The Social Media Landing Page Phenomenon

northernlightsAs social media channels become outposts for companies, their websites need to keep up.  The big challenge: the two concepts are diametrically opposed.  Build a compelling, optimized website to bring customers (and potential customers) to you, versus establish social media outposts to go where your customers are.  Enter the new art and technique of the Social Media Landing Page (SMLP for short).  The SMLP is a bridge between the two, both to add legitimacy to social channels like a Twitter account but also risking pulling customers away from your website.  Companies who establish these pages are trying to give the subtle hint of “Nah, doesn’t bother me if you leave our domain” with “We want to hear from you.”  Here are three examples of big companies who have integrated their social media presence into their websites.  How do you think they do?

AT&T

Tagline: “Continue the Conversation”

AT&T is in the midst of more press than you can quantify lately for many reasons. Many might not understand the breadth of which AT&T is reaching out to connect with customers via social channels.  Enter the AT&T SMLP.  AT&T is using Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Blogs and even Posterous to build a footprint.  Intregrated into the “About AT&T” page on their domain, it’s easy to find as “Social Media” in the 2nd level navigation.

AT&T Social Media Landing Page

Best Buy

Tagline: “Everyone’s talking”

Best Buy took a slightly different approach.  Their recently launched (still says “new!”) SMLP is called “Community” and can be found at the bottom of their home page.  They showcase how they are leveraging forums, ratings & reviews, Twitter (also via their Twelpforce), blogs and other social media channels throughout.  I like that BestBuy is showcasing their IdeaX community where customers can collaborate on ideas for the company.

bestbuy

Microsoft

Tagline: “What people are saying about Windows 7”

For the recent Windows 7 launch, Microsoft built in conversations directly into the Windows home page on their domain.  Their clicking through to “See what everyone’s saying” brings you to an innovative SMLP that not only shows links to follow the brand’s presence elsewhere but actually aggregates the conversations on Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, and other social networks.  A customer has to leave the site to participate, just like the others, but right on the page loading in relative real time are actual comments.  This is a great technique but requires a lot of confidence in the product, to say the least.  I’m curious if Microsoft has any automated filtering on the feeds it brings in.  They aren’t filtering for negative comments – one in the screenshot I took was a comment on how “Windows 7 killed my laptop.”

Windows 7 Social Media Landing Page

Of the three here, I like Microsoft’s approach the best – it’s more innovative and interactive to bring conversations and topics directly into the site.  It’s also very easy to find and has a simple URL.  What other SMLPs have you come across?  Are these signs that social media is here to stay?  So many other questions open up for me, including how companies will optimize the pages – to drive followers? To engage in more conversations?  At least they are embracing social media channels head on in their web strategy.

Photo credit: studiolit via Flickr

Gargi also expressed, reluctantly, a lack of

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The Marketing Hot Seat: Aaron Strout

hotseatOf the folks who agreed to participate in The Marketing Hot Seat (all of them marketing practitioners in some form), Aaron Strout is the only one who is currently a CMO.  At Powered, Aaron is in a position to talk with peers on a regular basis about justifying the ROI on community. I’ve gotten to know Aaron over the last few years, before he became a Boston-to-Austin transplant, and he was one of the first ten people I started following on Twitter in mid-2007.  Several months ago Aaron asked me to participate in the Experts in the Industry Series (many of the Hot Seat contributors are fellow alums), and it was around that time I began to refer to Aaron as “the Kevin Bacon of Social Media.”  Aaron is the consummate connector and has a relevant, practical and thoughtful approach to the Marketing Hot Seat challenge.  It’s not what I expected, I’m guessing if you know Aaron and his background you might be surprised too.  (If you like what Aaron has to say I’d also recommend checking out his weekly Quick n’ Dirty Podcast with Jennifer Leggio where the talk of social media case studies is an informal breath of fresh air).

  • You’re the CMO.  You have a marketing budget of $1M.  Your company is a consumer product company, relatively unknown / early stage.  Customers who know the product like it. CEO wants ROI within 12 months.  What do you do?

aaronstroutLet me start by saying this is a brilliant exercise Adam for two reasons:
1) you’re getting some great advice from some of the smartest minds in the industry (well, from the other participants at least).
2) the rules of this “exercise” not only require us to be pithy but we also have to prove out an ROI, with all due respect, a topic that many bloggers can usually skate around.

What’s a little tricky about this exercise is that although you’ve specified that we are the CMOs of a “consumer product whose customers like our product,” the fact that we don’t know whether we’re selling soft drinks, software, or soft pillows — products that all require different channels of distribution — makes developing a marketing strategy tricky. Because I’ve only ever worked for companies that sell services and/or software, I’m going to pretend that the product is consumer software (delivered SaaS style).

Now that we know what we sell, I’m also going to assume that we make a profit of $20/month or $240/year/new customer. With these assumptions, we can start to create a budget and an ROI construct. For starters, I’m going to go out and hire three people to manage our marketing activities. You may or may not have intended us to include this in our plan but I’m going to exclude salaries because most companies bucket this as an operational cost:

  • manager of lead gen/SEO
  • manager of social media/PR
  • manager of event marketing

And here are the areas we’re going to spend our money:

  • $400,000 – paid search
  • $100,000 – event marketing/sponsorships
  • $125,000 – PR (think someone like SHIFT)
  • $300,000 – e-mail list rentals
  • $75,000 – research subscriptions/CRM/listening tools

Without going through all the math, lets say these paid activities drive 4,000,000 prospect touches with an average response rate of 2% resulting in 80,000 interested prospects. Assuming a 5% convert, that gives us 4,000 new customers at $240 per customer for a total profit of $960,000. [Note: these numbers may or may not be on target but for the sake of this exercise, it shows you that this is one way to think about the math behind marketing ROI].

Uh oh. That leaves us $40,001 short of our goal. But wait, that’s where social media comes in. Because we’re a smart company and we signed up for a listening service right out of the gate so we know where our potential customers are hanging out. We also have a manager of social media (along with our savvy CMO) that is blogging participating on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and LinkedIn. All of these activities help increase reach and thus new prospects.

Let’s assume that if we’re doing our job right, we hit an additional 5,000 interested prospects with the same math as above. That gives us 250 incremental customers, so at $240/customer, we bring in an additional $60,000 and voila, we’re now at $1,020,000 in annual revenue. Yes, we’re squeaking by but we’ve built a great base for future marketing efforts. And while I didn’t include it here because our new company wasn’t quite ready for community, you can bet your bottom dollar that I would budget in a branded online community to the tune of $200-300K for year two. But that’s a blog post for another day…

What do you think?  Did Aaron nail it?  What would you do differently?

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Social Media Is Not Right For Your Business If…

hearnoevil

…you don’t like to listen to your customers.

…your company mantra is “It’s All About the Revenue” and not “It’s All About the Customer (the Revenue Will Follow).”

…your product is known to annoy or frustrate customers, but you don’t really think their gripes are legitimate.

…you don’t like to listen to your employees, and getting employees to change their thinking is impossible.

…you outsource 100% of your marketing, sales and customer service functions.

…you think that you have control over conversations about your brand and products.

…you think that Facebook is a good channel to leverage just because it’s mentioned often in USAToday.

…you think your company should be on Twitter because celebrities are doing it.

…you like to spend a lot of money for slow market research projects that are a single point in time.

…you think it’s a myth how social media can impact the enterprise.

…you could care less about being marginalized by your customers.

…you think SEO is voodoo and has no benefit or correlation to social media.

…you think your customers are too stupid to come up with real product ideas.

…you don’t think it matters what your competitors are doing.

…you think the content on your website isn’t going to drive sales.

…you don’t believe there are proven applications of social media.

What did I miss?

Photo credit: stuckincustoms via flickr

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The Marketing Hot Seat: Kyle Flaherty

hotseatI met Kyle Flaherty prior to his Boston to Austin journey and knew early on that he was a thought leader in marketing.  As Director of Marketing and Communications for Breakingpoint, Kyle is passionate about applying new marketing techniques in the B2B arena.  Besides his passion for the Red Sox, he and I continue to share the belief that social media provides new tools and approaches to complement the marketer’s toolbox.  I had high expectations on Kyle’s entry for the Marketing Hot Seat – especially with his help to craft the idea – and he doesn’t disappoint. Read on.

  • You’re the CMO.  You have a marketing budget of $1M.  Your company is a consumer product company, relatively unknown / early stage.  Customers who know the product like it. CEO wants ROI within 12 months.  What do you do?

One million dollars goes a long way these days when it comes to marketing and I would make the most out of it by brining on resources and tools to then implement the necessary tactics. There will be four steps to take:

  1. Listen

    Kyle Flaherty

    Kyle (2nd from Left) along with the infamous Tim Walker, Bill Johnston and yours truly.

  2. Firstly we will want to understand how people perceive our product, the competition and how they find and digest information. To begin we will need to understand the community vernacular starting with how they search. Instituting a sophisticated SEO campaign and a detailed keyword landscape we will begin to understand what people are saying and more importantly what words they are using. Employing Hubspot we will create a detailed keyword landscape and with Google Analytics we will be able to correctly identify how our community finds our own company.

    Using this keyword landscape we now plug terms into a combination of Meltwater Buzz and simple RSS aggregation to find the people who are using these terms, where they are having these conversations and how they like to engage with other people and potentially brands. Doing this over a healthy period of time, I recommend 60 days, we can build a tighter messaging platform, proper web copy and launch our brand new website! The latter portion will be the most costly, but it would be a shame to not have your website reflect what you have learned during the listen phase.

    COST:$200,000 ($80,000 going to website design and development, $20,000 to tools and $100,000 to salary of staff and outside consultants)

    TOTAL TIME ELAPSED: 60 days

  3. Participate
  4. Our brand new website has launched, properly communicating with our audience our product’s merits. Also, based on the above research in we determined the majority of our potential customers are using Twitter and that 78% of them have their own blog (come along with me, this is all fantasy). Understanding this information we have created a plan to integrate social media into our marketing campaigns. The campaigns will be centered on creative uses of our products and we will use social media, email, PPC and event marketing. An important note here: our company views social media as part of our communications DNA and not a separate entity.

    The marketing staff will combine to manage the campaigns, including social media, and be the defacto community managers since there is no need to have someone dedicated solely to that job if it is part of everyone’s job. Kicking it all off will be an exclusive invite to our kick-off party, hosted in New York City but broadcast live into rented out pubs throughout the world (open bar anyone?). After the kick-off we will be launching several PPC campaigns, an email push and dedicated conversations on Twitter and Facebook. The one central tenant to all of this will be the use of video and images taken by our users and aggregated throughout our platforms.

    COST: $300,000 (The event is going to take the majority, but we will also need to purchase video equipment for users, PPC, email tools and of course salary).

    TOTAL TIME ELAPSED: 180 days

  5. Nurture
  6. Customers are flowing into the website and purchases are through the roof, nice work! Now we have to nurture our base. Each day we are interacting with our community online, offering tips on how to better use our product, highlighting their photos/videos and creating our own online content for people to share. This is the pure work portion of our twelve months and will take a lot of time from the marketing staff. During this time we will also want to create our customer advisory council in order to gather more information about the use of the product (version 2 is slated for a Christmas launch), these people will also start to become our online ambassadors for the planned launch of our dedicated online forums.

    COST: $100,000 (Salary will be the majority, but some funds will be used to get the advisory council together)

  7. Measure
  8. This portion was started actually during the listening phase, but I didn’t want you to be confused. Our measurements will be directly related to our business goals and as a start-up these are on a quarterly basis. Using SalesForce.com we have built a sophisticated sales and marketing dashboards and integrating that directly into our website we are measuring lead source details each day. This will include the use of SalesForce’s Twitter application, some personalized javascript development and integration of Act On for web analytics. Our web analytics will not be just numbers, but the actions folks take, based on personas built during phase 1.Everything we do will be measured down to the dollar and the impact of that dollar to our bottom line.

    COST: $100,000 (SalesForce.com, Act On and customized development)

    TOTAL TIME: Although measurement will happen daily, we will really have a great feel for success at the one year mark.

    Now it’s time to plan for next year, and look at me, I have some money left over, I’m thinking bonuses for my staff.

Well done Kyle, thanks again for participating and inspiring this series.  What do you think of Kyle’s approach?  What would you do differently?

Photo credit: Aaron Strout via Flickr

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The Intersection of Social Media and CRM

prioritiesAt first glance, it seems obvious.  Customer Relationship Management and leveraging social media to connect and build relationships with customers are related concepts in marketing and business.  The attached slideshare is a great way to simply tie the concepts together.  I especially like the concept of customer Moments of Truth – where they have meaningful interactions with companies.  This presentation also does a good job at bringing together various digital concepts in marketing – paid search for acquisition up through leveraging social media channels for support and education.

My favorite slide that popped out at me is 27 – showing conversation mining for actionable insight.  Quite simply, that’s the single best reason for a brand to leverage monitoring in social media in the first place.  Spotted via Amnesiablog.com.

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How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

smokefreeTwo campaigns caught my eye today that I wanted to capture and share as examples of the sheer brilliance of interactive marketing.  The first is a campaign in display advertising from Agency Republic.  The technique is to target “parents in routine and manual occupations” to reduce smoking in that audience.  Click through the image of the child to see the brief and walkthrough of how it worked, following a parent’s web use if the initial messages were ignored.  The campaign was runner up in September’s creative showcase awards.

The second campaign is an interactive billboard – I’ve mentioned before how display advertising is showing signs of life, but this takes it to whole new level.  A digital dog interacts with people that merely walk by the window.  Here is how it works:

People on the sidewalk are monitored by an IR camera in openFrameworks. In oF each individual person is isolated and assigned a unique id for the duration of their interaction. Each persons’ position and gesture information is continually sent to Unity3d via OSC networking protocol. In Unity, an artificial intelligence system representing the dog forms relationships with the individuals. He chooses which person to pay attention to, is able to move towards them or back away, responds to their gestures and initiates gestures of his own. Based on the interaction he gets excited or bored, friendly or aggressive, which is reflected in his behavior.

Just trust me, the video says it much better. Spotted via neatorama.

Sniff from karolina sobecka on Vimeo.

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5 Twitter Tips You May Not Know

twitterbirdAs Twitter turns the corner on the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” and heads full speed ahead into the “Trough of Disillusionment,” I thought I’d share 5 tips that have continued to make Twitter a meaningful, useful tool.  Some of these you may know, some may be new.  This is aside from new features coming like Twitter Lists and the ability to report spammers directly from the web version.  If you know of others I’d love to hear them.

  1. Authorize your API connections. It seems like every other week a new Twitter scam pops up sending DMs on behalf of many unsuspecting users.  Of course you can change your password to protect yourself, but many apps require an authorization for your account.  Be sure to check http://twitter.com/account/connections to make sure everything there is legitimate.
  2. Twitter provides their own widgets. There are apps galore out there, but did you know Twitter has developed their own series of widgets for you to use on websites, blogs and elsewhere? Check out http://twitter.com/goodies/widgets to find widgets to show search results, your recent tweets, or your favorite tweets.  Here’s a quick sample of a search widget, showing scrolling chatter ahead of the 2nd TWTRCON conference coming up on October 22 in DC (want to attend? I have a 20% discount code: TWTRAC – I think the agenda is shaping up to beat the first one in SF earlier this year…) [Reading via feed? Please click through to the post to see the widget.]
  3. twittersearchUse RSS to track mentions. I use Google Reader to keep up with many blogs, but sometimes I miss a reply on Twitter if I haven’t logged in for awhile.  If you want to make sure you never miss a mention, create a simple Twitter search on your Twitter name and grab the RSS feed in the top right corner.  I’ll go through that list on occasion to make sure I didn’t miss anything, but a business could import that feed into a more robust tool for reporting and assigning responses.
  4. Get more use out of your Favorites.  I’ve always thought the “Favorites” function was under-utilized.  I tend tto use favorites most often to mark links to go back to read later, especially while I am on the road and using my Blackberry – sometimes taking the time to click through to links doesn’t help.  Once again Google Reader to the rescue.  Your Twitter Favorites are actually available via RSS as well, even though there is no RSS link on the page.  Here is the syntax:  “http://twitter.com/favorites/{twitter name}.rss” – now I can use them like a bookmarking service, feed them to a widget elsewhere and save them even for sharing with others via Google Reader’s sharing functions.  It’s almost a backdoor way to “retweet.”  Here is my feed, which I use very similarly to how I decide what to bookmark in Delicioushttp://twitter.com/favorites/adamcohen.rss
  5. There’s an app for that. Everyone has their favorite Twitter applications – the proliferation of 3rd party apps is profound.  My personal crutch is Tweetdeck, which has allowed me to create groups in order to more closely follow friends, industry experts and mentions of clients (more casually than a social media monitoring tool).  Rather than go deep on more apps, in the last few weeks one of my favorite microblogging experts, Laura Fitton, has launched One Forty at  http://oneforty.com – it’s the online equivalent of Apple’s App store but much broader – there are mobile apps for the iPhone, Blackberry and other devices, desktop apps, Twitter analytic services and more.  Integrated to your Twitter profile, oneforty.com allows you to rate and suggest services.  This site will clearly help sort through what the best and worst 3rd party apps are out there.  Laura is a featured speaker at TWTRCON too.

What other Twitter tips do you have to share?  I’ve been using Twitter for more than two years but continue to learn ways to make it an effective tool and build connections. Were these tips old news to you?  (Did you know that Disqus, the comment system which I recently installed here, allows you to authenticate via your Twitter account?  Sweet.)

Photo credit: cotinis via Flickr

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