5 Ways Social Media Impacts Consideration

Ask any marketer to draw you a picture of the sales funnel and you’ll get virtually the same picture.  There are a number of proposed ways to look at the funnel applied to social media, including a post I wrote last year about the New Marketing Funnel and the new book, Flip the Funnel, from Powered/crayon’s Joseph Jaffe.  What’s clear though, is that social media provides definitive means to impacting the “consideration” phase – when a customer makes the leap from awareness of a brand or product to evaluating, before committing to make a purchase.  Here are five ways that social media can impact a customer who is considering a purchase.

1. Research

When deciding to make an important purchase, like a car, a cell phone or a home, few people do so without evaluating options and doing some research.  You may have a friend who knows a lot about cars.  You might start searching online for consumer groups.  You might ask your family, neighbors, work colleagues.  Social media provides means do do all of the above online, including looking at reviews from perfect strangers.  It’s more relevant to look at reviews of products than to trust marketers alone.  Allowing user ratings and reviews on your product site, which can be moderated for abuse, can be a very effective way to engage in user generated content without the open-ended risk associated with a platform like Facebook.

2. Validation

Is there any truth to what my neighbor said about that product or service?  Or the recall rumor I just heard yesterday? Look at blogs, discuss on Facebook, search on Twitter.  Consumers can use social platforms to validate or refute information easily with their social graphs or through searching.  With Bing and Google indexing much of those discussions in real time, answers can be found immediately.  Separately if you have a perception of a brand (positive or negative), social channels can help validate those thoughts and views.

3. Creating an Emotional Connection

An emotional connection to a product, service or brand can influence purchase behavior.  Cause marketing can be an indirect way to build brand loyalty.  One of my favorite recent examples is the Chase Community Giving program on Facebook.  Personalized stories of real customers can also be a way to build an emotional connection.

4. Creating Touchpoints

How many brand touchpoints and impressions does it take to impact consideration?  I’m not sure, but chances are that it’s more than one.  An impression or interaction in social media can be measured in a lot of ways, but it takes multiple exposures to a brand to have it be front of mind when a consumer moves from awareness to consideration in the funnel.  Sure, no one actually talks about themselves moving from one stage in the funnel to another.  But as usage of social media grows, having a presence where consumers are will be a way to foster those impressions in a different way than traditional advertising.  Marketing behemoth Proctor & Gamble is exploring Facebook more aggressively for just that reason.

5.  Search

The folks at ComScore and GroupM have a great study that shows the impact of social media on branded search – just one way that shows how social media is impacting search.  Discussions related to a brand in social networks, discussion boards, forums, and on brand-owned assets will impact search results when a consume starts to look for information.  Brands can’t ignore the SEO implications of any content they own – Lee Odden has a great post about tools that can help optimize social content for search.

Think about the last time you moved from awareness to consideration.  What influenced you?  Did I miss any other way that social media could have impacted your decision process?

Photo credit: cpstorm via flickr

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How Social Media Has Changed My Job

In the last 2 years of blogging I’ve been able to share my own views on social media, interactive marketing and other topics.  During that time my day job at Rosetta has evolved from working with exciting companies like Coach and Borders to leading our Search and Media practice.  I’ve had the fortunate experience of working with talented teams and innovative clients, with an agency leadership team who was willing to help me launch our social media practice over a year ago.

Helping clients leverage social media has been a passion but up until recently only a part-time gig; I’ve had many fun and challenging responsibilities to work on in parallel while trying to see if we can add social media to the value proposition Rosetta brings to the table.  In the meantime, this blog has served as a way to capture thoughts and more importantly to hear from you, continuing conversations that weren’t as suitable for Twitter or some other forum.

For my two-year blog anniversary post, I’m excited to share details about my expanded role.  As we’ve grown our social media team, I’m pleased to share that my role is now 100% focused on helping clients develop social media programs.  My goal is to build integrated programs that treat social media tactics as informed strategies, leveraging deeper understanding of a brand’s most valuable customers and prospects through Rosetta’s Personality®-based segmentation.

What this really means:

  • After 15 years in consulting (first 12 at Accenture), I’ve been able to craft a role for myself (with leadership team sponsorship) at a digital agency I’m excited about.
  • For a long time I’ve been advocating that social media marketing tactics should be treated alongside other digital initiatives in an integrated and strategic way, leveraging CRM, segmentation and consumer insight.  Now I get to truly focus full time on making that happen.
  • I’ve spent the last two+ years learning and applying what I’ve learned in social media, now I get to learn and apply on a full time basis.  (But I’m no expert, just trying to help clients make informed decisions).

Frankly I’m very grateful to see a more formal career path emerge from ideas.  I’m looking forward to sharing more here with a reinvigorated sense of purpose, and to thanking a lot of people in person over the next few weeks.  At risk of forgetting to call out a few, a hat tip to a few folks who continue to inspire me in this space:  Len Devanna, Ken Burbary, Marc Meyer, Aaron Strout, Jim Storer, Kyle Flaherty, Tim Walker, Amber Naslund, Beth Harte, and Rachel Happe.  And certainly Mark Taylor who has been my biggest advocate.  Now to deliver on the promise…

Photo credit: st3f4n via Flickr

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A Free eBook for Marketers: Learning in 2010

I virtually met Ellen Hoenig Carlson several months ago through Twitter. As I have continued to work on social media initiatives in Rosetta‘s Healthcare practice, Ellen’s blog has continually been a tremendous resource to gain insight on the subtle (and often not so subtle) intricacies of marketing in healthcare and pharma. Ellen reached out to me to be included in her ebook for Pharma marketers, entitled “The Gift of Learning for Pharma and Healthcare Marketers in 2010.” First, I’m very grateful to be able to contribute and be included.  But second, my background is more traditional retail and high tech – so it’s great to read the themes from some of the top healthcare social media strategists included.  Below are the other contibutors;  One of my goals in 2010 is to meet as many of them as possible in person, Ellen included.

  • Phil Baumann, Phil Baumann online blog, CareVocate Interactive Media Solutions
  • Wendy Blackburn, ePharma Rx blog, Intouch Solutions
  • Dave deBronkart, The New Life of e-Patient Dave blog, Society for Participatory Medicine
  • Angela Dunn, Odom Lewis blog, Executive Search Specialists in Healthcare Marketing/Medical Education
  • Susannah Fox, Health Research for Pew Internet & American Life Project
  • Fard Johnmar, Path of the Blue Eye Project, Envision Consultancy
  • John Mack, Pharma Marketing blog, Editor-in-chief of Pharma Marketing News
  • Jonathan Richman, Dose of Digital blog, Bridge Worldwide
  • Marsha Shenk, Thriving Enterprise blog, The Bestwork People
  • Andrew Spong, STweM blog and Consultancy, UK
  • Steve Woodruff, Impactiviti blog and Consultancy

Themes the authors wrote about include, from Ellen’s blog summary:

1)  e-Patients are at the center and critical to learning and design;

2)  Authenticity isn’t a ‘nice to do’, it’s a ‘must’ (and you won’t be the one who decides whether you’ve succeeded);

3)  Don’t get distracted by ‘bells and whistles’ – remember the basics and keep your brand core strong;

4)  New marketing challenges require new ROI thinking…the ROI of connection, authenticity and compassion;

5)  The marketing cycle of life is going through unprecedented change requiring all marketers and communications people to unlearn much – the movement from paid marketing to earned marketing requires a different mindset and skills; and

6)  Effective marketing and engagement will require new kinds of leadership skills.

A lot of these themes apply to other industries – so I think it’s a great gift for all marketers.  Download a copy of the ebook, share it, and drop by Ellen’s post to let her know what you think.  Thanks again Ellen for including me.

Download: Best Strategic Learning Investment in 2010

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Social Media in 2010: Getting Smarter

2426454804_06648486e3It’s that time of year where the pundits predict the death of brands, the trends of new media and the upcoming changes in marketing.  I typically avoid these kinds of posts, but I wanted to weigh in primarily because part of my role at Rosetta next year will be to execute against the predictions.  This is going to be a fun year.

My one primary thought about social media in 2010: Social Media Gets Smarter.  We’re already seeing evidence of companies using social media more strategically. eMarketer‘s recent post highlights a shift in budget and a growing movement of how companies are leveraging social media in a smarter way.  I see social media becoming as sophisticated as more traditional CRM and marketing tactics.  I love studies like this one from comScore and GroupM that demonstrate the effect of social media on paid search results (50% increase in CTR on branded paid search for people who had exposure to a brand in social media – that is compelling alone).

The good folks over at Trendspotting have also assembled a list of quick, “Twitter-sized” tidbits on predicting changes in social media in 2010.  I am thrilled to be included in their list alongside some excellent predictions from folks who have inspired me in the last few years, including Chris Brogan, David Armano, Paul Gillin, Jason Falls and David Meerman ScottMarketing Hot Seat contributor Marc Meyer is also included.

Here are my predictions that show up in the presentation.  I’d highly suggest the read – Trendspotter did a great job keeping the content in an easily digestible format.

  • Social media tactics become integrated tools in the relationship marketing arsenal.
  • Companies struggle adapting processes for customer interaction in marketing, sales, customer service & PR.
  • Marketing programs focus more on activating brand advocates than general customers.
  • Social media monitoring industry consolidates and matures, drawing closer to web analytics.

Each of these probably warrant a post on their own.  I based my predictions on day to day what I am experiencing in terms of client demand in the social media space, but it’s one digital agency view.  What do you think?

Photo credit: greeblie via Flickr

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Marketing Hot Seat: Andrew Davis

hotseatA few months ago I had the opportunity to visit the offices of Tipping Point Labs.  After some great discussions on Twitter with Andrew Davis, TPL’s Chief Strategy Officer, we agreed to meet and grab lunch to talk further. I quickly learned how smart Andrew is.  TPL has a unique perspective on content marketing as a strategic platform to drive business results.  I thought Andrew would be a perfect addition and unique perspective to the Marketing Hot Seat, and I was right.

  • 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?

The Client: Mimoco

Andrew DavisWhen Adam invited me to participate in The Marketing Hot Seat, I immediately started looking for the perfect ‘client’ to apply our methodology. As Adam specified I needed to find someone who was relatively unknown or early stage, but someone who had enough potential that we could move the dial significantly in twelve months or less. That’s when a friend introduced me to the perfect client: Mimoco.

The Product: Mimobots

Mimobots- MIMOBOT by Mimoco (Via Flickr)
Mimobots- MIMOBOT by Mimoco (Via Flickr)

Mimoco’s line of designer USB thumb drives are a geek’s dream. According to the Mimoco design team they have:

“…Fused the art of contemporary characters with the functionality of personal data storage devices making its name known in both the pop-culture driven Art Toy underground and the savvy high-tech ‘tronic world.”

Mimoco has a series of licensed Mimobots that include Star Wars characters and Hello Kitty (among others) as well as a full line of custom designed ‘bots’ for purchase at their web store. They also sell their products at ‘geek boutiques’ nationwide.

The Opportunity: Geek Chic

Even reading the Wikipedia entry for the term ‘geek chic’ hits home. It’s got all the ingredients for an extremely well-focused, niche-targeted marketing campaign. Extremely successful designers, developers and entrepreneurs fit into the category of ‘geek chic’ including the likes of Zach Klein (founder of College Humor, BustedTees and Vimeo,) the Flight of the Conchords and even comedienne Sarah Silverman.

The Plan: Embrace Chic Geeks

In order for something like Mimobots to generate a million more in sales, we’re going to focus on one, extremely well-connected community: those chic geeks. We must walk like them, talk like them and, most importantly, work with them to make Mimoco relevant in their world. Part of the allure of a brand like Mimobots is that the brand must straddle the divide between mainstream (read sell-out) and exclusive (always cool,) so mass marketing is out of the question. (Just look at what Johnny Cupcakes has built by exploiting this niche.)

The plan:

  1. Strategy – Build a strategy that focuses entirely on the Chic Geek market: the e-commerce platform, a content platform, strategic partnerships and even monthly custom designs by ‘famous chic geeks.’ We’re going to set some goals, build an influence pyramid, find the content opportunities and create an editorial calendar. ($120,000)
  2. Build – We’re going to reinvent the Mimoco e-commerce experience to focus on the designers behind the designs; to tell better product stories and to drive deeper relationships with the geeks we’re going after. We’re going to build a new digital universe and distribute content on channels that geeks adore (channels like Vimeo and Feedly.) ($250,000)
  3. Create – Using our editorial calendar, we’re going to create the best geek chic content on the web. We’ll profile the best of the best, partner with prominent geeks to deliver high-quality content designed to deliver on the brand’s promise. We’ll attend events, produce a weekly podcast, distribute weekly video content, shoot images and write – write a lot. ($300,000)
  4. Measure & Refine – Our strategy will remain intact while our tactics, channels, content and platforms shift. (Gone are the days when you can launch a website and walk away.) With weekly and monthly reports to measure our effectiveness the strategy team will refine the methodology. Perhaps we’ll try exclusive offers like StuffedRobot.com or enhance the post-purchase experience with more geek chic on-device content. ($120,000)
  5. Create More – Invariably, content opportunities, new product development concepts and smart partnerships emerge the more we dive into the strategy. Perhaps something like printing a Geek Chic magazine (yes, we believe in the power of print) that includes a Mimobot with each issue works. With that in mind, the final portion of our budget is dedicated to exploiting those opportunities. ($210,000)

The Outcome: 90 More Sales A Day (On Average)

At the end of the day, our entire strategy will be successful only if we generate about 100 more Mimobot sales everyday (At an average of $30.00/sale). Will it happen overnight with a strategy like ours? No. However, we know that a powerful, underground brand like Mimoco has too much to lose if we grow too fast. With our plan in place, this time next year they’ll be selling 1,000 more Mimobots than they are today (enough to make up for the slow-grow strategy.) Guaranteed.

Let Andrew know what you think of his approach in the comments.  Thanks Andrew!

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7 Inputs to a Social Media Strategy

seedsBuilding a social media strategy is not something that can be whipped together overnight.  For context, any company that is looking to develop a strategy for leveraging social media should first check out the POST methodology from Forrester Research.  The “People” part of the approach (followed by Objectives, Stategy and Technology) has a short description:

Don’t start a social strategy until you know the capabilities of your audience. If you’re targeting college students, use social networks. If you’re reaching out business travelers, consider ratings and reviews. Forrester has great data to help with this, but you can make some estimates on your own. Just don’t start without thinking about it.

This is smart, practical advice.  Yet it doesn’t go deep enough.  Here are seven inputs that need to be considered before defining objectives and developing a strategy to leverage social media tactics.

  1. Social Media Monitoring. There are many self-service tools out there beyond Twitter search and Google blog search.  Two that work well are Radian6 and SM2.  No software is perfect, especially when it comes to analyzing sentiment of what customers are saying, but “hunting and pecking” using point-in-time search tools isn’t going to give you the broad array you need.  These tools also can review data back in time to compare tone and conversations year over year or before and after a key event like a product launch.  It takes time to sift through the chatter, but there are gems in there that constitute unfiltered customer feedback worth paying attention to.
  2. Market research. Survey your customers and ask them what tools they use.  If you are a large company, consider leveraging a segmentation that addresses the needs, wants, attitudes and behaviors of your customers.  This can be a significant source of insight to drive marketing strategies – not just social marketing ones.
  3. Forrester’s Social Technographics. Forrester has a great tool to stratify how your customers are actually using social media.  Do your customers heavily index against the average for Creators or Critics?  Perhaps a user-generated content idea or approach would be more suitable.  While the tool doesn’t give you the answer of what to do, it does provide some data points that help justify approaches down the road.  If you know some basic info about your customers, you can get useful data easily using this tool:

  4. Competitive Analysis. What are your competitors doing? Are you behind the pack or leading by deciding to engage in social technologies to drive your business?  It’s important to know where you stand – better yet to know where you want to be.
  5. Stakeholder Interviews. Some tactics in social media will require different departments to work together – perhaps some that aren’t used to collaborating.  Talk to the following groups: Marketing, Market Research, Innovation, Product Management, IT, Legal, Customer Service, PR and HR.  Chances are they will all have something to say about social media and what they would hope to get from it.
  6. Corporate Objectives.  What is your company’s marketing objectives in 2010?  Are you undertaking a brand refresh?  Have some major product launches teed up in Q2?  Any seasonal or cyclical impact to plan around?  Don’t think you can develop social tactics without considering what is going on in the company.
  7. Corporate Culture. Does your company thrive on innovation or on chopping down new initiatives?  Social media tactics can be measured, effective and game-changing – yet the industry is not as mature of a marketing tactic like pay-per-click search marketing.  “Making the leap” requires top down executive support and a bottoms up desire to make initiatives successful from the teams that will own the strategy going forward.  (Or fail quickly and learn from it, as I’ve heard Todd Defren say – this space is still new).

Frankly, I don’t see how the rest of the POST methodology – Objectives, Strategy and Technology – can be developed without these inputs.  Do you agree? What did I miss?

Photo credit: h-d-k via Flickr

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