Author: David Mario Smith Date: May 30, 2014
Topic: Collaboration Research Note Number: 2014-16
Issue: What are the best practices for leveraging collaboration to gain a competitive advantage?
Summary: Marketing leaders who don’t leverage the synergies between webinars, social communities and digital marketing initiatives will miss out on a powerful strategy for truly engaging prospects and customers.
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Digital marketing professionals have long realized that content is essential in marketing. Getting the right and relevant content to consumers and making it easily accessible is crucial. Webcasts and webinars made with web and video conferencing technology are effective tools for digital marketers long after the actual live event, and much of the value comes in their reuse.
What’s been missing is a way to galvanize social communities around that content. In this research note we discuss why it’s essential for digital marketing professionals to merge web conferencing webinars and webcasts with social networking communities.
Content Marketing and Webinars
Next to standalone video, the number one marketing content type is the webinar, but live webinars are not enough. The ability to reuse the content of a well-produced webinar with multiple audiences greatly multiplies its value.
This makes it critical to select a provider that can do both. Providers that support both live events and on-demand with analytics and editing capabilities will have the strongest leverage. Also, being able to utilize the media asset in social networks lengthens its life cycle and further increases its value.
The Web Conferencing Roster
Web conferencing has always had the notion of a roster, similar to instant message and presence clients. In fact, from a unified communication and collaboration (UCC) perspective, IM and presence clients are now the launch pads for multiple conferencing modes such as audio, video, web and text.
UCC vendors like Avaya, Cisco, Huawei, IBM, Microsoft and Unify now allow a consistent identity across multiple communication and collaboration mediums. I have the same identity in my UCC client as I do in a web/video session launched from that client.
Leveraging Real-Time With Social Communities
When digital marketing leaders reach out to customers with real-time communications like webinars and webcasts, they should think of the participants in these virtual sessions as a social community that has already demonstrated an interest in the webinar topic. All it needs is a virtual space to convene after the webinar is over. Think of the marketing webinar as just a point along the customer experience continuum.
Digital marketing professionals should have a community mindset when embarking on external marketing initiatives. When marketers have a persistent social space to follow up with attendees and post the webinar for on-demand replay, they can carry on the conversation well after the session is over. Herein lies the real value of leveraging the webinar roster to spawn a community of interested people, where marketers can keep the interaction going.
The Benefits Of External Communities
Social network providers like Jive Software and Lithium help enterprises establish customer-facing online communities. Tying webinar or webcast events to these external social communities builds a bidirectional communication channel between participants and the company. It also lets participants interact with their peers.
Communities help companies innovate and build better products. Product development should not be done in isolation from customers. Getting customer feedback and ideas is a way to crowdsource innovation. Communities also help companies grow their brands by having stronger and more personal relationships with customers.
Communities have been shown to reduce support costs for organizations. They allow the company to become a trusted advisor and a source of relevant information for customers. Marketing professionals have to make sure they are involved along the full spectrum of the customer experience continuum. Having gaps of no interaction within that continuum not only puts marketers out of touch, but can also have a negative impact on the customer’s own experience. Keeping fresh and rich interactive content inside the community also helps make it a valuable place where people will want to engage. That content can start with the captured webinar or webcast, and also include follow-on content such as videos or interactive presentations that will interest the community (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Integrated Webinar Community Architecture
Web Conferencing Vendors
We don’t see a lot of web conferencing vendors that support webinars looking closely at the integration with social networking. What we’re talking about here is more than just a landing page around a webinar that is used mainly for registration. This is about the ability to establish a persistent space for social communities directly from the marketing event (see Note 1).
Saba can do this with Saba Cloud and Saba Meeting. You can potentially create customer social communities and groups in relation to web meetings. Adobe could also do it with the integration of Adobe Connect 9 Events and the Adobe Experience Manager, which is part of its marketing cloud. Citrix has potential here with the integration of GoToWebinar and Podio. Also, IBM can possibly do it with SmartCloud Events and IBM Connections. IBM recently brought all its collaboration capabilities under the Connections umbrella and branding.
Cisco could have done this with WebEx and WebEx Social (formerly Quad), but Cisco is ending production of its social offering. Cisco recently announced a partnership with Jive Software, which potentially enables them to integrate external social communities with WebEx.
On the other side of this spectrum, social software players are adding real-time functions to their platforms. Jive itself acquired Meetings.io for real-time integration. We believe with the Cisco partnership, the Meetings.io integration may be threatened. Also, Oracle, which launched its own Oracle Social Network, is doing partnerships with real-time collaboration vendors to bring that capability in.
Video content management vendors also have webinar and webcast capabilities. Some of these providers are adding social integration in the area of comments around video content. They support this in a video portal metaphor where users can interact with content owners and subject matter experts. Marketing event producers can do live webinars and webcasts from the video content management platform to large audiences. Further integration with a community engine could deepen the value of these platforms for marketing professionals.
Marketing professionals have to establish external customer communities. It’s not a matter of if but when, and using which provider’s platform. Also, marketing events such as webinars have to be synced with the community as a persistent space to access the event on demand and continue the conversation in the context of the captured event. With the connectedness of consumers via mobile devices and social media, companies have to be better connected to and with their customers. This also relates to partners, as the digital workforce has raised the issue of engagement and connectedness to be paramount.
- Recast every marketing webinar as interactive content that needs to be captured for community use.
- Incorporate social communities to enable discussions around captured interactive content.
- Evaluate solutions such as video content management that can potentially be used to capture, transcode, edit and publish content on demand with video portal capabilities.
The drivers behind converging markets are emerging business needs that are trumping technology islands and silos that vendors have erected. If harnessed, the synergy between social networks, communities and webinars and webcasts can have a great impact on digital marketing initiatives.
Web and Video Conferencing Providers
(bold = possible community integration)
- Sonic Foundry
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