Should Everyone Be on Facebook? #B2B #apps

23 08 2010

Fostering strong and vibrant online communities is a key goal in any social media program. Social media allows businesses to harness the power of consumer referrals in ways not seen before. This isn’t new news; industry analysts and companies have recognized this for a number of years and the number of companies using social media to expand their consumer base and brand loyalty has grown exponentially. While more and more companies are launching their own Facebook pages, few utilize them to their full potential as Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group pointed out recently in his presentation on The 8 Success Criteria for Facebook Page Marketing. Owyang’s research revealed that most brands lack a concrete and well-defined strategy and fail to fully utilize Facebook’s features to build word of mouth among their customers. Owyang also lays out the key steps for successful Facebook page marketing, including:

  1. Set community expectations
  2. Provide cohesive branding
  3. Be up to date
  4. Live authenticity
  5. Participate in dialogue
  6. Enable peer-to-peer interaction
  7. Foster advocacy
  8. Solicit calls to action

This is great advice and is part of the key strategy for any Facebook community we enable our clients to develop, but it overlooks a couple of key issues that indicate where and how you engage. Without addressing these issues, businesses may end up with a false sense of possibility of the activity they can create on Facebook. Not all brands possess the sex appeal, business model & resources that the Fortune 500 companies Owyang researched do. So how should these brands use Facebook? Here are some points I would like discuss with the social media marketing community and the Altimeter Group when answering this question:

  1. Is Facebook marketing right for everyone? The implication from Owyang’s presentation is that because Facebook is where most people are already at and where everyone’s going, all brands should be engaging their communities on this platform. But is this true for Business-to-Business (B2B) brands? If your customer is not a single consumer that can advocate for your brand, but rather another corporation or a non-profit or a school district or a municipality, is Facebook a platform that you can reasonably expect to grow your business or should it be approached as a tool to expose your corporate culture and role in your industry as a thought leader? At Extanz, our experience indicates that Facebook must be one of a number of platforms used to reach your community in the B2B sector and resources should be spread across blogging, bloggers relations?, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.
  2. If a business doesn’t have the resources to be designing custom applications to foster advocacy and interaction, are third-party applications a tool brands will find success with? Our use of third-party apps for our clients varies dramatically according to clients. These apps typically request access to your page information and the right to use the results of your participation. While for certain demographics this is not an issue, in other markets, community members may be completely unwilling to allow the access and participate via a third-party app. Sometimes they are staunch protectors of their privacy, other times they are web-savvy enough to understand the access these apps are gaining or they are web-challenged enough to be intimidated by the technology.
  3. If the sex appeal isn’t there for your brand, either because it’s not a well-known brand or it’s B2B or it’s not an industry people generally engage around or it’s a brand with a community that demands privacy, will the community engage? Our experience says yes, but it requires a strategy that is not discussed as part of the 8 Successful Criteria produced by Altimeter. So, I’d propose we add a criterion: Be a resource for your community and activate around the community interests, not just your brand. Provide them substantive and useful content e.g. industry news, tips for their lifestyle related to your service or product, cutting edge developments or trends, local news that is important to the community etc. Do not just provide updates about your brand and company news.

Social media and Facebook marketing are unquestionably an integral component to online marketing and branding for most industries. The key is ensuring you lay out a strategy that carefully balances your business objectives with the needs of your constituent community as they can be quite different before you dive in rather than simply industry standards as your strategy.

What are your thoughts on the above issues? Does Facebook work for B2B marketing? Should third-party apps be presented in a way that insinuates they would be useful and necessary to Facebook marketing strategy for all brands? How have you engaged communities that don’t automatically want to talk about your brand?

With thanks to Igi’s TV Network and Spencer E. Holtaway for the images.

Katie

Advertisements




Socializing Media, can you stand the heat?

14 04 2010

If you’ve started your own social media program, you’re ahead of millions of other companies. Kudos to you. But it’s a reflective path. The most recurrent question we get is  “what are the tools you recommend?” Give them a hammer … everything looks like a nail. Tell them ‘blogging’ and they mostly melt. Whether you hire an ‘expert’ to give you all the keys to social media or you believe that your marketing department can actually integrate these activities into your existing public relationship framework, it mostly becomes another thing to do in the day.

Over the last few years developing and managing social media programs, we have had, of course, some customers who have said: “that’s it, we understand what you’re doing, we’ll integrate this back in house” … guess what? They mostly fail. Social Media tools and ‘copy paste’ behaviors will not solve the ultimate reason why social media is ripping through business and friendly communication. A social media strategy is integrated with every bridge you build between people and vice-versa. The ‘heat‘ is what I believe is a deep cultural change within a company and its constituency.  Social media champions are the humanizers of a company and its constituents.  Take every chance to make a warm connection. It’s easier than it looks. You know who actually has value in your community eco-system.

So what are social media agencies (most :)) good at?

Augmenting your social media intelligence and bring best practices to ramp up quicker and avoid pitfalls or an all too common waste of energy.
Bringing the constituent voice out: It’s not about you or your brand (rant…). Too often, I read a post starting like “here at ‘brand name’ we blah blah blah….bam! you just lost 50% of your readers right there. If they come to your blog or your facebook fan page, teach them something. Make it worth their while. Your discount coupons maybe creating some instant buzz, but they suck at creating a meaningful relationship with your constituents.
Perfectly geared to be an outsourced journalist for your brand: Marketing departments are good at creating ‘case studies’; they do less well at bringing conversation. The most enlightened companies actually learn to let the message go…because it’s not about the message. It’s about curating and creating great content which empowers the user or customer. It’s a lot easier to craft these stories from outside of the company.
Helping identify and build relationships with who matters: Inside the community (the best fans or just finding the right followers) and outside (influencers, bloggers, journalists, independent writers)…
Looking outside the marketing department: All too often, marketing is in plain control and it’s becoming one of their channels. Social media is NOT another advertising channel and an agency can help foster conversation with the constituency, including other departments or locations inside the company.

Navigating the new media landscape: We used to have paid media, now we more like five ways to make use of media according to Brian Solis: Earned media, owned media, paid media, participatory media & sponsored media.
Providing the Social Media Glue: Most of all, a social media agency is here to glue all the pieces together. It starts with a coherent publishing strategy, taking into account the constituents and moving into fostering community engagement inside and outside (PR 2.0).

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Then let’s make it the top 100 list of best companies to use social media!

@YannR





Jeremiah Owyang VS Forrester Research or the reality of digital footprint divorces

21 08 2009

Jeremiah Owyang

Yesterday’s news about Jeremia Owyang leaving Forrester research is a very important day for social media and its use by businesses. I’ve been a fan of Jeremiah’s work for a long time now. He was best described as an “idea factory” by his boss and I totally agree with this. He’s made (and will continue) to make a huge impact on social technology adoption and best practice “crystallization”.

Now, what were they thinking at Forrester? I am fascinated by the unplanned and de facto mash-up that is occurring between personal and corporation / brand digital footprints, especially since social networks have exploded.

Here are some stats to explain what I am referring to:

Forrester Jeremiah Owyang
Joined Twitter 2007-07-25 2006-12-19
Number of Followers (as of today) 24,000 51,000
Joined Forrester N/A October 2007
Number of tweets (as of today) 877 16,500

Obviously, Jeremiah has blown away Forrester in terms of followers but also in mastering the different social media tools. It was one of his best career moves as he wrote yesterday. Yes, it was his job to master those tools, but obviously his digital footprint and influence is bigger than Forrester’s in some ways. Onto another data point, web-traffic: Jeremiah’s blog is pretty much on a par with Forrester.com as you can see on the Compete graph…
Bottom Line –Jeremiah leaving Forrester is a huge loss for Forrester and probably even bigger loss compared with a similar departure 3-4 years ago before the social media boom.

I think it’s also a great example on how companies should think about leveraging the personal digital footprints of their employees, while making sure that the brand’s digital footprint grows proportionally to the employees they empower. Related questions include…

– Should Jeremiah have actually been using Forrester’s twitter account or blog more?
– Would Jeremiah have been as successful if he hadn’t used his personal accounts for work? I also prefer talking to people than brands directly… there’s a human side that is inherent to our gregarious nature.
– Should Forrester have asked him to tweet a little bit more on @forrester ? (877 tweets for @forrester vs 16,500 for @jowyang)?
– Will the person they hire after Jeremiah be required to…?
– Will employees be able to negotiate the use of their personal digital footprint when joining a company?
– Will employers require a minimum digital footprint from their employees?

My point is that Jeremiah’s digital footprint is leaving with him when he leaves Forrester. The long tail effect of his personal blog will be massive as he has worked as a very thorough and systematic aggregator, and like when Robert Scoble left Seagate to go to Rackspace, there will be a serious impact that no company has measured before.

To me, it’s a wake up call for companies using or considering social media. The pioneers you empower to guide your company through those green fields will become very powerful. This is good for you but needs to be considered. The David & Goliath story we’ve seen with the Kutcher vs CNN challenge to pass 1,000,000 followers is another classic example of what’s possible.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you’ve considered this as part of your social media strategy.

Wishing good luck to Jeremiah’s new green fields,

@YannR