Here on Lumenatti, my colleagues and I spend a lot of time talking about community – how it’s defined and structured, how community members are encouraged to engage with their hosts (brands) and each other, and how to measure the impact of those communities. On the heels of Memorial Day weekend, I’d like to reflect on a different kind of community – the men and women who serve.
Community defined. This broad military community comprises many segments or ‘sub-communities’ defined by branch, by rank, by when they served (WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq/Afghanistan), by location/base, by battalion, ship, or troop. This community also includes the families and friends of those servicemen and women. While a diverse group, they all share a common mission. As General John Allen remarked yesterday, they “gladly accept the timeless values of generations of soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coastguardsmen – Freedom, Duty, Selflessness and Sacrifice.”
Memorial Day Service in Glen Ellyn, IL
Meaningful engagement. Across the country, citizens honored those who had fallen in service to their country. Debbie Lee says her son, Marc Allen Lee, the first Navy SEAL killed in Iraq (Aug 2006) taught her the real meaning of the holiday. She says, “The way he lived his life and the value he placed on others’ lives, caused him to sacrifice his life defending his teammates and our freedoms.”
In a call to ‘reclaim Memorial Day’, she suggests, “Take a carload of friends and family to a National Cemetery and decorate the graves and remember the sacrifice of a hero and their family. Thank the family members of those you know who lost a loved one in combat. Take a Gold Star family to lunch, coffee, dinner and ask them about their hero. Do something to let them know you have not forgotten the sacrifice and understand the high price that has been paid for our freedoms. Read a story of a fallen hero, watch a memorial video, then pass it on to those whose lives you have influence on.” Good advice and something to pass on to our kids. A Huffington Post photo gallery captured a number of those poignant moments this weekend.
Impact: priceless. You’ve heard it time and again, freedom isn’t free. More than 600,000 U.S. military personnel paid the ultimate sacrifice since WWI, two-thirds of them in WWII alone; the Greatest Generation indeed. Lives saved – countless. Freedom preserved – priceless.
Who better to explain how they see the impact of their sacrifice than one of the fallen. In a letter to his family to be read in the event of his death, 23-year old US Marine Sergeant William Stacey, who was killed in action in Afghanistan, wrote:
“There will be a child who will live because men left the security they enjoyed in their home to come to his. He will have the gift of freedom which I have enjoyed for so long myself, and if my life brings the safety of a child who will one day change the world, then I know that was all worth it.”
Thank you, Sergeant.
Recently Gartner predicted that by 2017, marketing’s technology spend will exceed that of IT’s within the business enterprise. According to Gartner, 2011 B2B and B2C marketing budgets as a percentage of revenue were almost three times as high (10 percent) as IT budgets (3.6 percent). 2012 IT budgets are expected to grow 4.7 percent, while all marketing budgets, in general, are predicted to grow 9 percent, and high tech marketing budgets, more specifically, are expected to increase 11 percent. On average, nearly one-third (30 percent) of named marketing-related technology and services is bought by marketing already. What’s more, marketing now influences almost half of all purchases.
So why are these facts so important (other than having more money to spend on projects)? In my opinion it is important because of the Paradox of Big Data and its impact on marketers. More money spent on IT means more data streams the marketing teams must manage, right?
Notice I didn’t say ‘information streams’?
Marketing teams can hardly keep up with the fire hose of bits and bytes, metrics, actions, activities and the like today. So how does more make it better? It doesn’t.
Think about your own work. How many dashboards, spread sheets and reports do you see? Do you have the time to study them all and make good decisions or is there simply too much and you do the best you can? Is information overload a reality for you today?
I predict that as more information systems are deployed and the more data that comes online, marketing teams will settle into two camps. 1. High intelligence/managed data and 2. low intelligence/unmanaged data.
The net result of this likely evolution will be organizations that better understand the nuances of their customer segments innovate well and deliver relevant and compelling content, products and experiences to their constituents. That’s the first group. How will they do this?
It is simple in theory, hard in practice (which is why this first group will be smaller than the second).
Members of the high intelligence/managed data group will have forged strong collaborative internal bonds between the various business teams. Marketing, IT, product development, knowledge & insights, HR will all be working together in more efficient ways than in the other group. They will have at their disposal clear and actionable intelligence that comes from their effective Big Data use. It’s important to note that this group will use much more than the standard web data we all use today. They will integrate vast amounts of other transactional information into the intelligence process such as shipping information, call center data, mobile geo-location and usage data, RFID data, etc.
Essentially, these high performing organizations will put the right filters and algorithms in place to provide them with what they need to know to perform well, not what they can know. This is a really important distinction. More data is not better. More intelligence is. Individual data streams will tell you very little. However, when they are paired and bundled together, weighted in terms of importance and linked with certain business goals, patterns and pictures emerge that provide clear insight into what actions might be taken to generate certain outcomes.
By creating intelligence filters, the paradox of big data (more) becomes the power of big data (better). When it is organized against business objective and tracked over time, high performing organizations will excell even further. They will know what activities, campaigns and assets are generating very specific business results. These teams will be able to discern between important activities and unimportant. After all, not all activities or even business goals for that matter are of equal importance.
For instance, below is a filtered report you might find in use in the first group. Note that for this business, generating revenue and driving product innovation are more important objectives than decreasing the cost of support. The question is how much more important and what activities feed into each one of these goals and how important are each of these activities? What if you tracked 800 separate activities or metrics? How would you know? If you take each metric or data stream on its own you wouldn’t.
Which brings me to the second and larger group, low intelligence/unmanaged data organizations. This group collects data like it is going out of style, many times without any rhyme or reason as to why and what to do with it. The problem here isn’t that they will continue to collect more and more of this information but that they will do so while ignoring many other forms of information that is available which can provide critical intelligence. In the end, they will bury themselves in expensive and somewhat useless information.
Customers of firms in this group will grow weary of their disjointed experiences, inconsistent content and lack of understanding of their needs. Firms that fall into the first group will enjoy the benefits of collecting these people as new customers.
There is a relatively recent analog for the potential impact that Big Data will have on marketers in the coming years and the dichotomy between the first and second group I’ve outlined here. In the 1960’s Ed Deming taught the Japanese auto manufactures how to establish and manage a quality process that turned out better parts than their American counter parts. The Japanese listened and adopted the approach, enterprise wide. The result was the reversal of market share, which had a catastrophic effect on Detroit’s automobile dominance.
Currently, neither the first or second group has really formed yet but organizations are already headed one way or the other. For marketers with the ability to be change agents, recognizing which path you are on and doing something to either ensure you remain on that path or quickly change it will impact your organization’s future success.
Big Data will either be your greatest ally or your nemesis. It is up to you to choose which.
Part One: Who are advocates and why they matter.
Brand advocates are hot and trending—again. Conversation about brand advocates and their business value is buzzing, because we have more collective experience under our belts. Advocate programs are beyond the proof of concept stage. There are real metrics available to us that quantify the business impact that advocates yield. Maker’s Mark (and their ambassador program) is a great example of an early adopter that has been running an advocate program for years. Whirlpool and Mom Central launched a pilot program in July and recently presented the results at WOMM-U earlier this month. The risk finally outweighs the reward.
So what have we learned about this small but powerful group of brand fans? Our infographic helps visualize who advocates are and why they matter.
|Click to Download Full Infographic|
|First, the “who.” Advocates make up just six to eight percent of your customer base. But, remember you can do a lot with a few. A relatively small group of engaged advocates can have enormous impact on the business.Advocates can play multiple roles. Most importantly they are the new voice of the brand. They love and defend you, because you market with them and not to them.|
Be prepared to have a genuine relationship with your advocates. It will pay dividends.
Not all advocates are created equal. Your business mission will determine the right type of advocates to identify and recruit for your program. It is important to understand which advocate segments will activate for what program, and how to engage with them in a meaningful way.
Brand advocates play a starring role in sales, product innovation, customer care and market research. They are our content creators and amplifiers, recommendation engines, campaign accelerants and support agents. And, they generate serious impact. This is the “why!”
Brand advocates are the go to person for purchase advice from peers. Unless you have been living under a rock, everyone knows that today’s consumer trusts the recommendation of someone they don’t even know.
It is all about the social graph. You are not engaging with an individual—you are engaging with a network.
So now that we get the who and the why, let’s focus on the “how.” There is a lot to get your arms around, so it is important to take a process approach from the beginning.
First, start with your key business objectives and define the mission of your advocate. You need to know what you want them to do first.
Next, you need to identify the right type of advocate for that mission. Start by leveraging social listening tools like Sysomos to drive your recruitment—this will help you find passionate fans already creating and sharing content outside of your own social ecosystem. Down the road, listening will also inform your engagement, messaging and content strategies.
You will also want to tap into your owned assets—best practice is to fish in your own pond. How will you use your existing infrastructure to reach loyal customers?
Now, in order to identify the right advocate for the job, you need to qualify them based on key criteria, such as:
Over the next few months, we will tackle the rest of the process—advocate activation, engagement and measurement:
In those upcoming blogs, we’ll share some brand examples we think epitomize best practices in advocate deployment. In the meantime, if you have any great case studies or innovative brand advocate programs to share, please do!
Delivering content at the right place and the right time along the decision journey is the goal of most content marketing programs. Content is a consumable and shareable asset that has a different and distinct role at each point of the journey. Marketers need to understand each role before they can measure the impact and effectiveness of content assets.
The decision or shopping journey differs for B2B and big-ticket purchases than for consumer products or smaller priced items. For cost per clicks (CPCs), the shopping journey is shorter and often consumers have an entrenched consideration set that they brink to the point of purchase. Disruptive content is essential for breaking through and stimulating new ideas about purchase selection. The decision cycle for B2B and big-ticket items is typically longer and buyers often interact with the brand more directly and frequently.
Despite these differences, the steps on the journey are very similar. In our content supply chain practice, ComBlu uses a simple five-point decision journey, including:
· Awareness: Becoming aware of the brand, product or service with or without any intention to buy through brand communications, word-of-mouth (WOM) or independent discovery.
· Consideration: Researching and becoming familiar with a set of options that could fill a need or want. This is usually through a combination of online research, conversations, or face-to-face encounters either with a salesperson or at a retail store.
· Preference: Honing the considered choices into a short list of likely options.
· Purchase: Making the final decision and taking the plunge.
· Post-Purchase: Driving repurchase intent, as well as brand advocacy or WOM.
We use the following chart to help clients understand how to plan content type, channel selection and measurement along the decision journey. This particular version is for a B2B enterprise.
Once we understand the type and role of content along the decision journey, we can begin defining the right metrics suite for each point in the journey to track content performance and engagement trends. The following chart is a sample of a measurement-planning matrix that we use.
After we have identified the right metrics suite for the content mission at each point of the journey, we use the content module of our Social Performance Index™ (SPI™) measurement service to create a performance index for specific content key performance indicators (KPIs). This allows us to understand which topics, formats and venues perform and serve as a data point for refining the content road map and insights process of the supply chain. It allows the content creation team to be more efficient and effective when they create content and for the distribution team to calibrate their channel strategy. This approach also gives great insights into advocate participation and behavior, and can feed directly into a gamification engine that recognizes and rewards people who share, add context and create appropriate content along the decision journey.
Content marketing is a core function for today’s social business. A lot of smart people are working on new ways to socialize many of the core functions of the content supply chain. This approach to measuring return on content will evolve as the social discipline matures. How are you approaching content ROI? It’s an important discussion and one we’re glad to jump into.
ComBlu is sponsoring a free Content Masters Series beginning June 6, 2012. It’s four webinars that breakdown the content supply chain. For more information or to register, click here .Hope you’ll join us.
It certainly was a wake-up call for me last month when Facebook announced that it was acquiring the photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion. The jaw-dropping payout was buzzed about everywhere and made me wonder: is there more to the app than a way to share photos with family and friends? What’s more, is this a social tool we as marketers need to be paying attention to?
Turns out, the answers are “yes” and “maybe.”
Instagram is now the hottest thing since, well, Pinterest. In fact, it already boosts more than 30 million users and 400 million photos. Why is this thing suddenly so insanely popular? I decided to take it for a two-week test drive. Based on my experience, I believe Instagram’s success can be attributed to the following:
· It taps into the power of community. Instagram is more than a photo app; it’s a social network in and of itself. Sure, there are other photo-sharing sites (and Facebook does this too), but Instagram elegantly creates a community solely dedicated to sharing photos. Built into the interface are community features that keep you coming back for more. “Home” takes you to the latest photos from friends and those you follow. “Popular” serves us a fresh batch of the latest and most-liked pictures. “News” reveals what’s happening with whom you’re following and who’s following you. “Profile” enables you to find friends, review your filtered photos, edit your profile and configure sharing on social networks.
· It’s nostalgic. Digital may have killed the sharing of physical photographs, but Instagram taps into what we loved so much about them in the first place, with 18 filters that can make new photos look old or as if it was from a Polaroid. Cool artistic effects are a snap too, including the ability to add borders and blur backgrounds.
· It’s free. Doesn’t cost anything (not even 99 cents) and (for now) has no advertising. No wonder, the recently released Android app garnered more than 5 million downloads in just a few days.
· It’s simple. One click is all it takes for you to Photoshop your cute little puppy and share it with the world. And, for social media connoisseurs, there’s nothing new to learn—incorporating hash tags and @ signs to simplify connecting of themes and users. Facebook can’t do that (yet).
· It’s the right time. Smart phones have become the center of our universe, plain and simple. In fact, Pew Internet Project just reported that more than half of all mobile users have smart phones. Instagram taps into our desire to share our stories—anytime, anywhere.
Instagram is perfect for brands that want to reach the young, artistic and hip—its core demographic, and can authentically tell their stories visually. This explains, perhaps, why fashion brands are currently leading the way. Some brands that have embraced the platform and built quite the following during the past year include Threadless, Playboy, Red Bull and Starbucks.
Ford Fiesta in Europe, for example, launched a contest last fall inviting fans to post photos about the car using the #Fiestagram hashtag. Every week, prizes were awarded for the best photos and were featured on the brand’s Facebook Page and on digital billboards.
From what I’ve seen, the brands that are currently using Instagram truly get it. They understand that it’s not about digitizing your product shots, but rather telling and collecting stories and making personal and emotional connections with your customers. As is a best practice with any social channel, meaningful engagement requires interesting content—content that is updated consistently and frequently—and encourages participation from your fans.
Do you have any Instagram stories to share? We would love to hear how you use it or plan to use it in your marketing efforts.