Forrester Report: Best And Worst Of Social Network Marketing, 2008

It’s true, most social network marketing isn’t being done effectively, why? Many brands (and their agencies) are deploying “interactive marketing” (user to website) experience rather than relying on the tools of social networks “social marketing” (member to member). As a result, many brands are wasting their time, money, and resources to reach communities in social networks without first understanding that the use case is very different than a microsite campaign. Don’t just take my word for it, research from Deloitte also suggests the same –WSJ (link via Fabrice)

In this latest report, we created a scorecard (which you can use to checklist your own efforts) which amplifies the real opportunities of social network; the community themselves. This report is great for anyone brand deploying a social network marketing effort, or for agencies that are trying to enter this new world. Marketing efforts did best when the control was turned over to the hands of the community.

[We tested marketing efforts on Social Networks using ‘Social’ criteria (rather than traditional marketing tactics) that meets the needs of the community, sadly, only 1 out 16 brands passed]

We took a multi-industry approach, and reviewed 16 firms from four industries: automotive, media, technology, and consumer products. Sadly, out of this 16 contenders that were appropriate, only the BMW Series 1 received a passing grade, and half of the firms scored a zero or lower. We also tried to find examples in many social networks including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Imeem, and Microsoft’s Windows Live Spaces. I was already asked on Twitter if there were B2B examples, unfortunately, we only found one that made the report, Microsoft Live Server.

Despite these dismal scores, there were some great examples such as the The Dell/Microsoft (Red) program provided a rich media theme that was easily sharable, Sony’s BMG page for Alicia Keys was personable and interactive, and Kraft’s DiGiorno Pizza delivered a unique interactive experience with its members. To improve social network marketing, brands must develop community-centered content and activities, measure success based on new criteria, and be prepared to participate.

Forrester Report: Best And Worst Of Social Network Marketing, 2008

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Also, I propose we do away with the term “campaign” when it comes to social networks, it derives images of military movements, and short term commitments –exactly what not to do when it comes to communities.

Although some of them have changed since we first started to judge the 16 social network marketing efforts are:
Note: A passing score is a minimum of 8.

BMW 1 Series scores a 9 (Pass) read more
Mazda3 scores a -1
Chevy scores a 3 (who sponsored the effort at the time)
Ford scores a -4

HBO’s Entourage scores a 2
FOX News scores a -4
Disney: Enchanted Movie scores a -4
Sony BMG’s Alicia Keys scores a 7

Samsung’s Blast scores a -3
Dell/Microsoft (RED) scores a 6
Microsoft’s Windows Server Live scores a 6
Intel scores a -5

Consumer Products
Nike scores a 2
Kraft’s DiGiorno Pizza scores a 5
Pepsi’s Aquafina scores a -2
Mars: Skittles & Starburst scores a 0

The whole process was a tremendous amount of work, we spent hours testing, reviewing, and compiling data, you should use this report as a benchmark and a checklist for your future efforts on social networks. It was a lot of work, but should really help you to all move forward and reach communities even more effectively.

Lastly, I use social media tools as a small percentage of my research methodology, for example, I asked the 12,000+ readers of this blog (and 9000+ on Twitter) to help define what they think are success metrics for campaigns, some of this was factored into the scorecard requirements. At Forrester we serve different roles, mine being Interactive Marketers, it’s also important to know the largest segment of readers to this blog are Interactive Marketers according to a recent survey. So I use the same tools that I cover, and try to practice what I preach. Last by not least, thanks to Christine Overby, Harley Manning, Sarah Glass and Scott Wright at Forrester for all their help.

Scope Clarification:

Update: One brand was unsure of the scope of this research report. To be clear, this report encompassed only the marketing efforts on a social network. It does not include blogs, podcats, youtube, communities that a brand may create on their own site, or efforts within the intranet. Also, some brands may have had multiple marketing efforts on social networks, this report would have only examined and graded one.