'BtoB' honors digital marketers

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Matt Preschern, VP-North America demand programs at IBM Corp., was named BtoB's 2012 Top Digital Marketer of the Year at an awards luncheon in San Francisco last month. The luncheon honored b-to-b marketing executives who are leading the way in innovative digital marketing and also featured a keynote presentation by Alison Engel, global marketing director at social network company LinkedIn. Preschern was one of 25 Top Digital Marketers profiled in the June issue of BtoB. He was recognized as Top Digital Marketer of the Year for his work using digital platforms to promote IBM's hardware, software and services as part of its “Smarter Planet” initiative. “We are making IBMers part of the brand,” Preschern said, pointing to a “social eminence” program that helps IBM employees engage with social media and build the company's brand. Preschern also said IBM is integrating social media into events, such as its recent Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Orlando, Fla., during which 2,000 people sent more than 10 million tweets about the event, reaching a total audience of more than 4 million users online. In addition, IBM employees conducted 22 video interviews and contributed to more than 50 blogs during the event. “We find combining social media with our more traditional marketing tactics in an integrated manner to be one of the most effective ways to market today,” Preschern said. Using social media to help companies build brands and reach target audiences was one of the hot topics at the luncheon. During her keynote presentation, Engel unveiled new LinkedIn research on how business professionals use social media. (The study was based on an online survey of more than 6,000 LinkedIn users worldwide.) “On personal networks, users "spend' time; on professional networks, users "invest' time,” Engel said. “Professional network users want content that can help them at some time in the future, insights that help them work smarter and updates from brands they are interested in.” The top content area for professional social network users is career information, followed by brand updates and current affairs, according to the company's research. “There is a deep well of emotion on professional social networks, similar to the type of high emotion that exists on b-to-c social networks,” Engel said. She presented case studies from Cisco Systems, Citigroup and IBM to demonstrate how b-to-b marketers are using content, LinkedIn groups and brand updates to engage with their target audiences. Also during the event, a panel of this year's Top Digital Marketers discussed how they're using social media, mobile and other online technologies. “Business is social,” said Linda Boff, global executive director-digital, advertising and design at General Electric Co., last year's Top Digital Marketer of the Year, who presented this year's award to Preschern. Boff said GE has found success this year using Instagram to engage its target audiences. The company was named one of the top five brands on Instagram, with more than 100,000 followers. “This was unexpected,” Boff said of the Instagram success. “It really allows us to open the door and let people in [to the GE brand].” Sharon Crost, integrated marketing manager at Hitachi Data Systems, said, “The bottom line is—the bottom line.” She said her company is able to show through metrics how social media is directly affecting the bottom line. For example, a recent social media campaign Crost helped develop, called “Be a Star,” resulted in more than 9,000 social media engagements against an initial goal of 200, and 359 leads against a goal of 300. “Our most effective use of social media would have to be online videos,” said Brian Krause, VP-marketing and communications at connector manufacturer Molex Inc. Molex has posted more than 200 videos on YouTube, and over the past year has posted about 25 Chinese videos on Youku, a video site serving China, which is a huge market for Molex. “We are seeing a tremendous amount of downloads from those videos, and we're taking those videos to our product landing pages as well as our channel partners' pages—and certainly that is helping us on the search engine optimization piece, as everything goes back to,” Krause said. Mobile was another hot topic of discussion for the panel. “Mobile has been huge for events,” said Rishi Dave, executive director-digital marketing at Dell Inc. Dell creates mobile apps for its events and “gamifies” the content to let event attendees win prizes and network with other users. Dave and other panelists pointed to some challenges with mobile marketing. “The No. 1 problem is scaling mobile globally,” Dave said. Pam Didner, global integrated marketing manager at Intel Corp., agreed. “Intel is a global company, and it is very hard to develop a headquarters-driven approach to mobile,” she said. “Headquarters has to work with the regional offices to coordinate mobile programs.”
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