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The evolution of social demand generation: Monkey, Ape, Neanderthal and Man

Social demand generation isn’t new, but what I want to address in this short post is how you go about using social channels and contacts in your demand generation activities. In addition to this, I will highlight some of the tools, which are available, that will empower your organisation to better embrace and integrate social.

Marketing Automation (MA) has the benefits of reducing data silos, centralising content and workflow, and being an enabler for marketing outperformance. Yet over the past few years, we’ve seen MA vendors add various features or techniques to aid making campaigns social, not making social campaigns directly. Therefore, here’s my view on the evolution of social and demand gen and how I think it will evolve:

  • Social sharing is the most primitive stage of MA and is therefore the monkey in the chain; it is the first and most simple building block. This stage is all about providing the capability your recipients or readers need to socialise and share your content and works like forwarding to a friend. As a result, it’s a good place to start and to systemise word of mouth, which is a strong form of recommendation.
  • The ape is next up the evolution sequence and in terms of MA is equitant to social sign-on. This is a technique which can aid conversion, by allowing prospects/contacts to skip filling in long forms around gated assets, and prepopulate the data using their social login. I see this as a great untapped source of rich social data, which can be brought back from various social platform APIs. In my opinion it has unfulfilled potential and presents an easy way to obtain permission-based access to rich social data. However, surprisingly, very few organisations are using it today. Research from Aberdeen shows only 21% of best-in-class companies using social sign-on for B2B marketing, and we are seeing only 5-10 per cent across our customer based, who are able to tap into rich social data.
  • As the Neanderthal was closely related to modern humans, social listening is the next step in the MA evolutionary chain, as it is already largely practiced within the marketing department - in particular by PR and social media teams. Listening to what communities, prospects and customers have to say on your organisation provides a deeper understanding of brand awareness and what people think of your brand/products. There are some very capable tools e.g. Radian6, owned by SFDC, (although they are not geared towards demand generation) which can help you to monitor conversations. These tools can deliver basic contact information, but they do miss out key data such as phone and email. As users of demand generation the concept of social lead generation isn’t really there; however, I think there is another area: social intelligence, which fill this gap. Radian6 was built around a sentiment engine for thought leadership, yet it wasn’t built around a segmentation engine, which is what you need MA for. 
  • Social intelligence is the latest ground-breaking technology and therefore is man in Darwin’s theory. Social intelligence is of benefit to two groups; sales professionals and marketers. Just as Radian6 is a sentiment engine you, as marketers, need a segmentation engine for identifying influencers or key prospects. Having social intelligence provides the ability for marketers to search and segment, based on relevant conversations and social data. For sales users it provides a more effective means of social selling, especially by adding behaviour data to contacts to help sales professionals outperform i.e. it produces actionable intelligence. This includes full contact records with phone and email address, social handles and even social behaviour, which can be leveraged for automated campaigns marketing automation or even CRM.

I strongly believe that the role of social intelligence is of growing and vital importance. Any organisation that is serious about engaging with prospects and customers in the channels they wish to communicate in will have recognised this already, and be ready to adapt.