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Marketers relying more on blogs in the business world

Although Facebook and Twitter are highly rated from internet consumers, blogs are the standard approach for marketers in the business world (b2b).

eMarketer just released a study that states 34% of all US companies are running a public blog. The outlook for 2012 is even more promissing: The study projects an increase by 11 points to a total of 45% by 2012. In 2007 only 16% of companies used a blog for their communication strategy.

“Studies have shown that marketers perceive blogs to have the highest value of any social media in driving site traffic, brand awareness, lead generation and sales—as well as improving customer service.” Paul Verna, senior analyst, eMarketer

Especially smaller companies with less marketing bucks see the potential of blogs. Short sign-of processes, faster internal dynamics and more flexibility in choosing social technology make it easier for a managing director of an SMB company to set up a blog. Larger companies like stock listed companies have more restricted options to go live on WordPress, Blogger or Typepad in terms of potential legal, IR-related and logistical issues.

Though Twitter and Facebook are easier to set up and kick off the conversation with clients, the impact of blogs is manifold. Blog posts are indexable and searchable on Google as well as on other search engines. And blogging has a long-lasting effect. While tweets cannot talk about complex topics and disappear quite quickly from search engines, blog post stay – no matter if you are looking for that information today ot in five years time.

Spot On!
If companies can manage it from a resources perspective, the best way to go forward is to set up many social media access points. The professionals have identified by web analysis and social media monitoring where client engagement takes place and where their clients are talking. In a perfect world, users will find the blog post via Twitter and then use the “Like” button to get to the Facebook page – and ideally find some interesting and relevant content there again. But creating different content for different access points is the biggest challenge…, bigger than writing a blog post. Don’t you think…?

Direct Messaging export – a missing feature in social networks?

Some days ago, a Nielsen study said that in the US social network usage is more popular than email. This does not surprise me, when I think about Luis Suarez speech at the Web 2.0 Expo 2008 “Thinking outside the Inbox”. If we agree with him, then there is one feature definitely missing in social network…

How I came across this missing feature…
In my new job role I do a lot of business socializing which is quite normal when the business is done 90% with international business contacts. A lot of business brainstorming is being kicked off or happening on the fly and you don’t think where you communicate. Many of these conversations start via the direct messaging functionality -comparable to email communication- in social networks. Some of them end in nothing. Some turn out to be brilliant contacts which become interesting prospects. And suddenly these end up being leads or potential revenue drivers. And then there comes the problem…

Where is the direct messaging extraction functionality? Some kind of external saving or export module to save the content and communication? Not speaking of an “email archiving” technology?

If your business, or the business of the company you are working for, is meant to be compliant (and which is not today…?) how can you export a conversation that already started in a social network? OK, you could copy it, and send it via email again. Quite uncomfortable though, right…? Or you save all the emails that you get from the social network providers. A lot of redundant data saving…

In business networks like Bebo, XING or LinkedIn users are possible to export the database of their contacts in one go – … but not an email communication threat. Meaning, if you have had a good conversation and mentioned some kind of business critical data, pricing, or offering than you have to have the proof for tax or auditing service reasons – and ideally you can extract it in one go.

In my eyes, this is a missing feature that at least all social business networks should be offering. Don’t you think?

Study shows, Twitter is a real buzz-generator

It is undoubted that the Twitter users are the most influential crowd of people. A recent research by ExactTarget discovers now the outreach of the influence that these people have. It goes well outside the micro-blogging platform into blogs, forums and even the living room.

In it’s fourth study of their “Subscribers, Fans and Followers” research series, ExactTarget takes a deeper look at what makes Twitter users a special community crowd compared to other online channels. The study shows that the news that the users grab from the micro-blogging platform don’t stay on Twitter.

The news are spread via the following communication channels…
– 72% publish blogs at least monthly
– 70% comment on blogs
– 61% write at least one product review per month
– 61% comment on news sites

“While the number of active Twitter users is less than Facebook or email, the concentration of highly engaged and influential content creators is unrivalled – it’s become the gathering place for content creators whose influence spills over into every other corner of the Internet.” Morgan Stewart, Principal, ExactTarget’s research and education group

Spot On!
The study also provides insight that daily Twitter users are six times more likely to publish articles, five times more likely to post blogs, seven times more likely to post to Wikis. For business it has to be stressed that these daily Twitter users are three times more likely to post product reviews at least once per month than non-Twitter users.

Interested to know if Twitter users really create so many reviews and ratings? What’s your view on this topic?

News Update – Best of the Day

The latest Nielsen study makes us believe that email is loosing momentum to social media and games and comes in third place in web usage of the Americans. Not really correct, when you think of email communication being some integral part of games and social networks…

Ever wondered how long a b2b sales cycle from lead generation to sales conversion can be? Marketing Sherpa got the answer by asking over 1.000 B2B marketers… Yes, it takes LONG!

While the experts are still talking about the Old Spice interaction, this Australian campaign for the Cadbury Picnic chocolate bar sounds quite intersting. The audience had to eat a Picnic in a .30 sec commercial break, using mobile phones, webcams and handycams to create their own TV ads and setting it up here. In an Australian first, every single ad that went to air on television (200+) was unique. Naomi made me laugh…

Die 3-Säulen-Strategie: Erst Marke, dann Mensch, oder andersrum?

Credits: Pixelio

Credits: Pixelio

Nachhaltigkeit in Social Media fordert Unternehmen

Social Media hat sich innerhalb kurzer Zeit zu einem neuen Element im Mix der Unternehmens-Kommunikation etabliert. Unternehmen und Agenturen erkennen zunehmend mehr Chancen, die ein Social Media Engagement bietet. Sei es in der Marketingkommunikation, in der PR, im Vertrieb, HR oder Sales. Über die neuen Möglichkeiten wird nicht nur diskutiert, es finden sich immer mehr Unternehmen, die Social Media in mindestens einem Bereich installieren. Auch wenn sich viele Engagements noch in der Versuchsphase befinden, so ist bereits zu erkennen, dass Unternehmen Social Media ernster nehmen als noch vor einigen Monaten.

Viele Unternehmen lagern ihr Social Media Engagement an Agenturen aus, bei anderen werden neue Abteilungen und Verantwortlichkeiten geschaffen. Von Social Media Beratern, Social Media Managern und Evangelisten ist die Rede. So manche versuchen, auch eine Hybrid-Funktion aus traditioneller Jobbeschreibung und „soziale Zusatzaufgabe“ zu erschaffen.

Social Media Verantwortliche erhalten weitreichende Verantwortlichkeiten, die es in dieser Form selten vorher im Unternehmen gab. Sie können meist ohne vorherige Abstimmungen über das Unternehmen im Netz sprechen. Sie werden zur Stimme, zum Gesicht, zum Aushängeschild. Doch was passiert mit dem Engagement, wenn Social Media Verantwortliche das Unternehmen verlassen? Verlieren Social Media Aktivitäten damit ein „Gesicht“, eine „Stimme“ im Netz?

Social Media sollte unserer Meinung nach daher immer auf drei Säulen aufgebaut sein, um es nachhaltig im Unternehmen zu verankern. Ob die Konzentration auf eine Person vorteilhaft, bzw. das Auslagern der Aktivitäten auf Agenturen sinnvoll ist, steht hierbei als Frage im Mittelpunkt.

Marken (statt Personen): “Vermenschlichung durch Authentizität der Personen”, oder kann die Marke das selbst?

Social Media soll authentisch sein, transparent und dialogorientiert. Um diese Bedingungen erfüllen zu können, bedarf es nicht nur einer Strategie, sondern Menschen, die eine Marke leben können und der Marke im Netz eine Stimme verleihen, die Unternehmenswerte vermittelt. Oftmals ist die Stimme eine Person, die auf Kommentare, Retweets etc. reagiert. Dieser Mensch verleiht der Stimme im Netz einen eigenen Charakter. Wie reagiert die Stimme auf Kommentare? Wie geht sie mit Followern um? Inwieweit lässt sie sich auf einen Dialog ein? Natürlich kann man versuchen, alle Maßnahmen genauestens zu konzipieren, Social Media ist aber schnell, schneller als jedes Konzeptpapier. Und zu viel Konzeption schadet dem Engagement, sowie der Authentizität. Also muss ein Unternehmen nicht nur auf eine Person setzen, sondern auf die Vermenschlichung der Marke.

Organisationskultur: Mehrere Personen im Unternehmen stützen den Social Media Auftritt

Social Media Aktivitäten sollten niemals auf eine Person fokussiert werden, sondern immer mehrere Personen aus verschiedenen Abteilungen einbinden. Im Idealfall gibt es einen Markenauftritt im Social Web, der von verschiedenen Personen betreut wird, die wiederum selbst aktiv als Person auftreten können. In der Kombination Marke / Person können vielerlei Synergien entstehen, die den Auftritt als Ganzes ,als “unternehmerische Menschheit”, stützen. Fällt eine Person aus, können die Maßnahmen schnell vom Social-Media-Team übernommen werden, ohne dass ein Bruch in der Transparenz der Kommunikation zu befürchten ist. Besonders in Urlaubszeiten scheint das Problem der Verlagerung bzw. des Management von Social-Media-Aktivitäten durchaus brisant zu sein. Wir hören bereits von mehreren Seiten, dass aufgrund der Umsetzung von nur einer Person hier ein eklatantes Problem entstehen kann. Denn eines ist gewiss: Auch Social Media Betreuer brauchen eine Auszeit.

Automatisierte Prozesse, oder… Das perfekte Zusammenspiel zwischen Mensch und Technik

In der beobachtenden Analyse setzen viele Unternehmen bereits erfolgreich auf Social-Media-Monitoring-Tools, die wertvolle Ergebnisse zu Tage bringen. Die Reaktion selbst auf bestimmte Anlässe wird aber immer noch vom Mensch bestimmt, definiert, organisiert und orchestriert. An dieser Stelle sollte unserer Meinung nach, automatisierte Prozesse Unterstützung leisten, wie dies zum Beispiel auch Online-Marketing bereits erfolgreich eingesetzt wird. Dank Targeting, Frequency Capping oder dynamischen Updates werden Online-Kampagnen schnell optimiert und damit auch erfolgreich. Für Social Media sind solche automatisierten Prozesse zwingend zur Entlastung und taktischen Optimierung notwendig und dienen der Unterstützung der Verantwortlichen. Sie lassen Social Media auch langfristig ein wertvolles Instrument der Kundenbindung zu werden.

Spot On!
Diese 3-Säulen-Strategie soll Unternehmens- und Abteilungsverantwortlichen einen Denkansatz beim Einsatz und der Optimierung von Social Media im Unternehmen liefern. Der sinnvolle Einsatz von Social Media Entschleunigung im Unternehmen (Slow Media Manifest) sowie produktivitätssteigernde Wex-Experten in Unternehmen (Personal Web Manager) sind hierbei zukunftsweisende Visionen für eine effiziente soziale Online-Unternehmenskultur. Denn nur, wenn wir sinnvoll mit unserer Zeit umzugehen lernen, kann eine 3-Säulen-Strategie das Social Media Engagement eines Unternehmens unterstützen und sich im Sinne der Wertschöpfungseffizienz manifestieren und dieser sinnvoll nützlich sein.

Über die Autoren…
Für die Idee zu diesem Post haben Heike Bedrich und ich die Köpfe auf dem Internet World Kongress zusammengesteckt. Uns hat die 3-Säulen-Strategie gefallen und ist unserer Überzeugung nach, ein guter Schritt für Unternehmen in eine erfolgreiche Social Media Welt.

Heike Bedrich ist seit vielen Jahren in der PR- und Marketing-Welt zu Hause. 1998 gründete sie mit Talisman ihre eigene Agentur für Kommunikation und Imagebildung. Sie betreut Kunden aus der IT- und Medienszene und hat sich auf die Themen PR, PR 2.0, Corporate Communications und Online Reputation Management spezialisiert.

My 5 learnings for management from the WorldCup

The FIFA WorldCup is over. The matches are played. Spain is the new World Champion. The team really has deserved to get the Copa del Mundo (…not only because they won against Germany.. ;-)… ). Now that the tournament is over I thought about it and asked myself, what were my management take-aways from the last five weeks…for me.

1. The team is the star. Worldcup 2010 was like Enterprise 2.0: Teams with top stars fail (Rooney, Ronaldo, Ribery, Kaka, etc…), real teamwork wins.

2. A scarf seems to be a team managers fashion guarantee for success. Though, managers who wear a scarf built world-class teams, it’s no guarantee to make a world-class team win the cup (Jogi Löw, Bert van Marwijk, etc.).

3. Managers need to have the courage to change long-serving systems in favor of integrating young players techniques, visions and ideas (Mexico, Germany, Uruguay, etc.). Nevertheless, the accompany of “old stars” as motivators is a great back-up…

4. Management stand-still is a killer. The market-competition for the “on-paper” leading countries is increasing. Globalization, new training opportunities and new markets offer countries great opportunities to become a challenging competitor for the old market champions (England, France, Italy, Brasil).

5. It’s all about communication, authority needs to be defined anew. There is no right or wrong in leading until the communication is not aligned with the culture and mentality of the players (France, France, France,…).

What are your key-findings, take-aways from a management perspective. Share them with us… And by the way: If it is serious fun you would like to share, just go ahead…

News Update – Best of the Day

Those who see and embrace the modern social web world will understand the 7C’s by Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab.

“Social media strategy fits inside a marketing (business, corporate) strategy, and is shaped by it. Social strategy fits outside business and corporate strategies, and shapes them. Social strategies are about rewriting the logic of the industrial era entirely, shifting gears in how we think, envisioning a broader, more powerful, more challenging use of social tools. They are about developing the capacity to understand an organization’s role in society, and how to play a more constructive one, wielding sociality as a source of advantage — by acting radically more meaningfully than rivals. Social strategies are about reinventing tomorrow.”

These words correspond as a long version format with the interview I have given to the Internet World some months ago (German only).

In order to improve your online sales tactics, here is a clear cut approach by TJ McCue how to improve your website sales efforts. He shows us some good and bad examples of online sales communication.

This funny insurance commercial from the Bangkok Insurance is excellent. It is showing the probability (0,00000001%) that your next unexpected accident or thunderstorm will not end without the need of an insurance company…

Study: The importance of cross-channel sales

Most companies wonder how the purchase funnel looks like when consumers evaluate products they think about buying. A recent study from ATG helps: 30% of consumers reach out to more than three commerce channels to research a product and make a purchase. This shows that retailers and merchants need a broader cross-channel approach to boost sales and enhance customer purchase decisions.

The consumer study found that more than three-quarters of consumers use two or more channels and nearly one-third work with even three or more channels to research and purchase products. While we have all expect that mobile use and social media find their way into consumers’ online commerce activities, it is surprising that traditional catalog channels are still popular.

“Merchants have heard the call for a stronger cross-channel strategy for many years, but what has been lacking is a deeper explanation about why this is so important. We are seeing a multi-channel revolution now, with a vast majority of consumers using multiple channels and now almost one-third actually relying on three or more channels to complete transactions. Retailers must direct their energy toward fulfilling the unique role and sales potential of each channel. This research illuminates the expectations consumers have for the Web, call centers, the store, catalogs, and email.”
Nina McIntyre, Senior Vice President Marketing and CMO, ATG

The key findings of consumers’ cross channel experiences…

– 78% use two or more channels to browse, research and make purchases; 30% said they use three channels or more

– 78% of all consumers say they use catalogs to browse and research products or services at least four times a year BUT 40% of those consumers never purchase products or services through catalogs.

– 43% start their research online or with mobile devices. BUT They need to call customer service or call center representative to complete the transaction because the product or service information cannot be found online!

– 39% browse via the online or mobile channel and then make purchases in the store because they prefer to touch and feel the product – reason for 36% is product and brand comparison

Interesting findings on mobile commerce (emphasis on the 18-34 age)…

– 27% of all consumers 18 and older use their mobile devices to browse or research products and services at least four times a year, and that number jumps to 41% for the 18-34 year-old age group

– 13% of all consumers 18 and older and 23% of the 18-34 age purchasing at least four times a year via their mobile devices; 8% of the later are doing it weekly

Spot on!
The study highlights how important it is to link online and offline sales communication and give the customers the same purchase service in multiple channels. It will always be difficult to understand where customers make their final purchase decision and where they finally buy though. This additional study by Google underlines the trend for an offline and online purchase decision mix. One things is for sure again: The need for more awareness around the incorporation of commerce activities in social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter is gaining momentum.

The end of the future of advertising agencies?

An apocalytic vision of the advertising future? A prevision of advertising mistakes? Or just a gag of a digital event-organizer that wants to wake up the advertising industry? Or does the event need more attendees? Maybe it is just a simple commercial clip? Or is it even meant to be spread the viral way (well done then, it seems to work, right…)? A video clip that allows so many questions, is worth being mentioned.

This video commercial could also be just a short film to demonstrate the creativity of the co-production companies FITC, Saatchi & Saatchi Canada, Lunch, and Tool. For their next flash event in Toronto the FITC has started a remarkable commercial ad that will make the advertising agency world think… hopefully.

The spot introduces an advertising agency that does not exist but might have been the last agency on earth “mps+c worldwide”. And the story is told just after the last employees have left the agency. A nice idea, right?

Allow some remarks…
If I had had the idea, I had tried to set up a community website for this fictional agency (the creators did not… at least for now) and created a charity story or some alike fiction around it for all people working in the ad agency industry.

It could have been a nice approach. Especially for advertising people to get ideas out of the cultural advertising change trap. Agencies could have collaborated and networked. Agencies could have… But, do agencies really want that? Collaboration, communication, creativity in an open world?

I had tried to integrate social comments function to enable, engage and enter the conversation directly on the website. If you understand how the customers are moving along the web, then why not living the idea with the viral… (is the reason a lack of resources and community management for such a sustainable idea?)

The increasing trend on the web is described quite well and companies should be thinking about this customer change in web use: “Internet Viewing, Facebook Updating and Obsessive Blogging”.

The production companies of this video clip could done much, much more with such a nice idea. Oh yes… But the message sounds great. Should we say that agencies should really, really, really wake up? Oh yes… And I am asking myself what comes after the last advertising agency has gone? Oh yes… Produce another film? Why? Success is never final! (Winston Churchil)

The change we see is a cultural one with high social impact on the world we live in. And companies should start seeing the web from a business-strategic point of view and understand, find and align their web-strategy with it. Companies should stop producing TV ads or banners without any call-to-action. And starting Twitter streams like “clowns” is definitely not the right way to approach the future of customer communication…

The Last Advertising Agency On Earth from FITC on Vimeo.

Study: Comparison Twitter vs. Facebook

A recent study by Irbtrax, a SEO Internet Marketing firm, tries to determine which platform is the best fit for a particular business application or niche. So, the results of the study is not saying the one or the other is better, but the results give some good basic orientation for marketeers.

Category 1: Traffic ranking and user metrics
Traffic Ranking US and Global traffic ranking:
Facebook 2 – 7 day average daily time on site by users: 32.2 minutes
Twitter 12 – 7 day average daily time on site by users: 7.8 minutes
Facebook has the lead due to its sheer size, traffic volume, and time on site.

Category 2: Online destination for potential clients in the B2C market
Facebook offers more potential as of the option to include photos, detailed information, multiple outbound links, videos, and other business to consumer apps. The study states it is easier to build a larger network of followers in the shortest amount of time to help market a consumer product or service.

Category 3: Online destination for potential clients in the B2B market
The advantage is on Twitter as it provides more viral marketing flexibility while requiring less followers. Viral Marketing is a core business to business social media application for service recognition and other benefits. Popular industry related tweets are redistributed creating a domino effect even if you don’t have thousands of followers.

Category 4: market research benefits
Again Twitter shows more potential. Its search features can be efficiently used to monitor what people are saying about a company, service, product and competitors. Increasing or declining trends can be tracked effectively as well.

Category 5: internal viral marketing benefits
Facebook is top as it’s much easier to build a larger following. Plus, Facebook ‘wall’ feature is much more interactive than Twitter’s internal communication features.

Category 6: external viral marketing benefits
Twitter offers a greater external internet reach – no front door. Google’s ‘Real Time’ search feature often streams live tweets. A comparison of the number of tweets an independent article/release receives verse the number times they are shared by Facebook accounts appears to strongly favor Twitter.

Category 7: Use of each platform for direct internet communication
Facebook offers an instant message feature which allows you to communicate with other users globally.

Spot On!
The study concludes that in order to maximize your social media marketing results companies ideally create a presence on both. And I am happy that a study mentions this: Which platform a company engages first, or where to spend the most amount of available time or budget depends on your customers!!! Businesses should be checking their web-analytic metrics to apply the findings to your target group, and evaluate the potential and strengths of each platform.