Social Media Marketing: A look at 2012, part 2
Yesterday’s blog post featured the thoughts of Larry Drebes, founder and CEO of Janrain, a social user Web management platform, on the social media channel and marketing over the next six to 12 months.
Today we have insight and advice from Loren McDonald, Vice President of Industry Relations, Silverpop, an email and marketing automation vendor.
Loren will be joining us next week at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for the MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2012, and will participate in the innovation panel Wednesday afternoon, February 8th.
Social media marketing is an important channel for both B2B and B2C marketers, and Loren offers up a valuable perspective on the topic and some actionable takeaways to maximize that channel over the rest of this year.
This chart illustrates Silverpop research on where all marketers are utilizing social media:
Here are Loren’s thoughts on social media marketing:
MarketingSherpa: What is going on in the social channel in terms of marketing?
Loren McDonald: 2012 is going to be the year where a lot of companies move from social media marketing being a hobby to being core to their business.
Where the C-suite and marketing management recognize that no matter what stage they are at in the social media marketing world — that it is not a fad and it requires significant attention and resources. This is a phenomenon that is really much deeper than marketing; however, it is now core to business success.
What social is about is if we build great products and provide great service, then our customers will actually do the marketing for us. Obviously, however, there are a lot of aspects of social media marketing that are truly campaign driven — such as creating a multi-channel Twitter, Facebook and website campaign. The reality is that what a lot of marketers are forgetting, and I think many of them will realize this year, is that enabling your customers, prospects and the influencers in the community that you operate in to actually do the marketing for you – is really the name of the game.
A lot of companies are used to trying to own and control their messages to the marketplace. They have to wake up and rethink their business and approach to marketing. It is not about controlling the message; it is about delivering great products, customer service and value. When you achieve this, then much of your marketing efforts will switch to facilitating your customers marketing your business and products for you.
MS: What are some of the different approaches for B2B and consumer marketers?
LM: I think one aspect of the difference is really just around the type of content. You know it is kind of stereotypical, but in the B2B world, because you have long sales cycles, and you have people who are looking for tips, best practices and guides and help and tools and things like that. B2B social media marketing is a match made in heaven for B2B marketers.
You can basically take content that you have been creating for years — everything from white papers and webinars and FAQs and calculators — and take those and repurpose the content and engage your customers and prospects on channels like Twitter, LinkedIn communities, blogs and Q&A forums.
On the B2C side, I think we are still trying to figure out that sweet spot of how to engage customers in social channels. A camera manufacturer can use social channels to educate consumers on photography tips, photo sharing and enable hobbyists to share experiences. If you sell ketchup, you probably have to work a bit harder and be creative. In general, I think B2C social marketing at this stage is much more driven by typical brand multi-channel campaigns, whether it is doing things like sweepstakes or some sort of fun campaign on Facebook, and then tying it into a FourSquare check-in and a YouTube video.
I think there are clearly a lot of similarities (between B2B and B2C on social media) but the scale, tactics and platforms are different. Facebook is not necessarily a big B2B channel yet, although it certainly can work. But, I think we are going to see channels like LinkedIn and Google+ emerge as key B2B platforms.
MS: How do you see the intersection of social media and privacy?
LM: One of the things that is really interesting is the emergence of social sign-in registration capabilities – whether Facebook Connect or multi-network options. I actually don’t hear a lot of marketers talking about social registration, though a lot are deploying it. Even the Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann campaigns are using Facebook Connect.
While consumer adoption of social sign-in is growing, I think a lot of consumers haven’t woken up to realizing how much information about themselves is being passed over to a brand. So what is hard to predict is will consumers demand more control over the specific types of data they will share with individual brands, or will they simply be passive like we are with not reading privacy policies?
Consumers are willing to trade some of their privacy, and say, “I am okay with giving you a lot of information about myself in return for some value.” That value could be speed, it could be efficiency, and it could be more targeted marketing. I think we just don’t really know yet where that line is going to move.
If at some point when you check your Gmail account and it is clear to me that Google is serving ads that are tied to a post I made on Google+, or a video I liked on YouTube, are we going to see a backlash over that? It is presented as, “Hey, we are giving you more relevant content,” but the reality is in those cases the ads may be out of context.
MS: How about the impact, or maybe the integration, of social media and email marketing?
LM: I call this concept “mocial,” the idea of social, mobile and local working together in an integrated fashion with email. There are several things that I think are key for social and email marketing and how they work together.
Social — at this point in its stage of existence — what it does best is being an acquisition vehicle where people come and they follow you on Twitter and they like you on Facebook. It is a great way to bring people in, then engage them in dialogue and conversation, and actually market to them through content, tweets, posts, news feeds, sweepstakes, etc.
Email, however, is still the king of the conversion, so for now at least, social drives the conversation and email delivers the conversion.
These channels are not competing with each other. They actually work together and support each other.
For example, you have a customer that is not opted in to your email program, but they are a fan of your brand, and they like you on your Facebook brand page. By simply adding an email opt-in form on your Facebook brand pages, you can get some of them to opt in to your email program. What this allows you to do is touch that person across more channels, and we know the more channels that you touch a customer, the higher their ROI.
Social provides a great vehicle for dialog and conversation. Email’s advantage as a messaging platform is that it enables behavior-based triggered programs such as remarketing to abandoned shopping carts, or sending recommendations within purchase transaction messages. Try doing that in a 140-character Twitter DM message.
Another impact of social is that email has to become more human and more personal, and it has to incorporate that more “human side” of marketing. People are used to having dialogs with real people behind those tweets or the Facebook posts or blog post comments. That approach needs to spill over into email where the content is literally a face of the employee having this dialog and engagement. We are seeing a lot of companies doing this where they are using their employees as the mouthpiece, just like they do on Twitter and Facebook.
The other really obvious integration of social and email marketing is social sharing and enabling email subscribers to share email content out into their social media streams. Unfortunately to date, most marketers have not done a very good job of leveraging this opportunity. Many email marketers simply slap a link in their emails that say “Share on Facebook or Twitter,” but then in the email there is little to no content that is worth sharing. Marketers have to ask, why would a subscriber want to share this email with their friends and social connections?
But I’m hopeful that marketers are going to get smarter about this sharing aspect in 2012 and realize that they have to create and design emails from the ground up — if they want them to be shared in a meaningful way.
Two action items for social media marketing
To finish our conversation, I asked Loren for actionable advice for the social channel and he provided two interesting ideas.
He prefaced the answer with, “The speed of these new channels that are emerging is nothing like we have ever seen.”
Budget for the channel, not campaigns or platforms
With that in mind, Loren suggests marketing departments should earmark a certain amount of the budget for social media — not particular campaigns, efforts or even platforms, but just for the space in general to be able to react to new platforms as they deploy.
He added that making an investment in a platform that eventually fails, or just becomes a poor marketing vehicle, is not a sunk cost.
For an example, he mentioned any companies that invested in MySpace may no longer be marketing there, but what was learned at MySpace can now be applied more efficiently to Facebook. Or if for some reason FourSquare became no longer available, some new location-based platform will almost certainly take its place.
Spend time and money on social media training
Loren said another point marketers should address is training users across the company in using social media.
“I think that social media training across the organization is going to be something that really emerges this year,” he says. “A couple of our own sales reps have reached out to me this week asking for help asking, ‘Hey, should I blog?’ and, ‘Should I Tweet?’ and, ‘How should I do it?’”
Loren continues, “I think we all know that most employees probably do it wrong, and they get too promotional and they try to be sales-like and that just doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter how good your social media team is if you have a thousand employees out there doing it wrong.”