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  • Pingback: Storytelling Social Media Marketing PR Technology & Business Curated Stories Apr. 6, 2010

  • http://earnestagency.wordpress.com earnestagency

    Jeff, great article and thanks for sharing this research. We still find many b2b marketers are in denial about C-level usage of social media. However, this research and a study last year by Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/digital_csuite/index.html) prove its playing an increasingly key role in the buy cycle and cannot afford to be overlooked.

    We’ve attempted to pool some of the recent research in a blog post (http://earnestagency.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/vital-statistics-for-every-b2b-marketer/). Would also be interested in hearing perspectives from CEOs and Directors on their social media usage and the role it plays. Thanks. Also, really enjoyed your post on role of social media on organic SEO – highly recommended!

  • http://www.nashandassociates.com Brian Nash

    Jeff
    I am the owner of a small business (law firm). While I am becoming increasingly sold on the concept of social media for my business purposes, I am finding that in a service industry – such as law (insert: medicine, etc.), as opposed to a product industry, some of these principles just don’t apply. Am I missing something? While Ford or some manufacturer may get consumer feedback on a product and utilize this in decision-making, I’m not in a position (due to confidentiality) to ‘share’ or invite comment of a client’s case. I still believe that social media is the way to go in terms of connections, marketing, branding, etc. – I’m having a hard time getting a handle on where this new marketing fits into a service industry. Also somewhat perplexing is how social media marketing affects SEO – is that really a key component for today’s search engines? Thanks for all the great posts.

  • John Lawrence

    I am also in a service industry (healthcare/music therapy). I cannot solicit advice on the treatment of clients whom I serve, nor can I use social networking to solicit clients/communicate with clients. However I can establish credibility using a “managed” approach to postings (control the content that I post), build a diverse and incredibly specific network of like minded peers and engage with individuals who are struggling to understand, or who are new to my profession.

    Taking into account that these findings come from the role of a CEO or manager, I find them very relevant (especially #1, 2, 6 and 11). Social networking has forever changed the way that we make decisions, seek out support for ideas, and communicate with/locate individuals who share our beliefs or philosophies.

    From the perspective of the individual worker, however, there may be less impact. They may feel more empowered by the part that they are playing in the decision making process of their managers. They may also feel more threatened as increasingly, it seems, that decision makers are taking the social networking tools into account when selecting a candidate for a new position, entry into post-secondary institutions.

    IMO, social networking has gone from an “interesting experiment” to “creating a new reality”. I’m looking forward to viewing future postings.

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  • G. Ray

    I am completely new to all of these concepts, as well as the SM wave. Having spent the last 13 years in a field (investigations) whereby sharing information about work, the county, or any of the cases being investigated was absolutely forbidden, I feel at a loss as to the entire SM field. I joined FB, Linkedin and Twitter this year and am learning OTJ, but it is hard as a Baby Boomer to feel so far behind in this field. I appreciate articles such as yours that help to open my eyes to SM because I do believe that it is the future and its sustainability lies not in my generation but the X’s, the Y’s and the Millenials,

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kristine-Sutcliff-Behrhorst/100001808128547 Kristine Sutcliff Behrhorst

    Good article.  I agree Social Media Peer Groups have changed how we market to the customer both economically and environmentally.  I believe this shift is do the continuous change in technology, social media and how we target to the millienals, Generation X / Y and baby boomers.  

  • Michael Little

    It’s interesting that “Younger respondents are more likely to read a company blog and to query the Twitter channel vs. older demographics”.  Older demographics probably have more disposable income, so marketing to them is key.  You have to reach them through TV.  You have to be careful, because if you implement the suggestions of the younger crowd online who are more tech savvy, you might alienate a majority of your customers.  When it comes to decision-making, trust your gut–but also get a second opinion.

  • Doug Mayfield

    Very interesting article!  It is interesting to see the paradigm shift that social media is causing.  The emergence of Social Media Peer Groups is definitely a huge advantage and it will be interesting to follow how companies engage and utilize it.  I understand how large companies can integrate the different social media platforms and use them to their fullest to maximize ROI and fully engage customers.  However, I am anxious to see how smaller companies with less resources or companies with built in barriers (such as medical, legal, etc.) will adapt and take advantage of the power of how social media is impacting business.

  • Howell Warner

    Thank you for providing an excellent summary and noting the key
    points from the survey. It seems that you agree with the results. Do you still,
    or have some of them become dated?

    I want to
    comment on some of the findings and comments  that may not hold as true today:

    ·      
    author validation –

    o  
    too many self-proclaimed experts who have hung
    out a shingle

    o  
    outright plagiarism which has inundated, and  echoed within, the media. The information is probably
    good information but many of these mimics they don’t really understand what
    they post

    ·      
    Repetitiveness, one can only say a=b so many
    ways. Repetition validates? Not if it is just a repost and cannot be tracked to,
    and credit given to, the original source.

    ·      
    Blatant sales attempts – again by some of those
    wannabes or perhaps those laggards, as you have described them. Unfortunately, they
    are increasing in LinkedIn.

     

    If these could be self-enforced without conflict, we would
    have an ideal world. We don’t.  Competition
    is what it is.  Alpha versus alpha. Survival
    of the fittest. In this case, the survivor should be the [subtle] valid expert
    to who most compass needles point. Bigger is not better.

  • J.Lewis

    This idea of sharing information is new to me. Most of my work has been areas where you could not discuss your work. In the future this will assist me in moving into a work force that has different expectation of it workers. I noticed it made mention gated communities. This trust levels must be developed so that those cross training from restricted occupation can move intpo these new arenas.
    I did fine the  article interesting.

  • Amanda Delatorre

    This survey documents a real shift in behavior.  I have to agree with some of my cohorts who have commented below that the real shocker here is not that we’ve moved a lot of our networking online, but that we are being more transparent about sharing information than ever before.  I too can remember times in business when you would be forbidden to share company information.  To me, it’s a positive development that more managers consult their SMPG. As for customers, the interactive conversations are a win-win when they result in better service or a better product.   

  • Amanda Delatorre

    This survey documents a real shift in behavior.  I have to agree with some of my cohorts who have commented below that the real shocker here is not that we’ve moved a lot of our networking online, but that we are being more transparent about sharing information than ever before.  I too can remember times in business when you would be forbidden to share company information.  To me, it’s a positive development that more managers consult their SMPG. As for customers, the interactive conversations are a win-win when they result in better service or a better product.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ron-Roberson/100002676962714 Ron Roberson

    This is very informative. I think that there is still some concern about trusting the information gathered from social media sites. This appears to me to be related to the concept of transparency in business management. As a baby boomer I know that many businesses have operated for years under the assumption that a good marketing campaign and a sharp eye on the bottom line are all that is needed. In today’s marketplace we are making our decisions differently because we have access to more information. We want to know what products contain, how they are made, and who made them. We have the ability to base our decisions on more than just what we are told. It appears to me that the companies that are the most successful at using social media are the ones that are the most transparent. 
    With regard to the comment about service industry companies, I do believe it will be more challenging to change but I also think that finding a way to successfully connect your business concept with some type of social media campaign will be key to future success. I also think that in this situation some trial efforts under a new brand might be beneficial. It might be very lucrative to be the first law firm to solve this social media delima. 

  • Sj78702

    I think that the idea of interacting with customers, not “Selling to” them is a great idea. No one likes the “hard sell” and if you have a good product and feel that it will stand up to scrutiny, then let it speak for itself and your customers will find you, not the other way around.

  • Tbeard

    The survey information is a real eye opener.  I wonder if any company looking for leading indicator data monitor social media to provide this information?

  • jryan

    What blows my mind is in the last paragraph, “Finally, this research suggests that many professionals are collaborating more outside of their organizations as a result of social media than within their organizations. This is a significant and sad realization for many companies and executives who do not fully understand or appreciate the value that can be derived via the adoption of social media tools and strategies for internal use.”  Now look at the top 5 responses from CEO’s, Directors and Managers.  The decision makers are using social media and networking as a tool, but not one to engage their employees.  That is a sad realization.

  • RIDDHI MEHTA

    Impressive informative article.
    This is the truth that social media has really changed the concept of approaching to the consumers. It is like your consumers are telling you , how do they want you to reach to them It mainly emphasizes on the focusing the emotions, sentiments and transparency. Unlike before, now customers wants to know who you are, they want to know to know the details of the company with which they are engaging with themselves than just having motive of buying or consuming the product.
    Social awareness and competition has made it very crucial for the companies to have good reputation in the market and also being dedicated to consumers and society with honesty and dedication.

  • Ltd

    Interesting and thought provoking.  The accuracy and tone is right particularly when you look at the age of the respondents with the greatest proportion.  I work in a small business with slightly older employees.  They would probably disagree.  Seeing social media as a way to engage clients and make decisions is foreign.  Facebook is seen as a driver to the website not as a way to engage clients.  They are coming around slowly.  We are missing out.  I find myself engaging outside my business just as it is stated here.  I think I will share this article with them! 

  • http://squareberry.com/ J @ Social Media management

    Very informative article! Thank you for sharing this to us. Learned so much stuff.

    social media management

  • http://cashinghub.com/ Cashinghub

    A view from every social media. I liked the post because you have pointed out all the best social media features that can enhance our business. 

  • Miguel Vera

    Jeff thanks for the article, you learn a lot …

  • Miguel Vera

    Jeff thanks for the article, you learn a lot …

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  • ammtx

    It’s interesting how social media offers advantages for both sides of a business-customer relationship. As mentioned, on the business side of things, companies can test products, services, and strategies, and usually do so in a cost-efficient ways. From a consumer perspective, customers have the opportunity to express their concerns (or more positive experiences) in a very visible space and can have issues resolved a timely fashion. So if social media is utilized in the right way, it can be used to benefit businesses and customers.

  • audreygolden

    The dynamic of how we do business have definitely changed through social media. I enjoyed the statement, “Companies would be wise to embrace the desire and expectations by their
    employees to collaborate by implementing social media tools for internal purposes to enable greater connections between
    employees, encourage sharing of practices and experiences, and
    streamline communication.” With one billion people connected to the internet in this day and time compared to an average companies local audience, there is a great opportunity to share via social media. Companies should embrace the social media world and communicate. It just makes sense!

  • audreygolden

    The dynamic of how we do business has definitely changed through social
    media. I enjoyed the statement, “Companies would be wise to embrace the
    desire and expectations by their employees to collaborate by implementing social media tools for internal purposes to enable greater connections between employees, encourage sharing of practices and experiences, and streamline
    communication.” With one billion people connected to the internet in
    this day and time compared to an average companies local audience, there
    is a great opportunity to share via social media. Companies should
    embrace the social media world and communicate. It just makes sense!

  • Joanne Nelson

    This post takes a lot of information and puts it into an
    easily digestible format. I found the “What does it all mean?”
    section particularly valuable as it gets down to the nuts and bolts of the
    subject. If I had to choose one statement to sum up the impact of social media
    on business, it would have to be, “Through the use of online professional networks,
    companies now have an opportunity to forge a dialogue with their customers
    actively throughout the lifecycle—not just at the point of sale—to learn what
    they like and don’t like about a product or service.” Useful
    information…Thanks.

  • Jeffrey Florey

    “There is a recognized need for peer input in decision-making.”
    I agree with this article completely and I think the above quote is one of the most important changes that SM can have on an organization. Many critiques of hierarchical institutions (every organization pretty much) is that ideas and commentary are lost through the different levels of management. Allowing stakeholders (employees, clients and the public) to put their thoughts out there for every level to see might save innovative and creative ideas from becoming muddled or looked over by hierarchy and bureaucracy levels. This could fundamentally change the way businesses and governments work by turning the hierarchy from a “ladder” to a “cell” or a system of people collaborating together to reach goals and objectives more efficiently.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thakkarvijayrajiv Vijay Thakkar

    Social media has changed the way we do business. It has somehow raised standards for the
    companies on how they do business with consumers and deal with stakeholders. Today
    employees want to be involved in decision making at all levels and company can involve
    them using social media. But no one knows to what extent it will be effective? With
    big three giants such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, connecting more than a
    billion people, there is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to embrace
    social media and reach out to audience. These social platforms have enabled
    companies to engage with audience and actively have dialogues throughout the
    business and product life cycles and have pulse of their needs and behaviors. . Consumers today want to know everything about you from who,
    what, when and how about the company rather than simply buying a product like
    before. If you look around web, consumers are telling you how they want to be
    reached and approached. They have a need to be connected, mentally and
    emotionally and not to be considered someone who just buys your product and
    services. Your article made an interesting point about younger respondents being
    more likely to read a company blog and to query the Twitter channel vs. older
    demographics. But business caters to both new and older generations and
    focusing too much on one may lead to losing out on another group of customers. I
    agree with Michael Little that older demographics probably have more disposable
    income, so marketing to them is key. You have to reach them through traditional
    media. If you start focusing too much on tech-savvy generations you may
    eliminate your major customers i.e. older generations. Also, I have a concern
    and curiosity to know how doctors, media, lawyers and other service providers who
    have inbuilt hindrances of advertising and promotions, are going to leverage
    social media.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kapreta.johnson Kapreta Johnson

    I think there is much truth and great insight about the impact SM has on an organization and how CEOs, Directors, and Managers view social media within this survey. In my opinion, this survey contained a lot of research information but lacked information or instructions for how to proceed next for those CEOs or Managers who are caught between making a decision to engage their organization in SM platforms. Reasons for why it is good for an organization to be engaged in SM was provided but case studies would have also been beneficial. In the end, this survey definitely lets executives know that SM is the way to lead to the organization and it’s not enough for the organization to have an account on a SM platform but engagement is key. Thanks for sharing.

  • Amy Harris

    It is clear that there was a substantial amount of time and research that went into gathering the information for this article. It paid off – I agree with the majority that SM is extremely important, more so necessary, for all businesses big or small in today’s society. However, I am surprised at the length of this article. One of the benefits, and what i think makes SM attractive, is that we now have the ability to share information quickly. For example, posts on twitters have to be less that 140 characters – tweets are designed to share a comment that is short and to the point. I think this article would be more effective and reach a larger audience if it was shorter and to the point, like the social media applications are that are referenced.

  • Kyle Miller

    While it is uplifting to know that CEOs and managers in the United States are investigating the impact of social media on the way professionals do business, and subsequently how businesses interact with consumers, I question the extent to which these findings are especially ground-breaking—even when compiled two years ago in 2010. The corporate world has never been lauded for its willingness to adapt to new technologies, unless its worth can be quickly and easily measured quantitatively. Social media, at its core, is about the building of relationships, which are by their very nature averse to ROI metrics. Even in the case of Business-to-Person (B2P) communications, this scenario fails to recognize a continual feedback process, in which the decisions made by the business reflect the response the consumer. As Mr. Bullas suggests, “peer endorsement is the single greatest decision-making accelerant,” but it is unlikely that any consumer would endorse being preached to by a for-profit organization; rather, they are likely to endorse organizations with which they have engaged in a dialogue. By hiring professionals which have themselves experienced the empowerment of Person-to-Business (P2B) dialogue, we can truly begin to establish a healthy ecosystem for businesses and consumers alike.

  • Alexis Goggans

    Although I agree with the breakdown of CEO’s, Directors and managers who actively engage social media when making a decision I believe that true decisions are made by boards and committees who also must take into account shareholders such as wall street, employee interests and partners. I also think it depends on the type of decision being made. If it has something to do with design or function engaging social media is a great way to understand what the market wants. As far as business decisions goes (especially those related to merges and technology) it seems the decision makers would rely much more on their internal employees (engineers and analysts) for direction. That isn’t to say that someone wouldn’t bring up something significant they read on a social media page. In reality, it seems that this would be better managed by marketing teams who not only have the time to throroughly read customer feedback but are able to respond or make recommendations based on the company’s brand and market demands.

  • Sadia Piprawala

    I completely agree with the statement “Companies would be wise to embrace the desire and
    expectations by their employees to collaborate by implementing social media
    tools for internal (behind the firewall) purposes to enable greater connections
    between employees, encourage sharing of practices and experiences, and
    streamline communication.” Social media is the new way to communicate for
    efficiently and effectively both in professional and social arenas. It allows
    people to participate and contribute information when they would otherwise shy
    away from such actions. This encourages more brainstorming of ideas which leads
    to new ideas the company can implement. Additionally it allows all of the
    employees to communicate with each other and build relationships, which would
    enhance the smooth running of the organization. In a typical company, most
    employees communicate to others within their department. Very seldom does
    communication occur outside of departments. Introducing social media would
    allow people from different departments to communicate with each other and
    explain their needs which allow understanding within the company. For example,
    Marketing can communicate with Finance. This allows marketing to explain the
    need for funds to promote the company. Prior to this conversation, Finance
    would have tried to cut Marketing’s budget to save funds, but now they
    understand the need for Marketing to have these funds.

    Customer engagement can be
    achieved through social media. Customers provide priceless feedback to
    companies on suggestions, improvements, and ideas that the company can
    implement. These ideas can be introduced to the product development team to
    test its feasibility and profitability for implementation. While customer’s
    opinions matter greatly and provide much needed insight, not all ideas are
    feasible. A customer might want a free trip to Hawaii with every purchase. When
    this idea is considered by the different departments of the company, it would
    not be profitable for the company. However, the idea of a prize can be
    implemented. Perhaps a chance to win a trip to Hawaii can be given with every
    purchase above $50. This is an example of how the company can use customer’s
    opinions with the expertise of its employees to implement a great idea.

  • Kara Hughes

    The author brings up a valid point about the importance of
    business to person communication.
    He also mentions something very true: word-of-mouth marketing is the
    best and most effective. Social
    Media, essentially takes this form of marketing and amps it up. Word of mouth used to be done through
    neighbors chatting on the curb, or friends calling each other on the phone.
    Now, through social media it can be done effortlessly and with people who don’t
    know each other personally, just virally.
    Also, in the past, it was hard to communicate with the CEO of the
    company whether an employee of a customer. With over 20% of CEOs actively
    engaging in social media it has be come easier to communicate with them about
    the products/ policies of their company. In terms of business to person
    marketing, this is great. CEOs have the ability to receive instant
    feedback and implement changes quicker
    than traditional methods of feedback.
    I believe the author did not mention the drawback of this. With more channels available to
    instantly communicate, comes information overload for those trying to seek
    feedback and implement change. So many times, people will comment on a product
    or demand change that may not be necessary. A customer may vent to the CEO about how a product is not
    working, but after much investigation, the CEO finds out it was user
    error. It is important to come up
    with a set of processes to minimize bad information getting though, this way
    true progress can be made.

  • Ayesha Burney

    There is a paradigm shift in
    business thinking. Where many businesses operated with the sole focus and
    metric for measurement of its success by the company’s bottom line performance,
    the new shift has come in communication with the client/consumer. This has also
    brought about the concept of transparency in business management. As companies
    stand more exposed to their consumers by way of engaging in open dialogue on
    social media platforms that are not in the company’s control, they become extra
    careful of how they conduct their business. When people want to know not only
    the components of the product but also the source of the material forming the
    product, conditions in which they were made, etc, the supply chain then becomes open to public scrutiny.
    Hence the large CSR departments of the larger corporations- the larger the
    stakes, the more the corporation has to lose by hiding information from its customers.
    Companies that are most transparent garner more support from its customers with
    the enhanced trust level.

    Will the service industry
    companies change? A challenge, indeed. They are so used to doing business “the
    old way” that bringing about a mindset change from top to bottom will take
    time. At the same time they will have to think of ways to use social media
    marketing campaigns to ensure future success.

    Mr.
    Bullas points unfortunately also points out, “Finally, this research suggests
    that many professionals are collaborating more outside of their organizations
    as a result of social media than within their organizations. This is a
    significant and sad realization for many companies and executives who do not
    fully understand or appreciate the value that can be derived via the adoption
    of social media tools and strategies for internal use.”

    The top 6 responses from CEO’s,
    Directors and Managers show that decision makers are using social media and networking
    as “a” tool for external relationship building, but not one to engage their
    employees within the company. They should use tools like wikis, internal
    forums, or enterprise social networking platforms like Yammer or JiveOn to encourage sharing of practices and experiences and
    enable greater communication between employees.

  • KBerryhill

    Good article. I enjoy reading the different perspectives of decision makers and how social media has influenced customer service. Creating a social media platform will add value to the company and their presence. “Laggards who do not understand the value of social networking and its appeal to the emotional side of customer relationship management will lose competitiveness and, ultimately, market share.” I believe this is an accurate statement for the companies who are not embracing social media and the benifits they may receive.

  • John A. Bell

    This was an interesting read. However, I respectfully disagree with you regarding: “We now work in an environment where companies have diminished control over the reputation of their brands, products, and services as the wisdom of crowds increasingly dictate the rules of reputation management and selling.”
    I feel that companies have total control over the reputation of their brands, products, and services through strong customer service. If a company does not respond timely to customer interaction whether via telephone, email, or social media they are doomed. Ultimately the company is responsible for their reputation. If they manufacture inferior or defective products they essentially destroy their own reputation. While consumers have the ability to share with friends and relatives word of mouth advice, it is ultimately up to the company to determine their reputation in regards to the products they produce and customer interaction.

  • Chris Graves

    This was an informative read. However I still think there are those that do not participate because of the fear that information is incorrect or that information can get into the wrong hands. I do agree with Mr. Bell in the fact that you mention “companies have diminished control over the reputation of their brands, products, and services as the wisdom of crowds increasingly dictate the rules of reputation management and selling”. I have spoken about how important customer service is and that is the main key to be able to control of their reputation, and repeated faithful customers. If you make a mistake and correct it then you get acknowledgment for it in anything you do, it’s as simple as that. For example, I have several friends who use Sprint as their cell phone carrier and I use Verizon, I had a very, very, very, bad experience with Sprint and when mentioning it to my friends who have Sprint, they will argue with me that they have had the best customer service with them. They will not leave Sprint just because I, as their friend had a bad experience. If a company makes a mistake and does not try and fix it, and continuously makes mistakes then that’s a problem that they are creating themselves.

  • Jada Davis

    Intriguing article. The demographics of the survey were enlightening yet interesting to know that the opinions of executives was very similar to my own. I definitely agree that “professionals participate in social networks is to collaborate ‘not to be sold’.” No one likes to be “sold” a product or service. Most people like to be in control of the sale so they want to feel engaged and react of emotion. This article is so interesting because it gives a different perspective and is relatable. “Laggards” will definitely be at a disadvantage if they do not take advantage of the technological expansion that is going to occur with or without them. Customers rely on companies to be online especially via social media and its great to see that CEOs, Directors, and managers are acknowledging and acting on this shift. Great read.

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