B2B Mobile Social Media


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The screen on the average BlackBerry measures just 60mm across. Yet for many of today’s B2B buyers, this is the main source they have for information about the products and services they will buy in the coming year. More than this, it is also the main way that they will engage in the various communities that influence their buying decisions. It’s not surprising then that B2B marketers should be wrestling with how to make the most of mobile social media.

The phenomenal success of social networks can be transferred directly to mobile, enabling customers and prospects around the clock access to an array of social networking services.

Consumers and professionals alike can now engage with brands, collaborate in real time and stay informed from any location at any time using web-ready devices optimised for social interaction.

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B2B Mobile Social Media

  1. 1. B2B mobilesocial media 1 B2B mobile social media
  2. 2. IntroductionThe screen on the average BlackBerry measures just 60mm across. Yet formany of today’s B2B buyers, this is the main source they have for informationabout the products and services they will buy in the coming year. More thanthis, it is also the main way that they will engage in the various communitiesthat influence their buying decisions. It’s not surprising then that B2B marketersshould be wrestling with how to make the most of mobile social media.The phenomenal success of social networks can be transferred directly tomobile, enabling customers and prospects around the clock access to an arrayof social networking services.Consumers and professionals alike can now engage with brands, collaboratein real time and stay informed from any location at any time using web-readydevices optimised for social interaction. 2 B2B mobile social media
  3. 3. Part one – 7 lessons in social mobileShort attention sp...A recent study from Ruder Finn revealed that Americans are now spendingnearly three hours per day on their mobile phones. They’re educatingthemselves, conducting business, managing finances, instant messaging,emailing and importantly using social media sites and applications. The thingis, however, they’re jumping from one task to another to another all the time.This has also led to a change in behaviour, with professionals now demandingcontent in more manageable chunks.For B2B marketers used to 5,000 word white papers, this presents somewhatof a challenge. Many B2B products are complex – certainly too complex todo justice to in 140 characters. The sales cycles are long, often six months ormore. Yet, social mobile users have neither the time nor patience (or for thatmatter the screen real estate) to deal with long-form content.Forrester calls this behaviour ‘snacking’. The analogy is a good one. Socialmobile users dip in and out of content based on where they are, what they’redoing and how much time they have available. It’s no surprise that micro-blogging is so popular – sharing a short-form status update whether viaTwitter, Facebook, Tumblr or new kid on the block Quora takes little time andcan be done pretty much anywhere. Crucially sharing a short URL is just aseasy and offers additional ways to track engagement.The answer is to create bite-sized information. Split longer content into smallerchunks that link to each other and which can be shared and commented oneasily. So instead of the 5,000 whitepaper, think more in terms of 10 articlesof 500 words each. Look to roll these out over time allowing for feedback andcomment in between. Not only will this be more appealing to a mobile user, itwill also help increase engagement and boost pagerank. LESSON 1: THINK SNACKS NOT MEALS 3 B2B mobile social media
  4. 4. Nomads not farmersB2B is not, for the most part, about a large mass audience. As B2Bprofessionals, we arent trying to convert millions of individuals intoconsumers, we’re typically trying to convince a smaller group of companieswith larger budgets to engage in a conversation with us. Importantly, whentalking about mobile, we are focused on an audience on the move – whetherroom-to-room or country-to-country.So rather than imagining customers sitting sedately at their desks followingyour every communication, think of them scanning 352 RSS feeds, checkingtheir friends’ Facebook updates and answering a text from the boss, all whileordering a double-shot latte before making a dash for the train.The key point here is that while they are intimately connected to the digitalworld around them, your customers are more often than not, remote froman actual buying decision.Study after study shows that most users (mobile or otherwise) will be sociallypassive – they will read, view and share content but will not engage in anyform of online conversation. Of course this content will inform their buyingdecisions. It will also help them shape their view of the brand. But for themost part, expecting them to engage in the form of comments and customergenerated content will lead to disappointment.What this means is that you need to ensure that whatever you produce will stickin their heads until they get closer to a buying situation. Part of this comes backto good content marketing practices – be useful, be timely, have an opinion,make it easy to share. This will get you followers, retweets and referrals. But justas important (and all too often forgotten these days) is brand.With so little time and so many competing messages, the power of acompelling brand should not be underestimated. Putting it bluntly, if ourcoffee-buying persona above has two seconds to think of a vendor, a strongbrand can ensure you’re the one that comes to mind. LESSON 2: MAKE IT MEMORABLE 4 B2B mobile social media
  5. 5. You are hereMuch has been made of location-based services such as Foursquare andGowalla. And while everyone seems to be clamouring to become the mayorof their local Starbucks, many B2B marketers have been struggling to see howthey can use these kinds of services.Some uses are pretty obvious. Allowing your customers to find their nearestreseller for example. But when we speak about social mobile, the emphasisturns squarely on our ability to bring people together. And when we talklocation, that means real live bodies.B2B marketers and customers are still heavy users of face-to-face events –whether trade shows, conferences or executive briefings. Add to this the moresocially-driven meet-ups, tweet-ups and unconferences and you have an idealuse of location-based mobile social media.A good example is the creation of BlackBerry Messenger Groups for events(facilitated with personal QR codes). This allows likeminded people to makeconnections both at the event itself and afterwards.Mobile social media can, in effect, provide the bridge between the digital andthe physical worlds. It can deliver a physical networking platform that helpslike-minded customers make real world connections. And even in B2B, peoplebuy people. LESSON 3: HELP CUSTOMERS MAKE REAL WORLD CONNECTIONS 5 B2B mobile social media
  6. 6. Don’t cross the channelFor many B2B marketers, the channel is key to success. They are often theprimary route to the customer (sometimes the only route). Vendors will spenda massive amount of time and effort incentivising and accrediting their channelpartners. When it comes to marketing through the channel, they will createelaborate marketing kits, offer co-funding and still embark on the occasionalSPIF day. And yet, channel loyalty (or the lack of it) is little less than a runningsore for many marketers.When we consider that for the most part channel professionals live on theirsmartphones, require up to the minute information and want vendors’ help toclose sales, social mobile must have a role to play.The range of options probably deserves a chapter in itself, but as a starter: • Private channel communities offer partners the ability to get the information they need where they need it (i.e. on the road) • Real-time pricing and offers can help them seal the deal • Access to vendor specialists via instant messaging, Twitter or LinkedIn can help them answer customer questions quickly and insightfully • Apps (smartphone or tablet-based) that help them specify and configure a solution can help them be more responsive to their customers’ demandsIn truth, almost every mobile social media option can be applied successfullyto the channel. And it can reinforce their loyalty right at the moment it mattersmost – just before a sale. LESSON 4: HELP THE CHANNEL MAKE SALES 6 B2B mobile social media
  7. 7. How did you get this number?Mobiles are personal – at least in many users’ minds. This extends tocompany-issue devices too. Communications feel intrinsically more intrusivethan on other devices and media. For users, being marketed to on theirmobile can feel more like stalking than talking.While this will in all likelihood change over time, there is still a heightened senseof privacy when it comes to mobile. And yet, we know that B2B mobile users arereaching out to their networks from their phones. The critical factor here is thatwhen it comes to mobile social media – and particularly with SMS and instantmessaging – the contact is on their terms. They initiate it. They end it.Mobile social media is fundamentally a pull medium. You can entice, you canencourage, you can barter for people’s attention but you must remember,their psychological spam filters are set to maximum. In fact, we would almostnever recommend that you try to begin engaging customers via their mobiles.Start online or in person and then extend from there.For customers to let you in, there must be something in it for them. Simply,you must trade access for value. The value could be in preferential accessto information, to something that saves them time or money, something thathelps them get stuff done – but unless they see the value, they’re unlikely tolet their guard down.Of course, many marketers have come unstuck by failing to understand theircustomers’ ideas of real value (what do you mean they don’t want to readour ebook on migrating from X.25 to frame relay?). There is no substitute fortaking the time to do the due diligence – research with customers, surveys ofwhat else is available, a look at what is being shared right now. Only then canyou look for gaps where you can deliver real value. LESSON 5: PULL NOT PUSH 7 B2B mobile social media
  8. 8. There’s an app for thatThe latest smartphones are breeding apps like rabbits. Understandably, thetemptation for many marketers is to jump on the bandwagon with one of theirown. Of course, for most of the existing social media sites and services, thereare already mobile apps available. Beyond this there are also apps to aggregateservices in one place. So where does this leave the social mobile marketer?The first thing to focus on is utility. Does your app help users get stuff done?Does it make their lives easier? Will it be able to fight for its place among the84 other apps they already have installed?Beyond simple utility, if we’re serious about the social aspects of mobilemarketing, what can you do to ensure your app stands a chance? Here arethree things you should consider right away: 1. Social is about making connections between people, look to fully exploit their existing connections by linking to where they already are (eg Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc). 2. Understand that users are busy and on the move – keep it simple, give them the option of limiting the amount of time they spend and allow for easy one-click sharing. 3. Be clear how your app fits into your overall strategy – is it focused more on acquisition or retention? In an acquisition-focused app, the emphasis will be more on demonstrating difference, growing brand and giving users a dry run at the relationship they can expect. A retention-focused app however will help them get more from the products they already have and help them evangelise the brand.Finally, while many of us are in love with our iPhones and big-screen Androidhandsets, this is not necessarily mirrored in our target markets. The vastmajority of corporate buyers use a BlackBerry. Not the Torch either but thesmaller screen Bolds, Curves and Pearls. This means that focusing on the rightplatform and working within its limitations will be vital to success. LESSON 6: MAKE APPS USEFUL BEFORE MAKING THEM PRETTY 8 B2B mobile social media
  9. 9. Influencing the influencersWe are still in the early days of B2B mobile social media. In fact, in many wayswe are in the early days of any sort of B2B mobile marketing. Audiences arestill comparatively low, the available media channels haven’t yet settled andthere are few verifiable best practices. So why bother?The primary reason is because the people using social mobile are the earlyadopters, they are the ones who set the agenda for what follows. They are themost influential people you can speak to (the “knowledgeable friends” so manyof us turn to before making a purchase decision).These are the people who are already sharing information from theirsmartphones. They are the ones who will help mobile social media go trulymainstream, who will influence which sites and properties will lead and,of course, which brands will thrive. Now is the time to connect to theseinfluencers – before the competing noise becomes a deafening roar and thebudgets required to catch up accelerate out of reach.It is also the time to experiment. Right now, the cost of failure is not high.Marketers can dip their toes in the water, discover what works for their brandsand their objectives, and refine as they go along. Their more active customerscan be engaged to help create the right social mobile approach, in turnhelping to create the kind of communities they need. LESSON 7: YOUR MOST INFLUENTIAL CUSTOMERS ARE THERE RIGHT NOW 9 B2B mobile social media
  10. 10. Part two – how will you know if it worked?The current costs of entry to mobile social media are not high. Many of theenabling technologies are easy to access and relatively low cost. Even simpleapps will not overly trouble the budgets of many B2B organisations.But whatever the money you spend, how will you know it was worth it?Considering proving the ROI of many social media programmes is still difficult,add in the extra complexity of the mobile platform and you’d be forgiven forrunning for the hills.The good news is that it needn’t be as complex as you think. Many of thesame metrics you currently use can be just as easily applied to mobile socialmedia. The exact measures you use will depend largely on the specifics ofyour organisation, but the following represent some measures you could use.RevenueDid your mobile programmes increase your pipeline of leads/sales? Trackingwhere leads come from is second nature to many B2B businesses. Assigninga notional value to those stemming from mobile social media (as identifiedthrough analytics, tracking codes or simple qualifying questions on onlineforms) will show the bottom-line impact of your activity. However, trackingrevenue down to a single tweet, for example, is more complex. It can be donethrough using unique short URLs (such as bit.ly) which can then be analysedthrough to sales. But simply assigning revenue to an overall mobile socialmedia programme will generally be enough for most companies starting out.Importantly, you can then integrate this activity into your marketingautomation platform. This means your subsequent communications can buildon interactions across all your social channels and devices.BrandWe have highlighted the role of influencers above and the ability at thisrelatively early stage to identify your brand with mobile social media-savvycustomers. Whether this is a measure of awareness or, better still, relevancy,tracking the effect of your efforts on generating increased brand equity iskey. Of course, isolating the effects of mobile social media is difficult if theapproach delivers the same overall messages as other brand communications.However, it is possible with careful ongoing tracking to identify spikes in brandawareness that coincide with programme activity. It is also possible to tracksentiment among key influencers as the campaign progresses. 10 B2B mobile social media
  11. 11. Retention and loyaltyWe briefly discussed retention when we looked at apps. But there is a widerrole for mobile social media here. It is possible to A/B test customers, offeringsome access to beta programmes for your mobile social media activities andthen measuring the effects versus those without access. This also applies tochannel partners.SpreadFundamentally, a key role for social media activity (mobile or otherwise)is to replicate or enable word of mouth. A vital measure of any activity iswhether it succeeds in amplifying and extending the reach of your marketingmessages. Measuring how far your users spread your content will give you agood benchmark for how effective your mobile social media programmes areperforming. This can be done with many of the social media monitoring toolsnow available such as Radian6 and Brandwatch.There are of course many other measures you can adopt – sentiment tracking,cost savings, site visits, sign-ups, reach, yield, etc – but the key is to keep whatyou measure simple and meaningful in terms of overall business performance.That way, when your leadership asks what you’ve been spending the company’smoney on, you can link it directly back to the factors that matter to them. 11 B2B mobile social media
  12. 12. Part three – 5 things you should begin doing right nowSo you can see that mobile is going to be massively important to B2Borganisations in the coming months and years. And, within that, mobile socialmedia will have a key role to play. What now?No one should be running headlong into spending their entire marketingbudget on mobile social media but there are some relatively low cost activitiesyou can begin doing right away. Some will apply to all mobile marketing butare crucial to gaining the insight you need to make mobile social media workfor your business. 1. Check your site analytics – how many users are accessing it via mobile devices? What operating systems are they using? What is your most popular content? Where are people dropping out? 2. Ensure your site and blog are optimised for mobile devices – while your main site may be a fully immersive Flash-based extravaganza, your mobile visitors won’t thank you for it. Fortunately, mobile sites are virtually the definition of simplicity. As long as you ensure you have a competent CMS in place, repurposing your content for the (very) small screen should not be too traumatic. 3. This also applies to your other content – from videos to PDF downloads. Importantly, ensure that social sharing and bookmarking are quick and easy with buttons big enough to be hit first time even when the user is on the move. 4. If you sell through the channel, begin to create mobile-friendly material to help them sell your products – a closed reseller community, cheat sheets, playbooks, demo videos, podcasts – and add these resources to a specific mobile-focused area of your partner site. 5. Begin researching your customers’ use of mobile social media and look to see whether you can create meaningful segmentation and personas to inform your activity.While these are all baby steps into the world of mobile social media, they dooffer the potential to create a profitable foundation for your future activity. 12 B2B mobile social media
  13. 13. Part four – a glimpse at the futureLooking to the future, there’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a B2B socialmedia marketer. We’re just starting to realise how powerful social media canreally be for organisations. And the long-term future almost certainly belongsto mobile devices (whether phones or tablets).While the benefits are clear in using social media to spread your message,as a channel it really starts to shine once you begin using the tools andplatforms available to deliver additional value to your customers anddifferentiate your business.With that said, there are three key points to remember about the future ofsocial media for B2B companies: 1. B2B social media of all kinds will transgress outside of traditional boundaries and become more about driving thought leadership, providing better customer service and defining business through crowd sourced feedback. 2. Twitter and Facebook may be huge now, but the way in which we use social media changes by the day and companies need to be able to adapt in order not to be left behind. 3. The true ROI of social media in B2B won’t necessarily come from broadcasting your message, but rather the long term engagement and relationships you can create in return.It’s worth investigating how mobile can be used to manage your socialinitiatives. There are new platforms that enable you to track your customer andprospect profiles and activities across multiple social streams and aggregatethem into a single view of that individual. This means marketers and salesare able to react 24 hours a day to changes in status and be able to quicklyrespond to discussions relating to your brands or products (Gist is a goodexample of a tool you can use).Many companies will also be looking to platforms that will help them tomanage their social streams across a number of channels. That will meancreating content and promotions that can be displayed on Twitter, Facebook, 13 B2B mobile social media
  14. 14. LinkedIn, corporate blogs, etc. And these platforms will also create customcontent units that will be optimised for different mobile devices (check outEngageSciences for example).Mobile social media may be in its infancy but it’s growing up fast. It’stime for B2B marketers to begin examining how it can deliver results anddifferentiation for their businesses. Want to know more? In this white paper, we’ve merely scratched the surface of how social media should be used by today’s technology marketers. If you would like to delve deeper into the current research or discuss how social media can be used to deliver tangible results for your business, please get in touch. We are happy to meet you for a no obligation discussion. Simply contact Michael Wrigley at michael@b1.com or call him on 020 7349 2266. Follow us on: Twitter: @bannercorp And keep up to date at: www.b1.com/blog 14 B2B mobile social media