Tag Archives: forrester

stone soup

image by flickr.com/mtsofan

image by flickr.com/mtsofan

Tonight I came home starving.  I opened all the cabinets, peered into the fridge, looked out on the porch for any forgotten, orphaned root vegetables, and eventually came up with a delicious meal that mainly involved left-over chicken tenderloins and egg noodles.

Now, I used to be a professional chef.  I can do the Iron Chef thing with the best of them.  But I’ll admit that I usually would prefer to be able to buy the freshest produce, the best cut of meat, the obscure fresh herb or seasoning that makes a dish really rock — and often makes it an official “secret” recipe.

But in hard times, I can’t.  I need to rely more on noodles and ramen, less on nori and rabe.

When I put together a marketing plan, especially under restricted financial circumstances, it’s the same issue.  How can I best allocate these (extremely) limited resources to achieve the best possible result?

That’s why social media marketing is something that can really shine in a recession.  Done right, done thoughtfully, it can wring more value out of a marketing dollar than traditional means can.

Better yet, it can be done with assets that you may already have in your kitchen organization.

Look in your cupboards: what do you find?

  • An employee knowledgeable about how to engage your customers on Twitter?
  • An employee who can write a blog on a consistent basis?
  • Awareness that your market segment is active on one or more social networks?
  • A little bit of time?
  • A little bit of willingness?

Sounds like soup to me.

I’ve written about this before, back in February, when things didn’t look nearly as grim as they do today, and when the Interactive Marketing team at Forrester Research published a free report titled Strategies for Interactive Marketing in a Recession.

In short, the report maintains that interactive marketing:

  • Provides measurable results
  • Costs little to maintain and use
  • Keeps customers engaged, even when they’re not buying

Check it out.  It still stands up, even all these horrific months later.

Give it some thought.

What ingredients do you have on hand?

What flavors will work magic for you?

What kind of soup can YOU make?


traveling without moving

I’ve been watching Beth Kanter traipsing across the globe over the last couple of weeks, as she traveled to Australia to give some workshops and a keynote on social media for nonprofits. She’s been blogging and twittering and uploading pictures to Flickr the whole time, and I’ve checked in with her updates a couple of times to see how things were going (mainly to see if she had met up with my friend Jules Woodward, the Executive Director of Flying Arts in Brisbane — she did).

One of the best things she pointed to during this trip, for me, was the blog maintained by Seb Chan, of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, fresh + new(er). (Thanks to Beth Kanter for the image.)

Seb writes about all manner of things touching on social media and how cultural organizations (including museums, performing arts venues, and others) can use these tools to get things done. The depth and intelligence of the coverage of this space on this blog is just superb — among the best I’ve seen.

A recent post that spoke to what I’ve been working on lately was Seb’s review of Groundswell by Forrester senior analysts Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. I recently finished reading Groundswell myself, and I’ve been busy incorporating its ideas into the round of workshops on social media and nonprofits I’m in the midst of right now.

One of the most useful points I’ve found in Groundswell is the importance of planning for how engagement in web 2.0 will change your organization — how it works, how it processes information, how it responds to praise and criticism, and more. Some of this you can’t plan for — but you should at least know that change is likely.

Put simply, if you do engage, you organisation will change. If you engage strategically then this change can be managed and paced appropriately. For some organisations it might be most appropriate to deploy a range of ‘listening’ techniques and technologies before leaping into a poorly planned social media project. Even here at the Powerhouse we’ve had social media projects fail because we have over-estimated our intended audiences and their predicted behaviour. {Seb Chan, fresh + new(er)}

Often, I think we embark on social media “strategies” thinking that we are going to change our audience’s behavior — that we’re going to “get” them to do something we want them to do.

This is the sort of strategy that is likely to fail. People don’t like being “gotten” to do stuff. If there’s one thing people can sniff out, it’s coercion.

That’s where my other favorite part of Groundswell comes in (and Jeremiah Owyang talks about this a lot, too): Fish Where the Fish Are.

It’s not about getting people to do something new, so much as it is about going where they are already engaged, and getting down with them there.

That’s why the folks at Forrester are always banging on about this POST method of theirs — it makes you look first at the people you are trying to reach, second at what they are already doing online, and then you can start talking strategy and tools.

I banged on about this myself at some length during my class at Mount Holyoke on Friday, when I presented to a roomful of alumnae of various ages on how they can start thinking about using tools like blogging, social networking, and photosharing for their own nonprofits.

I used the occasion of my own 15th reunion at Mount Holyoke to sharpen some of my favorite event-broadcasting-through-social-media skills. As a result, I know I experienced the weekend very differently — I was more reflective, more thoughtful about how I spent my time, where I stood, and what I noticed — because, I suppose, I wasn’t just there for me. I was thinking about what you might want to see, what you might care or not care about, and what I might be otherwise taking for granted.

If you want to see some of what I got up to during my reunion/social media workout, you can check it out on:

Utterz

Flickr

Twitter

and coming soon to YouTube…

i heart data

Have you tried making the case for your nonprofit to start blogging, or get into social networks, or in some other way try something bolder than Ye Olde Corporate Website as a means of engaging your community online… only to be rebuffed by the mentality that “our constituents aren’t online” or “our members don’t read blogs” or something of the sort?

Ever get frustrated that you didn’t have the data to either refute or confirm that kind of assertion?

Well, my heroes over at Forrester Research have released an interactive tool that allows you to build a profile of your constituents (assuming you have an accurate profile of who exactly they are) and how they use the internet.

Plug in different profiles based on age, gender, and country, and you’ll get information where those users sit on the ladder of engagement.

Forrester Groundswell Tool

Data from Forrester Research Technographics® surveys, 2007. For further details on the Social Technographics profile, see groundswell.forrester.com.

(For more information on what exactly the different levels of engagement mean, check out this quick slide deck.)

The authors of the new book Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies, Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, are also releasing more in-depth research information on groups — like small business owners — once a week on their blog, also called Groundswell.

These weekly tidbits should give a finer-grained view of various groups of people who might be persons of interest, let’s say, to a nonprofit looking to interact more meaningfully with their existing constituents, or to reach new supporters who are already online, interested in similar causes, and engaged in social media.

I’m hoping to read and review Groundswell (the book) soon. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the rare peek behind the curtain that these top analysts at Forrester are giving us at some serious market research.

Recession-Proof Marketing

Josh Bernoff and several of his colleagues (including Jeremiah Owyang) at Forrester released a free report today about why interactive marketing can and should withstand a recession.

Of course, a recession is nothing but a period of widespread, sustained decline in economic growth. It’s when times are tight for both you and your customers (donors, constituents, etc.), and are expected to remain so for some time.

Sounds like daily life for most nonprofits, doesn’t it?

So this got me thinking that the message in this report was just as applicable to cash-strapped nonprofits, struggling to reach donors and their dollars, as it was to businesses trying to make prudent plans for some less than exuberant economic times.

Wisely side-stepping the thorny question of whether or not the US is currently heading for, or is already in, a recession, Josh et al provide a brief and compelling case for holding on to your organization’s interactive marketing projects, despite looming budget cuts and customer restraint.

To sum up (and I do recommend you read the report, it’s free and a quick read), interactive marketing:

  • Provides measurable results
  • Costs little to maintain and use
  • Keeps customers engaged, even when they’re not buying

Measurable, inexpensive, and effective. So when you’re looking to trim your marketing budget, it might be wise to treat your social apps investment as meat, and paid advertising as fat.

Why? Because paid advertising is less measurable, more expensive, and less engaging than interactive media.

Sure, you can measure the return on investment in your direct marketing campaign, your annual appeal, your print advertisements. But how high are those numbers? What’s the pennies on the dollar return? And what is the minimum amount necessary to spend in order to achieve results?

This, I think, is a point worth emphasizing, and one that isn’t mentioned in the report. Interactive media has a lower expense-to-return threshold than traditional marketing does. Simply put, it costs less to begin to see a measurable result.

Of course, straitened economics are a daily and persistent reality for most nonprofits. So this report really offers nonprofits a very sound rationale for keeping interactive marketing in the budget even during those periodic downturns in donor activity.

In fact, incorporating a solid core of measurable social apps marketing methods into your nonprofit’s marketing plan becomes nothing less or more than a smart, strategic move in uncertain economic times.

And aren’t they all uncertain economic times?

it’s nice to be nice to the nice

Do social networks mostly promote inclusion or exclusion?

It depends, of course, on the user. Like The Force, social media can be used for good or ill.

And some will say that it depends on what your objectives are. I’m going to take a stand and say that inclusion – and openness – is good, and that it leads to good things.

Take Twitter, for instance. When asked to describe it to others, I usually say that it is a huge, freewheeling chat room. Of course, to the new user who is maybe only following the one person who talked them into signing up, it looks too huge. All they can really see is the public timeline – they haven’t yet had a chance to segment it out into a cohort of people who are likely to say interesting things to them.

This is why I advocate for a practice some deride – cruising the friend lists of those people you do know and adding those whose interests seem aligned with yours. I don’t think you should just go down the list and grab them all – if you hover your mouse over a person’s avatar, their 140-character bio will come up. I add people whose self-descriptions sound like the type of person I would like to follow (keywords are technology, social media, arts, nonprofit, geek, etc.).

Some will add you right back, some won’t. No big deal.

But the most important step is the next step: Get Engaged.

This goes for any social network: if you just go around adding people to your friends list and never engage with them (poke them, @username them, comment on the blog post they are flogging that day), then you really are little more than a bot, I’m afraid. You’ve got to contribute something to the conversation. This isn’t TV.

While I applaud neophytes for sitting back and watching the conversation, learning the etiquette, before jumping in ill-advisedly, I also feel strongly that you have to take that leap at some point – sooner rather than later – and pipe up.

Chris Brogan, Eric Rice, and Clarence Smith, Jr. have been over here talking about the evolving practices of social media users when adding friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Meanwhile, Jeremiah Owyang has been over here, wearing a largely unnecessary hairshirt that nonetheless sets an excellent example for the rest of us. More on that in a bit.

Both of these conversations, it seems to me, are about inclusion, openness, and transparency.

The conversation Chris and his buddies have set in action centers largely on issues of how users go about adding friends on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and what the ramifications of each practice is.

Chris talks about how his practice of friending people back automatically (if you add him, he will add you back, unless you are clearly a bot) stems from his central guiding principle of Niceness. Chris is a guy who gives out his phone number to the social media masses on a regular basis and just asks them to call and say hi, usually inviting them to talk about whatever they want to talk about. That’s Nice.

The others talk about their various takes on how and when to reciprocate a “friending.” It’s a fascinating, rambling conversation that offers a nifty peek into the current state of a certain slice of social media. And yet…

All this raises questions for me about how groups and individuals, when they reach a social media space, either build walls (my updates are protected, a strict no-adding-back policy, etc.) or break them down.

Guys like Chris (from what I know of him) are relentless wall-smashers. He seems to belong to that group of humans who always have their hand outstretched in welcome, who are genuinely interested in what you have to say.

Now, I’m not saying the other guys are jerks, or somehow mean, because they don’t automatically add every random stranger. I’m not saying that at all. I’m just saying that I think there is a theme poking up in all this, and it’s not a particularly new one.

There’s been a lot of talk over the last few years about how the world has gotten flat, and the crowd is the best source for knowledge and strength, and how collaboration and openness are the core strengths of smart businesses of any size, in almost any sector.

The common thread in all of these recent memes is the over-arching and through-going importance of openness and transparency.

It’s the reason why you are seeing far fewer aliases online, and more people owning their own names, and unifying their various online personae.

It’s the reason why I rarely ask someone whose updates are protected to add me on Twitter.

It’s the reason why somebody like Jeremiah Owyang – a rather highly-regarded (if new-ish) analyst at Forrester who clearly works his tail off trying to create relevant, useful content for freeasks his readers what he can do better, how he can better serve their needs.

Giving away one’s knowledge, one’s insight, one’s time and one’s kindness, it seems to me, only ups the ante. It makes me think: If this is what he GIVES away, imagine how lucky his paying clients/real friends/wife is.

In this way, it’s hugely strategic, without being cunning or calculating.

Being open, being transparent, being humble, being receptive to comments and criticism.

It just seems like a good policy to me.

What do you think?