2012 Social Media Trends, Opportunities & Strategies

|Oct 12|magazine16 min read

Written by: Dan McDade

 

As B2B social and new media go mainstream, questions arise. What trends are driving this surge? Where are the opportunities? What are the right strategies and how should we prioritize them?

Over the last few months, I’ve had the good fortune to get direct answers to these questions and many more via our PowerViews Q&A video interviews with the best and brightest social and new media thought leaders. Following are excerpts from several of these interviews along with links to their videos and highlights.

 

Jeff Ernst, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research

I appreciate Jeff’s comments in his interview that marketing’s role is shifting from a focus on traditional demand generation activity to pipeline and revenue impact. This is especially important because this shift also emphasizes sales lead quality over quantity.

He says a way to have greater impact on revenue is to use social media to get ideas out to prospects early in their buying journeys when they are addressing their needs and raising questions. It is at this early stage that marketers now have the biggest opportunity to make an impact.

Jeff also recommends social media be applied in a systematic vs. random way by including calls to action to draw people and prompt self-identification. Marketers should move from a campaign approach (create/launch/complete) to leveraging the real-time nature of social media: Always be out there.

 

Paul Gillin, Paul Gillin Communications

Paul notes companies are making two major mistakes with social media: treating it like a press release outlet and spreading themselves too thin without setting clear goals.

While social media experimentation has been good, he says in his interview, the expense requires “picking your spots and figuring out what you do well and where your customers are and how best to reach them. Figure out if there are online channels offering opportunities to enrich the relationship and where you can find new customers. Now that we’re beyond this playing stage, you really have to focus on what’s going to return value.”

 

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

Ann sees social media less as lead generation and more as an opportunity to create and nurture relationships. Expanding on this idea in her interview, she says, “The reality is there is a certain percentage of people who will never buy. They’ll never convert. But I’m not looking at those people. I’m looking for the ones that have found a true connection with me. And I would say that there is that conversion happening.”

Ann encourages marketers to think through their social media approach and adds that participation “has to stem from strategy, getting your messaging right, getting your story right, and then allow the tools to help you amplify it from there.”

She also encourages marketers to not stop at making their sites accessible on a mobile device—also look at mobile platforms and tools out there like Instagram.

 

Trip Kucera, Senior Research Analyst, Marketing Effectiveness & Strategy, Aberdeen Group

I was intrigued with Trip’s explanation of what Aberdeen calls “the hidden sales cycle.” In his interview, he describes this as the hidden influences on prospects from social media, blogs, forums, and from direct peer connections that happen on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

These influences are being driven by an asymmetrical relationship between the buyer and seller where buyers have more knowledge and more power in the information exchange, particularly in the very early phases. This trend compels greater social media interaction so buyers have pre-shaped visions when they engage with sales.

Trip encourages providers to invest both in video-based marketing—as it’s part of the larger content-driven rich media trend—and in mobile as a top-three channel.

 

Rich Vancil, Group Vice President for Executive Strategies, CMO and Sales Advisory Services, IDC

In his interview, Rich says buyers preferring to be educated—rather than sold to—impacts how marketing and sales budgets will be rebalanced: “If you look at the typical SG&A or the typical marketing and selling cost envelope for a tech vendor, there is about four dollars spent in sales for every one dollar spent in marketing. And what the buyers tell us over and over again is, ‘Don’t sell so hard. I don’t want to be sold to.’” Rich expects marketing’s increasing educational role will make the split more even in the future.

He adds, “The best thing you can do as a CMO is to set up those social listening posts so that you’re listening to the dialog of your customers, how they talk, how they refer to your company, and the terms they use.”

As marketing and sales teams increase allocations for social and new media, it’s critical that we all tap recognized thought leaders for their views and recommendations. I extend my appreciation to these powerful guests for candidly sharing their actionable wisdom, and I encourage you to visit their full PowerViews interviews for all of their comments.

 

About the Author

Dan McDade is President and CEO of PointClear, LLC, a prospect development firm that helps B2B companies drive revenue by nurturing leads, engaging contacts and developing prospects until they're ready to purchase. The Sales Lead Management Association named Dan one of the 50 most influential people in sales lead management for the last three consecutive years. In February of 2012 Dan was named a Top Sales Expert by Top Sales World.  Dan’s first book, The Truth About Leads, is a practical, easy-to-read book that helps B2B companies focus their lead-generation efforts, align their sales and marketing organizations and drive revenue.   Read Dan’s blog: ViewPoint ll The Truth About Lead Generation  Contact Dan by email:  dan.mcdade@pointclear.com