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Viewability: The Advertising Trend Of 2015

MediaPost

The IAB is calling 2015 a “year of transition” as it recommends that advertisers seek 70% viewability during the year. But 2015 is more than a year of transition in terms of viewability. Viewability will be the defining advertising trend of 2015.

The move toward 100% viewability is a move toward greater accountability, higher quality inventory, and improved ad experiences. And the responsibility for making these changes falls heavily on publishers.

But 100%  viewability is tough to achieve, given the current state of the industry and the various content models employed by publishers. It also comes at a higher cost, which is somewhat contrary to the initial objectives of programmatic.

Publishers now have to perform a difficult balancing act between the art of publishing and the science of monetization. They must drive more traffic by publishing better and more timely content — the art — while adapting to the changing technology requirements of both programmatic platforms and viewability demands – the science. And, of course, this balancing act amid a rapidly evolving landscape must result in eventual profit.

Those publishers that can master this balancing of art and science, stand to benefit greatly. They will be more and more attractive in the eyes of increasingly sophisticated marketers who are driving these trends by demanding better results and increased transparency.

 

Read More…

The 4 trends the mobile market will focus on in 2015

Venturebeat

2014 was the year that mobile stopped being the next big thing and became THE BIG THING. Investors poured money into any app that showed the slightest signs of traction, new service providers popped up like mushrooms and most importantly, app developers started seeing some serious profits.

Just thinking back to two years ago, everyone and their neighbor had an idea for a new app. Today, these apps have funding, development teams, and slick demos. The success stories like Flappy Bird and 2048 alone were an inspiration to this generation of app developers showing them how far an original idea can take you.

Generally speaking, in 2015 we can identify four types of apps, each with their own characteristics and challenges.

1. Mobile ecommerce — Shifting the focus from market share to engagement

Ecommerce giants have been adapting quite fast to the mobile world. Most of the major players with a significant desktop operation in place spent millions of dollars in 2014 in paid distribution to secure their customer base and to acquire mobile market share. Nevertheless, there is still a large portion of users who use mobile primarily as a ‘discovery channel,’ browsing apps, and mobile web to get inspired — and are then migrating back to desktop to complete the purchase.

 

Read more trends here… 

Who needs a website? Will Facebook become a new content provider

Mashable

Go to where the audience is — that’s the common refrain of 21st century media. Consumers are fragmented, and its up to journalists and editors to bring the news to them.

Video startup NowThis News announced last week that it would take that this idea to its logical extreme by eliminating its website. Its audience resided primarily on social media anyway, so that’s where the company now lives. Going forward, it will focus on publishing work directly to platforms like Facebook and Twitter instead of looking to drive consumers to its website.\

For years, the digital media model relied on getting people to come back to a website and then showing them ads. Early on, publishers looked to appear high on the results for search engines (so called search-engine optimization) or on major portals like AOL and Yahoo in order to take advantage of their audiences. The emergence of social as a traffic driver in the past few years has caused digital publishers to put resources into building out their followers on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

As audiences have shifted to mobile, social media’s influence has grown.

“The reality is all the action is in the stream, whether it’s your Facebook stream or Twitter or Instagram. That’s where you’re spending your time,” said Andy Wiedlin, an entrepreneur-in-residence at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and the former chief revenue officer atBuzzFeed, in an interview with Mashable.

Continue reading… 

 

 

Using Custom Market Research to Tell Your Brand’s Story

ResearchLogoBLACK no 2nd IDG Using Custom Market Research to Tell Your Brand’s Story

By Jen Garofalo,

Many years ago in my old neighborhood, a woman around my age moved into the small apartment on the second floor of the house next door. We gradually got to know each other, and one day the obligatory question about what we each do for a living came up. I explained that I work in market research and gave her a few standard lines about my job that I typically reserve for these types of situations. Then I paused, waiting for her to jump in and tell me about herself.

“I’m a professional storyteller,” she said. I blinked. Wait, what?
Did she just say she’s a storyteller?

I was intrigued.  “Oh, are you a writer then?”  I asked.  “No, not exactly,” she said. “It’s oral story telling. I visit area schools and I tell my stories to the kids. The stories are factual and have been compiled by my family over many generations, but I try and tailor them to make them relevant for the kids and the issues they’re facing – for example, overcoming fears or dealing with bullies.”

Well, I thought to myself, a storyteller! How cool is that? That’s miles apart from what I do in the office every day.

After some thought though, I realized that what I do really isn’t so wildly different. As a market researcher, my job is also to help tell stories; stories about brands, to be more specific. A typical client’s goal – much like my storyteller friend – is to connect with their target audience and to be as relevant as possible to the world that audience lives in and works in every day. In other words, find out whaStoryTeller Using Custom Market Research to Tell Your Brand’s Storyt issues their target audience is facing, and tell their brand’s story in a way that will make sense to that audience.

Market research, when done well, can be a very useful tool in the storytelling process. Like most storytellers, when beginning a new project I start off in search of answers. I want to know about your brand. Why was it created? What is your brand’s mission? What problems will your brand help to solve? I also want to know about your target audience. Who are they? What are they trying to accomplish? What are their most pressing challenges?

Maybe you can answer this first line of questioning pretty easily. But in some cases, as with a new brand or entry into a new market, that might not be so. Broad-based industry research, market segmentation and customer or prospect surveys can help you learn more about your audience’s needs, so you can better understand where you need to focus the most time and energy.

All good stories follow a pattern – you get to know the characters and their history, you learn about their intentions and motives. Once you have that information, the story picks up momentum and things chug along pretty well. But then – plot twist! –unexpected challenges arise. There’s a conflict. For a brand, this could be a bold move on the part of a competitor, a new development in the industry, a data security breach, or a change in popular trends or opinions. Now we get to the climax of the story. How will your brand respond to this conflict? How will your customers respond? You’re making decisions in real time, and you need information fast. Custom research can be a valuable tool in times of change or crisis. Understanding emerging market trends, as well as customer mindsets and strategies, can help your brand respond appropriately to change and come out looking like a hero. Producing content fueled by third-party market research contributes to the image of your brand as a thought leader and a voice of authority and reason in uncertain times.

There is one big difference between a brand’s story and the kinds of stories that my friend tells. A brand’s story never ends, it’s always evolving. It’s a continuous cycle of learning about and connecting with the people who need your brand right now, in this moment – of discovering who those people are and what their needs are today.

Here are some ways in which custom market research can help you along that journey:

Continue reading… 

 

IDC’s 10 Predictions for CMOs for 2015

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 IDCs 10 Predictions for CMOs for 2015

By, Kathleen Schaub

What does IDC predict for tech CMOs and their teams in 2015 and beyond?

Sunrise%2B1 IDCs 10 Predictions for CMOs for 2015

Our recent report IDC FutureScape: Worldwide CMO / Customer Experience 2015 Predictionshighlights insight and perspective on long-term industry trends along with new themes that may be on the horizon. Here’s a summary.

1: 25% of High-Tech CMOs Will Be Replaced Every Year Through 2018
There are two dominant drivers behind the increased CMO turnover over the past two years. One driver centers on the cycle of new product innovations, new companies, and new CMO jobs. The second (but equal) driver centers around the required “fit” for a new CMO in the today’s tumultuous environment and the short supply of CMOs with transformational skill sets.

Guidance: Everyone in the C-Suite needs to “get” modern marketing to make the CMO successful.

2: By 2017, 25% of Marketing Organizations Will Solve Critical Skill Gaps by Deploying Centers of Excellence
The speed of marketing transformation and the increased expectations on marketing have left every marketing organization in need of updating its skill sets. In the coming years, CMOs will not only have to recruit and train talent but also create organizational structures that amplify and share best practices. Leading marketing organizations will become masters of the centers of excellence (CoE).

Guidance: Get out of your traditional silos and collaborate.

3: By 2017, 15% of B2B Companies Will Use More Than 20 Data Sources to Personalize a High-Value Customer Journey
Personalization requires a lot of data. CMOs do not suffer from a lack of data — quite the contrary. Today’s marketer has dozens, if not hundreds, of sources available. However, companies lack the time, expertise, and financial and technical resources to collect data, secure it, integrate it, deliver it, and dig through it to create actionable insights. This situation is poised for dramatic change.

Guidance: One of your new mantras must be – “do it for the data”.

4: By 2018, One in Three Marketing Organizations Will Deliver Compelling Content to All Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
CMOs reported to IDC that “building out content marketing as an organizational competency” was their #2 priority (ROI was #1). Content marketing is what companies must do when self-sufficient buyers won’t talk to sales people. While it’s easy to do content marketing; it’s hard to do content marketing well. The most progressive marketing organizations leverage marketing technology and data to develop a buyer-centric content strategy.

Guidance: Remember that it’s the buyer’s journey – not your journey for the buyer.

5: In 2015, Only One in Five Companies Will Retool to Reach LOB Buyers and Outperform Those Selling Exclusively to IT
IDC research shows that line-of-business (LOB) buyers control an average of 61% of the total IT spend. LOB buyers are harder to market to and are even more self-sufficient than technical buyers. To succeed with this new buyer, tech CMOs must move more quickly to digital, incorporate social, broaden the types of content, and enable the sales team to maximize their limited time in front of the customer.

Guidance: Worry less about how much video is in your plan and worry more about your message.

6: By 2016, 50% of Large High-Tech Marketing Organizations Will Create In-House Agencies
Advertising agencies have been slow to recognize the pervasive nature of digital. While many digital agencies exist and many have been acquired by the global holding companies, these interactive services typically managed as just another part of the portfolio of services the agency offers. Modern marketing practitioners realize that digital is now in the DNA of everything they do and are ahead of their agencies.

Guidance: Don’t wait. Take the lead.

Continue reading… 

 

IAB Launches Guidelines To provide Greater Transparency in Digital Advertising

IAB
The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB UK) has released part one of a set of guidelines to help the marketing industry provide more transparency to consumers around ‘native’ advertising.
See the guidelines here
See the research here

The guidelines provide advertisers, publishers, agencies and advertising technology companies with clear and practical steps to make it easier for consumers to spot native advertising – digital ad formats designed to look and feel like editorial content.

Supported by ISBA – the voice of British advertisers – the Association for Online Publishers (AOP) and the Content Marketing Association (CMA), the guidelines meet the UK advertising industry’s CAP code, which is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Two of the key guidelines for native advertising formats are:

  • Provide consumers with prominently visible visual cues enabling them to immediately understand they are engaging with marketing content compiled by a third party in a native ad format which isn’t editorially independent (e.g. brand logos or design, such as fonts or shading, clearly differentiating it from surrounding editorial content)
  • It must be labelled using wording that demonstrates a commercial arrangement is in place (e.g. ‘paid promotion’ or ‘brought to you by’).

Continue Reading… 

 

What’s your content “type”?

IDG GlobalSolutions Color Whats your content type?

Jason Gorud – Vice President – IDC/IDG

I am not a thought leader.

I will not pretend to be one.

What you are about to read is not thought leadership. It’s just something worth thinking about.

My current role gives me access to some of the most interesting, influential, technology in the B2B space. More importantly, it puts me in touch with the marketing professionals and media agencies that sit at the forefront of the promotion of these wonderful solutions. Having had the chance to meet so many brilliant people I consider myself blessed. I am continually amazed by the tactics, strategies and little “tricks” employed by individuals and firms alike as they go about their business of building brand, pipeline and awareness for their respective companies.

My firm is often called into an organization in an advisory capacity to help groups understand a myriad of market complexities faced by tech firm executives; market share, vertical trends, new market entry strategy, channel ecosystem challenges are just a few of the areas where we attempt impart insight and actionable advice.

I have noticed that the aspirational goal of nearly every marketing professional I speak with is to position their firm as a “thought leader”. Almost with out exception the meetings I have with my clients, irrespective of the solution being covered, will meander into familiar territory: a chat about how to ensure their firm is seen as the“thought leader” in the [insert any tech solution here] space. Whether it’s OpenStack, smart cities, Software Defined Networks, mobile devices, printer ink, or cat toys everyone is zealously certain their message (and by extension firm, people and solutions) should, nay MUST, carry within it the holy seed of true THOUGHT LEADERINESS ( hmmmmmmm #ThoughtLeaderiness??? ).

In fairness, some do accomplish this goal, but most do not. Just like good and evil, smart and dumb, beautiful and ugly, Bert and Ernie, normal me and me being terse are mutually exclusive, yet co-dependent opposites, so too is though leadership content and the mundane. In each case one must exist in order to define the other.

So how do tech (actually you could replace tech with ANY) companies establish this coveted pre-eminence in the market’s collective brain? Why through effective content marketing of course! Thought leadership doesn’t simply descend from heaven in the form of an omnipotent alpha-Geek imparting the one, true path to CIOs by doling out wisdom via a series of arcane, magical gestures and select speaking engagements. If only it were that simple and TED talks that productive.

We’ve all heard that content is king. I disagree.

“Content” is this gigantic, nebulous, unchained beast to which all marketers have all become addicted.

Ladies and gentlemen, all you fans of irony in general, I give you the Ouroboros of marketing! King Content is king because we are told it’s king!

Content is not a monarchy, it is a meritocracy where only the best shall rule. Sadly content creation is out of control.

Don’t believe me? As far back as 2010 Eric Schmidt estimated humans created, every two days, as much content (information) as we had from the dawn of civilization until 2003. That was five years ago! Granted this is all content for allpurposes, but you get the point. And since the tech landscape hasn’t gotten simpler, and the range of personas buying solutions continues to expand outside of the CIO’s office, you can bet tech marketers haven’t slowed down in their Sisyphean attempt to keep prospective buyers abreast of the best [insert tech solution here]in the market. On a personal level, one of my clients told me their firm generated over 3,000 pieces of unique content last quarter alone. When I asked why I was told (verbatim): “We want to be the thought leaders in this space.”

So if you want a super-stressed, time and attention span deficient, self-educating, hyper-connected, socially plugged-in customer to actually read and react to your message, you’d best chain this beast. He’s not reading 3,000 pieces. You’re lucky if he reads three. Ask yourself: what am I releasing into the market and for what purpose? Is it worth the time, money and effort to get CONTENT X into the mainstream (and track it’s effectiveness)?

Here’s a handy little chart to help evaluate content types. I call it the Jason’s-Self-Evident-Quadrant-for-Content-Analysis, or the slightly more sexy version for the content cognoscenti the JSEQfCA . It just rolls off the tongue.

01c5ef6 Whats your content type?

NOISE: Do you produce a lot of content filled with jargon, buzzwords, aphorisms and techno-speak? Are your corporate videos super slick, produced by an agency rep that’s trying to channel his or her inner Fellini? Congratulations, you have produced Noise. Of all 4 types, this adds the least value to the market. It is neither informative nor interesting. No one intentionally creates Noise just like I don’t intentionally try and annoy my partner. It just happens. You start out trying to get a compelling message to the market and the next minute you’re being rather aggressively told to stop watching reruns of Escape to River Cottage and take the dog down (NOW) to go pee. This type of content is often created with the assumption that what is being released into the market builds brand. It usually doesn’t.

YOUR ACTION: Lazy marketing. Stop making this all together. How can you tell it’s noise? If you redact logos and any reference to your company in it and a 3rd party has no idea who the content refers to or what action he or she is meant to take after consuming it, then you have Noise.

FACT SHEET: Do you dig tech specs? Is feature/functionality your particular area of strength? Enjoy commissioning 20 page white papers on why your solution performs better than your competitors in a test environment? You’ve got Fact Sheet content! Please note that while this is quite useful to many IT decision makers, and can be quite important in the short-listing process, it does very little to engage the reader. It’s the content equivalent of eating a Clif Bar. Oh sure it has nutrients and keeps you going, but no one ever uttered the phrase “Damn, that was a delicious Clif Bar”. Fact Sheet content educates on specs, but does little to provide the reader with context vis-a-vis the problem your solution addresses. For some reason tech marketers love handing this type of content out at industry events.

YOUR ACTION: Important stuff but use it sparingly and never in lead gen or brand building campaigns. This content is best supplied as an “upon request” item. How do you recognize Fact Sheet content? If you hand it to someone not in your industry and they come away utterly dazed and confused, but when presented to an expert they say something like “oh X is .05 nanoseconds faster than Y? Neat!” you have Fact Sheet content.

FAST FOOD: We’ve all eaten McDonalds. Admit it. You have. Once in a while it’s the meal of choice because it’s cheap, easily procured, comes with a toy in some cases, and quickly consumed. It’s (possibly) a little tastier than a Clif Bar but you won’t ever fondly look back on “the best McDonalds ever” that inspired you to eat all the items on the menu because it’s just so forgettable. “Snackable” content such as infographics, “gamified” content, Tweets, this article I’m writing, and the like fall into this category. It will keep the consumer engaged for a short period of time, is great for building awareness, and is excellent for driving potential clients to more “dense” content. Unfortunately it lacks gravitas and usually won’t get people thinking of you as the guru in any field.

YOUR ACTION: This stuff is easy to crank out, easy to burn through, is great if you need to go wide and want your message shared socially. Understand that it does very little to affect a purchasing decision the further down the funnel you go, but it does grab attention. And just like McD’s builds item after item repurposing the same basic materials – really how different is a Big Mac from a Quarter Pounder with Cheese- crafting this content using source material from, for example, Fact Sheet content is a great way to “compound”, improve ROMI and create message cohesion. It works best in social media and ad campaigns. How do you know if you have Fast Food on your hands? If you read it and your response is “Ok cool… So?”

THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: You don’t tell the market you’re a thought leader, it tells you. In a recent study my firm completed comprising of nearly 300 CIOs in AP, we found that outside of security and compliance, a whopping 69% of respondents viewed the driving of profitable revenue via innovation as their chief responsibility. For your content and firm to be viewed as “thought leader worthy”, you must speak to this mind-set. Great content doesn’t talk tech or product or market leadership, it speaks about enabling possibilities. It fearlessly sees around corners and inspires new perspectives. People want to buy from thought leaders. They want to work for thought leaders. They want to partner with thought leaders.

I’ve spent a lot of time discussing content form factor with respect to “types” but Thought Leader content can come in all shapes and sizes so there is no formulaic approach. What you say is more important than how you say it.

YOUR ACTION: This is tough. You can’t simply will this stuff into being any more than I could convince the students at my high school that I was cool back in the day. Stupid Northwood HS class of ’89… I digress. This is where you need to fundamentally begin applying the less-is-more approach to your broader content strategy. Focus and refine. Here’s a little trick: try having someone NOT in your industry interact with your content. See how they react. The ability to inspire the uninitiated is often a good litmus test.

So in closing I wish you all good luck in your pursuit of creating amazing content! #ThoughtLeaderiness!

The State of Digital Marketing

Econtent

Ask 10 consumers to define “digital marketing” today, and you’ll likely get 10 different answers. Some consumers may reference irritating browser pop-ups and spam, while others will cite YouTube tutorials and email newsletters. No matter what form it takes, digital marketing is only going to increase–especially in a world where ad-supported free apps and content are more popular than ever.

For George Schildge with Matrix Marketing Group, digital marketing in 2014 and beyond means creating a more connected customer experience via marketing that makes use of every electronic device imaginable to engage stakeholders. “In the past, digital marketing was disconnected. We had sales force automation and email platforms, but the systems weren’t connected. Today, we are beginning to see a full-blown marketing backbone where marketers have greater visibility over consumer habits,” says Schildge.

Consider that marketing leaders will, by 2019, spend more than $103 billion on search marketing, display advertising, social media marketing, and email marketing-exceeding their spend on cable and broadcast television advertising combined-according to Forrester Research. Additionally, a greater majority of industry professionals are taking digital marketing more seriously. Results of a new survey by Demand Metric found that 91% of marketers indicated that digital marketing was “important” or “very important.”

Read More… 

B2B Social Media: “You’re going the wrong way!”

IDG Global Solutions

By, Jason Gorud

One of my favourite movies is Planes, Trains and Automobiles. In it two mismatched travel companions are forced to endure each other and suffer through a series of unfortunate incidents as they attempt to make their way home for Thanksgiving dinner. In one scene, the two protagonists are on a snowy freeway late at night driving the “wrong way”. While they are on the right path directionally (homeward bound), they are literally driving into oncoming traffic. A concerned couple on the opposite side of the freeway starts screaming “You’re going the wrong way!” Not comprehending what they couple is trying to tell them John Candy assumes the couple is drunk and cynically asks Steve Martin “How do they know where we are going?”

This scene feels a little like what we see on a macro level from the increased push by B2B marketers into social media. Everyone has a goal(s) in mind, everyone seems to be heading towards that goal. Much like in the movie, the problem is one born not so much out of ignorance, but through a series of misaligned choices.

It’s only when we look at the unquestioning adoption of certain social media effectiveness metrics that marketers have been lead to believe are gospel and then examine the corresponding strategies being built on those metrics, that we start to see why some companies are heading down the “wrong way”.

When my firm asks our customers what they expect from a broad social media strategy we often get the following vanilla answers:

  1. Enhance brand awareness
  2. Cost reduction (on marketing spend)
  3. Improve customer experience
  4. Enable innovation (this is more ‘vanilla-swirl’ as not all companies state this as a goal)
  5. Increase revenue

No ‘shockers’ on this list and I have ranked them in order of immediate achievability (the ranking is just my humble opinion). Rather unfortunately many of the clients I speak with state enhancing brand awareness as their initial objective when the discussion starts but only really want to talk about getting to ‘increased revenue’ as fast as possible. Unsurprisingly, very few can articulate how they will map their strategy to achieving revenue growth – they just know they must!

As the conversation continues, cost reduction is quickly reclassified; this isn’t a goal, it’s the a priori reason to use social media. “It’s free” they say, “and once people start sharing and retweeting, our promotional costs will just naturally fall. Hooray!”

Improved customer service and enabling innovation are both brushed aside as many simply pay lip service to “listening” as a way to address these goals. Further marginalization occurs due to the fact that most marketers don’t have personal KPIs tied to these activities.

From there we quickly get to the topic they really want to talk about: how can I generate more leads from social media (i.e increase revenue)?

So rather than view the new “IT” thing in marketing as vehicle to enhance existing programs and achieve those goals, many marketers look at social media as a stand alone initiative. This view essentially forces most to apply metrics they feel should link directly to achieving specific KPI’s attached to more traditional objectives like market share, NPS or new customer acquisition.

And here’s where the initiative ultimately begins to fail and the “social media thing” starts to feel like a whole lotta hype.

In 2014, Gallup released findings from a poll they ran that showed less than 40% of its respondents felt social media had any bearing on their decision to buy a product. I’m sure this is disheartening to marketers; companies in the US spent over $5B on social media advertising! Seeing as how only 5% responded that it “strongly” influenced their buying decision, you have to wonder how anyone is tracking ROMI against this channel.

It’s a fool’s errand to attempt to question a consumer on his or her personal buyer’s journey as it pertains to their response to specific marketing tactics, but the findings are telling nonetheless: Assuming your social media program is going to immediately net you new buyers and bigger wins is risky – especially in the B2B space. You simply cannot rely on the usual metrics people apply to social media activities to gauge overall effectiveness.

The biggest problem we see in the B2B space is this: rather than crafting a strategy that leverages the data that comes out of a well defined social strategy to achieve their goals, businesses are hoping that social and it’s impact on their content marketing strategy will simply net them wins. Consequently the metrics being deployed are not only too simplistic, they aren’t in anyway “linkable” back to executive level goals like revenue generation.

The many successful marketers we speak to have reached this conclusion:

Social media enables success; hyper-attention to social media ‘success metrics’ does not.

If you want social media to work for your firm quickly look at adopting the following mindset:

  • See it for what it is; a component of your marketing strategy that enables and enhances, not something tto be treated as a stand alone initiative.
  • Patience is key.
  • Move beyond measuring social media’s impact on your business via metrics that offer no real insight: page views, followers, shares, retweets, likes,etc.
  • Use the activity and resultant data from social media initiatives to form what we call customer-centric outputs.

So now you’re very likely thinking or shouting to no one in particular “Jason! Oh mighty king of useless jargon, what do you mean by customer-centric outputs?” Right?

So in the spirit of #ThoughtLeaderiness I give you the Jason’s-Blocks-of-Simple-yet-Difficult-Social-Media-Outputs. It’s more commonly referred to as the JBoSyDSO(note to the fellas: The ladies love them some JBoSyDSO so drop it into conversation the next time you’re out at the club looking to make a great first impression – pronounced just like it’s spelled by the way):

07009d9 B2B Social Media: Youre going the wrong way!

To enable an output-based program you have to be patient. The value of the “outputs” only grow over time. As data aggregates, the ability to conduct longitudinal studies grows; insight into regions, verticals, companies and even individuals becomes so much more rich – and with this your ability to make intelligent choices in marketing, sales and product development improves.

And this is the difficulty many firms have: patience and willingness to make basic investments in the systems that enable an effective strategy. I won’t spend time on specifics of tools out there as the topic is myriad, but solution types can broken into 5 basic categories: monitoring, management, engagement, analytics and influencer. We can save this subject for another time…

Let’s briefly cover the outputs which are unique in nature but overlap frequently:

CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION: Can be used to analyze the nature of conversations by individuals or groups. Practically speaking, discussions mentioning company name can be linked to brand awareness, while posts where specific product, tech specs or attributes are being discussed can be used to identify an individual as a prospective buyer worth nurturing, or an account worth exploring. Highly active individuals can more easily be clustered as Hi-Po targets with corresponding tailored marketing strategies.

COMPETITIVE AWARENESS: Useful when monitoring competitive product launch announcements to determine sentiment versus your offerings. Also allows for competitor campaign countermeasures – especially when said campaigns involve FUD or otherwise unfriendly information being used against your firm.

CAMPAIGN CURRENCY: A great way to garner near real-time insight into the effectiveness of media and marketing initiatives. Not only does it provide you with the ‘what-is & what-isn’t’ working feedback, you also gain the ability to monitor conversations as they evolve vis-a-vis brand comparison enabling you to improve on future campaigns. Properly utilizing this information enables companies to more adroitly tweak messaging to meet customer interests as they change throughout the lifecycle of their initiatives.

FOCUS GROUPS: This is kind of a no-brainer. From a psychological stand point, people in general don’t always give the most honest of feed back with respect to brands, campaigns or products when put in a room with a bunch of strangers. Plus conducting these on-site groups is expensive and a pain in the backside. The impersonal nature of the web however is a different story, it allows for much larger sample sizes and ensures that feedback (data) is more easily archived and used in a far more scientific manner.

Proper deployment of these ‘outputs’ with social media acting as the engine driving them allows for the identification of tangible metrics and actionable data with respect to the aforementioned 5 goals:

  1. Brand sentiment, buzz and growth are, as mentioned, the most immediate and directly affected by nearly any campaign; your ability to influence and enhance are greatly magnified via social channels.
  2. As campaigns and initiatives are now being more accurately monitored via live feed back, tweaks can be made to eliminate spend on inefficiencies. Very expectedly, through comparative study over time, firms begin to see content distribution costs decline as a result of shares, retweets and the like.
  3. Customer feedback – both solicited and unsolicited – can be viewed across multiple products, channels and regions; services can be proactively deployed (and communicated) to a broader audience before larger problems arise; specific individuals can be quickly identified for a more personal touch.
  4. Based on trends and aggregate voice, combined with competitive intelligence, companies can quickly respond to market needs from a product perspective, inform key demographics of their “Next Big Thing” should they so desire, and use inputs from the corresponding feedback to improve product/service enhancements as they are occurring.
  5. Whitespace accounts, high-potential buyers and at risk customers are more quickly identified and addressed.

It is therefore advisable that the traditional social media metrics be used versus the outputs on an individual basis, not in trying to create direct correlations to the goals one seeks to achieve. Companies are best served by endeavoring to create more tangible links (KPIs) from the outputs to those goals instead. By doing this your social media initiatives will net far more benefit to your organization as a whole.

So in closing, be patient, stay focused on your outputs and not the minutiae of the metrics. By moving away from gauging success based purely on tactical, easily counted data points, and redirecting your energy to building outputs that link to your goals, you will right your “vehicle” and start driving on the correct side of the road.

Spoiler alert: They make it home for Thanksgiving dinner.

Worldwide Tablet Shipments Experience First Year-Over-Year Decline in 4th Quarter

IDC PMS4colorversion 1 Worldwide Tablet Shipments Experience First Year Over Year Decline in 4th Quarter

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., February 2, 2015 – Worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the first time since the market’s inception in 2010. Overall shipments for tablets and 2-in-1 devices reached 76.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14) for -3.2% growth, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Although the fourth quarter witnessed a decline in the global market, shipments for the full year 2014 increased 4.4%, totaling 229.6 million units.

“The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year,” said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. “Although Apple expanded its iPad lineup by keeping around older models and offering a lower entry price point of $249, it still wasn’t enough to spur iPad sales given the excitement around the launch of the new iPhones. Meanwhile, Samsung’s struggles continued as low-cost vendors are quickly proving that mid- to high-priced Android tablets simply aren’t cut out for today’s tablet market.”

Apple’s lead over other vendors has yet to be truly challenged as it shipped 21.4 million tablets, accounting for over a quarter of the market with 28.1% volume share. Despite Samsung’s woes, it managed to hold on to the second place with 11 million units shipped. Lenovo (4.8%), ASUS (4%), and Amazon (2.3%) rounded out the top 5 although only Lenovo managed to grow annually when compared to Q4 2013. Lenovo maintained its tight grip on the Asia/Pacific market thanks to its massive scale in the PC business and the success of its low-cost tablet offerings.

“Despite an apparent slow-down of the market, we maintain our forecast about tablet growth in 2015,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director, Tablets. “Microsoft’s new OS, a general shift towards larger screen form factor and productivity focused solutions, and technology innovations such as gesture interface that could be introduced in tablets will help the market maintain positive growth in 2015.”

 

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