Tag Archives: Facebook

What’s not going to happen in 2013

So by this stage, already one  week into this gloomy, gloomy year, you’ll have read the millionth ‘what’s going  to happen in  2013’ list, so I thought I’d approach the topic a little differently. This is my ‘what’s not going  to happen in 2013′ list.

1) Tablets will not be the magic bullet for publishers. Only ever wishful thinking and hype on  the part of publishers, 2013 will be the year that the industry collectively slumps in its chairs and reluctantly admits that it’s still  harder than ever to make money from the  printed word. This has been driven in part by the poor  quality of ‘tablet editions’ – many are little more than a linked-up PDF. Another ominous sign was Murdoch’s decision to close his tablet paper, in The Daily, in December, after losing  $30m a year.

The same goes for print books; while tablets are a great  innovation for consumers, for publishers it only means tighter margins as Amazon executives rub their hands together with glee. But that’s not to say there’s not some success from the more esoteric operators. Legal publishers like Thomson Reuters are investing heavily in professional-grade e-readers, able to cope with  the very specific demands of the professional services, such as dynamic searching and note making. We’ll see more innovation in this area I think, but not for a mainstream consumer audience.

tablet  colour

2) Specialist social media PR agencies will no longer (generally) have competitive edge. Let’s face it, any account executive in any PR agency can set up a Facebook page or talk about  twitter content plans. What was once the  domain of the few is now firmly in the  mainstream, at least when it comes to the agencyland bubble. However, what this means is that those specialist agencies are (or should be) looking beyond the obvious, and are moving into exciting and dynamic new areas; branded content, experiential, app development, SEO, all founded by great ideas that get  people talking, whatever the medium. Success will become defined by  those willing to pioneer, and a huge agency grey area will  start to swirl.

3) SEO will not take over the PR/social media mix. For all the talk of  SEO usurping content-led social media and PR, the latter  discipline will continue to prove its worth on all fronts; from a creative, strategic and ROI basis. What we’ll see is a merge; traditional SEO agencies will continue to embrace great content and golden links from high traffic news sites, recruiting or acquiring PR talent and  agencies in the process. Meanwhile, forward-thinking PR agencies will continue to hire SEO talent, to bolster the credibility  and  knowledge–base of their own offering. 

facebook

4) Consumers will not tire of Facebook. Pah! As if anyone seriously thought that would happen. While Google+ continues to update its proposition and talk in hushed  tones about how it will help search results, how many of us really use it? Or even enjoy the experience? While Facebook adoption might plateau in Europe, America and  the Asia Pacific, there will be  always be new growth areas. A bit like the tobacco industry. And it’s still the best, most dynamic and  exciting way to reach and engage with a mainstream consumer audience. Facebook will increasingly become the lead-channel in  integrated marketing  campaigns. Maybe we’ll even see traditional websites and (gasp) the 30 second  TV spot  disappear. Probably not for a while, but one thing’s sure – no matter how many times Mark Zuckerberg sells our data or betrays us, we’ll keep coming back for more, me included.

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Social media metrics – avoiding ‘over-information-itus’

The beauty of social media is that everything is measurable; clicks, impressions, engagement, web traffic, blog views, you name it. There’s a wealth of data available resulting from every single piece of activity you do. So it figures that all this information makes it easy to measure the effectiveness of campaigns right? Unfortunately, not always.

With all this information comes problems; namely a common and acute case of acute ‘over-information-itus’ where there’s so much data that your head spins and your brain becomes mush. Or, even easier is falling into the trap of simply ‘counting’ metrics, such as Facebook ‘likes’ or video views, without matching up the data with your marketing objectives.

When analysing the impact of any campaign, it’s a good idea is to have a ‘measurement dashboard’ in place; a checklist of key metrics that you apply to every piece of activity, helping you measure the impact of any social media and justify any investment in this area. While your marketing objectives will vary from campaign to campaign, typically they’ll exist within a fairly narrow genre; sell more products, boost brand awareness or drive web traffic. With that in mind I’ve developed a basis dashboard you can use when analysing your own campaigns.

Audience reach

A no-brainer. Just as you’d calculate how many people you reached with your event or ad campaign, you can do exactly the same with social media, and the good news is, it’s easy. Let’s say you’ve uploaded a brand video to Youtube, you’ve tweeted about it, put it on your blog, posted it on Facebook and outreached it to two mummy bloggers. Simply count the total number of views across all platforms. On Facebook look at the ‘insights’ page on your brand dashboard, which is increasingly sophisticated.  For twitter, you’ll need to use a free tool to calculate audience reached, such as Tweet Reach. Your blog will have its own back-end analytics telling you how many people have viewed your post. And don’t forget to count the audience of any third party bloggers who have featured your campaign – to do this either use a tool like Alexa [xwww.alexa.com], or ask the blogger nicely for their daily uniques (good luck with that!)   

Engagement

Reaching a large audience is good, but engagement is more important. It’s far better to have 100 people interested in what you’ve got to say and therefore more likely to buy from you and tell their friends about you than 1,000 people who are indifferent. Engagement is a key indicator into how effective your marketing message is in terms of galvanizing your audience into action.

Measuring engagement in Facebook is easy. Again, check out the ‘insights’ button and look at the ‘talking about this’ tab. Other indicators of engagement are number of comments on your blog, number of twitter re-tweets and @tweets, and number of Youtube comments and interactions. Always remember to contrast engagement levels against a ‘base’ level to give you a frame of reference as a percentage increase i.e. at a time when you’re not running any specific campaign activity.

It’s also a good idea to look at the sentiment of what people are saying, as well as key conversation themes – is your activity driving positive on-brand conversation, or negative, off-topic conversation, for example? There’s a number of sophisticated paid-for tools that can do this, and they don’t come cheap. However, you can check out a nice little free tool called Social Mention which measures both these elements and is well worth a look.

Community growth

In theory at least, reaching a big audience and successfully engaging with them should lead to your community growing as more people decide they like your brand, and want to hear more from you. You should measure how this is increasing (or god forbid, decreasing). When we talk about ‘community’ we mean any social media member community that you own – so count increases in Facebook fans, twitter followers, Youtube subscribers, blog subscribers, or whatever social media platforms you’re using. A handy tool for tracking twitter growth is Twitter Counter.

Referrals + Social media conversation

Like it or not, social media has to ultimately come back to sales, or at least play a role in the sales cycle.  So first of all, you need to drive people to where a conversation can take place, typically your website. And the good news is research has shown a customer arriving on your website from a social media channel is much more likely to buy from you than if they’ve come there directly. This is where ‘referrals’ come in – the more referrals to your website you’re driving from social media channels the better. Google analytics (ask your web guy or girl to install analytics tracking on key pages of your site) is the best tool for this and will list which websites are referring traffic back to your site. If your social media activity is effective, then you will start to see these channels appearing in the top ten referrers.

Secondly, it’s important to look at the business value of your social media activity – the hard sales bit. You can measure conversion through properly set up web analytics, but this isn’t terribly easy unless you have access to a specialist. An easier route could be to calculate your average conversation rate and average spend per customer, and apply this value to a percentage of the total traffic arriving on your site from social media. And if you carry out PPC activity, then you can attribute your average pay-per-click cost to each piece of traffic from social media.

And remember, this is not an exhaustive list. Keep flexible and add additional metrics that suit your specific objectives, and help you justify your social media budgets.

 

Image used under Creative Commons via jrbrubaker

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Help me on my crowd-sourced holiday

I’m off to Melbourne at the weekend, the first time I’ve ever been there. Usually I’d take a stack of guide books, leaflets and maps. I’d spend hours pouring over them, planning my day; what bars to go to, the best sights to see, the quirkiest restaurants to eat at. If I didn’t cover off everything in my list I’d get depressed and stressed. I’d feel I’d somehow wasted my time and money. You get the picture.

But not this time.

This time I’m going to do things differently. I’m going to keep things firmly 2011 and have a completely crowd-sourced holiday. That’s right, I’m binning the books and, using only my iPhone and a range of social networks, I’m going to go it alone.

That means from the moment I arrive to the moment I leave Melbourne, I’m basing my trip on information I can glean from Twitter and Facebook, venue suggestions and tips on Scvngr and must-dos on Foursquare.

This could lead to a dreadful holiday experience, careering from random venue to random venue. Or maybe it will lead to the most amazing, spontaneous holiday ever. Either way, it’ll be fun finding out. Look me up at www.twitter.com/willockenden if you want to help out. The results will be published right here, very soon…

Image used under Creative Commons courtesy of Endlesstrail

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If Facebook was real life – and other amusing videos

I’ve recently been involved in delivering a social media training session with my colleagues Chris Norton and Jono Marcus for one of our clients. We talked about the importance of community, and what this means for a business. Anyway, we used a few videos in the presentation which summed it all up really succinctly, and in a very funny and engaging way, so here goes.

Facebook

Advertising versus Consumer

Once you start…you can’t stop

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More tips for creating a successful social media contest

Interesting article on Mashable around how to make a social media contest an unmitigated success. I’ve run several successful (and a few challenging) online competitions on behalf of my clients, so I’ve got a few things to add to Clay’s excellent piece.

1) Integration is king

Something of a soapbox issue for me; I believe that for a social media campaign to be truly effective, online activity needs to seamlessly integrate with what’s happening offline. So, Clay mentions that ‘everyone loves a winner’ and it’s important to PR the result of the contest, which I agree with. But why stop there? What happens if you make the contest itself a story – then you get a great PR story playing out in traditional media channels before it’s even launched in the online space, building anticipation, and ultimately giving you a shed load of entries. So make sure it’s the biggest, the best, the first…whatever it takes to give you that all important news hook to appeal to traditional media. Then of course you can PR the entries on an ongoing basis giving you yet more media coverage.

2) Breaking down the barriers to entry

Getting the right quantity, as well as quality of entries is key, whatever your objectives are. You can have the best creative idea in the world, but if it’s a massive effort for people to enter, then they won’t do it, simple as that. So, make your contest fun, interesting, make it so that people want to take part, whether they win the final prize or not. And play to platforms that people use and make the process easy; for example, a photography competition that people can enter directly from their smartphone becomes the easiest thing in the world.

3) Ensure mass adoption

Clay talks about leveraging social channels to make sure it’s a success, and I agree. But also leverage non-social channels. I’ve touched on the importance of PR around the contest, and this stands, but also do everything you can to get people to enter. So plug it on your customer’s e-newsletter, put links to it on their homepage, make sure you mention it in your notes to editors on every press release you issue. James Khan from Dragon’s Den said that success can be broken down into the basic constituents of 10% idea and 90% delivery, and this is so true. And a great prize always helps – high perceived value, low actual value.

4) Rich media content

Finally, something else I’ve found is that the more rich-media content your contest generates, the more lucid it becomes and the more people want to talk about it – which means more buzz and ultimately more entries for your client. So while a ‘traditional’ press competition would simply ask people to answer a question, now you can ask them to upload a video, an image, a playlist…it goes on. And best of all, each these factors gives you great content for your existing social media platforms, and more reasons for people to engage.

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Taking a gamble on Facebook

After looking into social media options for a new online gaming client, I found that Facebook is planning to faze out all gaming ads on its site. This ban covers all areas of online gambling advertising including sportsbooks, poker, casinos and bingo. By barring online gambling ads, Facebook is essentially putting this form of entertainment in the same category as firearms and tobacco which are also not allowed to be marketed on the site. Facebook is arguing that with a young customer base, it needs to draw a line when it comes to advertising and online gambling is an easy mark.

But weirdly, alcohol currently remains ok to promote on the site, with Facebook allowing this providing the responsible drinking message is carried. And furthermore, there remain countless apps like Facebook poker, on the site, presumably because no money changes hands.

Marketeers can still establish fan pages and groups to market to consumers, with numerous brands already doing this successfully, and it will be interesting to see where Facebook is willing to draw the line.

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Farmville and the Virtual Goods Market

So, it looks like FarmVille (you know, the game that everyone seems to be on each time you visit Facebook) is big news. Really big news.

Its vast number of players are handing over millions of dollars each day in exchange for virtual goods, like land, farm equipment and animals. In fact, the game is so successful, that its developers, Zynga, are reported to have harvested (excuse the pun) revenues of more than £91m this year alone.

Hold on a minute. The virtual goods market? This is the kind of concept that would blow the minds of most people over the age of 50. People paying for virtual goods? Whether it’s a $1 bunny icon on Facebook or a plot of land in Second Life, why are people paying for what is essentially a load of digital 1s and 0s?

But they are, and the market is now thought to be worth $1n this year, according to the Virtual Good News blog

James Hong from dating site HotorNot explains it quite nicely, he says: “Virtual objects aren’t really objects – they are graphical metaphors for packaging up behaviors that people are already engaging in. [Our] virtual flower service has 3 components: there’s the object itself represented by a graphical flower icon, there’s the gesture of someone sending the flower to their online crush, and finally, there’s the trophy effect of everyone else being able to see that you got a flower.”

This is interesting stuff, not least for for media businesses, struggling to find a revenue generating model outside of online advertising (Rupert Murdoch, anyone?),  the Virtual Goods market could be a compelling way for consumers to pay for content. And in a way that avoids the monthly subscription model that may media owners are flirting with, and undoubtedly, puts many consumers off.

On that note, I’m off to take a delivery of some virtual stock.

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