Big Data Provides Insights from B2B Social Media

In a recent post from eMarketer about the importance of companies managing their big data, there was not even consensus on the definition of big data. And 21% of those surveyed admitted that they weren’t really sure what big data meant.

IBM defines big data by example. “Everyday, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data–so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: from sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos posted online, transaction records of online purchases, and from cell phone GPS signals to name a few.”

As digital communications, in all forms including social media components, grow for B2B companies, more and more data is available to make better decisions. The biggest challenges cited by companies related to resources, especially manpower and time required to sort through the data, and the volume of data.

It is no longer enough to rely on interns and anecdotal data. B2B companies, even those who have not started social media marketing plans, need to implement formal data gathering processes and dedicate the analytical brain power to determining the business ramifications. There have been several large consumer brands that have recently responded to a large social media backlash regarding pricing charges, including Netflix, Bank of America and Verizon. If your company were in a similar situation, would you have had anything in place to collect and understand the reaction?

According to a McKinsey report about big data, it “will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth and innovation.” The report includes seven insights from their research in five domains—healthcare in the United States, the public sector in Europe, retail in the United States, and manufacturing and personal-location data globally.

What have you done to address the gathering of big data for your B2B company?

Getting Better at B2B Social Media

Social media for B2B companies is not something that you turn on, set it and forget it. Not only do existing tools change and new tools appear, but your customers and prospects interact differently with social media as they become more comfortable using it. Inherent in change is improvement. Professionally, we all want to do better than we did last month or last quarter or last year. Some of the following posts will help inspire you to do that. There is a reluctance to track hard metrics because this holds people and campaigns accountable for their success, but in the long run, we need to understand what works and what doesn’t so we can achieve better results.

12 Ways to Improve B2B Social Media Marketing in 2012
from MarketingProfs
Want to add some rocket fuel to your B2B marketing in 2012? Get 12 big ideas for improving B2B social media marketing from the experts.
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Why People Dislike Metrics
from Amplified Analytics Blog
I was talking to one of my customers about her experience trying to introduce the use of metrics into the business processes she is managing. Janet is in the gourmet food marketing business and was hoping to use analytics for discovering the patterns of shoppers’ consumption of her products by the time of day, as well as an impact of promotional events on the sales results. The food business, in her words, is a very fragmented environment and even the simplest business process tends to involve a number of companies to perform.
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How to Meet Google’s Newest Quality Standards for Content
from Content Marketing Institute
In the midst of Google’s latest algorithm change, many marketers are in a tizzy over how their search engine presence — and ranking — will be impacted. The SEO game keeps changing, and as a content marketer it’s important to understand what the changes are and how to use them to stay competitive.
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The Evergreen Laws of Marketing
from Chief Marketing Technologist
I’ve shared the laws of technology for marketers. But what about laws of marketing for technologists? The single most insightful marketing book I’ve ever read was published nearly 20 years ago, before the Web was anything more than an academic experiment: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout.
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Fear and Social Media Don’t Mix
from B2B Memes
Cynics might argue that institutions inherently distrust anything they can’t control. But their challenge in dealing with social media has more to do with the culture of caution and conservatism that every traditional organization seems to engender.
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B2B Social Media Metrics Need to Match Goals

One of the biggest challenges B2B marketers face is measuring their success using social media. Social media should not exist in a silo and needs to connect to your business goals. Tying these together may not something that you can do right out of the gate. You need to establish social media goals that are in line with meeting business goals, and it might take you several steps to get there.

For example, if one of your business goals is to drive sales, as measured by increasing leads, you need social media goals that can get you there. You might start by growing your following base to increase reach. You might develop a content plan so you have something to share. You might set baselines of page views or other traffic driving metrics. These are all short terms goals that get you to your longer term goal of tracking how social media drives leads. And when starting out, you may not even have significant data to tie to lead generation.

A study by Chief Marketer and published by emarketer revealed that most B2B marketers are really at an early adoption stage of social media, because while they focus on social media engagement in their tactics, they are measuring their success by largely irrelevant numbers. 60% track followers and likes and only 35% measure qualified leads from social media as a metric of success.

What are your biggest challenges in measuring your social media success, and how do they compare with what other marketers are doing?

Why Does Facebook Hate B2B Companies?

With the constant changes to Facebook’s platform, B2B marketers are already challenged to connect with customers and prospects on the platform. Now they are talking about making it worse. It makes me wonder why Facebook hates B2B companies. Was Mark Zuckerberg bit by a B2B company when he was a kid?

Social media site Mashable published an interview this weekend with Brad Smallwood, Facebook’s head of measurement and insights, where he discussed potential changes that Facebook is considering for measuring advertising success on the world’s largest social network.

Advertising on Facebook is currently measured using click through rates (CTR), as is most other online advertising. Smallwood is working with Nielsen to develop a system that considers the result of people’s exposure to the advertising, and if it changed people’s awareness of the product or the message. This sounds like he wants to bring the unmeasurable brand advertising of television to Facebook. You know where Nielsen got its start, right?

Facebook has created a platform where it doesn’t value its users and their privacy. They are just the creators of the product (their data) that is sold to advertisers. And businesses who don’t advertise are given a system of tools that is stacked against them of ever connecting with their customers and prospects.

B2B companies need the rigor of data to track their success in the online world. They are not coming to Facebook for a brand lift. They are looking to generate leads or new business from existing customers. One of the ways to break through the ever changing “Top News” algorithm is by using the advertising platform. They need to be able to track clicks on the ads as the first step to the top of the sales funnel. Whether those ads direct prospects to content on Facebook or on the company website, it is critical to have the click data.

Facebook CTR is low by online ad standards and if you start measuring intent for the already small audience of many B2B companies, rather than clicks, it all becomes irrelevant. If you have a B2B company that can benefit from this change in tracking, we would like to hear about it. If you think I am off-base, or I’m missing something, let me have it in the comments.

Photo: Mashable

There’s Content in Your B2B Social Media Data

As you advance your social media activities for your B2B company, you should be capturing great piles of data. Many marketers are so inundated with data, they don’t know where to begin making sense of it. If you are in this category, this post is not for you. This post is for smart marketers that understand how to use their social media data to make better business decisions. But data can also be used to generate great content for your social media channels.

Getting Started
Start by looking at the most popular keywords that drive traffic to your site. Now add in the most popular tweets and the most engaged Facebook updates. This is now a collection topics, ideas and types of content that resonate with your audience. The obvious step, which should be taken cautiously, is that your readers are most interested in these topics and you should publish more about those topics. But if you think about this in a different way, can you break this down by platform and gain a deeper understanding?

Understanding the Content Trends
With the data telling you what works, you can share the same content in different ways on different platforms. Audiences are looking for different things. Top 10 lists do well on Twitter because it is a grazing platform. There is so much content shared that when someone sees a link to a relevant post in list form, they click to read it knowing that it is easily skimmable. The same blog post that explains 10 ways to be a more efficient manager may drive more traffic from Twitter when it is positioned a customer solution, but may do better on LinkedIn when it is framed as career advice.

Testing Other Ideas
Sharing content online is not something that can only be done one way. While there are best practices that work for all, individual target audiences respond to different things on different platforms. Writing a blog post and auto-posting the headline to every social profile is not the only way to share content. It can be the first way, but follow that up with posting other takes on the article. Share a quote from the post or a particular stat that is more compelling as a way to generate some more interest. Some of this may require manual tracking of your data, but testing is the way to understand what works on which platform. Have you thought about making a short video (60 seconds or less) sharing the key idea of a blog post and publishing that as a way to drive traffic back to the blog post?

Data as Content
There are stories to tell around your data, but your company management must be comfortable with putting those numbers out there. Do you have any aggregated data that you can share with your industry? Are there product trends that you can tell others in the industry about? Can you corroborate your findings with other industry statistics, so it doesn’t feel like you are releasing sales numbers? For example, if you are smartphone manufacturer, how do your sales compare to national trends? And explain your analysis behind it, in a way that offers something helpful to those considering a purchase. A computer consultant can talk about how many Windows 7 upgrades they have done, or how many Macs they are now servicing in the field. Think about how your trending data can confirm someone’s thoughts about an upcoming purchase decision.

What are some other ways to create content around your B2B company data?

Even More B2B Social Media Tools You Haven’t Heard Of

B2B Social Media ToolsWe’ve had a lot of interest in our previous posts on B2B Social Media Tools (see 7 B2B Social Media Tools You Haven’t Heard Of and 7 More B2B Social Media Tools You Haven’t Heard Of) so we’re providing another set of 7 tools you may find useful for your B2B business. Give these a try and let us know what you think.

1. Timely
Timely is a Flowtown product that helps you schedule tweets for maximum impact. It will analyze all your tweets and figure out what times of day you get the best engagement. And Timely continues to learn as your followers grow.
Cost: Free

Find the conversations and influencers that matter to your business. creates instant communities for whatever you’re interested in or writing about on the social web. Quickly search and filter based on community, sentiment, geography, time, and relevance. Find what communities already exist around your ideas. And with instant analytics while you write or search, gives you critical data to better understand the social stream in real-time.
Cost: Try for Free, Plans from $9-$999

3. Namechk
If you haven’t secured your username across all social channels you’ll find Namechk to be a useful tool. Namechk allows you to see if your desired username or vanity URL is still available at dozens of popular social networking and social bookmarking websites.
Cost: Free

4. Brizzly
Brizzly is a reader that works with Twitter and Facebook. It simplifies your browsing and updating experience by putting a lot of features in one interface. It can also assist with communications. In Brizzly users can create “picnics” – private conversations between multiple users (think group chat) that can integrate multimedia such as photos and video. And Brizzly’s mute function allows you to temporarily turn off people without unfollowing, which can be really useful for those friends of yours who are at that conference you don’t care about.
Cost: Free

5. MentionMap
MentionMap is an really interesting (and addictive) way to see Twitter connections. In an animated visual interface you can see what people and hashtags users have mentioned in recent tweets. It’s a great way to find new people to follow and hashtags that may interest you. Check out the @smb2b MentionMap.
Cost: Free

6. Kurrently
Kurrently is a real-time search engine for Facebook and Twitter. Just enter in a search term and get a constantly-updating stream of mentions.
Cost: Free

7. All Facebook Stats
All Facebook Stats provides Facebook analytics for your business. With All Facebook Stats you can track and compare the performance of Facebook Pages and Places. Analyze your Facebook page fans, interactions and content, benchmark your page against your competition and track and compare Places check-ins. Dig into the results, customize your dashboard and save time reviewing all your Facebook metrics.
Cost: Free for 3 pages, paid plans from $69 and up for additional pages.

Are there any other social media tools that you use regularly?  Let us know in the comments and we may include it in an upcoming post.

SAS Launches Social Media Analytics for Enterprise Customers

Yesterday, SAS, the leader in business analytics, launched an enterprise social media analytics tool. This is a sign the large companies are ready for social media. The very fact that SAS has deemed social media important enough to dedicate resources to building, launching and supporting this new program is one more thing you can hold up as an example of the corporate acceptance of listening and responding to your customers online.

This new product, which is offered as a hosted solution, features a robust analytics engine that can properly code online sentiment at the same level as human analysts, with greater than 90% accuracy, according to online measurement expert, Katie Payne. SAS is used to crunching large amounts of data and social media easily provides large amounts of data. One of the differentiators of the SAS Social Media Analytics product involves the initial software setup. While most social media tools may go back a few months at the most, the new SAS tool captures data that goes back for up to seven years on the various sites related to your industry. Even though there may not be much relevancy beyond the last two years, the capability is there for more.

All analytics products help you answer business questions and determine how you are meeting your business goals. The custom set up of the program involves creating appropriate keywords, finding the right sites and influencers to gather the data important to your company. After you review this first set of data, this becomes the baseline, but not in the traditional way. As you continue to use the software, you have the ability to refine the rules for capturing data and filtering out the noise. While all the original data remains intact for trending purposes, you can re-process it against the more refined filters and re-analyze it. You might discover trends that you originally missed.

The program allows you to forecast both social media sentiment and resources needed to respond, based on past data. You can also measure the effectiveness of professional media, as compared to consumer-generated media, import customer emails to look for customer support trends that are mirrored on the web, and find industry influencers to reach out to. And all this data, along with corresponding individuals, customers and prospects can be shared with your CRM system for fully integrated tracking and management.

YouTube Preview Image
SAS SVP and CMO Jim Davis

Here are links to the official SAS information:

Other coverage included:

After watching the demo and reading some of the links below, does this change the landscape of social media analytics and push other social media analytics programs to up their game, or is SAS playing in a different market?

5 Steps For Measuring Social Media For B2B

MoneyMuch of my time recently has been spent working on and thinking about social media measurement, specifically as it relates to B2B organizations. This is a topic that could be discussed for days, even weeks within an organization, but today I am going to attempt to provide some practical advice in a few hundred words.

Before we go through the list, I think it is important that anyone who is responsible for measuring social media understands what the goals are. You must have clear and measurable goals! Nothing else in the post or that anyone else tells you on the topic of measurement is actionable if you don’t have clear goals that help drive business results.

Now that we have addressed the issue of goals, which seems simple and obvious and is often forgotten by many organizations, we can go directly into the meat of this issue. How do you measure social media?

Step 1: Understand That Social Media Isn’t Only A Marketing Thing – Social media impacts all aspects of a business, not just the marketing department. With this idea in mind, it is important that you reexamine your goals and see how your strategy impacts other business functions.

  • Does it help attract new employees?
  • Does it help resolve customer issues?
  • Does it provide support for R&D?

The list goes on and on, but by taking time to think about all of the applications of your strategy it deepens the ROI possibilities and outlines how you should be measuring.

Step 2: Assign Value To Business Processes – To assess return on investment, you first need to understand the value you are trying to achieve with your investment. To be able to do this, you need to make sure you have values assigned to business costs and opportunities.

  • How much is a lead worth and what does it currently cost?
  • How much is a new customer acquisition worth?
  • How much does a call center question cost your organization?
  • How much is product feedback worth to future product development?

The more of these questions, and ones like them specific to your goals, you can answer, the clearer the connection you can make between your investment and return.

Step 3: Segment And Differentiate Executions
– You have the resources to run a social media program. Would you like to have more resources next year? If so, then measuring overall campaign effectiveness is not enough. It is important to segment your executions and measurement methods so that you can get granular with measurement. You need to be able to understand which aspects of your strategy are driving the most value. This will help you optimize them to make the results even better and give you the support you need for additional funding.

For example, let’s say that can show that Twitter is your best source of lead generation traffic. If you know this, you can optimize your execution to determine what types of messages get the most clicks that convert and when they should be sent. Understanding this gives you the information you need, to get more support, staff or a bigger budget.

Step 4: Have Data Collection Methods For Every Action Point – By setting goals you have outlined actions that you want customers and prospects to take. If you think of these actions as a series or a funnel, then you have a process of action and influence that drives people towards your goal. At each step of the funnel there must be a method to collect data to aid in measurement.

Sample Situation: Using A Corporate Blog For Lead Generation

Action Funnel:

  • Prospect arrives at the blogMeasurement: Web analytics to determine what influence sent them to the blog (ie search, social network, ad, etc.)
  • Customer Clicks Whitepaper Page LinkMeasurement: Web analytics to show how many blog visitors then went to the whitepaper page
  • Completed Contact Form To download WhitepaperMeasurement: Is the lead captured a quality lead? If so assign pre-determined value.

Step 5: Reporting That Make Sense – You can have great results and great measurement but to leverage the results to their fullest, you need to have reporting that is clear, concise and in keeping with your leadership’s style. The challenge is that you are taking data and results from many sources and working to combine them into one report. My recommendation is to create two types of reports. One that is highly detailed and text-based so that you can know the comprehensive results of of your measurement. The other report should be top-line and highly visual. Visual graphic and comparisons work well and are easily discussed and passed around by management.

Measurement is about the details, but you can’t get the right details with out taking the biggest steps needed to get there.

How are you measuring social media in your organization?