This is kind of a mini-post. I'd like to reference an important post I saw on HubSpot's blog indicating the rise in importance of branding to SEO, in the aftermath of Google's Penguin 2.0 release. While we have always stressed the relevance of branding to user experience, it is good to know that Google is recognizing the validity of branding in the realm of Search. I recommend you read the post but here is what I see as the key takeaway:
Content Variety and distribution: Google places a premium on authenticity. Search engine crawlers are evaluating everything they can find about your brand, i.e., press releases, website content, pdfs, blogs, videos, articles, etc. The more variety the crawlers see of your content and the more they verify it as relevant to your target market, thus the more authentic and established they deem your brand to be. And defining your brand as an industry leader will result in better rankings.
So, rather than focusing too much on creating tons of back links to your site, your time is more wisely spent building your online brand, by producing and widely distributing relevant content on a regular basis.
We create websites people love. Of course I can't say that officially — although it's true — as HubSpot has already created a great campaign around "love."
I admire HubSpot's website because it says in big bold letters, "Create Marketing People Love." Then it qualifies that brand statement with a "here's how we help you do it" statement: " HubSpot has not only managed to create a product people find useful, they've created a brand
and a culture
associated with a powerful human emotion, love.
As we've been designing a new website for ourselves, we've been giving thought to what makes a website people love. The obvious answers are that it generates leads, is easy to use and maintain, performs well, contains relevant content and looks good. Marketers might add that it needs to be interactive, have calls-to-action buttons and enable users to interact. While we focus intently on all of that, we have found that what makes a website people love is to bring emotion and a sense of purpose to the web experience, which is derived from a supporting brand that embodies these deeper attributes.
IBM's "Let's Build a Smarter Planet" is another example of a B2B company that has created a culture not around technology or services, but a collaborative goal of building a better planet, something everyone can feel good about.
Our recent work for AirStrip, a mobile healthcare company is an example in the HubSpot/IBM mold. AirStrip is filled with passionate physicians, technologists and other healthcare professionals who have a sweeping vision for improving the American healthcare system through mobile technology. We harnessesd that passion into a powerful tagline, "HealthCare Transformation is in the Air," which distilled their passion and goals and tied back to their name and to mobility
. What makes the AirStrip website "loveable," aside from the increased traffic they've seen, is that the brand tagline spawned a whole language, i.e.,
- Healthcare mobility is in the Air
- Better Quality Care is in the Air
- Clinical Efficiency is in the Air
- Improved Performance is in the Air
As web designers, we see our job as "bringing company brands to life... on the web." More often than not, we are provided copy, which is written by engineers or others steeped in the one hundred percent buzzword compatible terminology dictated by financial goals, product details, perceived customer expectations, loss of objectivity or leadership that hasn't articulated a higher purpose. Even great graphic or interactive design can't transform mundane language or undifferentiated notions. People see right through that. Our most successful website projects are collaborations with organizations that have articulated, or are open to doing the work to articulate, a brand that in some way can be associated with improving people's lives, and carries both emotional as well as business weight.
"All our words from loose using have lost their edge." So said Ernest Hemingway, probably at a Spanish bar one night in the company of other inebriated literary elite. I imagine if he could see the current state of B2B marketing content, he would have the smug smile of the prescient. In 2013, there is still no more powerful communication tool than your website. It is also true in 2013, as the cliche goes, that "content is king." But it's not just the quantity of content, it's the quality. The best way to create websites that people love is to start with content that rises above and touches people on a human level, conjoining them with your mission.
Want people to love your website? Give us a call!
Infographics are taking over the earth! At least it seems that way. There has been an explosion of infographics on the web — in both B2C and B2B — literally illustrating that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. But before we get into what makes a good one, let's define what an infographic is and why they have reached the tipping point.
Infographics are graphical representations of content that would alternatively require a lot of words or that would be difficult to glean without previous knowledge of the subject. So, it is essentially visual shorthand for weaving a qualitative story, often from quantitative content.
The facility for rendering complex data in simpler terms is a coveted skill. The way in which people absorb content on the web these days is like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower. Attention spans are short and getting shorter as is time to focus and reflect. If content creators can distill complex narratives into compelling, easy-to-comprehend visuals, visitors to their websites are more likely to engage with them.
The key ingredients of a good infographic are:
- A cohesive and coherent story line
- A series of concise, clearly worded headlines from which one can "get the gist"
- Simple storytelling graphic style, Icons can work very well
- Simple, clean font style, avoid lots of flourishes
- Not trying to do "too much"
- Test out the graphic among lay people before releasing to a wider audience
Here are a few infographics I've come upon lately, which do a particularly good job making a lot of content easy to digest.
Not surprisingly, HubSpot has created and compiled a top ten collection of cool infographics related to the field of marketing. Each represents a different concept and is rendered in a different visual format. The configuration of text, graphics, fonts, icons and colors is chosen specifically to solve the visual problem. The great thing about Infographics is that they grow organically from the data so developing one is a unique creative experience yielding a unique result. Because of their custom nature, most infographics are not template based, although I've seen a few starter infographic toolkits mostly directed toward non-designers. These may be helpful for people not comfortable visualizing, but tend to yield more cookie cutter solutions.
This Fast Company interactive infographics depicts the multiple ways a business can rank its profits, such as by project, by state, by customer and so forth. This one is actually a collection of single infographics representing one view of company profits at a time, which can be accessed by simply clicking an arrow.
For sports fans, this infographic provides 10 years of data on whether spring training improves batting averages.
You can see that whatever the quantitative problem, there is a unique and compelling way to simplify and visualize it in an infographic. Have you seen any cool infographics lateley? Please share.
It’s a well-worn fact that B2C marketers set the trends that B2B businesses subsequently adopt. Between them there are usually several years of lag time. The case for B2B companies to adopt mobile marketing practices and a mobile-friendly web presence warrants an acceleration of that schedule in direct correlation to the speed at which mobility is reshaping the world. Here are some compelling arguments pointing towards the value of mobile to B2B businesses.
Don’t let the Trend Pass You By
Gartnerpredicts that by 2014, there will be a 90% mobile penetration rate and 6.5 billion mobile connections. Think about it, that’s about the number of people in the entire world! They go on to say that in 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. If that alone is not reason to maximize one’s mobile presence, here are some other things to consider.
Protecting and Enhancing Your Brand
“Many companies are still behind and are not optimizing the web experience for mobile, which is incredibly damaging for their brands," said Steve Woods, CTO of Eloqua in an article titled,
"There have been countless studies that show a consumer will abandon a website in less than five seconds if the experience is unsatisfactory,” said Woods. “Now that we know potential buyers are reading our emails and visiting our websites from their mobile devices, marketers need to make the appropriate adjustments.”
Take a look at your website on a smartphone. Is it hard to navigate, slow performing or requiring a lot of pinch and zoom just to get from one page to the next? Now imagine your customers, prospects and prospective employees experiencing this. Does the experience support your brand image as a tech-savvy, customer-focused organization?
Business executives search using their mobile phones seven times a day, much of which is for business, according to a Forbes survey.At RainCastle, we have noticed the beginning of a “hockey stick” increase of mobile users accessing our website and as a result are currently redesigning our own site using “Responsive Design” to make the mobile experience as easy and compelling as the desktop. Our clients who follow their website analytics are experiencing the same trend.
Rethink Your Content
When your B2B audiences are working remotely they are seeking information that is easy-to-access and fits on their phones or tablets, whether it is text, imagery or video. As a B2B, you now need to make sure that relevant content is manageable and accessible not only on the desktop, but on mobile devices as well.
Respond Quickly to The New Normal for User Behavior
In the new normal, customers’ patience has plummeted while expectations for speed, accessibility and personalization of content have skyrocketed. When was the last time you had a meeting with a business executive who wasn't checking their mobile device multiple times? Whether or not that offends you, can you afford not to be reaching these people through their chosen medium?
Establishing The Personalized User Experience
Mobile devices present a more personal, one to one medium than marketers have ever had. People wear them, carry them and keep them next to their beds at night. Why wouldn’t you want to create a relationship through a medium that provides that kind of access? Mobility is changing us, driving new habits, altering the way we live, connect and market.
So, don’t miss the (mobile) boat lest you want to live the “Life of Pi,” trying to tame the (mobile) Tiger.
If you've ever struggled to convey a lot of information in an email — knowing the recipient or recipient type (hint: client) doesn't read, but skims content — and did not receive any response, then the article I just read in Fast Company is for you.
Titled, "How to Write a Convincing E-mail," the article highlights 6 key points that when followed, result in effective emails that will actually get read. My own perspective is that your emails are an extension of your brand and if they are concise, clear and action-oriented, your prospects, clients and colleagues will respond more frequently and hold you in higher esteem. I encourage you to read the full article as it provides great examples of poorly crafted emails and then the same messages written effectively. Following are article highlights. When composing an email:
1. Have a specific decision in mind.
What is the outcome you desire?
2. Start by writing your conclusion.
As opposed to the way in which you compose an essay with and Introduction, supporting text and a conclusion, go for the conclusion and work backwards to support it.
3. Structure your supporting argument into digestable chunks.
Use bulleted copy where possible or two sentence paragraphs if content is not listable.
4. Bolster each argument with evidence.
Opinions hold little sway. You're seeking action. Make it easy to respond by using facts.
5. Repeat your conclusion as a "call-to-action."
At the end, repeat the conclusion you began with and invite a next step.
6. Stick a benefit in the subject line
I found myself analyzing my own emails and certain points immediately resonated. Point #6, I put in the "last but not least" category. Composing a subject line is analagous to crafting a great tagline in that it successfully distills a theme down to just a few words, which can express facts and intention with clarity of purpose.
Which points do you find most helpful?
In a previous post, Three Cases of Websites Using Modern design Techniques, I touched upon some of the exciting new design techniques — that have become available on the web—which are beginning to change the face of the modern website. Digging down a level, these design techniques exist to serve your company's need to tell your brand story. The speed at which business is being done and the amount of noise you must cut through have elevated the need for distinctive, on-brand digital storytelling.
HTML5 and Flash are two important tools for digital storytelling. Both afford unique opportunities to bend the digital medium to your will and create compelling engaging experiences for your customers. Flash has gotten a bad rap as it is not supported by Apple moblie devices, but Flash can be saved in a video format that will render on Apple as well as PC and mobile devices. Flash is still a teriffic tool for presenting a corporate or product story with power, and sophistication. It is excellent for event presentations, where you need to Wow your audience, as well as for websites. Our recent brand launch for our client AirStrip, a mobile healthcare technology firm, is one such example.
As Digital Storytellers, we need to be able to express both high-level brand concepts and more detailed messages that allow for audience interaction for the optimal user experience. No single digital tool or technique can do it all, which is why mastering a broad array of digital tools and techniques is making design such a powerful force for strategic marketing these days!
What interesting and effective examples of digital storytelling have you seen lately?
Family lore has it that my design career began at age 4 when after a rain storm I came upon an oil slick in our driveway and was so astonished by the rainbow of colors that I grabbed my crayons and started to draw. Working with color has always been a pleasurable and highly intuitive and experience for me. But lately, there has been a growing number of research studies and articles about the science of why we respond a particular way to colors and design in general, which have implications for business as well as being of academic interest.
“Color Me Creative: Study Says Green Sparks Inventiveness,” a recent German study cited in the Huffington Post, engaged participants in a series of creative tasks and exposed them to different colors prior to their tasks. Those exposed to the color green, produced the most creative responses. The article posits that green is the color of growth and that we associate green with freshness, healthy food and nourishment. It may explain why many hospitals interiors are painted green and increasingly include landscape art in waiting rooms and corridors. Perhaps it’s intuitively what made me paint our offices in varying shades of green years ago.
In this Sunday’s New York Times Sunday Review section, an article titled, “Why We Love Beautiful Things,” discusses how neuroscience is being applied to unlocking how good design works. Behind this notion is the idea that understanding how design works can lead to more productivity and less stress in the workplace, stress-related illness being a $300 a year billion expense in this country.
The article also touches upon the validity of the golden rectangle. For two millennia, philosophers, artists and architects have been creating work in a proportion known as the “Golden Rectangle,” which has provided the structure for countless architectural and artistic masterpieces, such as the Parthenon, Notre Dame and the Mona Lisa to name a few. While it has always been accepted that the golden rectangle is a pleasing proportion, a Times article sites a 2009 Duke University study that verified that our eyes actually scan images fastest when their shape is the golden rectangle.
So, it should come as no surprise that the original iPod was designed in the golden rectangle proportion.
The subject of how science informs and substantiates design and the many— often hidden—ways design impacts business are subjects for further exploration, which I’ll address in future posts.
As visual storytellers, we are always looking out for exciting new online tools and techniques to build strong digital brands. Up until fairly recently, for the most part, websites have guided users down the navigational path using the “page paradigm.” On a typical site, one is met with a top navigation, and dropdown menus that when clicked transport you to an internal page that has the limited content predefined by the information architecture. This has been fine overall and we’ve built and continue to build many successful websites using this approach.
Today, there is a rapidly expanding set of options we and other design leaders are using that enhance our ability to represent an organization’s brand concepts in ways that are highly interactive and engaging for site visitors. Here are three such examples:
Studio 1 Architects
Studio 1 Architects has applied a scrolling technology known as parallax scrolling to guide their site visitors and build their brand by means of a series of layered screens. By pulling down the scroll bar or clicking on the vertical arrows on the screen, the user has the impression of layers being moved to reveal new and interesting content.
The homepage has a horizontally rotating background that features portfolio images.
This is a great technique for maintaining control over the desired user experience. At the same time, each screen that is revealed can work like a carousel to represent, in this case, different views of the projects Studio 1 has architected. The Studio 1 site is also a good example of responsive design. If you pull the browser window tighter, the website reconfigures itself into a site perfectly suited for mobile or tablet users.
Scrolling vertically creates a sliding effect with the graphics and produces different screens with specific entry points to other pages on the website.
Head2Heart is an online donation site in partnership with Collyde that works to raise money to provide clean water, dig wells, and prevent human trafficking in Africa.
The Head2Heart homepage has fixed top and bottom navigation, so that all actionable next steps are accessible during extended scrolling.
Head2Heart utilizes two new technologies that improve usability and deepen user engagement: prominent calls-to-action in the navigation and extended scrolling (in this case, horizontally). Note that when you scroll across this site, the top and bottom navigation are fixed at the top of the screen. The fixed navigation leads you to relevant calls-to-action, including donating, contacting, and following on social media channels.
Each number section is not only interactive with graphic calls-to-action, but prompts you to continue scrolling with a blue road pattern and orange arrows.
From a brand storytelling perspective, Head2Heart utilizes the digital space as one long, seamless canvas. As you scroll across, the brand theme of “The longest journey that a man can take in his life time is the 18 inches from his head to his heart” is represented not as separate pages, but as a continuous illustration of a path symbolizing this journey with relevent questions and call-outs at each stage.
Krystalrae is a fashion brand that uses the same technologies as Studio1 to great affect. The scrolling bar is used to interactively “dress” a model in various outfits of the designer, without ever leaving the page.
Also evident in this site, and a trend we’re seeing more and more of is the use of the flavor of bold, adventuresome typography that used to be relegated to the print world.
These are just some examples of the exciting possibilities that are opening up as the field of web design enters a “new brand era” of deeper and engaging communications. What are some other exciting sites and new technologies you’ve seen? We'd love to hear!
It's 2013 – do you know where your marketing is? The thought should scare you, a bit. Or at least scare you into action. Chances are, your prospects are online, and if they're not, they will be soon. In the meantime, there are still people online talking about your brand, services, successes, and shortcomings. Why risk your reputation by ignoring this community or by alienating them with outdated marketing techniques?
Inbound marketing gives you all of the tools necessary to move your company forward in harnessing this opportunity. But first, you need to assess where you could be falling short in your current marketing strategy.
Outdated: You're stuck on communicating “How good we are”
Modern: You help your prospects determine “What’s the right solution for you?”
Put quite simply: the internet has created empowered consumers. They now have the time, ability, resources, and interest in researching every option before making a decision – it's all at the tip of their tablet-driven fingers. With this shift in perception, site visitors are now looking at your company with one goal in mind: determining if you have the right product or solution to meet their needs.
Despite this, too many businesses are still approaching their marketing strategy with the old mentality of "we need to showcase just how good our product is." And while in the time of baby boomer marketing a flashy "come see how shiny this is" strategy was enough to sway your audience, today, it will only alienate them. Because today, deciding on a product or service is no longer about choosing the one you've seen the most commercials for, but is rather about choosing the one that best meets your needs.
This decision is hardly made solely on outbound marketing anymore; it has shifted to organic search, online reviews and recommendations, active social relationships, and valuable content that shapes the purchasing decision. Your website messaging, social media participation, SEO, and content marketing strategies should all be founded on a new goal of informing the visitor. Because in the end, an informed prospect is going to a smart prospect, and will lead to high quality retainer relationships for your business.
You want the consumer who wants you, not the one that is unsure.
Outdated: You employ keyword stuffing and empty link building
Modern: You understand the importance of creating relevant content
Things that Google does not factor into its algorithm: overdone on-page keyword copy, keywords in meta descriptions
Things that Google flags as negative or punishes in its algorithm: keyword stuffing, faulty or spam link building, non-relevant page copy, pages with too many ads, content farms
Things that Google awards in its algorithm: page freshness, specific, targeted URLs and page titles, human-like copy, relevant content, social media sharing
As a search engine, Google's #1 prioirity continues to be rewarding content that is written for the reader and not for the ranking. It is always crucial to set your site up properly for SEO and to maintain important keywords to inform messaging and traffic patterns. But these SEO tactics must be used in tandem with original, fresh content creation that benefits the searcher, not to trick him or her into visiting your site. And certainly not to trick Google into ranking your site higher.
These outdated SEO are no longer sneaky enough to outsmart the system. They are also a waste of any good marketer's time or effort. Instead of compiling your Black Hat SEO Playbook, concentrate on creating the kind of content that will be naturally rewarded for its successes, and that will maintain the reader's interest because it (point #1) gives them a solution, or at least a little education.
3. Awareness and Retention
Outdated: You rely on push marketing techniques alone (ads, direct mail, cold calling)
Modern: You embrace online engagement
Billboards, magazine ads, commercials, radio jingles, brochures, telemarketing – all push marketing techniques, all things that are hard to measure, show little ROI, and can be an annoyance or turn off. And through it all, have you actually ever spoken to a prospect?
Great marketing (and new business development) only grow from facilitating relationships online. Top companies use social media to pose questions, share knowledge, create discussion, and provide human resource support. They blog often, provide personalization, and use marketing automation or actual sales and marketing team members to communicate with prospects, leads, and customers, pinpointing exactly what kind of resource is needed at each turn.
Once a potential client is familiar with your brand and willing to purchase your product or service, social engagement must continue to be a main point of communication, and especially reflect the previous points of providing the right content and value. It's also about continued listening: 70% of brands ignore complaints on Twitter, and yet 83% of socially savvy consumers have walked away from a purchase in the past year after a negative customer service experience – compared with 49% of everyone else (The Social Skinny). And while the risk factor is great, the reward is even higher: according to the same source, 55% of people share their purchases socially on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social sites, essentially, doing your marketing for you.
Outdated: You count too much on your CEO's gut feeling
Modern: You actively harness critical behavioral data
The emergence of website analytics does not mean creativity in marketing has died; it means it has been validated. A/B testing, page performance, sharing statistics, conversion rates – all of these available analytics serve to prove all that your creative (visual or content-based) can accomplish. They also serve to make it better.
Human intuition, humor, and the creative process are brilliant things to bring to the table, and should never be taken for granted. But now, when it comes to creating effective marketing campaigns, the behavioral data available today is one of the most powerful tools you can use to build upon these initial intuitive ideas.
Now it's possible to improve campaigns continiously, to funnel leads and grow sales, to fine-tune your website and branding according to user interaction, and to show proven results at the end of the day. It's no longer about basing your marketing entirely (and blindly, I might add) on your CEO's gut feeling of what works from his or her perspective, but rather about considerately tapping into the analytics at hand to build a comprehensive and successful marketing program.
The end of each year always serves as a time to reflect, and this year, I was pleased to see the growing B2B investment in content marketing and other online pull marketing techniques. It came to mind that there were a fair number of non-traditional case study examples highlighting this push, and that looking to these examples may encourage even more creative B2B planning in 2013.
So, who are these impressive B2B thinkers and what can we learn from them? Well, for that, I'm afraid, you'll actually have to read my post...
1. Rebellious content creators: Louis C.K. and Amanda Palmer
Changing the platform and dialog
We are all-too familiar with celebrities as brand spokespeople and product endorsers, but 2012 saw the rise of two artists that took on content creation to build their own brand personae. Using valuable content, guerrilla marketing, and personal outreach, comedian Louis C.K. and musician Amanda Palmer became two of the year’s most effective B2B marketers.
This year, Louis C.K. offered his stand-up special and tour tickets directly through his website, bucking the need for a distributors (and earning over 100,000 social media shares for that one page alone); sent out personally written emails to his fan database; and created, wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a new TV show, Louie, that gained him 5 Emmy nods and one win. As an actor, he strategically employed fresh content creation, effective content marketing, and personable email marketing to increase his brand recognition exponentially.
Folk singer Amanda Palmer took a more direct approach. Tired of dealing with creatively destructive and financially questionable labels, she took to social media to completely fund her next album. Using online funding platform Kickstarter, Palmer raised over $1 million in funding from close to 25,000 backers. But here's the kicker: she raised $11,000 of that in the first two hours from Twitter alone. Palmer used frequent YouTube postings, social media calls-to-action, and an upstart online platform to essentially move her career entirely to the internet. By providing her fans early on with the content they desired, she was able to gain enough traction and online support to launch herself as an independent artist and brand.
Key takeaway: When done right, content marketing can transform any B2B brand.
2. General Electric - "GE Works"
Bringing faces to a brand
GE has long been a leader in outstanding B2B marketing, but in 2012, with the launch of its global marketing initiative "GE Works," the company honed in on a strategic mission: to showcase not just technology, but the journey, people, and outcome of technology.
Using social media, including early adoption of platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, SocialCam and Viddy, more photo and video content, and strong data visualization pieces, GE was able to communicate its core business without alienating its audience. Its popular "Juice Train" video is a prime example: it follows a train delivering orange juice from Florida to New Jersey in a time-lapsed video, showing the on-board analytics provided by GE technology, and arriving at overarching meaning for the trip.
Did I also mention GE created a holographic game designed around one of its jet engines? Admit it, that's cool.
But perhaps the most unique initiative this year is the addition of a section on GE's website dedicated to showcasing the tech team, which features what each member is tweeting in a visually dynamic grid. Clicking on an individual member takes you directly to his or her Twitter feed, encouraging online interaction between consumers and company representatives, and creating stronger brand loyalty.
Key take away: In B2B, focus on connection to your audience rather than your services.
3. TED Talks
Using video to market smart content and grow knowledge
TED Talks, a division of TED, a nonprofit dedicated to "Ideas Worth Spreading," started as a way to showcase discussions and talks from the popular annual TED Conference. But what started in 2006 as an additional resource has grown into one of the biggest - and most prestigious - online learning resources available. In addition to a devotion to spreading knowledge, TED Talks has hit on one of the most valuable content marketing tools today: video.
Using video as its central platform, TED Talks has accumulated over 1 billion views as of November 2012, with the top video boasting over 13 million views. Instead of relying on old-school marketing techniques only (conferences that have no reach outside of the actual event), TED Talks utilized video marketing to complement the TED mission of spreading ideas; which, in effect, became a rather successful marketing initiative.
The dedication to this initiative was put on display this year, when the organization refused to showcase a talk that was "explicitly bipartisan" that failed to support a fair argument. Instead of feeding into controversy, TED Talks remained committed to using content marketing in line with its mission statement.
Key take away: Find the tactic that works for you and think in terms of mission.
Combining human elements with great design
In the year that Google+ was predicted to dominate (spoiler: it didn't), Pinterest emerged as not only the top social media platform, but also one of the largest traffic-driving websites in 2012. So, when I list Pinterest as a win, it's not in terms of what the platform can do for your business (which is a lot - just give me a call, I'll fill you in), but rather the enormous success it has had as a B2B company in the past year alone.
As of September, the site had 56 million users, is valued at $1.5 billion, and had been hailed as any company's dream new marketing tool. Why so popular? Because the user friendly design, easy sharing capabilities, and concentration on creativity were key in appealing to today's visual audience. Pair that with easy Facebook and Twitter sharing integration and a layout that allows you to pin, repin, or like from every page, and Pinterest became a social media juggernaut.
What's more, Pinterest's growth is based in a decidedly traditional strategy: local meetups. CEO Ben Silbermann held meetups personally to connect with like-minded individuals and get feedback for and support of the site. From there, he launched the "Pin It Forward" campaign - an initiative aimed at promoting the sharing capabilities of the site by encouraging friends to create pinboards in return for more site invites. Connecting users, in place of push marketing, became the definitive growth tactic.
Key takeaway: A beautiful website and word of mouth marketing can work hand-in-hand to create an integrated marketing strategy.
5. Cisco's Social Media Listening Center for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics
Connecting global participants and social media results
For the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Cisco set up a Social Media Listening Center (with headquarters in London and San Diego) to monitor conversation trends and negative vs positive feedback, and to identify ambush marketing and crisis management that could be dealt with immediately and effectively. Monitored 24/7, the listening center tracked social media conversations in 10 languages and ran "games time operations" to identify the misuse of the Olympics logo by non-sponsors online.
In doing so, Cisco was not only able to serve in its role as the official network infrastructure supporter for the Games, but were able to show concrete social media results in terms of the event itself and of Cisco's brand awareness before, during, and after. Because of this initiative, Cisco was able to prove social ROI on its sponsorship, and did a comparative analysis of the potential ROI of other Games sponsor.
Cisco and its Olympic marketing programs received 1,701 social mentions in the 10 days leading up to the games, and 2,609 times during the games, with 89% of the mentions during the games being positive.
Key take away: Don't use social media for promotion, use it for listening.
So there's my list of 2012 B2B marketing wins. Are there any that I missed? What are yours?