Marketers, have you ever been in an agency pitch that focuses on the tool and channel and forgets about content? Or, from the other side of the table, have you ever had a client on the brand side ask you for your Twitter/FacebookPinterest strategy –but doesn’t have anything meaningful to say?
Our industry is afflicted with shiny object syndrome, a focus on the new tools, without thinking about the content that will drive it. As we mature and the tools make it easier to share information, companies need to be extra sensitive to the content that will be shared, both that’s created by the brand, and the customer.
Altimeter’s latest report by Industry Analyst Rebecca Lieb, takes that topic head on. This report had a thorough methodology that interviewed over 50 brands, agencies, vendors, and industry experts to find out how the industry is changing. The top six findings include the following trends:
Visual information reigns supreme, from video to images to infographics.
Mobile and location-based marketing are the second most-cited area into which marketers want to expand content initiatives.
Marketers must manage flow and develop the ability to respond in real-time in social channels
Bright, shiny objects, i.e. a fixation on newer channels and technologies, can distract from foundational channels, e.g. search, written content, such as blogs, and educational content, which is often essential in B2B channels.
Budgets must increase to accommodate content channels such as video and mobile that require larger production and development investment.
Marketers’ confidence in and reliance of content marketing is beginning to diminish their reliance on print and broadcast advertising, as well as public relations.
Marketers Confident in Future of Online Video, Social, Mobile
What does the future hold? This report offers an interesting aspiration state (Although the Red Bull case study shows some companies are doing this now) that companies who mature in this space can actually monetize their content –even if they’re not a media company. That’s right, even companies that sell soft drinks can build a lifestyle culture around their brand, and monetize the content created by their own community. This is perhaps one of the most powerful promises ever to marketers, to convert the perception of being a ‘cost center’ to a real profit center by developing a strategic content marketing plan.
Open Research: Use it, Share it, and We’ll Create More.
To learn more how companies will achieve this, read the report in the embed below. We look forward to your feedback as we track how content spreads across multiple tools, channels and mediums.
The practice of Open Research is continuing to become a trend, but not just limited to the research reports that Altimeter is sharing, but with websites like Wikipedia, Focus.com, Quora, Linkedin Q&A, and communities like Social Media,org, Marketing Profs, and WOMMA and beyond. I see the trend that corporate buyers can talk directly to each other –without a middleman or expert in between. As a result, some thought leaders are giving away their best knowledge and not holding back in order to be top of mind.
Above is part 1, advance to the NBC site to see part 2. An interesting thing about this state-of-the-art studio is there are no camera persons on set, just robots that are controlled from the main controller room, a slick operation. Overall, it was a lot of fun, but to be honest, an interesting experience being in the hot seat with so many rapid fire questions.
Below is my research agenda (which includes my research team Christine Tran and Andrew Jones) for the customer strategy group here at Altimeter Group. I’ll cross post this from the ‘Research Tab’ on the upper right of my blog.
Research, A Subset of the Web Strategy Mission
While I’m best known as an “Industry Analyst”, I choose that title as that’s easiest to understand, overtime, I hope to do away with that title. Although research is the foundation for all my activities, recognize that it’s only part of how we help clients in their education, research, strategy, and planning. My career mission, (which is greater than any job I work at) is to help companies connect with their customers using technologies. This has been the motto of this blog for the last 5 years (obviously with a focus on web) and I’ll continue this over the course of my career.
About The Approach: Open Research
I don’t publish numerous reports, but instead, I publish fewer reports and focus on going deeper with greater market impact. Because we publish this under Open Research premise (for public consumption under creative commons) these reports spread further, and have more market impact and influence to improve the industry. (see slideshare numbers in links below). These research reports are expensive to do and take months to create, yet we’ve figured out a model that the more you help us spread the reports, the more we can do.
2011 Research Agenda: This research agenda was chosen based on what we heard from buyers (we have data to backup why these initiatives are important), and also mixing with our own insights on where the market is headed.
How to Spend on Social Business by Maturity (completed)
How companies build and manage Customer Advocacy Programs (underway, and workshop available)
How companies prepare internally for social business
Social Media Management Systems (SMMS) Vendor Comparison (Q3, 2011)
Social Media and Website Integration (Q2, 2011)
Social Stack Framework/2012 Social Business Trends/Forecast (Q4, 2011)
Note May 31st: I’ve removed mobile marketing, and added the first report, and updated dates)
Each of these research items represent advisory, speaking, and webinar opportunities for clients. Caveat: While the reports in Q1 and Q2 are locked in, this market changes so quickly so the Q3 and Q4 items may change to meet the needs of the market.
Do you want to brief us for this research?
Research requires ecosystem input, and If you want to brief us, please send an email to email@example.com and include in the subject line ‘Customer Strategy Research’, and we will review.
Below is a list of some of the previous research we’ve completed, please explore the links to see the vibrant discussions and market impact from each report.
Earlier this week, we hosted a joint webinar with Barbara French of Tekrati, Jonny Bentwood Edelman AR practice, and Carter Lusher of Sagecicle (Carter and Barbara were able to make it to The Hangar, see pic). The topic? To explore how social technologies impact the industry analyst space.
We explored definitions, major impacts, disruptions to middle men, impacts to research, influence and personal brands. There’s no doubt that like the media industry, the analyst industry has been impacted by these simple publishing tools, and we’re seeing new business models appear like Open Research, at Altimeter Group, and variations at firms like Focus.com. The trio debated concepts and we tied it up to give final recommendations to analysts and analyst relations professionals.
Specifically for analysts what are the impacts?
Analysts can use these tools to listen in and identify research efforts. They can also use it for primarily qualitative research.
Analysts can go direct to the product managers, and in some cases bypassing AR professionals.
Can develop personal networks, career brands, that carry with them further than reports under an umbrella brand.
Analysts finally realize they are also media in addition to their traditional roles.
Would love to hear your commentary after listening in to the discussion, what are topics that need to be dove into further?
Social technologies have impacted every industry, and most in a disruptive nature as middle men (and women) have been cut out, consumers turn to each other, and the lines of communication have become direct. The Industry Analyst space, which is known for research, advisory, insights, and ability to influence buyers and media, has directly been influenced.
While we’ve lately seen some major changes to the industry analyst space using social technologies, the question that many (buyers of research, Analyst Relations, Analysts, and their management) are wrestling with is ‘how’ does social technologies impact the space, and how can I take advantage of it. Some questions that quickly come to mind are: how does social impact research, client relations, vendor relations, influence, media interactions, premium or syndicated content, conferences and events, and can buyers of technology simply connect to each other and bypass analysts all together?
We’re going to take these topics head-on, as we’ll be hosting a no-cost roundtable discussion (no slides) with the top thinkers on this space. Please join Jonny Bentwood, (Technobabble, @jonnybentwood) who has undertaken efforts to measure social influence in the space, Barbara French (Tekrati, @bfr3nch) an understated long-time influencer in the analyst space, as well as Carter Lusher, a dynamic commentator, former Gartner Analyst and former HP AR professional now at SageCircle, @carterlusher.
Registration is limited, please sign up now, and mark your calendars. Although we have a long, long list of specific discussion points, we want to help craft the discussion around the comments and questions you have, so *please* leave a comment of the discussion topics you’d like us to tackle.
I had an interesting conversation with the head of marketing of a vendor here at Forrester’s marketing conference. She told me about the changing role of AR. Now, the role of AR must evolve, as analysts have direct connections to employees of their company, and have the ability to circumnavigate that traditional relationship. For example, I can easily tweet out “anyone in the sharepoint team have have a moment for some questions” and I’d suspect they’d quickly respond in seconds, whether or not the AR person was involved.
To respond to these times, I’ve found that the best AR folks do the following things: 1) Listen to analysts and synthesize. Now, AR folks can listen directly to the thoughts and insights of analysts that share online. Most AR folks I talk to know what I’ve been up to, where I’m going, and what I care about. As more analysts start to create more content online, the AR role becomes more critical 2) Prepare internal stakeholders. This isn’t anything new, but I’ve noticed that the top AR folks are prepping the interviewers I speak with my blog posts and reports, helping them save time. I’ll be honest, it’s difficult to keep track of my output, fortunately the AR person can do this. 3) Reconnect me with stakeholders. The best AR folks are building a long term relationship with me, leave comments on my blog, send me emails, and setup formal briefings.
What’s the theme here? The role hasn’t changed that much in the traditional sense, but the AR professional isn’t a gatekeeper, instead they facilitate.
Leave a comment, how else can AR folks evolve when it comes to social?
This is likely the fastest moving industry in the world –for the last few years, I work many hours during the weekdays and a few during the weekends to keep up. While in it’s formative years now, I expect –and hope– it’ll slow down as it reaches maturity over the next few years.
I really see this space like a reef, a complex ecosystem that has so many variables and changes, each day is different.
I hope you enjoy this storyboard, and if you did, please tweet it, or embed it on your own blog.
I’ve never traveled more than I do in my current role. Although it comes in spurts, I’m currently traveling 4 out of 5 weeks. While it can certainly take a toll on loved ones and your own body, I’m starting to get more comfortable with traveling a bit more efficiently.
I won’t say I’ve got it down right, but here’s a few things I’ve learned, my hopes are that you’ll chime in and add your tips below in the comments, alright let’s get started:
Tips From a Road Warrior:
Flying a lot? Get a Travel Agent
I’ve a travel agent, Carlson Wagonlit (thank you Ron!), that helps me coordinate my often multiple city destinations, they use my frequently flyer numbers and really help coordinate flights, hotel, and rental cars. This saves me valuable time from doing research to find out flights, nearby hotels, and keeps me focused on what matters. I’m pretty sure this is what Tim Ferris would do.
Print out your itinerary
Despite being a digital guy, I always print out my itinerary that has my flight numbers, hotels, and other contact information. You can’t count on technology to work when you’re on the go, dead batteries, the hassle of looking things up, or the ability to rapidly pull out a piece of paper is invaluable.
Get the right luggage and bags
Watch airline staff. These guys and guys are the pros. If you look how they travel, they have small suitcase with wheels, and then a second satchel or bag with personal items, and then if a lady a purse. They make the items stackable so you can put the personal bag (perhaps a suitcase or laptop bag) on top so it can easily roll. I use a backpack, never a messenger bag as you want to keep your back in alignment as much as possible. For long walks, I’ll affix my backpack on my suitcase to relieve the weight.
Learn how to pack right
First of all, if you’re a business traveler, you’ve likely got a carry on bag, checking in and picking up luggage is a major time sink, let alone the risk of them losing the bags. The trick here is to pack your clothes so you don’t have to iron them later. I use the ol’ roll your clothes like a towel trick. As a gent, I put the largest items out on the end such as shirts, and then items that you don’t care if they get wrinkled in the middle. For example lay your coats down on your bed first, followed by suits, then shirts, pants, then tshirts and other undergarments. Then roll them up like a burrito, and put into your carry on suitcase. On the sides you can put your shoes in plastic bags (so they don’t scuff) and toiletries. Ah, stuff your shoes with your clean socks or undergarments to save space, and ensure they maintain their shape.
Steam your clothes in the bathroom
This is one of my favorite tricks. As soon as you get to your hotel room, un-roll that rolled set of clothes I just mentioned. Then, get those shirts, suits, and slacks on a hangers and put in the bathroom –not the closet. When you take your next shower, the steam will naturally get many of the wrinkles out minimizing any time spent ironing.
Have doubles of toiletries for a quick reload
If you’re on the road a lot, it helps to have a backup toilitiries bag so you don’t constantly have to move items in and out. Buy everything in duplicates so you have duplicate toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, hair products. These little efforts make reloading a breeze.
Learn to traverse the airport
Don’t wear a belt, wear slip off shoes that don’t require a lot of tying, and put your watch, wallet, and other items in your backpack as you exit the car. I bought a Clear card a few months ago, which let’s you breeze past security, but there really isn’t a need for it in a down turned economy (also, I feel a bit like a jerk when they move me to the front of the line) I won’t likely renew my clear card in this economy. I always sit in the aisle when possible so I can get to the restroom without hassling that sleeping guy next to you, and to quickly get my bag and exit faster. Before you enter the security lines, before you choose which aisle to go down, avoid being behind people that are wearing a lot of jewelery or big families, they end to slow down the line. Side note: TSA is much friendlier in the midwest then on the coasts.
Bring the right in-flight gear
I have a spare battery for those long flights for my laptop extending my work time on the plane (one of the few places I can concentrate). Secondly I have an iPod and noise canceling headphones that really turn a confined environment more into a sanctuary. Also, I snagged earplugs and eye masks from previous long distance flights and keep in my backpack, those help. Oh and ahem, please bring mints or gum so you don’t annoy your fellow travelers.
Long trip? Go business class –but not first class
Traveling inter continental is a real time sink, west to east coast can be over 5 hours of downtime, but it’s great for catching up on sleep, writing those pesky reports, (my biggest struggle) or your latest blog post. The problem with many airlines is that the seats are so crammed together it’s nearly impossible to open your laptop and expect to extend your arms. If you’re working, upgrade to the business class, which provides more foot room, or get into the exit aisle or bulkhead. I don’t have the disposable income nor the miles to upgrade to first –maybe someday when I become an executive.
Text message yourself your parking spot
Ever forget where you parked at the airport? Yeah I feel you. Sometimes I get home late at night, bleary eyed, confused, perhaps a bit dazed from a conference party, the last thing I’ll be able to do is remember where my car is at the massive SFO parking lot. The good thing is that I always text message my parking spot to myself on my phone when I first park. Text message your parking spot to yourself, saving you time, frustration, and the embarrassing situation of thinking your car may have been stolen.
That’s enough tips for me, I’d love to hear from you, what do you do to make your travel efficient? Let’s collectively learn, I know there’s a lot of busy professionals that are part of my community. Do tell.
Written from a hotel in welcoming Minneapolis, 140am.
I’m sitting across the street from the SXSW convention center, yesterday the organizer Hugh Forrest told me that attendees to the Interactive portion (a great deal with a focus on social) was up aprox 20% (just an approximation). I’ve seen many social media strategists (see list) here at the conference that are here to network with the influencers, get educated at the sessions, and to soak in what community really means.
During a recession, marketers are often forced to reduce budgets, in fact, it’s often one of the first buckets to get trimmed. In our latest research: Social Media Playtime is Over, we found that 53% of marketers are determined to increase their social media budget during a recession, and 42% will keep it the same, a total of 95% of marketers bullish on social media marketing. Why? The reasons are obvious to some, it’s inexpensive and the opportunity to benefit from cost-effective word-of-mouth, are promising.
Now this doesn’t mean that budgets are expanding immensely, since this is a ‘new’ media, these are small budgets. How small? I say minuscule. Three-quarters of marketers have $100,000 of less budgeted for social media marketing.
Even though the budgets are small and growing, we recommend to our clients, in order to be successful, not to approach social media marketing as experimental, but to put the right roles, process, and measurement capabilities in place to be effective. Remember, the most expensive cost isn’t the tools, the most expensive part is the soft costs: strategy, education, process, roles, measurement).
Key Takeaway? Social media budgets are small, but are growing during a recession, yet brands shouldn’t approach this as an experiment, and should have a proper strategy complete with objectives, roles, processes, and measurement.
I’d like to thank Tom Cummings who lead the survey effort and data cleansing, Emily Bowen who kept us on track, and Josh Bernoff for his insight and editing for the collaborative effort on this report –without them, this report would not have published, it’s great to work with a top-notch research team.
A common practice in the enterprise software industry (and beyond) is to announce products, make a lot of noise about it, but slowly roll it out in pieces over the coming quarters or never at all. This is called Vaporware and I’m starting to see small examples of this in the social media industry.
As a response, I’m going to start calling out vendors that do that. Why? it protects buyers from getting caught up in the hype of an announcement, flashy videos, and buzzword industry-changing definitions. I fill the space with enough buzzwords myself, there really isn’t any room left for vendors.
Graciously, I will list of vendors on this blog post that make big pronouncements without demonstrating their products, highlighting their vaporware. I encourage you to support this so we can establish a precedent in our space to announce and show products that are actually working –not just promised.
What say you, should we do such a list? I’ll need your help in calling them out, they’ll get a list similar to this one of brands that have been punk’d.
Update: Related and if social media vendors do announce, they should eat their own dogfood (or drink their own champagne, as I learned from my new friend Dana). I’m keeping PR folks busy.
Here are some requirements for vendors as they launch: On day of announcement they should be able to show a demo of their product. If it’s an enterprise product, or complicated, then show a video with it working. Consider using a customer reference or a test case to demonstrate how it’s been working in the past. I like what John Furrier said, that sometimes products are still getting the bugs worked out and that’s fine –but in any case, show that the product exists.