We’ve recently launched our new InfluencerCommunities subscription service. Here’s why. There’s a massive disconnect between the importance of an industry sector’s most important influencer communities, both online & offline, and the attention paid to them by vendors’ marketing depts.
According to InformationWeek, special interest communities featured in the top five most likely sources of vendor information for prospective purchasers (both at initial problem scoping and at vendor choice stages).
And while over three-quarters of B2B industry marketing heads rate their industry sector’s main forums & communities (both online and offline) as very important in influencing their prospects, less than one-third are confident their company has ongoing, proactive relationships with those top communities.
So companies really need to know which online & offline communities are the most influential in their sector. Which they should monitor, which to ignore and which maybe to join. Where are their industry’s most important conversations going on and who’s instigating them?
And it’s not just about which communities have the most members. Are their members those people moving & shaking the sector or are they just … followers? Which of their sector’s top influencers are members? And what should they do to engage with those people once they’ve identified the most important ones?
Our new Influencer Communities subscription service answers all of the above and more. We expect it to become one of our most popular services.
Thinking about how the customer journey is changing as buyers increasingly move to their mobile phones, I’m brought back to Google’s Jim Lecinski’s ‘Winning the Zero Moment of Truth’ 2011 eBook.
The title comes from Proctor & Gamble’s analysis that they have to win the ‘First’ moment of truth – when the consumer first sees the array of goods in a supermarket and has to decide which to choose – plus the ‘Second’ moment – when the buyer takes their choice home, uses the product and decides from their experience whether they’re happy with the choice they made. Google then added a ‘Zero’ moment – the initial online search for that product or product category.
Over the past few days I’ve re-read the eBook and think few companies even now have caught up with the insights uncovered within it.
I’d 100% recommend you to download it from Google’s site if you haven’t a copy already.
I don’t have big numbers to share. I have five anecdotal conversations – each with a CMO, or equivalent, of organizations ranging from $35m to just shy of $1bn revenue. Here’s the first. There’ll be more to follow.
This East Coast marketing chief paid $9,000 in total to get five bloggers to write two blog posts and a minimum of four tweets over a four-week period about their supposed adoption of a new tablet accessory. These tweets were then re-published as part of the vendor’s launch invite activities. Each blogger then attended the San Francisco launch earlier this year. That’s approx. $1800 each person.
Was it worth it? The marketing head, who’d identified the bloggers through a ‘social influencer’ database provider, was initially “ok with it, though we’d already known two of the five so we could have approached them direct. We’d have preferred to work with independent bloggers who didn’t need payment, but we were told most did, so we went along with it.”
“It felt a commercial arrangement throughout, with them having all creative control. That was a surprise. It felt like it was all give from us. The upside was that all four turned up at our launch, it wasn’t obvious to anyone else we were paying for them, and we could use their endorsements in our web ads. Financially it wasn’t a bad return for us, but I’ll definitely read their future posts with a lot more skepticism than before. I’ll always wonder if they’ve taken a payment to write about what they have.”
There’s a top tech CMO I follow on Twitter. She doesn’t post that often (which is fine by me), and I don’t always agree with what she says, but I’m happy to get her updates. She’s a vociferous supporter of ‘social business’ and her company preaches the importance of filtering the online wheat from the online chaff. But I noticed yesterday two stats which struck me. One was that she has approx. 40k followers – I told you she was a top CMO. Second was that she herself follows almost 26k people.
I’ve no doubt she has an extremely busy worklife. So what possible benefit can she get from signing up to follow the stream of 26,000 people’s tweets. Why would she do this? Either she skims every one (v.unlikely), sets up filters to only see the most selective ones (in which case why not just cut back on most of them), or she dips in occasionally for a random selection (most likely). Is that such a great advance on more traditional methods of gauging the public temperature?
Just how selective can she have been to have signed up for each of those 26,000? Surely she hasn’t individually checked each one out in advance? I’m guessing most were followed on the ‘quid pro quo’ basis. So for someone whose job role is to advocate social networks as a path to greater personal efficiency, presumably she doesn’t herself place much value on the importance of gaining online followers. Which to me is a conflicting message.
Maybe I should ask her. I just doubt she has the time to respond.
There’s a new study from the Society of New Communications Research (SNCR) this week that looks pretty interesting. No surprise about the continued success of LinkedIn – much as we question the B2B impact of Facebook and Twitter, we’ve never had any doubts about LinkedIn. But these are the first figures we’ve seen to state that blogging among the largest U.S. companies is declining. And a 6% decline is significant. Maybe it’s just too time-consuming for almost immeasurable return?
Am currently writing a paper asking the question ‘How could Twitter become a platform of real B2B influence?’ I’m basing it on the core six hurdles for Twitter to overcome before it’s a credible source of business purchase decision advice. Maybe you think it’s there already.
But can you imagine being questioned by your boss on what strategic partner to opt for, what million-dollar investment to make, what financial accounting system to choose, and saying, “Sure, let me check what’s being said about that on Twitter.” Thought not.
So what would have to change? Anything to contribute to the paper?
TechCrunch today reports of an interesting Facebook initiative. Not that Facebook’s terminology is the same as ours – especially what it calls ‘influencers’ – but it’s an obvious route for them to charge their advertisers more.
Influencer50 has issued the latest in its series of White Papers this week, WP#19, ‘Where’s the evidence for investing in B2B ‘social influencers’?’. It asks why Heads of Marketing in B2B organisations are still believing that social media outreach will reach those people most influencing their sales prospects, when there’s little to no supporting evidence.
It quotes recent research from the American Marketing Association, Neilsen Online, ad agency RSW/US and Influencer50 itself to question the logic of assuming ‘social influencers’ are a legitimate target audience. It may not be what many of those in marketing roles want to hear right now – but it’s a compelling argument.
I’m looking forward to seeing if, and how, the Twitter-trawling ‘social influence platforms’ react to this week’s Buyersphere 2015 report from B2B Marketing & BaseOne. I wrote about it yesterday.
The standout finding was that 50% of all B2B purchasing decision-makers didn’t use social media at all to shape their buying decisions and that just 5% of the >200 respondents said they referred to Twitter at any stage for help in their decision-making process. This was the second-lowest score, just edging out the 4% who used Pinterest.
So when agencies trawl Twitter for the noisiest people on particular subjects, and then sell that information to vendors / brands claiming them to be the key market influencers, perhaps the vendors will start to think again. How can they still back up that claim?