By Kristy Bonner, Digital Strategist, Foster Marketing
Memorable uploads like these have nudged YouTube’s numbers upward to more than 800 million unique visits and more than 4 billion hours of video watched each month. Today, of the 72 hours of video uploaded every minute, a new star is emerging— businesses who want to use the medium to market and sell their products and services.
Most of us have enjoyed a laugh, watched a how-to video or just passed some time on YouTube; and reports are showing more and more businesses are adding their contributions to the mix. Fifty-six percent of B2B companies are using YouTube to share their marketing messages, according to a study by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmark, Budgets & Trends.
If your company isn’t making the most of this online opportunity you’re missing out on brand awareness benefits, engagement opportunities and search engine gains. Consider these potential perks to jumping onto the YouTube bandwagon.
- SEARCH: Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has become a hot topic for anyone who wants to edge out the competition. YouTube has pushed its way above Bing and Yahoo! and is second only to Google in its search numbers. YouTube users watch billions of videos daily and billions of searches are typed into the YouTube search box each month.
- AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: YouTube is the third most visited website on the Internet. Plus, its use of mobile and sharing technology gives your video efforts an added boost. Does your business extend beyond the United States? So does YouTube. You could even create videos in multiple languages to target specific international markets.
- MARKET COMPETITION: Just about every topic is covered on YouTube, including most industries, products and services. Type in anything from drill pipe to pipeline cleaning and you’ll find something on YouTube.
- THE POTENTIAL: Visual messages can inform and engage customers. Plus, YouTube allows users to email, share and embed videos into their web pages, so you are increasing the chances of your video going viral!
- INTEGRATE YOUR EFFORTS: You likely already have content that could be repurposed for YouTube. From trade show kiosk videos to lunch-and-learn PowerPoint presentations, all of these can be formatted for YouTube with a little know-how.
Opportunity is knocking, so answer and get posting. Here’s how to start:
- CREATE A BRANDED YOUTUBE CHANNEL. Develop a channel with a unique profile name that fits your business and reflects your company’s brand.
- GET STARTED: Start with the content you already have, and add as you go. Consider posting videos of product demonstrations or on-site installations. Turn images from a photo shoot into a video to showcase the products and services you offer. Convert PowerPoint presentations into videos to share company information and expand your thought leadership efforts on specific topics. Create a video that offers a tour of your facility to spotlight your company’s capabilities. The possibilities are really endless.
- SET A GOAL: Set a goal of adding a new video to your channel at least every three months. If you really want to build a following, aim for a new video monthly or bi-monthly. In other words, develop a YouTube plan.
Need some inspiration to get your video camera recording? Here are some tips from GigaOM and Google that would work well for oil and gas companies and others working in the business-to-business energy sector.
- Upload recordings of presentations you’ve given to showcase your knowledge.
- Share slides from PowerPoint presentations.
- Conduct an interview with one of your experts.
- Add your channel URL to marketing collateral (and other social networks).
- Post customer video testimonials.
- Show your product in action using movie trailer style: fast, creative and catchy.
- Create how-to-videos to help your customers use your products.
- Post solutions to common problems.
- Embed videos on your website, including product support and facility tours.
Videos can be used for product demonstrations; branding messages; public relations and community efforts; education; and even to encourage or inspire. All you have to do is get creative and use what you have. That’s what these companies did:
- An LED manufacturer melts chocolate bunnies with competitors’ products to show its energy efficiency.
- A storage company stacked space with a ton of food (to be donated, of course) to prove just how much stuff you could fit.
- A vacuum cleaner company has become the go-to place for minor vacuum repairs and maintenance with its how-to helpful approach.
YouTube reports viewer engagement is growing with 100 million people taking a social action such as likes, shares and comments each week; and millions of videos are favorited each day. As an added bonus, your YouTube efforts can bolster your social media efforts as recent figures show 500 years worth of YouTube videos are watched every day via Facebook and more than 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute.
So put on your thinking caps, pull out your cameras and show ’em what you’ve got.
Foster Marketing can help with all your strategic digital efforts, from planning to posting and landing pages to email messaging. Learn more about the services we provide at http://www.fostermarketing.com/.
By George Foster, CEO, Foster Marketing
There may be no bigger supporter of digital marketing than I. However, I have learned to be skeptical about most things (I guess it’s my journalistic upbringing). Along that line, you all know the nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses and all the King’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.[1}
The common belief is that Humpty Dumpty is an egg. However, there’s another version of its origin.
In 1648, during the siege of Colchester in western England, a huge cannon, colloquially called Humpty Dumpty, was strategically placed on the town’s wall for defense. A shot from one of the Parliamentary cannons damaged the wall and Humpty Dumpty came tumbling to the ground.
The Royalists (all the King’s men) attempted to raise Humpty Dumpty on to another part of the wall, but because the cannon was so heavy, ‘All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.’
For awhile now, I’ve been thinking of applying that contrarian thinking — like the origin of Humpty Dumpty — to the value proposition of digital marketing.
We are asked all the time what kind of results we will get from our digital efforts. We mention awareness; impressions; click-throughs; sales leads; and, ultimately (hopefully) sales.
For the longest, I’ve kept articles on the changes in digital marketing, especially the rise of social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, tracking, etc. In preparing this article, I basically threw out any article more than a year old. The uses and technology are changing so fast.
In fact, Facebook just this month filed an initial public offering which could value the social network between $75 billion and $100 billion and put the company on track for one of the biggest U.S. stock-market debuts of all time. The rise of Facebook is the subject of the movie Social Network, an interesting view.
First, let’s look at digital advertising from a contrarian view and then move to the social contrarian view.
Contrarian Idea 1: A third of ad
impressions are never seen.
In a recent article on www.paidcontent.org, author Danny Frankel mentioned that, “There is a growing consensus that digital advertising, whose targeting abilities were supposed to eliminate waste in marketing campaigns, is still very much a work in progress. Barely a week goes by without another person bemoaning the lack of reliable measure of ad effectiveness.”
ComScore, a global leader in measuring the digital world and a source of digital business analytics, recently produced a study titled “U.S. Digital Future in Focus 2012.” It can be downloaded by registering at comScore. Some key findings:
- Across all measured campaigns, 69 percent of ad impressions were classified as being “in view”. The remaining 31 percent, the study says, were delivered but never seen by a consumer for various reasons.
- An average of 4 percent of ad impressions were delivered outside of their targeted geographical region.
- 72 percent of campaigns had at least some of their ads running next to content deemed “not brand safe” by their respective advertisers.
Contrarian Idea 2: You can’t break up conversation with ads.
Even before the Facebook IPO, Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the world’s biggest advertising group WPP, cast doubts on whether advertising will ever work on Facebook.
Sorrell said the social networks were “not the right context” for commercial advertising because they would interrupt something that was fluid and informal.
“Facebook, Google+, Twitter are advanced forms of social interaction,” he said. “We used to write letters to each other and now we correspond through Facebook and Twitter. If you interrupt that with a message you may run into trouble.”
Makes sense to me. And, Sorrell went on to further diminish the Facebook play by saying that Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, had been forced to withdraw two “failed experiments” at commercial activity after they sparked a “revolution” by users.
Contrarian Idea 3: There is no revenue model
David Baker, another contrarian and a management consultant for marketing services firms, says that “the purveyors of social media are losing money at astounding rates (except when they sell the platform to someone else who can afford to lose even more money) and “everyone wants to be on the bus, but they really don’t know where it’s going.” To bear that out, in its IPO filing, Facebook showed revenues of $3.7 billion, $400 million under projections.
And, it’s interesting to read the comments on the Wall Street Journal on the Facebook filing. Among the more than 200 include:
- “85% from ad revenue with virtually zero verifiable ROI. Fun times.”
- “This IPO is ridiculous. Anyone who bought into this dot.com bubble 2.0 needs to have their head examined. Way over valued. There’s already starting to be a social media backlash due to privacy concerns (especially Facebook’s ever-changing policies) and new platforms every day that are going to compete with it.”
Finally, then, what’s there to love?
Lots. Digital is here to stay and growing. We are right in the middle of a major shift of marketing dollars for our clients from traditional to digital media and it looks to increase. In the same comScore study, the following points were made:
- Social networking continues to amass online users. Social networking accounted for 16.6 percent of all online minutes at the end of 2011.
- Bing closed out the year surpassing Yahoo! for the No. 2 position among search engines. Google is No. 1.
- More than 100 million Americans watched online video content on an average day to close out 2011, a 43 percent increase from 2010.
- 4.8 trillion display ad impressions were delivered across the U.S. web in 2011 magnifying the need for greater transparency and accountability in ad delivery.
- At the end of 2011, more than 8 percent of all digital traffic was consumed on devices such as smartphones and tablets.
- Total U.S. retail and travel-related e-commerce reached $256 billion in 2011, up 12 percent from 2010.
Thus, it’s a wild, wild wacky worldwide web ride. You need a firm that can make sense out of it. That’s Foster Marketing.
Let Foster Marketing help manage your online presence.
Human beings are hardwired to be social — both culturally and physiologically. We Tweet and text. We Like and link up. We blog and banter. Researchers have proven that craving attachment is written into our DNA. So, it is no wonder more people are reaching out to others online.
Just this week, SmartBrief on Social Media noted that Facebook now has 800 million members. Twitter boasts 1 billion Tweets per week. As of August, LinkedIn had more than 120 million registered users in more than 200 locales worldwide.
Of all these connections, not all of them are purely social. According to a study by BtoB Magazine, 93 percent of business-to-business marketers are engaged in social media marketing. (Most of us support “The Big 3” strategy of targeting LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.)
Many companies are becoming more open to the idea of using social media at work, according to a study by PRNewswire. As social media invades the business world, the energy industry is rallying its troops.
Two recent events focusing on social media, a Business Marketing Association forum on social media and World Oil’s Marketing in the Oilfield Conference, offered a fleet of energy industry professionals to share their social marketing experiences. Many in attendance were on fact-finding missions on how to get started or build their networks.
However, there was another hot topic on the minds of many. Although social media bans in the workplace weren’t discussed center stage, it was definitely the buzz in the back of the room.
A recent Robert Half Technology survey found that 51 percent of companies surveyed said they permit employees to use social media for business purposes (up from 19 percent in 2009), more than 1-in-3 companies still prohibit social media at the office.
Put your manager’s hat on and consider the possible arguments for such bans:
- Safeguarding company computers and servers. Maybe.
- Social media decreases productivity. Maybe not.
- Fear of unprofessional online interactions and leaking company secrets. Admittedly, it has happened to a few.
- If we ignore it, this social media craze will just go away. Not a chance. Not even if you hold your breath until you turn Facebook blue. (But if you try this, I can almost guarantee someone will post a video or picture of you online before you regain consciousness).
Let’s look at the individual concerns:
Safeguarding Company Computers
Although there are many offenders out there looking to do damage wherever possible, email seems to be a more likely target for these attacks … and no one is banning that.
Productivity Will Drop
Sadly, there will always be employees who abuse such privileges at work, but these are likely the same people you are talking to about taking too many breaks, not showing up for work and spending all day on personal phone calls — so just add spending hours on YouTube to your list.
On the other hand, according to an AT&T study on social networking technologies, access to social networking sites at work actually increases productivity and efficiency. In the study, employees said access to the rich sources of information on social networks often provided them solutions to problems and inspired them creatively.
Other noteworthy benefits to allowing social media access include:
- Sharing knowledge and information between employees, suppliers and customers.
- Better team building and internal structure in the workplace.
Here’s another issue to consider: A Nielsen survey shows that some younger workers said they were willing to quit their jobs if they were not allowed to access Facebook at work. (Surprising for some of us, but if you are hoping to hire the hottest tech-savvy young graduates, this may be something you will eventually have to consider.)
Still another school of thought says employees allowed to occasionally relax a bit at work will be even more focused and refreshed when they do get back to the job at hand.
Fear of over sharing and inappropriate posting
Admittedly, trust is required when it comes to social media. You must trust your staff to act like adults and use social media at work for business purposes instead of just catching up with friends. You must also be sure employees understand what content is acceptable to be shared and appropriate for your company’s culture.
Having a social media policy — in writing — sets the standard for employees to follow and ensures management and employees are on the same page. A social media policy should include:
- The company’s policy on accessing social media — and other web surfing — at work. Is it only allowed for business use
- What’s the policy on using the company’s name and information in social posts?
- How often are employees expected to contribute to company social media networks?
- If a negative post does pop up, who will respond? Who will decide IF you respond at all?
Social Media Is Here To Stay
Here’s another crazy idea: One energy company presenting at the Marketing in the Oilfield Conference said they actually asked its customers how they should be using social media. Based on customer feedback, the company is planning to use Twitter to send updates when usual forms of communication are down. That’s a powerful social media impact.
The bottom line is that social media usage will continue to expand (you can even get a degree in social media now). And as social media marketing becomes a more vital way to reach customers and prospects, companies will need to consider if they can afford to ban social media in the workplace. At many companies, there are people ready to promote their products and services online, interact with customers, seek out public relations opportunities through industry media and be thought leaders in their fields … if only they had access.
It’s time to banish the bans, embrace social media and start managing it.
Foster Marketing can help you launch and create a plan to maintain your social media presence. We’ll help you determine what content is right for your organization and work with you to create social media policies for your organization.
By Kristy S. Bonner, Account Executive and Digital Strategist for Foster Marketing Communications
We frequently get asked if companies in the oil and gas industry are embracing social media and what kind of ROI, or return on investment, they are getting.
To the first part of the question, it appears many in our industry are curious but skeptical about using social media as a business tool. Foster Marketing recently conducted a survey on social media in the oil and gas industry that proved just this. Although many survey respondents wanted to know more about how they could use social media to their advantage, most were not yet using the medium, and many were still not ready to add it to next year’s marketing plan.
When considering the potential ROI from social media initiatives, the key is to identify what types of returns have value for your company. Although revenue may be the ultimate goal for most efforts, we usually count the steps that lead up to a sale as a return as well. In digital efforts, returns are often referred to as conversions, which could be someone clicking a link to go to a website; a potential customer picking up the phone and calling; or getting a meeting request.
Noteworthy gains from using social media include:
• Brand awareness: If they do not know who you are and what you do, how can they buy from you? Social media venues such as Facebook offer the opportunity to put your experts — both their names and faces — in front of customers; Twitter can link your company name with what you specialize in; and YouTube can be used to show what you can do.
• Public relations: If your company has good things happening, let people know about it. Industry forums are a great way to tell people in your field what you are good at; LinkedIn groups allow you to connect with people who are interested in a specific field; and StumbleUpon can be used to put your innovative ideas in front of people who understand the potential application.
• SEO, or search engine optimization: It is vital for potential buyers in need of the products and services you provide to find you first. A well-researched social media strategy provides links to your website and directs users to other online information about your products and services. Direct links to your website from popular social media sites build credibility with search engines and give your website an extra edge.
• Transparency: As potential customers become more and more skeptical of businesses, the best way to build trust is to provide useful information about your company. Potential buyers want to know where you are located, in what areas you are active, how many people you have on staff and if you have partnerships that could benefit them.
• Thought leadership: Many companies label themselves as leaders and experts in their field. Instead of just telling potential buyers you are an expert, prove it. Share a case study on a blog; post a podcast that documents a recent success; or join an industry forum to share your knowledge.
Social media has become a part of most people’s personal lives in some way. Grandparents keep up with their grandchildren on Facebook; former colleagues and classmates are networked on LinkedIn; and friends share links to funny videos on YouTube. So, why are we still skeptical of using these tools to grow our business?
Here are some of the reasons we have heard:
• I cannot control the message. This is not true in most cases. When you post a blog, it is yours to edit or delete. When you share photos using Flickr®, you decide which images are posted. Companies frequently submit news releases and technical articles to industry journals and someone else decides if they will run and how much information will be included. When you post an item via social media, you have the final say. Many companies also are adding posting standards to employee handbooks so your message on social networks is consistent. People will talk no matter what you do, so it’s important to participate and be a positive and proactive part of that conversation.
• My customers are not online. If you doubt your customers are using web-based resources to solve their problems, just ask them if they used a foldout map the last time they needed directions or if they looked in the phone book to find a telephone number when they couldn’t find a business card. Likely, they went online for both of these, so it is very likely they are looking online for other solutions, too.
• Why would I give away my services for free? The serve, not sell concept behind social media can be a stumbling block until you look at a specific situation. For example, your vehicle is making an odd clanging sound but you are not blessed with the ability to pop the hood and fix it yourself. So, you take it to an expert and ask for advice. A mechanic will identify the problem and recommend a solution; however, he does not hand you the tools and the parts with step-by-step instructions on how to fix the problem yourself. At this point, most of us will not say thank you and clang our way home to do it ourselves, we ask for an estimate. Unless we doubt the mechanic’s ability or his prices are way out of whack, he gets the business.
• How do you tell if it is worth the time? Like any business endeavor, you start with a strategy to manage the time and expectations in the initiative. A digital strategy also should include goals and how you will measure your success.
Social media can open up a world of opportunities for your business by building relationships with a wide group of people around the globe. Social media expert Paul Cheney has described this as the digital handshake. When it comes to oil and gas, most deals and sales begin with a handshake that kicks off the working relationship. Getting to know more about the person, company and needs before a meeting puts you way ahead of the game.
Maximizing your time is also something to consider. How many potential buyers can you possibly interact with in a day? There are only so many hours in a day. Even if you can juggle eight meetings with potential clients each day, how long will it take to share your solution with 30 or 3,000 or 300,000 companies? Social media allows you to reach the millions of businesspeople using search engines to find a solution each day.
Social media allows you to connect with an infinite number of people and potential buyers each day — whether they are next door or across the globe. Get a game plan and jump in!
Click here to view more findings from Foster Marketing’s Social Media in the Oil & Gas Industry Survey.
Foster Marketing believes in partnering with clients to help them reach their business goals. With this in mind, we provide marketing solutions to help you achieve your goals and track your progress along the journey. By integrating your advertising, public relations, event and digital marketing efforts, we help you get to your goal quicker. Social media is just one of the many up and coming digital tools that you can add to your marketing toolkit. As always, we are here to help you craft a social strategy, launch the effort and help you sustain a successful social media program in the future.
By Kristy Bonner, Account Executive and Digital Strategist of Foster Marketing
Ever had a bad business experience…and then told someone about it?
If not, you’re in a minority. All of us at one time or another have had to wait in a long line, received poor customer service or felt ripped off. When a store doesn’t carry the brand we want, we complain to our friends. When we have to wait too long in line, we warn our neighbors not to shop there.
Today, not only do we share these negative reviews with a handful of family members and friends, but we can also register our complaints on Facebook to our 900+ friends and friends of friends. Or we can Tweet in a pithy comment on Twitter for the world to see.
No industry is exempt from being reviewed. If you provide a product or service, someone somewhere is talking about you. And that can be bad news for your business if you’re not managing customer expectations or acknowledging the online chatter.
There is a very shiny silver lining to this cloud. When things go well we are even more excited about sharing good reviews like “have great products,” “provide quality service” and “are customer-focused.”
Many deals and decisions in the oil and gas industry are still based on long-time relationships and referrals. Why does Operator A only use Service Company B for its Gulf of Mexico projects? Because somewhere along the way, someone gave them a good review.
Social media is changing how we do business. About 83 percent of online buyers said they trust recommendations from friends; and more than 50 percent say they even trust reviews from strangers, according to a survey by Forrester Research.
Shouldn’t you know what people are saying about your company, your products and your services? Are you getting good reviews from current and former clients? If you aren’t sure, take a look online because chances are the people you are selling to already have.
Last year, a blogger approached one of our international oil and gas clients about the origin of its company name. The blogger emailed this company, seeking a response for what could be a rather unflattering posting about the etymology of the company’s name and its mythological meaning.
Our client could have handled this situation in several ways:
– First, he could have ignored the email completely. By deleting this one email, the blogger would have posted this item and likely would have started a chain reaction of other posts and emails from friends, colleagues and customers about the negative statements on the blog… likely with a line that said, “the company refused to respond.” Not exactly what you want customers and prospects to read.
– Second, he could have responded in a not-so-nice or threatening manner. This option would likely have led to a similar outcome, only the blogger would have added a bit more bite to his blog post.
– Instead, our client chose a better alternative. He responded and started a dialogue with the blogger. He offered information about his company, what they do and how the company name came to be.
By participating in the discussion about his company, our client played an active role in protecting his company’s good name, and the blogger opted not to post anything negative about the company and its name.
In the B2B arena, participating in these online conversations is becoming even more important. About 95 percent of corporate purchasing agents say they use the web to research products and services before making a selection, according to a study by research firm, Enquiro. Shouldn’t you know what they’ll see about your business?
It’s worth your time to take a look at what your customers see when they look you up on the Internet and identify opportunities for your company to join this online conversation.
In addition to the five Ps of marketing we’ve always lived by (product, price, position, promotion and people), now there’s a sixth P — “participation” — that demands our attention.