A very smart ebook was produced by the team at We Are Social (a social agency) to talk about how brands need to become social businesses. This ebook is a fantastic read for all. Below is a quick summary from their site, as well as a link to download the full ebook. Our clients are going through this revolution to become social businesses… what more can we do to help? / Colin Browning, Director, Social Media Marketing Services at IDG
Social Brands: The Future of Marketing
Social brands aren’t just brands with a social media presence; they’re brands that put social thinking at the heart of all their marketing.
They’re brands that are social, not just brands that do social.
They’re brands that always strive to be worth talking about.
But how can marketers actually build a brand worth talking about?
Building a Social Brand
This is the topic we explore in “Social Brands: The Future of Marketing“, our in-depth eBook that explains how to put social thinking at the heart of yourbrand.
1. Social equity drives brand equity
The brands that drive the most favourable conversations are the brands that can command the greatest and most enduring price premiums.
2. Communities have more value than platforms
Marketers need to use new technologies to add new kinds of value; not just to interrupt people in new ways with new kinds of advertising.
3. All marketing must add value
When it comes to people’s attention, interest and engagement, your brand isn’t competing with your competitors – it’s competing with everything that really matters to people. Marketing that doesn’t add value will simply be ignored.
4. Go mobile or stand still
Mobile devices are already vital to half the world’s population. Very soon, if you’re not bringing your strategy to life on a mobile, it’ll never come to life at all.
5. The rise of the comms leitmotif
Now that marketers are no longer constrained by the crippling costs of broadcast media, we don’t need to distill all our communications down into lowest common denominator messaging. We can tell more complex – and more engaging – brand stories that evolve over time and across channels.
6. From selective hearing to active listening
Social media monitoring isn’t just about post-campaign reporting; the real value lies in listening to the organic conversations of the people that matter to you, and using these insights to develop richer, more tailored strategies.
7. Experiences are the new products
Product differentiation is no longer enough to ensure lasting success; brands need to deliver a more holistic set of emotional and functional benefits that engage people’s hearts as well as their heads.
8. Civic-minded brands are best placed to succeed
Society increasingly expects brands to give back at least as much as they take. As a result, marketers’ concept of CSR needs to evolve away from one of mere guilt relief. We need to see CSR as an opportunity, and use resources to build and nurture communities where people will welcome brands’ presence and participation.
Often, the more you read, hear and write a word the less it begins to mean. Its cadence and calligraphy repeated ad infinitum become little more than shapes and white noise. The word ‘digital’ has dogged the marketing profession for the last few years, used in every event, article and plan to complete exhaustion. However despite its repetition, it seems we’re still only just unpacking what ‘digital’ will mean for the B2B marketing community. In fact, according to the 2014 Marketing Perspectives report, 9 out of 10 marketers believe the digital revolution is still gearing up – when it’s actually already here.
Over the next year marketers expect to see even more disruption from a younger generation, completely at home with on-demand technology, dominating the buying market. This disruption will grant even more power to those making purchase decisions as they obtain more information and make more knowledgeable choices. This empowered consumer is set against the challenge of an increasingly fragmented audience as the volume of marketing channels continues to grow.
However, there are two sides to the digital coin and this proliferation of channels and digitally savvy consumers provides marketers with an unprecedented opportunity to know their customer. With increasingly diverse demographics, marketers need data analytics to better understand the behaviour of the digital native, or ‘millennials’, as well as an ageing population and everyone else in between. Marketers are able to use the real-time insights from a huge range of digital channels to their advantage.
It’s no surprise then that web and customer analytics have been identified as the most important disciplines for marketers to master. The ability to mine data for crucial customer insight is a skill set that businesses prize, not just in the marketing function. But despite this, many marketers lack the competence and skills in data analytics that would help them incorporate insights from digital and mobile channels into their overall marketing mix.
Despite the recognition that mobile and on-demand media is changing the marketing landscape, marketers are still not confident with developing mobile strategies and activating mobile-ready campaigns. In fact, 1 in 3 marketers say their organisation’s mobile competence is below average or poor. This needs to change quickly if the brand wants to capture the attention of a mobile driven marketplace.
The Marketing Perspectives report by SAS and Marketing Week reveals that B2B marketers are more digitally inclined than their consumer focused counterparts, reporting more use of social, location based and mobile marketing. Thirty-five per cent of B2B marketers fell into the ‘SoMoLo Maven’ category (those who invest more, have greater skill and confidence in social, mobile and location marketing) compared to 19% of B2C marketers. However, with empowered buyers and digital natives driving change, the requirement for real-time data analytics skills is only set to grow. And yet, many still struggle with it.
Marketing is sometimes considered a niche form of storytelling, but its stories mean nothing if they don’t make brands resonate with potential customers and ultimately lead to sales. Many modern marketers view the people who connect with their brands on social media as potential leads that could become customers.
Converting users to customers on social media platforms such as Facebook isn’t always a straightforward process. The journey is often riddled with challenges and unmet opportunities. Using social media to achieve brand lift, loyalty and engagement is typically easier to do but harder to quantify and justify as a business investment.
“No one trusts a brand or brand stories anymore,” according to Cameron Friedlander, marketing technology strategy lead at Kimberly-Clark, a consumer packaged goods conglomerate. “As a brand speaking directly to consumers all you can do is give them facts either about the category, the brand, product or company.”
The most important thing any brand can do to cultivate and eventually convert Facebook users into customers is provide useful facts, insights and ideas, he says. “Doing this requires brands to think differently about content and consumer engagement.”
Consumer Trust Doesn’t Come Easy
Consumers trust and listen to individuals with whom they have personal relationships more than brands, Friedlander says. “Consumers value each other’s opinions, not brands or companies.”
Brands need to build content ecosystems that inspire users to engage with each other and share insights and ideas on behalf of the brands, “to help nudge them towards a brand when it comes to purchase time,” Friedlander says. “Recommendations from people you know are what count when it comes to conversion.”
Ecommerce platform Shopify, which powers more than 120,000 online retailers including Amnesty International, General Electric and Tesla Motors, says Facebook is fueling the vast majority of its orders that come from social media. More specifically, Facebook drives 63 percent of all social media visits to Shopify stores and accounts, for an average of 85 percent of all orders derived from social media, according to Shopify data based on 37 million social media visits that led to 529,000 orders.
Facebook also delivers the highest conversion rate for all social media ecommerce traffic, at 1.85 percent, according to the Shopify data. Conversion rates for Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn were all below 1 percent during the same period.
The average value of sales generated via Facebook for Shopify’s stores was $55, which is below the average value of Pinterest, Instagram and Polyvore sales. Facebook dominates social orders in markets including photography, sports and recreation, pet supplies, jewelry and apparel, but it faces tough competition from other networks in the collectibles, digital products, services and consumer electronics markets.
The rise of the digital native and empowered consumers is transforming the marketing landscape, and marketers are responding to this change in very different ways. Many marketers lack the digital skills to fully adapt to this rapidly burgeoning breed of consumer and its always-on culture. They can build websites and design banners for example, but are they able to optimise the design and improve targeting? First generation digital marketing may have been achieved, but they now need to accomplish digital marketing 2.0.
Under pressure to deliver ROI against limited budgets, many tend to choose channels or approaches that have been tried and tested before. Whilst this gives them confidence to generate results, it prevents them from truly engaging with a millennial generation moving fast into the social and mobile arena.
But, as a new breed of consumer takes centre stage, so too does a new breed of marketer need to emerge. As millennials take up position on both sides of the buyer- supplier relationship, the current and future marketer needs to learn new skills and master a different set of tools. Understanding data analytics will be the key to success.
The behaviour of the millennial demographic is distinctly different from its predecessors in many respects. A strong relationship with technology, social media and a willingness to impart personal information in exchange for better services, are some of the most defining traits. Digital natives expect to converse, interact and purchase as, when and via the channel that they choose. In return they expect marketers to remember their likes and preferences; to understand them. Understanding and assimilating these differences and the behaviours that accompany them is crucial if marketers are to survive the digital revolution.
The always-connected nature of the millennial generation is a behavioural gold-mine for marketers – providing both the means to engage and a source of information to guide that engagement.
Assailed with marketing messages from an early age, these empowered buyers are experts at filtering out irrelevant, poorly timed or boring marketing campaigns. Social and location data is providing the means for marketers to connect with millennials in a way that is instantaneous, personal and relevant.
Effective digital marketing relies on big data analytics and real-time decision-making. These twin pillars help businesses to identify, understand, hone in on and engage their customers by providing them with crucial and timely customer insight. Coincidentally, they are also two of the weakest areas amongst marketers today according to research of nearly 600 marketers, which is why many are struggling to engage their customer in a digitally driven world.
Internet companies have run amok with our personal data, and people aren’t entirely sure what to do about it, judging from the results of a new survey.
More than 90 percent of Americans feel they’ve lost control over how their personal information is collected and used by companies, particularly for advertising purposes, according to the results of a survey by the Pew Research Center, published Wednesday.
Eighty percent expressed concern over how third parties like advertisers accessed the data they share on social media sites. Pew did not gather the names of which sites specifically respondents meant, but you could likely venture a guess.
The survey, which polled 607 adults online, was the Washington, D.C.-based think tank’s first in a series to tackle Americans’ views toward privacy after the leaks around government surveillance made by Edward Snowden last year.
The majority of respondents did indeed say that people should be concerned about whether the government is listening in on their phone calls, or viewing their online communications and other sensitive data.
But beyond government surveillance, the findings also reflect people’s attitudes amid the increasing sophistication by which Internet companies leverage people’s data for advertising.
“It’s a bundle of concerns,” said Lee Rainie, one of Pew’s lead researchers on the project, in an interview. “It’s partly surveillance, it’s partly tracking, and this generalized sense that I’m losing control of my identity and my data,” he said.
The constant flood of stories related to data breaches, whether it’s at Target, Snapchat, or P.F. Chang’s, don’t help either.
But voicing concern about the level of access companies, governments and other groups have to data is one thing; taking action in response is another.
Some respondents said they have taken actions to protect their privacy, like using a pseudonym, but a majority of respondents agreed that achieving anonymity online is not possible.
People’s concerns around privacy might be part of the trade-off in using a free service. Some 55 percent of respondents said they were willing to share “some information about myself with companies in order to use online services for free.”
The value of video in digital marketing is growing as video consumption continues to rise across channels and connected devices. In the first half of 2014, the Interactive Advertising Bureau reported digital video ad spending increased by 24% compared to the first half of 2013.
While TV is not dead — consumers still watch on average 4.5 hours of TV per day — users are spending significant amounts of more time viewing video content on other devices like desktop, smartphone and tablet. Mobile now accounts for 22% of overall digital video consumption, expected to rise in 2015 with ad spending in social expected to exceed $26 billion dollars globally.
Enter Social Media: A Channel Capable of Widespread Impact
As marketers, we need to stop thinking in silos and start media planning with complete storytelling in mind. Using video content and social channels together to tell a cohesive, engaging narrative that leverages the mind-set of the user, based on the screen and platform they are viewing, should be the norm.
Once content creators begin to develop video based on channel and device, engagement and video completion rates skyrocket. Adding videos to landing pages can increase conversions by nearly 90 percent—especially across the ever-increasing landscape of social platforms, where video has become a strategic way to break through the daily clutter of 58 million tweets, 4.75 billion pieces of Facebook content, and 60 million Instagram posts.
Few advertising channels outside of social allow a brand to maximize distribution of short- and long-form content and get users to watch nearly an entire video clip. Video is a tool to help change perception and sentiment among a brand’s target audience, while leveraging established advocates to relay influential opinions to their peers across multiple channels.
Given the usage of social platforms, high engagement with content and the ability to target audiences on a one-to-one level, it’s surprising that video and social are so commonly planned separately. As marketers, isn’t it our job to find the right user and deliver the right message to them at the right time? If so, why are we not planning video strategies on Facebook and Twitter in conjunction with our broader video buys? It is time to tear down the channel walls and start building smarter media plans inclusive of social user behavior and each platform’s unique capabilities.
Video-based social media offerings are becoming more advanced and marketers should continue to adjust their strategy accordingly. Recent research from SocialBakers found that more marketers are opting for Facebook video over YouTube, and Twitter’s native Video Card outperforms YouTube links — emphasizing the huge opportunity for brands to develop engaging content that resonates with each social network’s unique audience and format.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding social commerce — the idea that posts and ads on sites like Facebook and Pinterest would generate lots of immediate sales on e-commerce sites.
Today only a fraction of retailer’s online sales are actually generated directly through a referral from a social network. But the volume of social commerce is growing quickly, in the triple digits in many cases. Overall, social commerce sales grew at three times the rate of overall e-commerce last year.
In a new report from BI Intelligence we break down how social media is impacting retail sales throughout the purchase process — whether a social media user clicks directly from a retailer’s Facebook ad to make a purchase, or sees a pin on Pinterest and ends up buying the product in-store a week later. We look at the varied metrics that underscore social commerce performance at the different networks, including conversion rates, average order value, and revenue generated by shares, likes, and tweets. We also outline the latest commerce efforts by leading social networks.
Here are a selection of the key points from the report:
Social commerce is growing quickly: The top 500 retailers earned $2.69 billion from social shopping in 2013, according to the Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500, up more than 60% over 2012, while the e-commerce market as a whole grew only 17%.
Social commerce is even larger in terms of revenue generation when looking not at traditional direct referrals, when the last click before purchase happens on a social-media site, but when looking at where consumers began their purchase process, i.e., the first click.
Growth is sure to accelerate and conversion rates should improve as Twitter and Facebook roll out “Buy” buttons, which will allow social-network audiences to initiate an e-commerce purchase by clicking on a retailer’s post or tweet. Facebook’s tests began in July, Twitter’s in September.
Something very special happened at last month’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Will.i.am, one of the world’s biggest pop stars, launched his new smartband wearable device, the i.am.PULS – and the worlds of music, fashion, technology, mainstream and enterprise culture well and truly collided.
“I’m an ideas guy,” he said, and it’s true that will.i.am has been extremely busy in recent years investing in game-changing technologies as well as producing award-winning music. A true innovator, he contributed to the massive success of Beats headphones and developed the concept behind Ekocycle, Coca-Cola’s sustainable living brand.
This is a man whose vision of the future, as he explained on-stage with Marc Benioff earlier this year, has been influenced heavily by the pace of innovation in technology. Echoing Facebook’s mantra that technology’s evolutionary journey is only “1% finished,” will.i.am argued that the tech landscape will be “unrecognisable” in ten years’ time: “The thing on your wrist that talks to a phone…is not the future, it’s a starting point.”
The next revolution in connected devices
Shipments of wearables are projected to reach almost 112 million units in 2018, up from less than 20 million this year (IDC). As wearables proliferate, they will add to a vast universe of interconnected, smart devices. And when the inevitable take-off of wearables does arrive, the opportunities for brands will reach a new stratosphere as they look to own the customer journey.
Wearables are set to provide marketers with the purest view of the customer yet, in terms of the volume and immediacy of the data gathered. The rise of mobile and social prompted talk of always-on marketing, and the proliferation of wearables will further enable marketers to deliver the right message to the right user at the right time. Even better, because wearables are, by nature, deeply integrated into a daily lifestyle, marketers have an opportunity to learn more about their users than ever before.
Imagine what this could mean for your brand. How might you exploit this massive opportunity to improve customer service and make marketing messages more relevant?
Data, data, data
The key to cracking wearable tech for marketing lies in – you guessed it – data. If Mark Zuckerberg’s law (the rate of increase for social sharing) is accurate, in 10 years there will be more pieces of content shared every day (95 billion) than we currently share each month (89 billion).
Of course, as marketers we’ve been talking for a few years now about the importance of data in digital marketing. The challenge comes in tracking, filtering and measuring this data so that you have a true single view of the customer. The need to effectively leverage your customer data – including social data – is only going to increase as the number of consumer devices increases, and as wearables move into mainstream adoption. This will be crucial to providing the deeper levels of personalisation that customers now expect.
By 2017, 80% of the CIO’s time will be focused on analytics, cybersecurity and creating new revenue streams through digital services .
These and other insights were shared today by IDC during the webinar, IDC FutureScape: CIO Agenda Leading the 3rd Platform business and technology transformation through 2015 and beyond. IDC sees the shift to a service paradigm in IT accelerating, along with a greater reliance on partners, clouds and global sourcing through 2017. Based on how often analytics was mentioned in the webinar, it’s clear IDC is getting a large number of client queries in this topic area. Demand for analytics continues to skyrocket according to Joseph Pucciarelli, Group Vice President of IT Executive Programs Research.
The research firm also sees active cognition from smart analytics replacing passive analysis and interrogation, and the proliferation of analytics applications that are more contextual than today.
IDC also is predicting that by 2017, each person will have 24 digital IDs and five or more Internet-connected devices. The research team emphasized that these devices will require more extensive platforms than exist today for supporting the wide array of services these devices will deliver. The proliferation of devices will lead to IT departments embracing a more flexible cost model that has the potential to reduce fixed costs and permit multiple sourcing arbitrage.
IDC’s methodology included interviews with 209 CIOs globally. IDC mentioned that a full report of the results will be available later in the week. I will update this post with the link once it is available.