Category Archives: Marketing

Critical Success Factors and the Impact of New Media

New Media by New Media DaysThis post originally appeared in Social Media Marketing Magazine, Issue 1, Number 5

One of the hidden gems of the marketing research community is the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). With a tagline of “Tomorrow’s Research Today,” SSRN serves as a repository for academic research in progress and is “devoted to the rapid worldwide dissemination of social science research.”

Top business schools, economic departments, law schools, and entrepreneurship research and policy centers are represented on SSRN. Registration for full access to SSRN is free, as are many of the articles and abstracts available on the site (some access to research is fee-based).

As an advocate of all things open source, in my opinion, this repository represents the best option for the rapid diffusion of knowledge globally. If interested, you can follow SSRN on Twitter.

The two academic marketing research articles reviewed in this issue of Social Media Marketing Magazine are:

Implementing Effective Social Media Marketing Campaigns

Heckadon does a good job of documenting and describing ten critical success factors (CSFs) for creating and implementing effective social media marketing campaigns. Don’t let the fact that this is a master of arts thesis discourage you from downloading this research—it is easy to read. The research may best be characterized as a descriptive analysis of social media marketing best practices.

After an extensive review of the literature, Heckadon proposes and justifies these ten CSFs:

  • Having a social media marketing strategy
  • Integrating the social media marketing strategy into the broader marketing strategy
  • Social media optimization
  • Creating a community
  • Encouraging user content creation and feedback
  • Being open and honest
  • Keeping content fresh and relevant
  • Making the user feel special
  • Identifying with a cause
  • Measuring social media marketing performance

The results of the research are neither earth shattering nor unknown. The value of this thesis is the extensive literature review and justification provided for each of the ten CSFs.

The Impact of New Media on Customer Relationships

Hennig-Thurau et al. contend that the rise of new media is disruptive enough to warrant a shift in marketing thinking. The authors offer a new conceptual framework for explaining the changing relationship between companies and consumers. The real value in the article, however, lies in the key research implications. Hennig-Thurau et al. provide a logical and pragmatic “roadmap” of the important research questions yet to be answered.

The authors identify ten new media phenomena (new multimedia services, digital consumer articulation, consumers as retailers, online social communities, shopping bots, search bots, mobile technologies, recommendation systems, peer-to-peer networks and piracy, and online auctions), summarize the existing literature, and provide multiple research questions for each.

Although some of the new media phenomena identified are hardly new, the article offers an interesting perspective wrapped in a new framework, using a pinball analogy. If for nothing else, the authors should be commended for using old school gaming to describe new school media and its impact on customer relationships.

Commonalities

Both articles provide social media marketers with in-depth literature reviews and though-provoking CSFs for operating in a rapidly changing marketing environment. And both identify ten “game changers,” albeit from different perspectives.

As marketing researchers, our job is to turn these literature reviews into actionable research and to disseminate the results via SSRN or this column. Can we count on you?

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Generating Prophets: 141 Inbound Marketing Certified Students

Inbound Marketing UniversityAs business school educators, our job is to adequately prepare our students to enter the workforce. Likewise, we want our graduates to make positive contributions to their organizations and to distinguish themselves as valued employees. The problem is, as discussed before, business schools in general and marketing departments in particular have been slow to embrace the social/mobile marketing era. In many regards, we are struggling to catch up with current marketing theories and practices.

Fortunately, HubSpot offers support to business professors who seek to integrate social media marketing into their curriculum. HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing University training and certification delivers curriculum materials designed to provide your students with a foundation on which to build.

This past academic year, in response to student demand, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Charlton College of Business Department of Management and Marketing incorporated IMU training and certification into two undergraduate courses and one MBA course. We’re proud to report that between the three classes, 141 students successfully earned IMU certification (3 with honors distinction). In our opinion, IMU certification provides added value and external verification of basic competence in social media marketing. And, coupled with their diploma from our AACSB-accredited business program, IMU certification provides our graduates with a competitive advantage when searching for marketing jobs within the Boston-Providence region. Here are three lessons learned:

1) Not Every Student will “Get It”

Perhaps we overestimated the technical prowess of our students, but not every student enrolled in the courses understood the utility of earning IMU certification or possessed the basic technical understanding necessary to earn certification. MBA students were more successful, in general, than were undergraduate students in successfully passing the IMU certification exam. Overall, 83 percent of all students in the three classes earned IMU certification. In the MBA class, the pass rate was 97 percent.

2) Make it Worth The Effort

Students pursuing IMU certification take 16 modules (offered free by HubSpot) and a 50 question multiple choice exam (offered free by HubSpot). Those who pass the exam with a score of 76 or higher receive designation from HubSpot as an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional (free, including a printable/frame-worthy certificate). Although HubSpot’s free training and certification is a brilliant content marketing strategy, students need to be motivated to do the work and to pass the exam. We did this by counting certification as an exam score within the overall point system of the class. Thus, the impact on the final grade for those students who didn’t pass the certification exam was negative.

3) Make it “Hands-on”

Learning by doing is powerful. The difference between understanding theory and being able to apply theory is vast. Require students to work on their social media skills. Make them blog, develop professional LinkedIn profiles, participate actively on Twitter, clean up their Facebook page, develop a video resume and focus on personal branding via social media. Convince them that investing in personal branding is an investment in their future.

We’re proud of the 32 MBA students and 109 undergraduate students who earned IMU certification as part of their marketing curriculum this past academic year. We’re confident that they’re well prepared to enter the workforce and to make a positive contribution to the businesses fortunate enough to hire them. We know that they will distinguish themselves as social media savvy marketing executives able to compete with anyone.

How can we be certain? Our graduates have already distinguished themselves as innovators and leaders in social media marketing from coast-to-coast (Boston to San Francisco). This batch of new graduates, building on the success of and with the support of their predecessors, is well positioned to make an immediate impact.

Do yourself a favor. When hiring new marketing talent, ask them about their experience in social media marketing. Ask them to provide verification of their prowess in inbound marketing. Ask them for their IMU certification. And when they provide it, ask them about the excellent marketing education that they received from the Charlton College of Business.

Congratulations to the first 141 inbound marketing certified students to graduate from our business school. The future of marketing is in your hands.

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Does Academic Research Provide Practical Value for Social Media Marketers?

David Berkowitz ForresterThis post originally appeared in Social Media Marketing Magazine, Issue 1, Number 4.

Research you can use; four simple words that sum up my goal for this column. It is an honor and a pleasure to take over the responsibility for writing this column from Caroline Dangson (@CDangson). Caroline established this column as a must read. Her initial three articles, “Who Owns Social Media for Business”, “Co-Creating Value with Customers” and “Twitter is Ready for Advertisers, but are Advertisers Ready for Twitter?” presented thought provoking insight into emerging trends in social media marketing (SMM). Please join me in thanking her for developing a solid foundation on which to build.

Our goal for this column is to share with you cutting edge academic research that provides utility and assists in making your social media marketing research efforts easier. Academic research in marketing is not known for either its readability or its practicality. A few exceptions exist. Academic journals that are written with an eye towards readability and containing an applied focus include Business Horizons, California Management Review, Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review. Interestingly, none are focused solely on marketing.

In my opinion, academic research has the potential to provide value to social media marketers IFF (if and only if) it provides instruction or insight into new research tools, methods, concepts and/or constructs. In the area of social media marketing research, in general, marketing academicians lag practitioners in understanding, developing and utilizing applied research tools and techniques. The good news is that this is changing. In addition to current marketing professors who are rapidly re-tooling, a new generation of marketing researchers is making its way through some of the top Ph.D. programs in the world and these researchers are engaged in and excited about SMM.

It is the research of this group, the denizens of SMM research, that we plan to review and share with you each quarter. The goal for this column is to add value to your SMM research skillset and tool kit. This issue, two must-read articles are highlighted and reviewed. The take-aways for each are clearly identified. Once you read this column, and the articles referenced, please come back to leave your comments/questions/suggestions because learning isn’t unidirectional.

The two, initial, journal articles for review are:

Hoffman, Donna L. and Marek Fodor (2010), “Can You Measure the ROI of Your Social Media Marketing?”, MIT Sloan Management Review, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Fall), pp. 41-49.

and

Hansen, Derek L. (2011), “Exploring Social Media Relationships”, On The Horizon, Vol. 19, No. 1,  pp. 43-51.

Can You Measure the ROI of Your Social Media Marketing?

Because this article has been out for a while, this is not the first review. A good overview of both the article and the importance of determining return on investment (ROI) in SMM is provided by Angela Hausman.  Hoffman and Fodor challenge SMM researchers to adopt a new approach:

“Effective social media measurement should start by turning the traditional ROI approach on its head. That is, instead of emphasizing their own marketing investments and calculating the returns in terms of customer response, managers should begin by considering consumer motivations to use social media and then measure the social media investments customers make as they engage with the marketers’ brands.” (p. 42)

They offer 4 C’s (instead of 4 P’s) to identify the key motivations for social media interaction: connections, creation, consumption and control as well as two case study examples of social media marketing failures. However, the real benefit (take-away) offered by this article is the sample metrics provided on page 44, some easy to operationalize and some more difficult to operationalize. The final gem provided by this article is a traditional 2 x 2 matrix entitled “Strategic Options for Social Media Measurement”. Using the sample metrics based on the strategic options available should provide a solid framework for developing a ROI unique to your business model.

Exploring Social Media Relationships

Hansen’s article offers immediate utility. In my opinion, he sums up the purpose of the paper brilliantly:

“This paper describes some of the techniques and tools needed to make sense of the social relationships that underlie social media sites. As relational data are increasingly made public, such techniques will enable more systematic analysis by researchers studying social phenomena and practitioners implementing social media initiatives”. (p. 44)

The paper documents the development and release of an incredible open source network analysis add-on for Excel. Hansen explains the concept of network analysis and social network analysis (SNA). The later builds on the former and is perfect for studying SMM relationships.

He justifies the study of SNA on page 45:

“Viewing the social world as a network can provide many insights not obtainable in any other way. Social network maps provide overviews of social spaces, highlighting subgroups and individuals that hold important positions within the network. Tracking changes in a network over time provides a powerful evaluation tool that measures previously hard-to-capture insights about social capital development, community formation, and marketing campaigns”.

The take-away from this article is the description of the power of the open source network analysis add-on for Excel: NodeXL. He even shares he is using NodeXL in his courses at the University of Maryland.  For those of you who don’t know me, my life revolves around open source. This add-on excited me so much that I purchased Microsoft Office just to use it (it won’t work in my beloved OpenOffice). After four days of playing with NodeXL, it is clearly a tool that you should explore in order to strengthen your SMM research skillset.

Future columns will be more succinct, but will follow the same format. Each quarter, two “must-read” academic research papers will be highlighted for your benefit. If you have any suggestions for future topics or manuscripts to review, please feel free to contact us.

Finally, since the goal of this column is to add value to your SMM research skills, we end with two questions: 1) Do you find this approach helpful? and 2) Did this column provide you with any take-aways that you can use?

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