We are currently accepting entries for our 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards and as we are rapidly approaching our February 28th deadline, I thought I would share some insights on what it takes to win in the Social Depth category.

For those of you who need a refresh, social depth includes all of the various social capabilities that a brand adds to its own website and/or campaign microsite in order to facilitate a buyers' exploration of the brand and its offerings. Social depth tactics can include a blog, ratings and reviews, discussion forums, curated and aggregated social content (user-generated and brand-generated) and social sign-on. These tactics provide tremendous value to marketers who have deployed them. In fact, my recent report shows how B2B marketers give social depth tactics high grades in terms of their contribution to business outcomes.

But what makes a social depth strategy stand out from the rest? First and foremost, your social depth strategy should provide the rich content and customer insights a buyer seeks when exploring your brand and products on your website. This branded and user-generated content should move a buyer from early exploration to consideration and ultimately to an actual online or offline purchase. Brands that do this really well can show how their strategy drives quality leads, conversions and online and/or offline sales.

Here is a recap (taken from my colleague Nate Elliott's blog) of the Forrester Groundswell winners from our 2013 Social Depth category. These companies have what it takes to be social depth champions:

Social Depth Marketing (Business-to-Consumer)

Winner: Bridge Social Community by Milwaukee School of Engineering

Milwaukee School of Engineering is a private, non-profit university that wanted to drive more applications and encourage more of the students it accepted to attend the school. MSOE built an online community where prospective students and their parents could interact with MSOE’s admissions counselors and learn more about the school and the admissions process.

The result? Prospective students got exactly the depth they were looking for — and MSOE not only generated many more applications much earlier in the year, it also saw the number of accepted students who sent in a deposit grow from 30% to 38%.

For much more detail on Milwaukee School of Engineering’s winning program, click here.


Social Depth Marketing (Business-to-Business)

Winner: Webroot Ambassador Program by Webroot

The Webroot Ambassador Program is an excellent example of social reach marketing — but we thought it was even more deserving of recognition in our social depth marketing category. The online security company knows that people mostly talk about their antivirus software when it fails, not when it succeeds. So it set up an ambassador program to ask satisfied customers to tell others about their experiences. More than 200 ambassadors now take part, and 20% have directly created new business for Webroot.

But more impressive was the company’s decision to send video cameras to its best ambassadors and ask them to record testimonials. Webroot added these video testimonials to its site, to make sure prospects found the depth of information they needed to make a purchase decision. And the tactic worked: Landing pages featuring video testimonials have conversion rates nearly three times higher than those that don’t.

For much more detail on Webroot’s winning program, click here.



Now, go submit your entry before it's too late! The deadline is February 28th — good luck!