Precipice Marketing. It’s time B2B Marketing Precipitated a Real Impact on Business

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Are you a B2B marketeer with a sizable budget, working for a mid to large size software or services company?

Are you defending your significantly large marketing budget with statistics like

  • Cost Per Lead,
  • Spend per Opportunity,
  • Conversion Rate,
  • No of Deals Influence

And all the other stats that excuse you from the REAL NUMBER, the bottom line…i.e Closed business!

Are you frustrated and feel powerless about making a REAL impact to your business.

Because…Oh let me guess

  • your field sales team sucks at following up,
  • your inside sales is poorly trained,
  • your pricing is too high,
  • sales does not enter correct data into Salesforce…

Thus reducing the impact of marketing programs…yada yada.

Well here is some news for you.

It’s 2016 and smart marketers in the B2C and B2BC sectors have moved on from complaining and taken matters into their own hands. With the advent of Marketing Data Lakes and Predictive Analytic tools coupled with ‘Front Door’ level targeting capabilities from most advertising platforms, marketing now has the information and the tools to not only track their influence down to the last dollar, but also actually make a major impact on the actual sales cycle.


Introducing PRECIPICE MARKETING, a mindset that B2B marketers need to adopt now! Or be forever left behind to wither and die behind that massive wall of excuses.

The use of digital marketing tools to surround prospects in your pipeline with information, assurances, and positive affirmations such as to provide ‘virtual wings’ for them to jump off the ‘purchase precipice’ with complete confidence of a smooth landing.


“ Marketing has an opportunity, with technology, to capture the voice of the customer and help the rest of the company tap into what makes buyers tick.”

Laura Ramos, Vice President and Principal Analyst, Forrester

In this article I will outline the basic concepts, premises and practices of Precipice Marketing. Future articles will follow with details on use case scenarios and situational effectiveness studies which will make the difference between incredible success and moderate gains with these practices.

Step 1 – The Initiative

One of the major efforts involved will be a change in mindset from the top down… An initiative that will need to be supported by the CMO’s and CEO’s of companies who want to use the latest in technology and ‘the art of marketing’ to make a visible impact on the companies bottom line. As the lines blur between Sales and Marketing engagement with prospects, new accords will need to be defined to make sure ‘traditional’ sales and marketing organizations don’t come at loggerheads over engagement and ownership.

Step 2 – The Orchestration

Start at the top, just because Precipice Marketing focuses on prospects ‘in-pipeline’ does not mean you can just jump into the fray into any opportunity and start ‘messing with’ the sales cycle (I have my Sales VP cap on right now… LOL).

To extend and validate marketing impact through to deal closing will require setting up the foundation from the first engagement with prospects. Forget first touch or last touch attribution, lets talk about analyzing and orchestrating a multi-touch process which will not only get you new new leads, but make those leads ‘FANS’ of your marketing style and your company. If you are able to make FANS out of your leads, you will be perfectly poised to give these prospects the wings they need to ‘jump off’ the precipice and land in your ‘customer lounge’.

Step 3 – Rules of Engagement

In a Precipice Marketing cycle, marketing will stay engaged with prospects all the way till the deal is closed. To make sure that this does not lead to utter chaos in the sales process and resulting confusion in the minds of prospects, you will need to set up very structured (yet independent) rules of engagement. Here are a few things to do towards defining and enforcing this:

  1. Include marketing team members into ‘opportunity team’ into salesforce to formalize the involvement of marketing in the sales process.
  2. Schedule weekly conference calls with all the team members to discuss opportunity stage, challenges, persons of interest in the target organization and situational sensitivities.
    • These meetings can also be in the form of larger gatherings. i.e. one meeting per region per week, where all the sales reps of that region discuss all the deals in play.
    • Larger meetings can help marketing consolidate information and present Precipice Marketing ideas to the sales teams after considering multiple deals which may affect each other, positively or negatively (A specific blog post on considering the domino effect of Precipice Marketing is coming soon)
    • Sales can request and present reasons for ‘Precipice-silence’ for deals which are sensitive in nature. Discussing these issues openly will also help educated the marketing teams towards situational sensitivities of certain deals, possibly resulting in brewing better ideas coming out for affecting these deals in future meetings.
  3. Create a calendar/visual board of Precipice Marketing events (broadcast, reach-out, email, tweet, reference, blog) dates, keeping the sales team aware of the process life cycle. The important thing to NOTE here is that all of these messages DON’T NEED TO  be approved by Sales. The meetings should define approved themes and marketing should have the independence to execute. If sales insists on controlling all messaging, then Precipice Marketing will fail, due to the basic limitations of stifled thought and timeline bottlenecks.

Step 4 – Monitoring & Reacting

A major issue that has plagued marketers over the years is fragmentation of data. With marketing data and analysis sitting in application silos like Marketo, Salesforce.com, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Excel etc, it has always been very difficult to assess the global effect of marketing in a single dashboard or report.

Enter the marketing data lake!

Companies like Informatica, EMC and Teradata provide technologies which allow us to break those silos and bring all our marketing and sales data together… To understand, view and infer the true value and impact (both positive and negative) of marketing on a corporations business. A properly configured data lake can also serve as a perfect place to run Precipice Marketing scenarios by creating models around existing data about a target prospect and past effects of different marketing tactics on them or similar organizations.


“For the first time, marketers have the agility we need to turn a chaotic, multi-structured data environment into a flexible, manageable, strategic asset.”

says Anish Jariwala, Director of Marketing Strategy, Informatica in the book he co-authored around the use of Data Lake for Marketing.


Coupled with predictive marketing tools like Radius or Lattice Engines , a centralized data lake can provide a very effective way to monitor and quantify the effect of Precipice Marketing on the progress of the deal.

One particularly focused thing to monitor is the sentiment of the prospect on social media reacting to ‘social’ and ‘reference’ associations enacted as part of targeted Precipice Marketing steps. Monitoring individual sentiments from major players in the target organization is more important than monitoring corporate responses.

Remember deals are made with people, corporations just sign the checks.

Step 5 – The Sales Feedback loop

All analysis and monitoring aside, the success of Precipice Marketing should be reflected in the bottom line.

Did the deal close?

Did it close faster?

Did it have a larger ACV?

Did the customer become an advocate of the product?

The answers to the above questions are the final proof of the overall success or failure of your Precipice Marketing processes. Remember the basic principle, that Precipice Marketing succeeds when marketing is able to create ‘Fans’ out of a company’s prospects, but if you are unable to make your sales teams Fans of your marketing messaging and resulting effect, then it’s doubtful that you had a positive effect on the prospects. Remember that sales is motivated by money. They want to close deals at any cost and if you become an asset to their deal closing cycle, they will be the first ones to want you to continue doing it. It’s simple, you are helping them make more money.

Making sure that sales feedback is clean, prejudice free and focused on making Precipice Marketing work to the companies advantage, will depend on the strength of initiative from executive management.

It’s an ART to make your prospect feel that they should pick your product over the competitors. The success of Precipice Marketing will not solely depend on the technical advantages that we have today, but also on the level of Personalization and Specific Messaging that you as a marketer are able to produce and broadcast to your target. Using automated email nurture processes and automated social marketing tools will inevitable lead to failure in these scenarios.

For Precipice Marketing to work, Marketing has to step up and treat each prospect as an individual use case and craft messaging and strategy in partnership with the sales team (as part of the sales team) to surround the prospect with positive reinforcements… and finally give them wings to land into your customer corral.

Look out for follow up posts on 2020compute.com

  1. The Domino Effect of Precipice Marketing
  2. Precipice Marketing Use Case Scenarios
  3. Precipice Marketing Situational Effectiveness Analysis and Adjustments
  4. Specific Messaging and Social Media as tools for Precipice Marketing
  5. Conquering the ‘Chasm’ – How Precipice Marketing techniques can help

Till next time..

Ciao
@ggoswami

The Underground Advertising Economy that pushed Instagram into making a Carbon Copy of Snapchat

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Have you heard of a social media term called ‘TAKEOVER’?

 

Are you familiar with ‘SPONSORED LENSES’

 

Did you know that SNAPCHAT reaches over 100 Million Young Adults EVERYDAY in the USA alone?

Snapchat, arguably the ‘4th’ most popular social media platform to come out of the brain trust of Silicon Valley has been quietly building an advertising platform based on the primary principle of ‘PURE FUN’.

2016 has been the largest year of ad revenue growth for Snapchat and the focus primarily has been large B2C vendors who are spending millions on custom campaigns based around a visual effect (Snap lenses) or targeted branding campaigns connected to a ‘product launch’ or ‘event sponsorship’.

But Instagram and Snapchat’s massive reach has also spawned an underground ‘Advertisment Economy’ that has garnered massive significance for new products and services targeted towards young adults.

And here is where Instagram/Facebook started to feel the effect of Snapchat’s unique platform and it’s popularity among the young adult segment where billions of marketing dollars are at stake.

Snapchat has captured the hearts of young adults and closed advertisment dollars based on innovative and fun experiences like the one here for Taco Bell. Anyone who downloads this lens can make their face look like a Taco on Snapchat.

This is the economy of ‘Takeovers’ and ‘Shout-outs’.

There are two types of marketing scenarios that happen in this largely unregulated marketplace:

Scenario 1 | ‘Shout-out’

Small to Medium Sized Consumer Products Looking for Branding and New Customer Acquisition

Shredz_Shoutout1

Shoutout for Fitness Supplement SHREDZ, founded by Arvin Lal – The company earned north of $5Million in Revenue from Instagram Marketing in 2014.

Advertiser: A brand (small to medium sized) company launching a new product into the market focused towards young adults. These can be consumer products, electronics, game companies or event organizers, etc.

Provider: These are generally Social Celebrities (i.e fitness models, glamour models, musicians and tv personalities) and ‘Social Channels’ (i.e large online publications, magazines and online TV accounts) who have built up a fanatic following of users who devour their every post and share.

The brand will ask the target account to do a ‘Shout-out’ for their brand or product to their audience. A shoutout is basically an on air or on picture promotion of endorsement of the ‘customer’ brand/products by the ‘target’ Snapchat/Instagram user.

  • Monetary terms for the ‘shout-out’ or a series of ‘shout-outs’ is discussed over email or phone and payments are made over Paypal or wire transfers.
  • Brands generally pick the target accounts based on the  demographic following of the targets Snapchat/Instagram account.
  • Successful target accounts are the ones who have either a very large following i.e. millions of followers on the social media channels OR have a very focused and moderately large following.

The target account executes the shout-out(s} and gets paid.

If the brand sees positive results like

  • a significant increase in their own social following
  • or a more direct ‘purchase goal’ based on exclusive coupon offers delivered by the target account

then they would generally become REPEAT customers till the target’s following is exhausted and shout-out results drop (at which point the customer moves on to another target).

Scenario 2 | ‘Takeover’

Publications/Marketing Firms Inviting ‘Social Media Celebrities’ to Host their Social Channels

Social Channel: An online publication (magazine) / social media marketing company – trying to build a strong following for themselves, to eventually become possible ‘Shout-out’ targets for product brands will reach out to Social Celebrities

Nikki_Snapchat_Shoutout_Shredz

@nikkirica doing a shouthout and a takeover for SHREDZ. Shoutout in the front screen, Takeover on Shredz Snapchat account in the back image. There is no way to save Snapchat videos except by the account owner.

Social Celebrity: Fitness models, glamour models, musicians and TV personalities with massive following on Instagram/Snapchat.

  1. The Social Channel will reach out a Social Celebrity and ask him/her to ‘Takeover’ one of their social streams for a specific time frame (up to a day).
  2. The Social Channel would share access to their Snapchat account by changing the password temporarily and sharing it with the Social Celebrity.
  3. The Social Celebrity would then spend a few hours up to a full day broadcasting herself/himself over the Social Channels Snapchat account.
  4. Before the actual date of the takeover, the Social Celebrity would heavily advertise the takeover to her own followers and the Social Channel would do the same to their own followers.
  5. The aim of the takeover is to provide an exclusive ‘show’ or ‘up close and personal’ experience with the Social Celebrity to get more followers for the Social Channel.
  6. Social Channels would try to do this with multiple Social Celebrities every week which creates variety of content for them and and ‘exchange’ of followers between the Social Celebrity and the Social Channel.
  7. In the case the Social Channel has a very small initial following, they would pay Social Celebrities to appear on their channels, but in the case of a larger 500,000 followers+ account, the takeover is generally a barter agreement.

Facebook’s Dilemma.

Till today (Aug 2nd 2016) Snapchat had a major advantage over Instagram in this scenario, due to its story flow interface. Creating a LIVE take over event on Instagram was not as interactive or exciting as a Snapchat TV like event. As brands started getting into takeovers it became apparent the Snapchat was the platform of choice for LIVE entertainment broadcasts.Even Twitter’s Periscope was not able to make a dent into Snapchat’s audience because of the fun interface that they had created, which is hugely favored by teenagers and young adults. Facebook tried to combat this with Facebook LIVE broadcasts, but the intense censorship of content that Facebook employed combined with the fact that Facebook is now the social media that is massively adopted by 50+ individuals prevented Facebook from capturing the imagination of the young adult demographic that Snapchat conquered.

On the other hand, the concept of shout-outs originated on Instagram and became a major source of income for Instagram Social Celebrities and a significant marketing channel for ‘Early Adopter’ and ‘Social Forward’ brands. Thousands of shout-outs for products ranging from protein bars, clothes, clubs, events and even digital products and services take place every day on Instagram and Snapchat. This is also where Snapchat started making a major DENT into Instagram’s share of digital marketing dollars.

Instagram videos were originally limited to 15 seconds, which made detailed shout-outs and longer video messages impossible (Instagram removed this limitation earlier this year). Snapchat’s video and picture streams had much larger impact by the very nature of the way they would automatically roll from one message to another… Basically Stories.

Above: Instagram Video Ad for Shredz – Has a generally less human connection than the Snapchat Video Streams that their ‘sponsored atheletes’ dole out on a regular basis.

Snapchat shout-outs would be a ‘custom endorsement advertisement stream’ – a combination of images and videos talking about the products and services, MIXED in with the Social Celebrities everyday posts. This created a situation akin to XFINITY ON-DEMAND where you get to see your favorite programs anytime you want, but you cannot fast forward the ads….

These stories could also paint a much stronger picture with actionable links and CTA’s painted and typed over a continuously changing stream of content, in place of Instagram’s 15 second videos which kept on playing in an infinite loop.

The Snapchat Domino Effect:

  • More and more shout-outs started happening on Snapchat and it resulted in these social celebrities focusing their energies on building a bigger Snapchat following and focusing a little less on Instagram.
  • This in turn started affecting overall Instagram usage, because these Social Celebrities would send out 1 or 2 images or small (and tame) videos on Instagram per day, but would basically be LIVE on Snapchat ALL DAY LONG.  The followers of these target accounts and social celebrities would check on their updates 10 to 20 times a day to keep in touch with their lives/happenings.
  • As young people started logging into Instagram (and Facebook) less, it’s daily reach started decreasing. (Reach is separate from users)
  • This started affecting it’s ability to stay ahead of Snapchat when it came to daily impressions from teenagers and young adults in the US.
  • The increased eyeballs in turn helped Snapchat start closing commercial advertising deals with large brands which previously only considered Facebook and Instagram as the serious B2C social media business conversion platform.
  • Facebook tried to compete with longer videos and LIVE transmission and also products like ‘Lead Ads’ but by then Snapchat had released features like custom lenses, overlay filters, masks and on video text scribbles which increased the ‘contextual strength’ of Snapchat content/ads/shoutouts over simple videos, slides and pictures.

The brains at Facebook were aware of this threat very early on and hence Facebook tried to buy Snapchat for $3B in 2013…

But as of 2nd of August 2016, its all out war for the fastest growing visual advertisement format for this generation. The generation of NOW!

And oh… YouTube, You are are so 2010!

@ggoswami
(Instagram/Twitter)

Keep following my posts at 2020Compute.com for the latest in Social Media Advertising and Marketing ideas, tips and tricks.

How to use Facebook Lead Ads to create a very effective B2B lead funnel…

By | B2B, Lead Generation, Social | No Comments

It has been a common belief that LinkedIn Ads outperform Facebook ads when it comes to B2B lead generation campaign effectiveness. B2B marketers, daunted by the huge presence of B2C brands on Facebook, have traditionally allocated a significantly large chunk of lead generation dollars to LinkedIn ads and even Twitter ads, over Facebook with a summary assumption that Facebook is only effective for B2C companies. Many large B2B corporation have shunned Facebook altogether for commercial advertising and left Facebook strategy in the hands of the Corporate Communications group.

While a lot of those assumptions are already incorrect, from my personal experience in being able to generate viable ‘new name’ leads from Facebook in the past, it came at the expense of  investing in very tight integration with Facebook, allowing a smooth transition from ad-click to form submission. Integration that actually helped us increase Facebook ad conversions up to 15%.

BUT FACEBOOK JUST MADE IT EASY FOR EVERYONE ELSE…

Have you discovered Facebook Lead Ads?

If you read my last post on Social Retargeting, I presented an analogy about how social re-targeting ads need to be created with the ‘grocery store checkout lane‘ mindset. One of the most important things is to reduce FRICTION in the registration process.

All my lead generation campaigns follow the basic principles defined in this (slightly cryptic) formula

Digital Marketing Lead Generation Formula

I believe Facebook Lead Ads, by virtue of keeping the prospects experience completely on Facebook, will be able to increase conversions significantly by:

  • Lowering Friction (F – Complexity): Since the registration form and action happens right in Facebook, it reduces complexity and will significantly increase the chances of people filling in the rest of the information.
  • Lowering  time commitment (F – Commitment): The fact that you can go right back to your social activities on Facebook after you fill in your information to show your interest for a product or service will prompt more people to click on ads they find interesting.

With out-of-the-box integration support for Marketo and Salesforce, this technology is perfectly poised for smart marketers who can combine other conversion optimizer principles with this to make a major impact.

As you jump into Lead Ads, just be aware that the basics of social selling is still going to be of paramount importance in your success. And one of the hurdles you will face as a B2B marketer is that the information you get may not be complete or correct enough to hand over to your sales team directly.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 11.09.32 AM

Here are my TOP TIPS for using Facebook Lead Ads in conjunction with some traditional digital marketing techniques to create an effective Net New Lead Generation funnel in a B2B scenario:

  1. It’s all about reducing Friction and lowering Commitment…to Maximize conversion.Facebook Lead Ads Context Card
    • Make sure you are Not asking people to register for a High Commitment item like a Free Trial of your business software or to attend a 30 minute+ Webinar
    • Reduce (F – Friction) by keeping the number of questions on your lead ad form to a Maximum of 5.Facebook Lead Ads Context Card
    • It’s a good idea not to ask for the default Email Address and select Work Email  and Work Phone instead.
    • Increase the prospects (M – Motivation’) to convert by making sure your Context Card has an Attractive Image.
    • Try to define a valuable Time Bound (I – Incentive) to this image to make the user take the action Now!.
    • Clarify your (V – Value Proposition) by using Bullets in place of a text blurb to explain the value prop.
    • Make sure that the CTA Button defines a Specific Action like Download Paper or View Video.

  2. Remember, you will not have automatic Data Validation with services like Demandbase but don’t let this deter you.
    • Once the user has registered, use the company information and tools like Informatica REV  to blend data from services like Demandbase and Dun & Bradstreet and other business databases to create a complete business profile of your lead and update your CRM records.
    • A word of caution: you may not want to push lead ads directly into your CRM system without doing the above the step first to prep the data for appropriateness.

  3. Once these leads are in your CRM system, use ‘Progressive Profiling Forms’ and nurture emails to ask these new leads to give you the additional information you need.
    • A simple way to do that is to offer valuable items like  Free Trial software or a chance to enter a ‘Giveaway’ to these leads by just asking for 1 or 2 more pieces of information (e.g., Job Title, Department, Business Need).
    • Progressive profiling software like Gigya can be very useful in this use case to create a low friction environment to convert these leads into full blown enterprise contacts.

  4. Facebook lead ads will be a great way to expose your brand to a brand new audience.
    • As you generate ‘Net New’ names from your Facebook lead ads, don’t sit on your laurels.
    • Run regular targeted banner ads leading to progressive profiling forms to get more people from these ‘Net New (brand new companies)’ accounts to register for similar products that the original registrant showed interest in.
    • Why not just use more lead ads for expanding your depth in new accounts? Well lead ads will be great to get brand new names, but there is a lot of extra work associated with those leads to make them complete and valuable. Use lead ads to discover interest in new companies and then go after those companies with proven Account Based Marketing techniques to expand your presence in that account.Targeted Audiences in Specific Companies

True social selling is using a combination of social and traditional tools at your disposal to maximize the lead generation and brand engagement quotient of every marketing dollar in your war chest.

 

Till next time…

Ciao!

 

Social Re-Targeting: 3 Tips You Must Implement for Results

By | Social | No Comments

Have you been to Amazon.com recently?

Or any other large e-tailer website? And after you visited/purchased something, you logged back into Facebook.com…

Voila! Suddenly, every refresh of your feed shows promoted banner posts for the items you just browsed.

I just left Amazon.com after browsing around and deciding NOT to buy the ECHO yet.

I just left Amazon.com after browsing around and deciding NOT to buy the ECHO yet.

You, my friend, are now being targeted by the ‘super cool social re-targeting technology’ promoted heavily by LinkedIn and Adroll, among others.

And more times than not, the problem is the items they are pushing to you OVER and OVER, are the items you ALREADY BOUGHT. Or an item you saw and decided NOT TO BUY. This applies to B2B companies too. If I download a specific white paper from a company’s website, that white paper promo later follows me around!

I got this after I had already placed an order with them

I got this after I had already placed an order with them

Hello… I already got this… But now I wish I didn’t, because I feel hounded and stalked!

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we marketers actually spent some time thinking objectively about this cool technology?

  • What about creating a list of supporting assets to the asset that was touched?
  • What about setting up rules that stop re-targeting if someone registers on your website and hits a thank-you page?
  • Distribute re-targeting ads over a period of time and limiting how many times the same ads are shown to an individual?

Some of the technologies available today do provide the granularity needed to create SMART SOCIAL RE-TARGETING campaigns which feel like a real nurture path, which can provide gentle reminders of your product/services to your prospects and actually increase the chances of your sales team closing deals with them… But the onus falls on YOU, the marketeer, to use these technologies to maximize the effect.

A very smart friend of mine recently made a very unique analogy about social media advertising. It stuck in my brain and became the inspiration for this post:

“You have to consider your social media ads akin to display items along the checkout lane at specialty stores like sports mega stores, electronic stores, home furnishing stores, etc. People don’t have any pre-set intent to buy these items, but they are placed there because the store knows that anyone coming into their specialty store may have interest in acquiring these items if presented right in front of them at an attractive price point.”

casualshopping

It’s an astoundingly accurate analogy, because in today’s age of targeting and re-targeting, we certainly all know (I hope) to determine adequate interest levels and product focus before showing ads to target audiences on social media.

Why is this analogy important? And what should we do if we agree?

3 Tips You Must Implement to Optimize your Social Re-targeting Campaigns

  1. Make sure that what you are offering is a LOW COMMITMENT piece, or a Social Media Adapted version of a lead gen piece from your main website. Something adapted to fit the ‘checkout lane’ display analogy.
  2. Make sure you’re not following them out of the store with a megaphone blasting out offerings. SPACE OUT re-targeting ads so they start showing up after an appropriate time span from first contact (read: remove the stalking effect).
  3. Make sure you DON’T SHOW items that the prospect has already acquired/viewed/downloaded (Untarget).  Not doing this is simply a waste of your money. You might as well set up a direct deposit from your account to Facebook/LinkedIn without showing those ads as they are doing you more harm than good.

My Pick Of the Week for #SuperCool Use of Social Ads as Email Replacement is Microsoft!!

Microsoft Using Social Ads to Alert Users of SQLServer 2005 End of Life

Want to discuss cool social marketing and social selling concepts with me? Just leave a comment here or tweet me @ggoswami.

Till next time…

 

 

Is your social media strategy social?

By | Social | No Comments

What exactly is your social strategy?

Let me guess…Social_BullHorn

  • A specified set of posting dos and don’ts (social media strategy document) for content and images.
  • Hootsuite and Gaggle (i.e., Spambot posting) – to foster social participation among your employees, but everything has to approved by the social media gatekeepers.
  • A strictly maintained posting schedule.
  • A social post promotion budget.
  • A social paid media budget.
  • LinkedIn and Facebook ‘enterprise account’ managers – because you dropped a quarter of a million on each this year?
  • In summary, this is called a ‘Social Megaphone’ strategy. Something that most B2B companies are operating on.

You know what’s missing? Yep, you guessed it… There is no bullet point to ‘Be Social’ or ‘Socializing Rules & Schedule’.

The most talented social strategists in the world today are not the ones who are drawing six figure social media salaries. I like to talk to strangers at Starbucks, and in the past 6 months, I have met quite a few youngsters there who are doing really innovative things on social media to get traffic and leads for their content/website/product … but spending a tiny percentage of what the giant corporations are pouring in.

The most talented social strategists in the world today are not the ones who are drawing six figure social media salaries.

Through my conversations and discussions, their secret sauce became quite apparent to me… They were actually BEING SOCIAL on social media. Their strategy did not END with running ads on Facebook and posting images on Instagram and getting people to register. They engaged immediately and vociferously with everyone who responded to their reach-out programs on every form of social media. Something that is almost completely ignored by the PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Marketing trained corporate marketeer with a big wallet.

In my Jan 2015  B2Beacon’s Leader Video Series interview (click to watch) with Thad Kahlow,  I was very clear and specific that we need to hire fresh out-of-college graduates who have very strong social profiles themselves. My answer surprised Thad a bit, but my recent observations underline the facts that being social is really a specialized skill and needs to be pursued like a religion, not a job.

You cannot do social on schedule.

social_on_scheduleBeing social cannot be done on a schedule. In the age of ‘instant gratification,’ we cannot expect social communications to take the same route as email communications.  Being social is like a religion and needs a team of people who work together in tandem, with an unified voice and single sense of purpose … creating a strong social circle for your company. If you don’t do this, what you’ll be missing is the human connection. Each time you make live connections with fans on social media, you create A-ha! moments for them. But more than that, you not only created a prospect, but a brand ambassador for yourself in the social labyrinth.

Here is my shortlist of things that B2B companies need to hold their social team accountable for to get started on getting true value from their social investment:

  • Hire the right team – Give them freedom – Work them in shifts to get 24×7 coverage
  • Stop using ‘All-in-one’ social media posting tools. They try to fit a square peg in a round hole and create exactly what you don’t want… Non-specific, non engageable one-sided conversations.
  • Create specific and separate engagement paradigms for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram
  • Make your social stream spontaneous not scheduled. Act and react based on how the day progresses
  • Listen! Respond! Empathize! Share! React! Fool Around! Have fun!
  • Infuse your team with ‘Social Religion’ and put in incentives based on social engagement, influence, and conversations… Not number of FANS and number of (mostly useless) LIKES on your posts.
  • And last but not the least…Get the basics right!
    (i.e., Don’t post a screenshot of a video with a link below it… No one is going to click on the link to go see your video. Post the video directly or link the image to the video.)

Have questions, comments, or suggestions? Leave me a comment here or just tweet to me @ggoswami.

Will follow this up with some more detailed posts on ‘how to be social on social media’ soon… if time permits.

Facebook Spring Cleaning – How does it affect you?

By | Social | No Comments

Spring Cleaning – We have all used this term in reference to cleaning up our homes and backyards as the beautiful Spring season rolls in every year. But when it comes to Facebook, it’s now become customary that every year in March, they decide to do some Spring Cleaning of their own. The difference is that this does not pertain to cleaning up their offices (or sprawling campus), it pertains to cleaning Facebook of  Inactive and Fake Accounts and Page Likes.

In today’s world, the number of Facebook Followers and Likes have become a significant barometer of Social Influence, and in turn Business Influence for many B2C brands and this count is increasingly becoming more relevant to the digital presence of B2B brands also. While the sheer number of Likes on a page is just one barometer of influence, its still the first thing that a new prospect sees about a Brand they just discovered on Facebook. Facebook states:

Businesses use Page audience data to understand what their followers care about. To make audience data even more meaningful for businesses, we’re updating the way Page likes are counted by removing memorialized and voluntarily deactivated accounts from Pages’ like counts. This change ensures that data on Facebook is consistent and up-to-date.

How does this affect you?

  1. If you are a business with a Facebook page that with an Engaged Following , you may see a 2-5% drop in your Facebook Likes count. This is because Facebook may remove some users who have been inactive for a longer period of time, and a part of your user base may still be made up of Fake Accounts (why? described below).
  2. If you are a business with Facebook page which has a large Fake Following – A following that Fake Likesyou purchased using tools like BoostLikes.com etc or ClickFarm based Fake Likes providers like buyfansmedia.com, you may see upto a 10-20% drop in your Facebook Likes count.

But why is this drop in number not close to 50% or  80% for pages with Fake Likes? Well that is because though Facebook claims to be super righteous about doing the right thing about keeping only the ‘Real’ people on Facebook, they are still a business that reports ‘user growth’. In fact, lot of the Likes you may think you got through ‘Legitimate’ promotions .i.e Facebook Ads are also coming from countries like India, Brazil, Philippines, Thailand etc where there are 1000’s of people who are paid by Click-farms to Like your page. Typically these people get paid $1 per 100 Likes through the Click-farm’s dashboard system.

Facebook needs to provide engaged, real people Likes to be Relevant in business

Facebook needs to shape up to retain its relevance

 

While I appreciate Facebook’s efforts to do things the right way, what would really help is if they would really focus on making sure that the people who are Following a Brand or Liking the Brand’s page are only those people are are truly interested in that Brand. Even if that means that getting a Like is $25.00 in place of $0.25, the engaged and real audience will become a REAL VALUE  for the Brand/Company.

Email Replacement & Lead Nurturing: One True Value of Your Social Engagement

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Lately, I’ve been getting asked this a lot, “What is the true value of your social engagement?” Realistically, are the people that are hanging out on Facebook/Twitter, scrolling through pictures of cute kittens and the latest twerking videos even remotely interested in your business-oriented marketing messages? Is social media ever going to be useful for B2B opportunities?

Most of the time, I just stare at them for about a minute—with the blankest expression I can muster up—and then respond with something like, “It’s just cool to be popular,” or “You just need to know how to work your fans.” My response comes from my unwillingness and/or laziness to start explaining the variety of ways that social media has increased our ability to be data-driven marketeers within the last year. In my opinion, 2014 marked a significant turning point for social media: Facebook really became relevant as an effective B2B marketing tool and LinkedIn started becoming more than just a job search tool.

Social media is now the top Internet activity: Americans spend more time on social media than any other major Internet activity, including email.

Source: Business Insider

How to Leverage Social Media Marketing as a Lead Nurturing and Email Replacement Tool in 2015

Most of you have probably heard the term “email replacement” used before in some context or other, but for me, this has been the most critical use of B2B social media marketing. Email used to be great tool for lead nurturing in the pre-Facebook era when your browser homepage would be Yahoo Finance or Yahoo.com. But, in the age of instant information and instant messaging, email is becoming less and less relevant. With industry-wide email open rates averaging five percent and topping off at nine percent (for extremely efficient campaigns), it’s becoming almost impossible to communicate effectively with customers—past, present, or potential—including those on your house list.

Email rental campaigns are completely useless for bringing in any new leads, as they land immediately in the target’s spam box or get filtered out to a never opened email folder. One way to get around this is to use the three major social media channels (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) as email replacement mediums to reach these people who have shown interest in your products. Both Facebook & LinkedIn allow us to target people using a variety of filters. While there are some inherent differences, Facebook clearly emerges as the best platform due to some of its latest targeting enhancements.

Advanced Nurturing  with LinkedIn
Linked in provides advanced company targeting

LinkedIn provides advanced company targeting.

LinkedIn gave us tools to target businesses before any other social media channel thought about it, but unfortunately, it fell behind on becoming a real email replacement tool due to the lack of individual targeting. What’s more, one of the major problems that LinkedIn faces is time-spent-on-site. On average, professionals only spend 5-8 minutes a day on LinkedIn (an increase compared to the more dismal stats of 12 minutes a month in 2010, mainly due to LinkedIn Pulse). That said, LinkedIn still provides a viable means of reaching individuals within specific departments from companies on your house list.

Essential Steps to Optimize Your LinkedIn Nurture Cycle

  • Compile weekly lists of all the companies that have registered for your campaigns.
  • Organize these companies into “solution groups” that fit particular products or solutions provided by your company.
  • Prepare nurture messaging for each of these solution areas.
  • Create targeted sponsored posts using company names and locations matching your solution groups. Make sure the locations match up with the cities where your leads are coming from (if you collect that information). If you are targeting a particular job function, you can choose relevant job titles to make your nurturing ads even more targeted.

Just to recap, even though LinkedIn does not allow us to target specific people, it still serves as a significant email replacement channel and may help in lead pool expansion within your targeted companies.

Email Replacement with Facebook

Facebook, on the other hand, is a true email replacement tool for data-driven marketeers. With the introduction of Custom Audiences and Audience Lists in 2014, Facebook now lets us upload our house list to create custom lists of Audiences. It then matches people against the uploaded emails and shows specific ads to specific people. You can go as granular as showing a particular ad to only a select group of 500 people or even less.

Facebook_Targeting

Facebook allows email list targeting – CLICK TO ENLARGE

Key Tips for Maximizing Your Facebook Marketing Success

  • Compile email lists of users that have registered for a specific product campaign or have shown interested in a specific product line.
  • Organize these email lists using a naming convention you can follow through to your Ad Set name on Facebook.
  • Upload these lists as Custom Audience Lists into Facebook.
  • Create ads that directly address people with a stage 1 follow-up message for a specific product campaign. Run these ads during week 1Nurturing-Post
    (e.g., Download Getting Started Guide).
  • Develop ads with subsequent stage messaging and run those ads for the same audience list during week 2 (e.g., Attend Live Webinar on XYZ).
  • Every week, you’ll get new leads so this cycle needs to be repeated and overlapped. Remember, all you are doing is getting eyes on your company and counting follow-up actions. Many times, people will not register directly from Facebook, but they will see the message and may end up visiting your website and registering for stuff later.
Email Replacement with Twitter

Just like Facebook, Twitter also allows you to upload email lists to target people on their feeds. You can post Promoted Tweets or Twitter Cards which will be shown to only those who match your email audience list. However, since Twitter collects very little demographic information about its audience and because a lot of people seem to use non-corporate email addresses with Twitter accounts (unverified statistically, but based on gut feeling), my experience with match rates on these campaigns has been rather bleak.

 

Engage Your Audience

There are some fundamental differences between running an email replacement nurture campaign and a lead generation or audience expansion on social medial channels (i.e., campaigns to increase Likes/Followers). Keep in mind the messaging should be more direct and is meant to be email-like for these campaigns. Moreover, because these ads will be shown to specific audiences, if they can speak to those people, then they will be that much more effective. Your ad visuals and messaging need to be more like follow-up conversations instead of original offers or fresh pitches. But then, messaging is an entirely different subject, and I will delve into that sometime in the future…

 

Happy Targeting in 2015 and Happy New Year to you all!

 

 

Facebook Organic Success

Facebook ‘Organic Reach’ is Alive and Well!

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Outside of my corporate job, I happen to have a pretty large business interest in the fashion world. In the past few weeks, more than one model or photographer has asked me or mentioned that their Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 2.31.59 PMFacebook pages are dying and that ‘No One’ seems to ‘Like’ or  ‘Share’ their posts anymore. I answered a few questions and explained a few things on how to circumvent this, but then I noticed that there have been a lot of articles in the press recently with headlines like ‘Organic Reach is Dead‘ from Socialmouths and  ‘Facebook Organic Reach Dead‘ from Top Dog Social Media and more out there… Well, what can I say, these ‘pundits’ cannot be farther from the truth. Take a look at the stats on the right. These are from a post on one of my Facebook Pages for a ‘non-promoted’ post. Every stat you see here is completely organic reach achieved through smart Facebook posting.

Let me make a categorical statement here:

Facebook pages and posts organic reach is alive and well and works very well for those who are producing truly interesting and engaging content.

Let’s start with some basic facts of life… Facebook is a business, and like every business it needs to make money to survive and grow. Without advertising, there will be no revenue, and, in turn, there will be no money to pay the brilliant engineers who bring this incredible piece of software artistry to you guys everyday, 24×7, around the world. So STOP CRIBBING ABOUT THE ADs!

That said, Facebook will NOT have a platform to show ads on if people do not SPEND TIME on the platform. So, the most important thing for them (as I see it) would be to ensure that there is really interesting content out there that is being Liked, Shared and Commented upon, on a daily basis.

What, When, and Who?

Disclaimer: I am not a Facebook Employee and nor has a Facebook employee or officer vetted/endorsed what I wrote below. I am just an avid user of the platform with my own user, advertiser, and business owner perspectives and below are my best guesses on the hows and whys of the Facebook feed.

Facebook bases WHAT to show, WHEN to show it, and WHO to show it to based on an algorithm that used to be called the EdgeRank back in 2011. EdgeRank has evolved and changed as Facebook has gotten smarter about how to make money while maximizing ‘True Value’ content in the feed. Here are some of the things that determine whether your post will get a huge organic reach or if it will be shown to a tiny fraction of your Fans.

  • Affinity score

    Facebook calculates affinity score by looking at the actions that users take on your posts:

    • Strength of the action
      From left to right in order of strength (lower to higher)
      Picture View < Link Click < Post Like <  Comment < Post Share
      Meaning your post gets the maximum points for every time it’s shared, a little less points but substantial value for every comment on it, a little less for a ‘Like’ on the post and so on.
    • User proximity
      From left to right in order value (lower to higher)
      Friend < Fan < Friend of Fan < Friend of Friend of Fan ….The farther the user is from you, that person’s action on your page’s post has higher the impact as the post is termed as globally engaging.
    • Frequency of action
      As soon as you post your update(picture/link), the clock starts ticking. The frequency and number of post likes, comments, and shares on the post will determine 2 things:
      1) If people will see the post more than once on their feed
      2) If ‘Story Bumping’ will be activated on your post
      Story bumping is a new feature recently (2013) activated on the Facebook feed.With story bumping, Facebook said that “popular page posts would have a higher chance of being shown even if they are a few hours old”  by going to the top of the news feed if the stories were still receiving a lot of Likes and comments.
  • Edge weight

    Every action that a user takes creates an edge, and each of those edges, except for clicks, create a potential story. Each category of edges has a different default weight.

    • For example, a ‘SHARE’ creates a brand new story which is now getting published to potentially a brand new audience and thus has a very heavy edge weight.
    • On the other hand, a ‘LIKE’ also creates a story but it’s a related story in the sense that it just notifies ‘Friends’ of a person that their friend has Liked a post (when they see the post). Thus, Like has a much lower edge weight.
    • ‘COMMENTS’ on posts create a third type of story which is a notification to everyone who has Liked or Commented on the post previously, appearing in notifications prompting the user to go read the new comment. It’s almost as if you ‘Subscribe’ to a post by Liking or Commenting on it.
  • Time decay with ‘Story Bumping’

    As a story gets older, it loses points because it’s “old news.” EdgeRank is a running score which gets lower as a story gets older. The probability of your seeing a post gets lower and lower as time passes after the post. However, the new feature of ‘Story Bumping’ circumvents Time Decay by showing posts as old as a few days to people who have previously had a high ‘Frequency of Action’ on a particular users or Page’s posts. So if you always Like everything that Playboy posts, you would see their posts appear on your stream even if you were gone from Facebook for a few days. In fact, you would see a bunch of their posts together.

    Personally, I consider ‘Story Bumping’ as the most innovative new feature of the Facebook feed. That is because it allows relevant content that is of interest to me to appear on my feed even if I am not ‘CONTINUOUSLY’ attached to Facebook. When I log in to Facebook at the end of the day, I now see the posts that are most relevant to me presented in my stream even if they are hours and days old. In fact, I could see the same story bumped to me multiple times if Facebook thinks I have a high probability of taking an ‘Action’ on it.

Overall, the whole algorithm is tuned towards creating more Stories and Actions which generate more Engagement and higher levels of Audience Retention. It’s not rocket science, but it’s pretty fucking brilliant!

The 1,2,3 of Facebook Feed Success

Here is the ‘Facebook for Dummies’ version of how you can make your Facebook Page/Post  ‘POP’ular

When are your fans online?

When are your fans online?

1) Watch the Clock

Go to your Facebook Page insights  and click on the ‘POSTS’ Tab. There is a graph there that will tell you the average number of people on your page at different times of the day. Plan your posts around the peaks of the chart. By posting on the peaks, you can maximize the chances of more people viewing your posts.

But there is s flip side to this… If you are a global company or an online service that sells globally, your target curve for this chart should be as close as you can get to a FLAT LINE. So use this chart to also find out which areas of the world you are weak in (based on time) and try to focus some regionally targeted posts for those time zones to ‘FLATTEN’ the curve.

2) Learn from your posts (be analytical)

Your business is unique and so is your audience. What makes your audience (Fans) connect to your brand, to LIKE and SHARE your posts is generally different Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 2.50.06 PMfor each business and industry. Don’t make your Facebook stream a news feed… People are not interested to ONLY hear about the great things your company/brand ALL THE TIME. You need to mix it up with posts that bring the latest and greatest in your field, even if some of that is coming from competing brands. You can share exciting news, images, and posts about TRENDING TOPICS that can be loosely tied to your line of business too.

Keep your stream fun and light so people will enjoy seeing what you are posting, and limit SELF PROMOTION to less than 30 percent of your posts, preferably.

3) Invest in your posts

The most successful posts on Facebook are pictures and videos. Thinking that you can just grab random images from the internet or post banners from your promotional items will elicit a favorable response from your audience is plain foolish in today’s social media. Images that represent your brand’s philosophy, custom infographics, custom photo shoots, 1 to 1.5 minutes long produced videos posted on a regular interval will associate your brand with Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 2.04.31 PMQUALITY content in your audience’s minds. Spending a week to script and produce a video that is funny or moving and eschews your brand philosophy can go a long way to give your Facebook page a huge AFFINITY BUMP. This will drive new Fans, encourage more shares, and get your post(s) picked up for STORY BUMPING. If you can achieve ‘story bumping’ status for your Facebook Page posts and then continue to post quality content that 10 percent of your fans always interact with… You are golden.

But remember, Facebook is continuously scoring your posts and engagement, so there is no time to rest on your laurels… Just like the stock market, you cannot achieve success by standing still or maintaining your position. You are either GOING UP or you are GOING DOWN. Even if you see your Fans number holding steady, your ENGAGEMENT is dropping every day you don’t have successful posts on your stream.  One good way to get new Fans for your page is to use the ‘Promoted Posts’ feature (I know this post is about organic reach… but I need to state the facts). If you are smart about promoting the right posts and get the right kind of people to follow your page, you will get a lot more engagement through ORGANIC REACH. Use Facebook ads and promoted posts to reach those people who are not ALREADY YOUR FANS. Use it to collect new interested people into your circle and then use some of the ideas I shared here to get the ORGANIC reach you need to have a dedicated fan base.

 It’s not rocket science but its pretty fucking brilliant!

Quick example: check out the meteoric rise of Facebook popularity of Actuate Corporation on Facebook. They went from 7,500 fans in Oct 2013 to nearly 64,000 Likes in Oct 2014 (currently the most popular BI & Analytics company on Facebook).

 

 

 

Facebook for B2B Business? Hell Yeah!

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It’s been about a month since Facebook launched its Facebook for Business Portal. The site focuses on defining the ways this mega social portal can be used to target advertisements demographically for your focus market.

Facebook for business portal

Facebook for Business Portal

For some of us, this was nothing new as the tools have been around for quite some time, and I personally have been using the targeting and demographic tools available in Facebook to increase brand awareness for my companies’ products for a little more than a year already. However, the recent updates to the design of the Facebook stream, business pages, and advertisement placements have been a shot in the arm for people like me. (More about these enhancements in future posts.)

Surprisingly, though, there is a an overall sentiment in the B2B sector that Facebook is pretty useless for real marketing for both lead generation or event marketing purposes.

Questions and doubts raised across the marketing industry include:

  • The intent of the audience that is spending time on Facebook
  • Facebook’s ability to collect business emails from its users as it is primarily a personal tool
  • Facebook’s ability to collect relevant business and employment information from users
  • Uncertainty about the targeting tools and effectiveness of these tools

Having successfully navigated around these questions to get an allocated budget and now consistently delivering marketing results through this platform, I have some specific observations about each of these issues I would like to share.

Audience Intent

Perception: One of the biggest concerns that B2B marketeers have when deciding to run lead generation campaigns on Facebook is the state of mind of the users who are looking at their Facebook stream. The nature of the majority of Facebook content is a mix of personal pictures of your friends, their kittens and dogs, and funny videos/news about happenings that your friends find interesting. Naturally, it is difficult to imagine that anyone would be interested in an advertisement promoting any kind of business services.

Corporate Pages with huge popularity is making facebook a place for business

Some business pages are immensely popular.

Reality: The reality is that we are seeing a shift in the volume and reasons for using Facebook, driven primarily by the increasing presence of almost all large corporations within the cybersociety in the form of Official Facebook Pages. Companies are asking their employees to Like their pages and get involved in the stream, which makes it more acceptable to use Facebook in the workplace and also shifts the focus from just checking on your friends to doing more. Strategically placed advertisements that pique the users interest can generate substantial results for a lead generation campaign if done right.

Availability of Business Contact Information

Typical Profile has business and employment

Most profiles contain employment and education information.

Perception: Another concern that has plagued B2B marketeers is that most Facebook users tend to use their Gmail, Yahoo, or other web-based email services as their primary email. This means that if you use Facebook integration to create a Login/Register with Facebook interface on your websites, you may end up with a lot of nonbusiness email addresses.

Reality: Let’s look past emails, okay? Anyway, your email marketing campaigns have a 2-3% click-through rate, and most business users filter all email coming from outside into folders that are never opened (and that’s if you successfully navigate their spam filters!).  Think about getting eyeballs… Facebook lets you reach the eyeballs of these users without them having to drum up the time and energy to open your incredible email.

As I mentioned previously, with all major companies having a Facebook page, most users are now adding their employment details on their profiles, which lets us get their company information if not their email addresses. Also, the Gmail addresses you collect from registrations are most probably better places to reach those people anyway, especially if you want to catch them when they have a moment to spare for new stuff.

How to Reach the ‘Relevant Few’ among the Facebook Billions

Perception: There are billions of people on Facebook and if we run ads on the platform, we will reach a lot of irrelevant individuals, and in turn, gather a lot of useless leads. Most of these people register for stuff because they are freeloaders and will download anything free or sign up for things that promise personal rewards.

Reality: Facebook has come a looooooong way in the last two years when it comes to targeting. Have you heard of Audience Lists? Interest Targeting? It’s a whole new marketing world out there, and I’m surprised by how many #Savvy Facebook experts I’ve meet these days who are only scratching the surface of targeted Facebook marketing. This is a topic that is so big that I’ll need to find time to write a whole separate blog post about this…

Hopefully, some day soon.