A great presentation on 10 Trends for Social media this year from C. Edward Brice, brought to my attention by theB2BMarketingZone newsletter. There are a lot of stand-out slides highlighting the move of budget to social marketing, the convergence in mobile internet access with the growth of social media and touching on topics like augmented reality and social gaming. As mentioned in my last post, there are lots of implications for B2B marketers. For example, if people begin moving most of their personal communications to Facebook and Twitter, what happens to email marketing as a way of reaching them? If more people learn about products and services from social networks how does this effect search engine optimization and pay-per-click? With the prediction that more people will access the internet from their mobile device than from laptops or PCs by 2013, how does this effect social media usage and general online habits?
A news item from Marketing Charts today reports an 82% rise in time spent on social networks, based on research from the Nielsen Company comparing December 2009 with December 2008. Global consumers spent an average of 5 hours 35 minutes in December 2009, compared with 3 hours 3 minutes a year previously, and unique audience figures rose 27% from 242 million in December 08 to 307.4 million in December 09.
Facebook had an almost 100% increase in unique visitors from December to December, while Twitter recorded 579% growth from 2.7 million visitors to 18.1 million.
The MarketingChart piece also cites a recent survey by Prompt Communications of 300 consumers in Boston. This showed that 96% of them used Facebook to communicate with friends and family on a regular basis, which trails the phone (at 99%) but beats text messaging (93%) and email (91%). We saw something similar during a recent client engagement. As part of the assignment we helped create some ‘buyer personas’ for digital music consumers and validated some of these personas on a college campus in Ireland. The 10 students we interviewed rarely used email, and stayed ‘within’ Facebook for the majority of the time they were online each day, using it almost exclusively to interact with classmates, friends and family, partly driven by their wish to keep their mobile phone bills as low as possible.
I’m note sure what the takeaways for B2B marketers and sales teams are just yet – this will depend on the social media usage of decision makers and influencers at your target customer organisations. But based on this research you can assume a lot if not all of your target buyers are active on the social networks. Combined with a predicted surge in smart phone sales (which means more people accessing Facebook and Twitter using these devices while on the road) there are obviously implications for your 2010 promotional plans if you want to be noticed by your prospective customers. One big long term impact could be on email marketing strategy – will email begin to decline in importance as a promotional tool over the next 5 years, replaced by intra-social network messaging?
People don’t buy things they way they did 10 or 15 years ago. Whether it’s a hotel room, a house or a $200k software system, their search begins online. This means that your prospective customers need to find you online, and when they find you there needs to be enough compelling information (a.k.a. “content”) for them to choose you over a competitor. Creating demand for your products and services depends on creating the right kind of content for your potential customers, meeting their information needs as they move from being aware of a potential problem they want to solve through to selecting a particular solution and vendor. You put that content online on your website, on your blog and on third party sites and then take steps to ensure it’s easily found by your prospective customers. As your prospects access that information you interact with them, establishing your relevance and persuading them to choose you as their preferred solution provider.
In the last post I highlighted advice from the MarketingSherpa B2B Lead Generation Handbook on the ‘information need’ phases through which buyers move as they begin to consider a product purchase (from Awareness, through Consideration and then to Risk Avoidance/Decision). (We will come back to the question of modelling buyer behaviour in later posts, using a technique called Buyer Persona Analysis).
Once you understand the ‘information needs’ of your buyers at different stages in the buying cycle, you can start to match that up with corresponding types of content. The output will be a table or matrix that lists
- each of the buyer types who are involved in a typical purchase of your product or service,
- the phases they go through during the purchase cycle, and
- the specific types of content you should offer them at each point in that cycle.