Friday, April 9, 2010

Sizing Up Social Reach: To Advertise or Contribute

I moderated a webinar earlier this week titled Broad Reach + Intelligent Lead Nurturing = Increased Revenue. Part of the American Marketing Association series, the webinar featured a great panel including Scott Mersy of Genius.com, Brian Carroll of InTouch and Ardath Albee of Marketing Interactions, and also generated a lot of great follow up questions from the attendees.

As part of the presentation we referenced the finding of our recent BtoB Buyer Transformation Study,” which found prospects are extending their research outside the traditional funnel by interacting with others online in a social manner. A few of specific survey findings we shared:

·       40% of buyers read/search on blogs/Twitter
·       37% post questions on social sites
·       60% shared research with others.

Considering the impact social channels are now having on reach, one attendee posted the question:  “Do you recommend advertising more on community focused sites? Or becoming a contributor?”

We have tried some small targeted ad campaigns on social sites and have frankly have not seen great results. Social sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn do allow marketers to send messages to very narrow audiences—beyond job title and industry to specific companies and geographies in many cases. However, I still don’t think social users are in the mode of engaging with sponsored messaging at this point.

Where we are seeing real success stories is when a solution provider engages and builds a relationship with new customers by being active participants in social groups and forums. We’ve seen real several examples where a BtoB buyer has selected their solution provider based on feedback and content that they accessed via sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

As we discussed in the webinar, in order to extend your reach you need to be part of the conversation, and a lot of the discussions are shifting to social sites and peer groups so the more active you are on blogs and groups will likely increase your engagements with prospects.