CONNECTING WITH CONSUMERS

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Tuesday, May 8 2012

From B-to-C to B-to-B

Although this site is dedicated to consumer marketing, it goes without saying that more and more companies are waking up to the potential of new technologies and approaches for connecting with other companies. So in this entry, we go a bit outside the box to take a look at what businesses are doing these days with social media. The best window for meeting that objective may well be Mike Stelzner's  2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, with findings based on a survey of more than 3800 marketers.

SOCIAL MEDIA USE

Among the key results, we see that most B2B marketers claim to be using social media in their businesses, which essentially matches their consumer marketing counterparts:





SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS

Perhaps not surprisingly, B2B marketers are catching up to B2C marketers on Facebook, although they surpass their consumer-oriented counterparts on LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and Google+.  The key to using such channels is to focus on where one's intended audience is likely to be spending the most time.



SOCIAL MEDIA BENEFITS


What about results?  These results reveal some of the potential benefits of social media for B2B marketers:

  • Over 56% of B2B marketers acquired new business partnerships through social media (compared to 45% of B2C marketers)
  • Nearly 60% of B2B marketers saw improved search rankings from their social efforts (compared to 50% of B2C marketers)
  • B2B marketers are more able to gather marketplace insights from their social efforts (nearly 69% vs. 60% of B2C marketers)
  • The one area where B2B marketers significantly lag behind their B2C counterparts is in developing a loyal fan base.  63% of B2C marketers found social media helped them develop loyal fans, compared to 53% of B2B marketers.
  • The fact that many businesses are not seeing a direct link between their social media efforts and increased sales or reduced marketing expenses may have something to do with a lack of acumen as to how results can be measured:  20% of the respondents asked “How do I measure the effect of social media marketing on my business?”


THE FUTURE


Some projections concerning how B2B marketers intend to invest their time with social media also were culled from the study:

  • Respondents claim to be far more likely to increase their use of LinkedIn, with, over 76% of B2B marketers stating that they will increase their use (compared to 55% of B2C marketers).
  • 71% of B2B marketers plan to invest more time in blogging (compared to 65% of B2C marketers).
  • As for Facebook, a majority of marketers predict they will increase their use of Facebook this year, but B2B marketers (68%) lag behind B2C companies (76%).

The top topics B2B marketers want to learn about (compared to B2C) are:

  • Measuring effectiveness of social media (77% vs. 78%)
  • Converting activities to sales (72% vs. 69%)
  • Discovering best social media tactics (69% vs. 74%)



THE LESSON LEARNED

... is one we probably knew already:  Social media is now as much part and parcel of B2B marketing as it of B2C marketing.

SOME LINKS TO CHECK OUT

Why Marketing is Broken and How to Fix It

83% of Consumers Bailed on a Purchase Due to Poor Social Media Customer Service                                                    


Sunday, March 6 2011

Blogging Is Not Dead

Despite recent suggestions to the contrary, written words online - beyond the burgeoning 140-character attention span limit - continue to represent a useful means for companies to connect with their targets. Recent musings about the demise of blogs tend to center on the argument that the new online conversational tools like Twitter, Quora, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on, have rendered blogs as essentially superfluous, redundant, and more time consuming than necessary.  Despite my beliefs to the contrary - my modest Paris Restaurant Reviews and Beyond blog continues to welcome an average of 60 visitors per day - I would probably be the first to agree that the blogosphere is littered with countless blogs, abandoned by their creators who quickly learned they bit off more than they could chew, or discarded like space debris once it was realized the blogs served no more useful purpose.  From the blogger's perspective, to maintain a fully-functioning blog, regularly updated with informative, engaging new content and maintaining a two-way conversation with commenters, well, it's a full-time job (which, for personal bloggers, only pays for the very lucky).  Yet, from a marketing perspective, just look at the evidence - more and more companies are taking advantage of the tool and claim that the outcomes more than offset the effort (at virtually no expense).




In terms of payoff for firms, check out the following results from HubSpot's Rick Burnes' 2009 analysis of 1,531 HubSpot customers (mostly small- and medium-sized businesses; 795 of which blogged):






In a nutshell (but more than 140 characters), Dreamgrow.com's founder and CEO Priit Kallas offers the following reasons why blogs are important:

  • Create an image of an expert
  • Interact with clients and prospects
  • Improve search engine rankings
  • Spread the word
  • Talk about more than just products and services
  • Solve client’s problems
  • Build trust
  • Stay on top of your field
  • Build brand
  • Exercise your creativity
  • Put a human face on your brand
  • Proving ground
  • Foundation for social media activities
  • Differentiate from competition
  • Educate clients, prospects, stake holders
  • Increase traffic
  • Make money

Still not convinced?  Then check out this little graphic from  Jonny at Technobabble 2.0:




Technobabble's blogging vs. Twitter assessment recalls my casual comments above:

Writing as a blogger, I an confirm what many people know, in that it takes a great deal of effort and dedication to compose a blog post. it’s not like twitter where brisk thoughts can be jotted down in 140 characters – instead a blog is a place where context is added to headline, where ideas are fleshed out and where structure is given to a proposition. Twitter and Facebook are not the right platforms for this – this is where a blog shines and becomes a library of all your thoughts and ideas. In essence it is where ‘idea starters’ reside.

But it's all relative, or should I say, connected?  Another finding from the HubSpot analysis:



In other words, the more meaningful and informative your blog content, the more interesting you will be on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, etc.  Easier said than done, but The Next Web offers a great start:  21 Tips to Create A Brilliant Business Blog.

And here are some suggestions as to how to draw a crowd, thanks to Problogger's Darren Rowse:



I hope to offer some more tips based on my own blogging experience at a later date, but you know, it's tired and I'm getting late.
I would love to hear from you, though - consider this a call for blogging tips and ways to keep building your follower base.






Friday, June 11 2010

Teen Influencers

An interesting report by eMarketer today summarizing a May 2010 survey by myYearbook and Ketchum, which takes a look inside the heads of American teen influencers. The survey focused on approximately 10,000 myYearbook users, with influencers defined as the top 15% most active users. I had never heard of myYearbook before, probably because I am not a teenager, nor do I have any running around the house, but apparently if you happen to be a teenager who is active online, you know myYearbook, the most visited website for teens.

The survey's key findings, while interesting, are hardly surprising.  Teen influencers (remember, the survey only studied Americans) are estimated to be 70% more likely to share purchase decision information with their friends, and they invest a great degree of trust in what their friends have to say (52%) vs. the information they receive directly from companies (only 5% trust this source) or advertising (5%). 



Presuming that the majority of friends of influencers are not influencers themselves is informative, and it highlights how the WOM process is a two-way exchange.  We shouldn't forget that influentials are also influenced by non-influentials, and as Duncan Watts has suggested, we are all probably influential these days, what with expanding consumer connectedness.  That high school geek who everyone ignores in the cafeteria may well be chatting away online every night under the auspices of a trendy and hip persona, shaping attitudes and influencing brand preferences. 

I found it interesting that so few influential teens trust blogs, as it seems likely that many teen influentials are bloggers themselves. Highly unlikely that I am pulling in many teen visitors to my Paris Restaurants and Beyond blog - at least until I start reviewing fast food joints.  But it's an interesting question as to the relationships between influentials.  To what extent do influencers talk to other influencers?

The myYearbook study also found that a majority of teens prefer straightforward messages from brands, although they are also receptive to well-executed edgy, funny or shocking messages.



Finally, a look at the product categories that influencers are most likely to recommend, the usual suspects emerge:



eMarketer points out that although about 80% of US teen Internet users visit social networking sites at least once per month, many sign on mainly to chat with their friends and post personal updates, thus making them particularly difficult targets for marketers to reach.  So, how to reach teen influencers, especially when you don't have any running around your house?