has become a pay-to-play game.
As a proud Facebook account holder circa September 2004 and an early adopter when it comes to social media (Hello, Ello!), I have two reads on this paradigm shift. The bad news: the best things in life aren’t free, after all. The good news: they’re pretty darn affordable, though! We’ve been strategically planning and implementing paid social media campaigns for a variety of B2B and B2C clients using Facebook and Twitter’s self-serve platforms for more than a year now, and have seen incredible results in every case – including our own.
We’ve implemented unique campaigns with individual messaging to support separate goals such as growing a Facebook page with the right fans during the discovery phase of the funnel and then nurturing the acquisitions with promoted posts during the consideration phase. As long as we’re targeting correctly, these social communities are built of prospective customers whose interests align with our clients’ product and service offerings at every step of the way. Where one client’s average spend on converting a lead through online advertising could swing north of $40, our targeted social media ads were able to get our messaging in front of them for a mere $0.25 a pop.
That’s not to say that one program should be scrapped in favor of the other. On the contrary, they are great complements to each other when running in tandem, work to establish brand consistency and strive to achieve the greatest action that a prospect can make based on the situation and environment in which they’re viewing each type of ad.
With costs as low as a quarter per action, it could be hard to believe that the CMO Council cites eMarketer as uncovering that worldwide social network ad spending reached $16.10 billion last year marking a 45.3 percent increase over 2013. Just to recap – that’s the spending number before we officially entered the year of social advertising! Now that we’re six months in, I bet you’re curious to hear about what we’ve seen so far on that front.
The latest live-streaming apps allow you to record or watch broadcasts from your mobile device. Two apps in particular, Meerkat and Periscope, seem to be capturing the most attention and attracting the most users. The buzz surrounding live-streaming apps really kicked off with the launch of Meerkat at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive. Many labeled it the “sweetheart” of the interactive conference, and not since the launch of Foursquare in 2009 had SXSW produced such an app hit. It didn’t take long for Meerkat to get some serious competition. As the app was gaining steam at SXSW, Twitter purchased Periscope to get in on the action and go toe-to-toe with Meerkat. Twitter even went as far as cutting off Meerkat’s ability to port people’s social connections over from Twitter to its own service. More on that here. General functionality of the apps is fairly similar, but let’s see how their features compare.
So you think you’re prepared for your business to have a productive, engaging social media program for your B2B brand? While social platforms are a great way to get your product and services in front of the right audiences, the platforms were not originally designed for this. Each platform runs a little differently, but they were all designed to engage humans through social actions. At M/C/C we don’t always do what’s “prim and proper,” but we always do what is right for our clients. So we’ve compiled our own etiquette list: The Unwritten Rules of Social Media Courtesy. Take a look below to see how your brand should socialize on social media and how you as an executive should interact with your brand there.
No, it’s not what you think. LinkedIn doesn’t have a new girlfriend named Lynda. Last
month LinkedIn declared its intention to purchase Lynda.com, a leader in online training videos. With more than 300 million members worldwide, the new acquisition brings deeper implications for LinkedIn to the surface.
Let’s start off with a little bit of background on Lynda.com. Known as “a leading online learning company teaching business, technology and creative skills to help people achieve their professional goals,” Lynda.com is based in Carpinteria, California, and was co-founded in 1995 by Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin. Lynda.com offers a wide range of classes from marketing to photography to basic business principles in the form of membership packages that start at less than $20 a month. Continue reading “LinkedIn Gets Serious with Lynda.com” »