October 30, 2014

Integrating mobile into B2B marketing

Great conferences have impact that lasts long after the day (or two or three) that they occur. MarketingProfs’ B2B Forum is one of those conferences. For example, the Twitter stream from this thing (#MPB2B) is still going strong weeks later. You should check it out; it’ll give you a great list of B2B marketers to follow.

Another sign of a great event is the people it attracts. I met two of my favorite B2B bloggers at the event: Christine Kerley (AKA @cksays) who writes CK’s Blog and Jeff Cohen (@jeffreylcohen) who, along with Kipp Bodnar writes the Social Media B2B blog. If you’re trying to stay on top of B2B marketing trends, you should be reading both of these blogs.

CK kicks butt and takes names. She collared me in the session I ran at the Forum on B2B mobile marketing and sat us both down with Jeff, who interviewed us about our views on the subject. CK has tons more content on B2B mobile that you should check out.

I’d love to hear your views on our interview.

B2B Mobile Marketing from Jeffrey L. Cohen on Vimeo.

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How Facebook’s privacy disasters will change B2B marketing

Have you ever noticed that your Facebook profile page looks like one of those horrible qualification forms that we make our customers fill out? If you go to Facebook and look at your profile, your immediate reaction is going to be that it’s asking for too much information.

Social media is beginning to teach us that long qual forms are going the way of the dodo. I’m still looking to pin down incontrovertible evidence of this, but anecdotally I hear from people that when they get rid of qual forms for their content the amount of engagement increases exponentially. The question that we’re asking Facebook is the question that we should be asking ourselves in our marketing: Do we really need all this information?

Facebook has built its business model around gathering as much personal information about us as possible. And just as our traditional thinking about qual forms is failing, so will Facebook’s personal-information-as-currency model. Both Facebook and we have traditionally believed that the content services that we provide—in our case studies, white papers, webinars, etc.—come at a price. It costs us money to produce this stuff, and therefore our consumers must pay a price. That price is personal information, company information, and buying intent. For Facebook, it’s personal information that advertisers can use to target us.

Customers are less willing to give up information
Especially as social media takes off, we’re finding that prospects and customers have less and less patience for giving us that information. The expectation on Twitter is that 99.9% of the time any link that you put in a tweet is going to lead to accessible content. Twitter etiquette, at least as I observe it, is that if the information that you’re linking to is gated, you take up some of that precious 140-character real estate to inform people of that fact.

It seems that Facebook has staked its future not on the interactions that occur between people on its network but on the idea that the value is in the personal information of its participants. This is a disaster if you ask me.

Now let’s compare your profile page on Facebook with your profile page on Twitter. It’s like the difference between someone asking for your e-mail in exchange for a white paper versus them asking for your salutation, your company size, when you are going to buy, your mother’s maiden name and on and on ad nausea.

The key is the interaction—not the information
See, what I think Twitter understands that Facebook and LinkedIn and all of the other permission-based networks don’t is that the key is in the interaction, not in the information.

I admit it; I’m a Twitter bigot. I find much more value in Twitter than in any of the other social media networks. So take my comments with a grain of salt. But I will tell you that this week I attended an excellent event run by Silver pop called the B2B marketing University in Boston. Because of my Twitter interactions with people in the B2B realm, I had all the information I needed to be able to approach four people I recognized at the event (if you’re reading this, you know who you are!) and engage them in real substantive discussions—even though we had never met.

I don’t know what schools they went to, or where they worked before their current jobs, but I know what they think about B2B marketing and I have re-tweeted their stuff and I know they’re smart. Those interactions on Twitter opened up a possibility of a relationship much more easily than being able to read their profile pages on LinkedIn or Facebook. I learn about them and who they are based on my interactions with them and in sharing content that is of interest to all of us.

Viral vs. permission-based
It’s this viral relationship model of Twitter that wins in every privacy showdown between Facebook and its users. There is a cottage industry developing out there for people who want to protect you from Facebook. Reclaimprivacy.org is a small browser based program that practices a kind of benevolent vigilantism and helps you change your vulnerable privacy settings. It’s a great service, but it only reinforces the perception of Facebook as Big Brother. The privacy issues for Facebook are going to be on the cover of Time magazine next week. There’s would be joy in Twitterville this week if it didn’t seem that the founders of Twitter have none of the ego and contempt for competitors that most businesses seem to have. (Of course, it may be a little bit easier to be this way when your own business model remains rather ill defined.)

I don’t know about you, but I’m always annoyed by people whose first question is what I do or what school I went to. But that is how we’re introduced to each other on Facebook and LinkedIn. I’d rather get to know you based on knowing that I have a shared interest with you. Frankly, I can’t imagine why 300 people would read my blog every week if that weren’t the basis of our relationship.

Ask for a relationship, not information
I think that as social media becomes more integrated into our lives and our jobs were going to see that just as with our content we are going to have to get to know one another through our interactions. We need to ask people for a relationship rather than asking them for their information. What if, next time you offer a white paper or video to prospects, instead of demanding their contact information, you invite them to join your community on LinkedIn, or sign up for an event, or follow you on Twitter? This would be the basis of a much more substantive encounter—and potential relationship—just as I had with my Tweeps this week in Boston.

We should all take a lesson from Facebook and understand that getting information from people is not a zero-sum game. It’s a gradual process—the currency of which is trust and exchange of value.

What do you think?

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Six ways that marketing needs to lead the organization in social media

Social media creates the need for marketing to lead within the organization.

At least that’s the conclusion we reached at ITSMA recently when we did our social media survey (there’s a free summary if you’re interested).

Now what do we mean when we say that? We mean that within the organization the leadership of social media is falling to marketing. We think that’s because social media is seen primarily as a tool for marketing. Therefore, the marketing group is becoming the default center of social media, right?

I’m really excited about this because it’s rare for a function like marketing to get an opportunity to lead the entire organization. But think about it. Marketers are the not the only ones who are going to be doing social media. Our subject matter experts (SMEs) are talking to customers. We’re seeing HR departments using social media for recruiting. We’re seeing companies use social media to bring customers into the product and service development processes to collaborate on new ideas and improvements. We’re seeing companies use social media for customer support. (Shameless plug here: My favorite B2B blogger Paul Dunay is going to talk about how Avaya uses social media for customer support at ITSMA’s Marketing Leadership Forum on May 25-26.) The entire organization needs to get involved in social media and marketing needs to lead that effort.

I have to say that we were pleasantly surprised and I have to admit a little shocked when we discovered that many marketers seem to get this intuitively—67% of marketers said they are taking on the responsibility of identifying the appropriate subject matter experts and assigning them to engage with their target audience and influencers in the online conversations that are happening out there.

But if marketing is truly going to be the catalyst for social media in the organization, many things are going to need to change. To be a leader, you have to have your own house in order. That means that marketers need to integrate social media with the larger marketing and business strategies. That’s why at ITSMA we’re calling 2010 The Year of Marketing Transformation (sound the bugles!—a little portentous, I know, but we really believe it and the data really shows it). And social media is the main driver behind the need for this transformation. We don’t think marketing can afford to continue doing more with less. With marketing budgets as percent of revenue being an all-time low — less than 1% — social media can’t just be another add-on to everything else that marketing is already doing.

Remember that marketing can’t do this alone. Social media gives us the opportunity to bring the rest of the organization into our efforts. But to do this effectively, we have to define new processes, roles and competencies for marketing and we have to play a large role in leading social media for others inside the organization.

So in our research and our discussions with members and influencers on social media, we’ve identified six major areas that marketers need to focus on to lead the rest of the organization effectively.

  • Research. We have to figure who we want our SMEs to talk to so they don’t waste their efforts.
  • Ideas and content. We need to create an idea engine within the organization to help SMEs come up with things to Twitter and blog about.
  • New roles. We’re seeing a role that is sort of a director of ideas and content emerge. Someone who helps identify smart ideas and people within the organization and makes decisions about how to develop them. We’re also seeing directors of community—Jeremiah Owyang tracks these people on his blog.
  • Governance. Social media policies are the foundation of social media governance. And even small companies can benefit from having a social media council. Listen to IBM’s Sandy Carter talk about how she set up a social media council in her group at IBM.
  • Training. We shouldn’t just turn employees loose without helping them learn about the tools. But we also need to teach them about the strategies for using those tools. Telstra has a cool example of social media training that anyone can watch.

What do you think? What have I left out here? Anything to add?

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Why Tut would have been buried with his iPhone

Sure, sure, I know it’s Apple and Apple is to the ’10s what Sony was to the ’80s. But there must be more to the fact that the iPhone/iTouch are the fastest growing technology launch in history (and the iPad so far is on pace to outdo them both).

Now of course you know that the iPhone and iPad are popular because of the way they look. The smooth contours and the shimmering black glass bezels make the devices look more like something out of a Swarovski store than a Best Buy. They bring out our primitive attractions to the bright and shiny. (For sure Tut would have shoved some of the gold trinkets aside to be buried with his iPhone and iPad.)

The default Home screen of the iPhone shows mo...
Image via Wikipedia

But there’s something else here that brings out another primal drive in us. When you look at the screen of the iPhone or iPad you see beautiful little jewel-like icons beaming at you from beneath the glass. What I realized is that the iPhone and iPad aren’t just jewels, they are jewel cases. They contain our collection of applications. And these collections bring out our hunter gatherer instincts like any other collectable—from beanie babies to giant balls of string.

The reason is the iTunes/AppStore model. It lets us do everything that feels good about collecting:

  • Collecting is social. All collecting is driven in part by the desire to connect with others and show off and share what we have with them and talk about it all. Though iTunes could be a lot more social than it is, most applications have dozens or hundreds of reviews. The next step is to create communities around the applications so they can all geek out on it together.
  • Collecting is fun. Is there anything fun about collecting applications for your PC? Though the threat is much less than it was, installing new applications on PCs has always meant the possibility of taking down other applications or the computer itself. And the experience of finding and adding applications is almost always different from application to application. You can’t have fun when you’re anxious. Though the iTunes application store is tightly controlled—probably more tightly than it should be—it is easy and predictable.
  • Collecting is valuable. One of the most depressing aspects of PC applications is that they are basically time bombs that self-destruct with each passing generation of operating system or processor. Now, there’s no guarantee that our iPhone/iPad application collections will survive each new generation of device, but if they don’t, they’re cheap to replace. And in the meantime, they update themselves automatically. All we need to know when we’re collecting is that we’re not being idiots for investing our time in it (it’s okay to look like an idiot for what we collect—in fact, that’s part of the fun).

How to use iPhone apps for marketing
I’m not saying that the iPhone/iPad is going to take over the world, only that the model Apple has developed—and which every other phone manufacturers now trying to copy—is going to endure and will cross over into the business realm.

But as marketers, if we’re going to break into someone’s collection, the bar is set really high. Applications that convert your voice to text or instruct you on which turn to take are hard to top.

We must have the center of gravity for our mobile apps elsewhere. We need to create vibrant communities that customers will value so much that they will want a mobile application so they can keep up with the action anytime from anywhere. That’s how we get into their collections.

What do you think?

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