Brain Vibe

marketing muses to stay engaged

Has Facebook Lost It’s Cool Factor with Teens?

With the imminent IPO of Facebook and the record setting valuation, I had an interesting conversation with my son and nephews this weekend. It seems they have stopped using Facebook. The reason, Mom, Dad, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are on Facebook and, horror of horrors, they want to be friends!

So, what does it say about Facebook when those that gave rise to your business become disenfranchised and are walking away, even if slowly? Does this erode your valuation? Or, we’re these college and teen users simply early adopters and attrition is inevitable and of little business impact for the long run? Is the real opportunity the mature audience with more buying power? Either way, a changing user demographic means a changing growth projection.

Something to think about when considering that Facebook is speculated to be worth $100B.

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Filed under: social media, , , ,

B2B Marketing Dilemma – It’s My Social Media Account!

Back in December I read an article regarding an employee of a British company that built up quite a following to promote his employer and then left.  The company sued, saying the account was their along with all the followers.  “Experts: Twitter account case may blaze new trails in social media law” CNN December 27, 2011

Personally, I’ve tried hard to keep my online presence separate from my employer (Trillium Software a Division of Harte-Hanks).  But, as we ramp up social media activity, there is pressure to blog, join LinkeIn discussions, tweet, and generally use our personal social media accounts to help promote the company.  The irony is that as the head of product marketing and programs it is my team, and yes me, that is encouraging this.  However, I’m a bit hesitant, and here is why.

My social media marketing manager is doing a lot of the promotion and monitoring for our campaign and social media bureau.  He uses his LinkedIn account primarily.  It brings up the challenge of separating personal goals and employer goals.  Remembering the article above, I suggested he create work identities that are specific to Trillium Software to avoid conflicts of interest and to help him maintain his personal brand.  Sounds easy enough.

Not so fast.

Twitter is fairly simple.  LinkedIn poses issues.  It seems he tried to set up a professional profile on LinkedIn and they shut it down.  I understand this reasoning and actually agree with it.  As I move around LinkedIn I am those truly trying to network have much more credibility in my mind than those just trying to sell me something.  Also, LinkedIn wants to ensure that they remain a network, not a marketing platform.  Their value is business relationships for jobs, career growth, and networking.  Promotion is secondary, even if lucrative.

  • So, what is a social media company representative to do?
  • Where do intellectual property right begin and end?
  • When will social media account management catch up with employer non-compete and IP trends?

There is a real disincentive to network as part of your job with the threat of legal action when you separate from your employer.  Even if the separation is amicable, why would an employee want to give up his/her account where they have built relationships and a network.  The lines are very blurred between personal and professional and right now, personal seems to be at a distinct dissadvantage.

Any suggestions on what you have done?

Filed under: b2b, personal brand, social media, social media marketing, , ,

Social Media Insight to Optimize Paid Search and Display

What if you could target your search engine marketing (SEM) efforts in paid search and display the way you target your direct marketing efforts?  Analysis of your b2b social media networks may give you that edge.

In my quest to get more out of social media than just followers and a soapbox platform, I am looking at what content my network follows, reads, and shares more closely.  In my last post I talked about the analysis of hashtags in tweets, and how that could help me better understand the personas of my network.

Now I am looking at what else I can gather and what I could do with this.  In particular, I am interested in the content being shared: blogs, web pages, video, etc.  The titles tags, description meta tags, and urls all have keywords that tell a lot about interest areas and build a richer persona.  This step got me thinking, could I tighten alignment to my network by optimizing…?

  • My paid search to reflect keyword tendencies in shared content
  • My display placement based on sites aligned to my market offers
  • The SEO on my own website

Right now, SEM allows anonymity which creates challenges when you want to focus digital marketing efforts on existing customers or known prospects.  My paid search and media plans look at broad behavior, demographics, and firmographics but specifics on their web patters at the individual level is sketchy.  However, if I align my followers to my customer list and profile their specific personas compared to the broader market, I get much closer to a targeted campaign.  This makes my digital efforts more closely resemble my direct marketing efforts – smaller targets, highly relevant content shared, higher conversion.

Another reason to think about  b2b social media beyond influence marketing and make it work to drive revenue and customer relationships.

Filed under: b2b, blogging, customer relationship, social media marketing, Web Analytics, , , ,

Does Data Quality Matter in Social Media?

Data driven marketing is reliant on high quality data, but with the introduction of social media and its pervasiveness in the marketing tool kit, it is easier to engage with your market without having to have correct emails, addresses, or profiles. It begs the question, does data quality matter anymore for marketing in a Web 2.0 world?

I think the answer is, “Yes, but…”

Direct marketing and bottom of the funnel mindset is what most B2B marketers work in as they have been more closely ties to sales goals.  Where sales won’t accept a lead without knowing who it is and the appropriate contact information at a minimum, it has to be collected at every opportunity.  Without this information, marketing also doesn’t have an adequate single view of the customer to profile and segment reliably.  In this context, data quality is critical as it determines if a lead is passed, how to pass the lead, and align the lead to existing opportunities or account profiles.  Name, company, location, phone, and email are the cornerstone to this.

Social media is not outreach, it is in-reach.  It isn’t lead generation, it is relationship generation.  You don’t collect details on your connections and contacts.  You cultivate engagement and conversation.  Without the need to maintain a list of connections in your CRM and the ability to leverage social media organizers like HootSuite to communicate to your community, contact information is somewhat irrelevant.

So, where is data quality necessary?  Having a single customer view that is inclusive of social media profiles and engagement. At some point, us B2B marketers do need to move relationships out of the 2.0 world and into face to face engagements, particularly for complex sales.  At this transition point, the social media profile becomes an invaluable part of the customer view.  Just as CRM captures order transactions, direct marketing interactions, and sale interactions, it also needs to show social media interactions.  Why? The social media interaction is probably more telling of your relationship with your customers than traditional interactions.

The catch? Linking a limited profile from LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook to a standard contact profile in CRM can be problematic.  Your CRM system may not have the ability or capability enabled to link the 2.0 world with your customer data. You may not have a social media platform that is capturing what is needed to integrate your customer data between online and CRM.  Or, it does, but integration needs to be established.  Those are just a few examples.

Ultimately, data quality will matter for social media as B2B marketers mature in their use and linkage of 2.0 activities to best practices for lead creation, nurture, and pipeline generation.  We live for now in customer relationship silos, but the real advantage and benefit of social media to show ROI for marketing will be improved integration and profile management across the entire relationship.  As soon as integration is introduced, just as in the past, data quality plays a critical role.

Filed under: b2b, CMO seat, crm, data quality, marketing technology, social media, , ,

Digital Conversationalist

As a B2B marketer, social media success may still be allusive.  You blog, tweet, post on LinkedIn and Facebook. You are vested in the conversation.  But, are you really ready? How are you executing?

I am no expert.  By far, this is my most vexing question to date.  What I have done is really to start looking at what other companies seem to do, talk to fellow marketers, and try to figure out what works to build a vibrant community.  Here is what I’ve seen and taken away in my quest.

Entry level marketers and interns have typically been tasked to take on the social media effort.  In B2B, this can be a real challenge and barrier to realizing value from your initiative.  There is significant finesse, knowledge, and networking ability that is required.  Simply putting your brand, subject matter expertise, and yes, promotion out there is not for the inexperienced.

You can leverage a PR agency.  However, do they really know your business?  They do a great job of triangulating your message with experts and media.  They may even be there to ghost write.  This approach can get your effort up and running more effectively.  Over time, it is costly and slows the conversation.  Conversation is not sustained or maybe not achieved at all because of the bureaucracy to produce and eventually turns the social media effort into direct marketing and promotion or worse yet, the promotion and branding of external experts, not you.

You may have created a social media or blogging bureau and established a set of social media guidelines.  Subject matter experts are tasked with writing blogs and tweeting.  How is this working for you?  Do you have the steady stream of content?  Many times it is difficult to get people to commit to contributing if they are busy (I admit to this trap) or don’t see the value and return.

My conclusion is that what B2B companies need to start thinking about is how to be the Digital Conversationalist. Don’t just pay this lip service.  The best social media efforts are balanced between thought leadership and a vibrant customer driven community.

Here is my Digital Conversationalist job description:

This person is already versed and experienced in what you offer, is a good writer, but can also “pass the beer test” with a wide audience in your customer base.  This person can work the digital room and get discussion going.  They can balance thought provoking contribution with the ability to ask questions and get responses.  They utilize and test social media tools to illicit the most and best discussions.  They can turn lemons into lemonade, addressing discordant views and complaints in ways that promote your brand and give you insight you didn’t have.  A Digital Conversationalist knows they are only part of the conversation and not the center of attention.

Filed under: blogging, networking, social media, social media marketing, ,

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