B2B Social Media White Paper - ROI Tips from Microsoft Advertising

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    01-Nov-2014

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Join our community: http://community.microsoftadvertising.com The Microsoft Advertising Community team has been engaging with our customers online through social media marketing for nearly five years. Ever since Microsoft adCenter was launched into beta back in 2005, the team has been supporting advertisers all over the world through the Microsoft Advertising Community site by blogging, answering questions in our forums, and disseminating news, tips, tricks and best practices more recently on Twitter @adCenter and @MSAdvertising, and through our Facebook page. With so many digital marketers using social networks and online applications to gather information, it made a lot of sense for us to invest in providing the very best insight into our products and services via the web. A driving force at many industry events, the team also spends many hours every year at conferences, bringing sessions alive through social media for our fans and followers who may not have been able to attend. Increasingly being asked to tell our story and talk of our experiences, our team has written a white paper to share our thoughts. In it, we map our journey over the years, demonstrating the thought processes behind our evolution and some practicable ideas of how to get the very best from social media marketing and your businesses presence on the web.

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<ul><li> 1. February 2010White Paper Mel Carson Microsoft Advertising Community Team Principle AuthorLearn and EarnA B2B Social Media White Paper from Microsoft AdvertisingThe Gift of CollaborationIn the last 18 months, the social media phenomenon hasdelighted, confounded and concerned marketers andadvertisers all around the globe. They have had to learnquickly that the different ways consumers access theinternet across multiple time zones, networks and devices isforcing them to change the way they do business.Traditionally, if a customer was unhappy with a product orservice, theyd have to write a letter or call a companyscustomer service line to register their complaint. Now, theimmediacy and ubiquity of the web means sentiment aboutthe release of a new gadget, TV show or sports teams latestperformance can be measured, and the reaction to itassessed almost in real time.Marketing manna youd think, right?But the increasing numbers of people of all ages joiningsocial networking platforms, and the plethora of devicesthat utilize multiple screens to tap into and connectmillions of consumers every day, seem to have stalled the Defining Social Media (Marketing)learning curve for some companies, and social mediaappears to many to be too complex a minefield We recently interviewed Tamar Weinberg, communityto negotiate. director of the popular social media news web site Mashable.com, and asked her for her definitionAt Microsoft Advertising, our Community team has been of social media:using social media as a vehicle to listen to, educate,support and market to our customers and potential Social media is, quite simply, the collaborative tools usedcustomers since 2006. for communication. It relates to the mediathat is, those storage/transmission tools that relay databut refers toOver the next few pages, Ill outline some of the issues we that which allows users/members to be social and interacthave faced, the action we took and how weve measured with one another. That said, social media in the onlinesuccess in this web 2.0 world, helping us evangelise our world relates to any online application that empowers twomessage, make our products and services better, increase or more people together. In the age of the social internet,revenue and lower costs, all while striving to help our we refer to the tools and content that are created byadvertisers deliver their dreams. people using these interactive technologies as social media." </li> <li> 2. So social media isnt just about Facebook and Twitter. There comparable user experience right out of the gate, led someis no doubt that with 400 million Facebookers and nearly detractors to start writing on blogs and forums that20 million Twitterers worldwide, the volume of interactions Microsoft didnt know what it was doing, that it wasand the functionality of both platforms have contributed subversively forcing advertisers to use Internet Explorer asenormously to social media breaking through into main- adCenter was not compatible with rival browsers, and that astream public vocabulary. software company could not possibly compete or react quickly enough in such a fast-changing environment, givenBut what about search engines? What about blogs? What its background in 2- to 3-year cycles of product releases.about forums? What about email? With decades of experience at Microsoft in managingIn September 2009, UK comScore data has 21.5 percent of partner networks and the use of social media already in fullFacebooks traffic coming from Windows Live Messenger flow within the developer circles, the team behind adCenterand nearly 4 percent coming from Hotmail. created a Community Team to leverage that experience; utilize social media to get our message out there; preventConsumers propensity to discover and share means well less-favourable PR situations from escalating; and startuse any tool that comes to hand in order to find collaborating with our customers to help them understandinformation and let our network know what we want them the product and our strategy, giving them a heads-up onto know. what was coming next.So if social media is defined as the collaborative tools, thensocial media marketing should be thought of as thediscipline. Not a channel, but a discipline that should if social media is defined as thepermeate across all departments. From marketing and PR collaborative tools, then social mediato product development and customer services, socialelements must be etched into the processes, campaigns marketing should be thought of asand outcomes of all your business activities. the discipline.Over the past couple of years, there have been a number ofhigh profile examples of brands embracing social media togreat effect. Comcast, Dell, Whole Foods and Zappos in theUnited States and Virgin Atlantic, Marks &amp; Spencer and Listen and Participateothers in the UK, have all been able to utilize the tools andinstil the discipline throughout their workforces, So where do you start?demonstrating that social media marketing can providetangible results. Well, how about trying to find out where conversations are happening, and go and introduce yourself? We knew thereWhether its $6 million in sales of computer equipment by were a number of web forums where online marketersDell, or hundreds of internet and TV customers whose gathered to ask questions and share knowledge, so weservice issues were successfully solved by Comcast, having a signed up and introduced ourselves as Microsoft employ-conversational presence and collaborating with customers ees dedicated to helping answer questions about adCenterand potential customers online has proved fruitful. and how to get the best out of our platform, feeding back all the sentiment and feature requests to our development team and marketing managers.Our Story There was no point pretending to be anyone else, because imagine the negative PR impact of being outed asWay back in 2005, when Microsoft launched its paid search an imposter. Being open, honest and transparent helped ustoolMicrosoft adCenterTwitter didnt exist and gain trust with those on the forums and thus began aFacebook was a fledgling start-up causing excitement in the healthy dialogue of information sharing andcorridors of Harvard University. actionable feedback.At its beta launch, adCenter was met by the search engine Although it may not be of relevance to all businesses, wevemarketing community with some consternation. It seemed made a point of having a representative in the UK, as wellthat excitement at a potential rival for Google Adwords, as the team in Redmond. This means that whatever thecoupled with an expectation that Microsoft would deliver a issue, we pretty much have 18 hours of the day covered across time zones. While America sleeps, there is someone in Europe keeping a real-time eye on conversations before </li> <li> 3. handing over the baton to the West Coast as Europe starts some more interested in areas of online marketing otherturning in for the night. than search. So we evolved with our readers, providing them with what you see today in the Microsoft AdvertisingIn the early days, there were two bugs on separate occa- Community, a vibrant hub of blogs catering to adCentersions that started causing issues in the GMT time zone. The clients, API developers and marketers interested in ourearly warnings from customers forum posts helped us services for mobile, games, display and socialvalidate that both issues were of a global nature as we media advertising.reached out and asked for them to explain exactly wherethey were seeing problems. Quick action by our London When setting up a blog, there are a few things you have toteam, coupled with insight from customers online, helped do before you start:us identify the problem so when the United States teamcame into work, they had all the data to make a swift Ask yourself what your aims are. Is it about just PR anddecision on how best to resolve it. news, or are you going to provide help and support? Weve found that content thats helpful and has a little more interactive substance is more engaging. Be careful your readers dont bounce off the page thinking soBlog Beginnings what? Theyve taken the time to come to your site, so make sure theres some kind of action involved or theyBlogs are now ubiquitousa simple way of carrying a feel enriched in some way for having spent time readingmessage, be it a piece of interesting news, some pictures of your words.a new product or a video about a new service. They areeasily set up on any number of platforms and provide Who is going to manage the blog? It must be keptindividuals and companies with an official voice, albeit in a current. Theres nothing worse than clicking on amore casual and conversational tone. company blog and seeing no new entries for a few months. If you cant be bothered to keep your readers interested, how can you keep your customers happy?A well-written blog, kept up-to- Once youve set your blogging mantra, how will youdate with regular, accessible and measure success? Increased traffic? More comments? How do you define your ROI? Whats the return oninformative posts, can be a investment or the return on inaction? Well talk more on metrics later in this paper, but it helps to have goals asgold mine they keep you focused, and help tell your story internally.Frankly, consumers are not stupid. Access to informationand user-generated content on the web has meant greaterchoice, not just regarding what content they engage with, Where Else Do You Want to Hang Out?but also how they get involved. A well-written blog, keptup-to-date with regular, accessible and informative posts, When most marketers hear the words social media, whatcan be a gold mine of not just great relations with the tends to spring to mind first are Twitter and Facebook.public, but incredible insight and data that marketers of Because the platforms have seen monumental growth bothbygone days could only have dreamt of. in terms of users and exposure in mainstream media, they are naturally seen as the first ports of call for any campaignWe started our blog back in 2006 as an official voice, our or initiation of a long-term social media marketing strategy.calling card, if you like. If you wanted information or newsfrom the most credible source, the adCenter blog would be Dig a little deeper, however, and it becomes apparent thatwhere youd find it first. It served as a tool for telling our decisions need to be made about resourcing, desiredstory in a world where marketing-speak sometimes just outcomes and tactical considerations before suggestingdoesnt wash, especially if the tide of opinion is against you. your audience follow you or become a fan.It provided valuable data in the form of comments andlinks from other posts, which we could collate and feed It takes time to build a community on each and everyback to product and marketing teams to show what the platform, and the web is littered with stale Facebook pagesreal pulse was out there in the marketplace. and dormant Twitter accounts because a marketing department saw social media as a quick win, a viral excuseAs we grew, it became apparent that there were different for hard graft in engaging customers in an authentic andaudiences to cater to, some more technical than others, timely fashion. </li> <li> 4. If youre taking your message off-site, you have to budget We felt strongly that simply syndicating content with nofor some extra time...</li></ul>