Social media in 2012

The tension between social media (to the consumer) and social media marketing (to enterprises) will increase as a majority of brands finally work through how they can participate successfully in social media.

Social media will be a part of most larger, B2C enterprise’s marketing communications armoury, as an option rather than a tool, and coming to terms with the fact that these platforms are controlled by consumers. Marketing communications departments will continue to re-organise internally on that premise.

B2B businesses will increase their efficiency in populating sales pipelines from unexpected (social media) directions and business blogs will develop more sophistication in interacting through social media channels.

Could Path be one app to watch? — “The smart journal that helps you share life with the ones you love”.

Expect more campaigns like Old Spice and Tempurpedic: advocacy campaigns on social networks are going to be more popular in 2012 as enterprises realise the power of their social fan base.

The launch of Google+ in 2011 gave Facebook a brutal warning of a coming battle for knowledge, and the hearts and minds, of the consumer. The stakes are high for these two companies and their primary streams of revenue are at risk. The only limiting factor in their peaceful co-existence is time: we are simply not able to spend enough time on both of them.

Watch for Google to integrate social into everything in 2012. As a Google executive now famously said: “Google+ is Google.”

Arab Spring protestors

Could staff in enterprises repressive with social media be the next 'spring' protests?

Customers will begin to understand and clamour for technologies that cause social interactions within their organisations. The 59% of companies that prohibit, or aggressively control the use of social media at work, will discover that they are the equivalent of Arab dictators and employees are the empowered ones: could there be a Spring Freedom 2012 within oppressive, large enterprises?.

Survey have consistently found that, among the marketing communications programmes businesses planned to invest in during 2012, email and social-media marketing topped the list.

The difference between content marketing and content curation is simply who’s writing the blog posts, composing tweets and creating videos. So while it’s a good idea to share interesting industry-relevant news with your online network, enterprises will need to create some content of their own in 2012. This implies planning and production. We are all both businesses and publishers these days: the more original your content, the better.


Content production: should you just give it away?

In the last decade, the digital story has moved from persuading enterprises that they even needed a website, to a place where “content marketing” and “storytelling” are now a serious part of corporate marketing communications tactics.

Either as a micro-enterprise or as a larger company, is it always an advantage to create and give away digital content?

To study the relative merits of content production and dissemination as part of a marketing communications approach, let’s explore six main scenarios in a content marketing continuum.

1. Modesty

The first scenario in sharing content is to not to share it at all: the enterprise does not focus on online thought leadership, concentrating efforts on other approaches. Many businesses don’t blog, create white papers, produce podcasts, or anything we would consider to be modern content marketing. Apple Inc doesn’t blog or release white papers but lets its products speak for themselves.

2. Playing away

The second scenario is creating thought leadership by participating in communities and content opportunities not under your control. Most consultant/speaker/authors in the social media space are prominent in social media. The exceptions spend considerable time on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Empire Avenue, building bridges and making contacts. They write guest blogs and reply to posts on other blogs. Their presence is their Gravatar and the digital footprint they leave on other sites.

3. Earning revenue

The third scenario is producing your own content, but doing so for a fee. Many online gurus offer a free email newsletter and a series of free tools to build a distribution list (for major online figures, subscribers often number well into six figures). He then offers paid products to that list, creating a passive income stream.

4. Garnering leads

The fourth scenario is a familiar one to many B2B marketers: producing content and making it contingent on capturing data. Clearly, this approach can generate a significant volume of inbound leads for the sales team. Content of value to business professionals will always succeed: the ‘price’ of parting with data and subscribing to a list is very minor compared to the knowledge imparted.

5. Teaser

The fifth scenario is when companies produce significant, freely-distributed content but do not reveal their core operational secrets. For instance, a firm of accountants could offer a plethora of tools to calculate tax, monitor cashflow and run basic book-keeping but not reveal their auditing and analytic processes that make the firm competitive.

6. The Full Monty

The final scenario is unrestricted content creation and delivery. For example, any company could adopt practices that give them a huge digital profile: they could spread their content as widely as possible on their own and other platforms. They could offer content freely and without any restriction, arguing that a data collection form is the enemy of a wide digital footprint. They could also create content for the majority of the market that doesn’t know who they are, instead of the minority that does. An enterprise can still use content production to maintain close relationships with current customers and prospects, giving them sneak previews of new content before it is made more generally available.

Which of these scenarios is ideal for your business? IThere is no right answer, just the answer that’s right in your circumstances.

The best way to identify it is to test. Set up a dashboard using the Four Types of Content Metrics to measure the effectiveness of your efforts and then create related pieces of content. For example, create two related white papers and give one away free and exchange the other for contact data.

There is a Content Marketing Testing Plan here that you can download free to help you with content production planning.

Social media statistics: B2B marketing communications

There’s no doubt that social media has added a huge dimension to marketing communications. To many of us, it’s not just an add-on, it’s a sea change in the way that enterprises communicate and behave. Social media has changed many institutions and we are in the middle of a revolution in the way technology will help us plan, communicate and market goods and services

Marketeer at laptop

Marketeers and business owners need to keep a weather eye on the major B2B social media platforms

Meanwhile, we have to get on with the day job. But what are the numbers behind the most popular B2B social media platforms? In any enterprise, publishing valuable content is a given and I am an evangelist about content production and management but as well as ‘what’, we also have to plan ‘where’.

Statistics are vital when it comes to making decisions about where to publish content: it’s like using the old BRAD or PR Planner (OK, if you’re too young t remember, move on!).

It’s like the old adage about PR: you can’t not do public relations — all that can be debated is whether you manage it actively — or not!

Facebook: 800 million users. More than 75% of users are from outside of the US. Three spikes in Facebook activity tend to occur on weekdays at GMT 4 pm, 8 pm and 1 am (EST* 11 am, 3 pm and 8 pm): however, posts published in the early afternoon, GMT, seem to perform better.

Twitter: 300 million users. A majority of Twitter users are between the ages of 18 and 29. More than 50% of users are female and about 15% of users identify themselves as marketers. Minority internet users are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as are Caucasian internet users. Peak usage seems to occur between 2 pm and 6 pm EST, 7 and 11 pm GMT.

LinkedIn: 116 million users. Many of the people on LinkedIn are professionals, business owners or other talented individuals. More than half are international users. Peak activity occurs between 2 and 8 pm GMT.

Google+: 60 million users. Its user base tends to skew towards males, with most prominent occupations being in software engineering and development. They also tend to be between the ages of 25 to 34.


*The Eastern Time Zone (ET) of the United States and Canada is a time zone that falls mostly along the east coast of North America. The GMT time difference is −5 hours during standard time and −4 hours during daylight saving time.

In the United States and Canada, this time zone is generally called Eastern Time (ET). Specifically, it is Eastern Standard Time (EST) when observing standard time (winter), and Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) when observing daylight saving time (spring to autumn).

Marketing on a shoestring: inbound, outbound tactics and SOSTAC®

I orginally wrote this as a reply to Jane Hatton on another blog about her new enterprise Evenbreak, which matches employers, who value diversity, with disabled candidates.

Jane, there seems to be a lot of confusion between ‘marketing’ and ‘marketing communications’ in recent discussions online.

The difference is more obvious the bigger an enterprise gets, when responsibilities are delegated to separate departments and outside agencies but it is still an important distinction for a micro-enterprise to make.

Smaller enterprises invariably have to heap a bundle of management responsibilities onto one person. To draw a parallel in accounting, even a small firm distinguishes between book-keeping (keeping accurate financial records) and management accounts (financial information for decision-making), even if the same person is responsible for both and they can merge into the same activity. So marketing and marketing communications should be seen as distinct activities with different purposes.

Jane Hatton working lying down

Jane is herself disabled and can only work in this position

Marketing used to be functionally divided into the four ‘P’s — Product; Place; Price; Promotion. What you are talking about in your post is promotion: but before promotion begins, a true marketing approach means that you need to have ensured that your product and price are market-ready and market-acceptable. Small enterprises can rarely afford the luxury of market research or trial launches so it is normally carried out as part of day-to-day operations, using feedback from early adopters..

In any case, many pundits now advocate — in the era of Web 3.0 and social media — using the five ‘E’s — Experience (instead of Product); Everywhere (instead of Place); Exchange (instead of Price); Evangelism (instead of Promotion) and, finally, Enablement — using crowdsourcing, polls, wikis, viral effects, SEO, blogs and social media.

‘Everywhere’ indicates the universal nature of the Web but I suspect there is still a natural limit to Evenbreak’s reach — probably mainland UK? Exchange is the practice of having a pricing model which allows some initial functionality free and gradually charging as additional features are used.

What you describe in you post is Promotion — now better-labelled Evangelism and Enablement. Two commoner names for these (marketing communications) functions are Outbound Marketing Communications and Attraction Marketing Communications (or Inbound or Digital Footprint or any number of terms which online snake oil sellers are trying to make their own).

You may think I am being pedantic in continually using the term Marketing Communications (MC) — and I may be — but the division is useful if it persuades an enterprise to return to the marketing drawing board if some of the fundamentals of a service prove unacceptable to its marketplace through sensitive, two-way MC.

What you have described, very thoroughly, is an Inbound MC Programme, with the exception of the hard copy letter, passed by the Chief Executive, and events. These I would class as Outbound MC — Evangelism.

I have worked for a start-up over the last few weeks and, because he had done his market research quite carefully, I helped him plan both Inbound and Outbound MC Programmes which I am helping him to execute.

Why both? Because he need short-term results and I have facilitated acquiring data on his target individuals at 30p a shot (commercial property landlords in development mode) and using a home-based B2B telemarketer whom we can task, flexibly, at a minimum of two hours at a time.

She sets up appointments and feeds the data into an online CRM system which also links into the email marketing database for a number of follow-up emails according to landlords’ response and resulting position in the sales funnel. Plans for a webinar in the new year are in hand.

We run a modest PPC AdWords Campaign, partly to help us research and optimise our Keyword List.

We are also running an Inbound MC Programme — blog, social media, links, SEO, guest blogs, LinkedIn Q&A, digital PR — but results will take two to three months to come through and, meanwhile, the Outbound MC Programme is getting the sales funnel moving immediately.

We use Paul R Smith’s SOSTAC® Planning System [] and have created two documents — a Marketing Plan and Marketing Communications Programme — using the SOSTAC template. Rather than written in stone, they are in Google Documents and available to the whole team and continuously amended to take account of marketing intelligence and remarks from telemarketing and data from the CRM system and a Digital PR Dashboard (also in Google Docs as a spreadsheet).

The Dashboard has all the indices necessary to monitor and measure the progress of the MC Programmes and help us decide how much telemarketing or inbound activity to commission each week to meet sales targets.

When referring to your (Inbound MC) tactics, you say “most cost nothing but time and imagination”: time and imagination are in short supply, probably more so than cash. That is why my customers pay me — to supply them. They also pay for dedicated execution which is a key part of creativity. Ideas need to be delivered!

I am a great admirer of your enterprise — in both meanings of the word — and, if I can advise in any way, I would be happy to provide some of that free time you mention.