Archive for the ‘Social networking’ Category
November 18th, 2011
Google+ launched Google+ pages last week, in direct competition with Facebook, and the evidence shows that many brands have set up a page over the first week of activity, at least according to research by SEO firm BrightEdge, who confirmed â€˜61 percent of world’s top 100 brands have already created Google+ pages‘, which is pretty impressive considering the time frame.
The question that keeps coming up is: ‘Why do I need a Facebook page and a Google+ page?’ Many of those brands that have taken the plunge already will have grabbed their Google+ page, simply to secure it, which is reason enough at least in the short term. Some may be surprised to hear though that it’s easy to set up fake pages so look for the verified badge when you visit the site.
So why does a brand need a Google+ page? Well, there are many reasons, 18.5 of which are defined in Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp’s piece on the Drum last week, and as he suggested, the integration of Analytics, YouTube, Adwords, Picassa offers an advantage over Facebook, and perhaps an insight into the longer term strategy.
Obviously Facebook is the prime motivation for the Google+ launch, and many feel Google+ is too far behind to mount an effective challenge, but the issue here is not so much about the stand alone effectiveness of Google+ vs Facebook, but the sheer scale of Google products that Google + already integrates, and will undoubtedly increase in the future. Let’s also not forget Google’s strength, its search engine, which has led to its Google+ pages already out ranking Facebook brand pages, which is reason enough for some brands to get involved.
The BrightEdge analysis showed Google+ pages on average appeared in the top 12 Google search results for the corresponding brand, while the brand’s Facebook pages on average appeared in the top 13 or 14 listed results.
The flexibility in connectedness, and search, gives Google the long term edge in terms of synching with its full range of services. Of course many services also synch with Facebook, but Google’s vision seems to take this to another level. We’re not talking about beating Facebook, Google is simply building around it and making it less relevant.
The reality is we’re a long way away from that today as 94 percent of the Top 100 brands analysed by BrightEdge have a presence on Facebook, and in terms of the big brands, like Coke, McDonalds and Verizon each only has dozens of fans on Google+, but millions of Facebook fans. The review of Facebook and Google+ properties for the top 100 brands showed a collective total of almost 300 million Facebook fans, compared to approximately 148,000 Google+ followers for these same brands.
Looking at the figures today, the task ahead of Google+ seems insurmountable, but i suspect the gulf between Facebook and Google+ will fall as the connected battle gets into second gear, and Google has already announced a pilot program that will allow businesses and brands to manage their Google+ Pages using a number of third-party applications, including Buddy Media, Context Optional, Hearsay Social, HootSuite, Involver, and Vitrue.
The issue is not so much about Google+ catching Facebook, but about offering a viable and useful reason to have a Google+ page as well. We may see different verticals opting for different networks based on reach and audience in the future, but with these options brands have ever more increasing routes to listening and engaging with their communities.
November 10th, 2011
The findings of TNS’s Digital Life study, A global survey that is billed as the most comprehensive view of how more than 72,000 consumers in 60 countries behave online and why they do what they do, were revealed today.
The full details on the research can be seen here and in brief the survey found that 57 per cent of people in developed markets* do not want to engage with brands via social media – rising to 60 per cent in the US and 61 per cent in the UK. Of the 72,000 surveyed between June and September 2011, 2,093 were Britons.
However, the research also shows 47 per cent of digital consumers now comment about brands online, and 54 per cent of people admit social networks are a good place to learn about products, which shows a willingness to get involved where there is relevancy or a reward for doing so, proved by the following stat: 61 per cent of consumers are driven to engage with brands online by a promotion or special offer.
The figures are a little more encouraging in Fast growth markets** , which were found to be far more open to brands on social networks. Just 33 per cent of Colombians and 37 per cent of Mexicans said they don’t want to be bothered by brands online, while 59 per cent of people across fast-growing countries see social networks as a good place to learn about brands.
Interestingly, the findings showed that more people like to praise than complain online (13 per cent vs. 10 per cent), which goes against the old understanding that people are more likely to complain, if only just.
So does this mean that brands are wasting their time and money by developing social campaigns? Well, if they are doing it just to tick a box, or simply to say to the MD â€˜we have a Facebook profile’, then yes, they are. This is not a new learning, bad social campaigns do more harm than good, and taking a broadcast methodology online will only serve to highlight the lack of understanding of the brand, and return little in the way of results.
Although there are many social commentators banging on about the importance of the theory of social communications and the importance of listening to a community, understanding its needs and holding a two-way conversation, none of which is new or exciting, the message doesn’t seem to be getting through.
There are many more bad examples of social brand campaigns than good ones, and research such as this only goes to prove that education isn’t getting through to those that hold the budgets, and perhaps also a reflection to those that the brands trust to carry out social campaigns.
There is no doubt that individuals as a whole do not particularly wish to engage with a brand online for no reason, unless of course they have an offer or reward, why would they?
However, if a brand, individual or charity is truly engaged with its community, offers relevant and useful content, understands the platform on which they are communicating and actually listens to its audience, the likelihood of engagement will be higher. Not because it’s a brand, but because the individual believes the engagement is worthwhile.
So, should we all go away and give up on social communications, or should we just start being social in our communications?
*TNS defines developed markets as: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States.
** Fast growth markets: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Columbia, Egypt, Estonia, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam.
October 27th, 2011
Interesting research from the University of Massachusetts shows that for the first time in 4 years there has been virtually no change in Fortune 500 companies adopting Facebook, Twitter or Blogging, which is a surprise to say the least.
According to the research by Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, PhD, Senior Fellow, Society for New Communications Research & Chancellor Professor of Marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, nearly one third of Fortune 500 are without either a Twitter or Facebook account. While the percent of companies blogging remains at 23%, that number now represents 114 companies with blogs instead of the 116 recorded last year.
Dr Barnes, suggests: “These results may signal a levelling off and possibly retrenchment when it comes to the adoption of social media among the 2011 Fortune 500. There is also evidence of change in the adoption of these tools by industry and a clear sign from some companies that these are not part of their communications strategy. Given that the Fortune 500 are the titans of American business, we may be seeing the slowdown in business adoption of social media. At the very least, this group appears to have slowed or stopped its adoption of the three most prominent tools – Blogging, Facebook and Twitter.”
The full research can be downloaded here and key findings include:
â€¢ 23% (114) of the primary Fortune 500 corporations have an external corporate blog. This represents a levelling off since 2010 and only a 1% increase over the 2009 study.
â€¢ Fortune 500 companies are blogging at a lower rate than other business groups, specifically the Inc. 500. In 2010, 50% of the Inc. 500 had corporate blogs and in 2009 45% had externally-facing corporate blogs.
â€¢ 62% (308) of Fortune 500 primary companies have corporate Twitter accounts. This is an increase of only 2% over the 2010 Fortune 500.
â€¢ 58% (289) of the 2010 Fortune 500 have a Facebook presence. There is an increase of only 2% over the 2010 Fortune 500.
â€¢ Specialty Retail stores are most likely to have a blog. These include Home Depot, Best Buy, Toys-R-Us and BJ’s Wholesale.
â€¢ 31% of the 2011 Fortune 500 do not have a Twitter account or a Facebook presence.
The figures are interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, does this really show a slow down in social adoption among the biggest organisations in the U.S? Or simply a reflection of the vertical structure of the Fortune 500, which at this (still) relatively early stage of adoption means those outside of the key sectors (Retail, Auto, Finance, Travel for example) are unlikely to adopt as yet.
Could this slowdown be linked to a pull back on budgets as a direct result of the economic slow down, and a more sustained focus on traditional and boardroom-accepted communications / marketing focuses?
However, whatever potential excuses we put forward, it’s clear that there is still much to be done in terms of educating large corporates in social media adoption, and more specifically its potential benefit. We also need to put more focus on making social relevant to vertical organisations / sectors, by highlighting specific approaches such as Social CRM, and Social Business.
October 19th, 2011
Comscore has released an overview of internet usage in Europe and Turkey, ahead of its slot at Webrazzi in Turkey today, where comScore Managing Director Mike Read will be presenting on the future of online measurement in Turkey, as well as an overview of the internet, globally.
The headline grabber is that of Europe’s 372 million unique visitors, Turkey accounted for 23.1 million unique visitors during August 2011, and is apparently the third most engaged online audience in Europe. Turkey’s connected population spent 45.3 billion minutes on the internet.
As for specific sites in Turkey, unsurprisingly, Facebook was the most engaging site, with 13.1 billion minutes spent on the site, accounting for 28.8 percent of all time spent online during the month. International sites Facebook, Microsoft Sites (4 billion minutes) and Google Sites (3.9 billion minutes) took the top 3 spots with the remainder made up of local Turkish sites.
As for the rest of Europe, The UK showed the highest engagement with users spending an average of nearly 35 hours online, up 1.5 hours from the previous month. The Netherlands ranked second (32.8 hours per month), closely followed by Turkey, where the average internet user spent 32.7 hours online consuming 3,706 pages per month, the highest consumption amongst all countries reported.
In terms of specific destinations, Google’s various sites, including its search engine, Gmail and YouTube – attracted 372m visitors, beating the 256m posted by Microsoft’s online properties.
VKontakte, a Russian equivalent of Facebook, has a user base of 51m people, who were active on its site for an average of 430 minutes.
Overall, web users were exposed to 989m pages in August, with Facebook on 163m.
Data sourced from comScore
September 20th, 2011
Is MySpace set to rise from the jaws of defeat again? Apparently so, according to this report.
MySpace had planned a summer press event to showcase its music-led platform, but was cancelled. The new plan to release an updated platform, including a Justin Timberlake (investor) concert, which has been planned for the Advertising Week event in New York next month.
MySpace had 33 million visitors to the site in August, but at its peak it had 100 million users. A 44 percent decline compared to a year ago (comScore).
It will certainly be interesting to see what sort of innovations are planned to help combat its decline, the last relaunch was cleaner, with a new design that puts content centre stage. It was also smarter, providing you with a personalised experience by recommending content based on your interests.
September 15th, 2011
The giants of social networking have been busy this week with the launch of new features which will prove useful, and change the focus and reporting for digital campaigns.
First to Facebook, which announced the Subscription button yesterday. This allows users to choose exactly what they see in their news feed, both in terms of narrowing the noise from friends and expanding subscriptions beyond friends to include contacts of interest, e.g. journalists, political figures, bloggers etc.
From a marketing perspective it will place further emphasis (if any was needed) on quality and useful content that can be subscribed to, even if pages are not liked and individuals followed.
The total number of people subscribing to posts and the number of people you’re subscribed to will appear on your profile. Facebook has also confirmed that the subscribers tab will replace â€˜likes’ as the most accurate engagement indicator, which will change the focus of many Facebook campaigns and again reflects the push towards being useful rather than just popular.
In brief, Facebook says: “In the next few days, you’ll start seeing this button (the Subscribe button) on friends’ and others’ profiles. You can use it to:”
1. Choose what you see from people in News Feed
2. Hear from people, even if you’re not friends
3. Let people hear from you, even if you’re not friends
Over to Twitter, where Twitter Web Analytics is now being introduced.
Christopher Golda at Twitter posted about the launch on Tuesday, confirming:
“Today we’re announcing Twitter Web Analytics, a tool that helps website owners understand how much traffic they receive from Twitter and the effectiveness of Twitter integrations on their sites. Twitter Web Analytics was driven by the acquisition of BackType, which we announced in July.”
The product provides three key benefits:
â€¢ Understand how much your website content is being shared across the Twitter network
â€¢ See the amount of traffic Twitter sends to your site
â€¢ Measure the effectiveness of your Tweet Button integration
The tool will allow brands to understand how website content is being shared across the Twitter network and view the amount of traffic Twitter sends to a site.
Golda continued:“People have struggled to accurately measure the amount of traffic Twitter is sending to their websites, in part because web analytics software hasn’t evolved as quickly as online sharing and social signals.
“Twitter Web Analytics will be rolled out this week to a small pilot group of partners, and will be made available to all website owners within the next few weeks. We’re also committed to releasing a Twitter Web Analytics API for developers interested in incorporating Twitter data in their products.”
This will be a hugely useful tool for the digital marketing industry as it offers a standardised, if basic, insight into Twitter analytics for all. Twitter has also recognised that it must open up to existing analytics providers to be successful.
September 14th, 2011
A man in the UK has just been jailed for 18 months, is banned from using social networks for the next five years and has to inform police of any phone he owns or buys that provides internet access.
The man in question is Sean Duffy and the reason for his punishment is internet trolling. To be more precise, Duffy mocked a dead teenager who had committed suicide by posting offensive remarks on a page dedicated to her memory, and creating a YouTube parody of Thomas the Tank Engine with the deceased girl’s face in place of Thomas.
After the hearing, Detective Chief Inspector James Hahn, of Thames Valley police, said “Malicious communication through social networking is a new phenomenon and unfortunately shows how technology can be abused. However, our investigation shows that offenders cannot hide behind their computer screens.“
August 8th, 2011
A very black week indeed for millions of us across the world but I did see a scintilla of light at the weekend because itâ€™s official â€“ Facebook does not make you brain dead, autistic, sociopathic, psychopathic or any other â€“â€œicâ€. Hooray!
The incredibly productive Jamie Doward (and Nick Boyle) told us in the Observer newspaper that â€œLogging on to computers helps us get out more, insist economists â€¦ Internet’s social networks and access to information bring people together and keep us sociable, not lonelyâ€.
Three economists – Stefan Bauernschuster, Oliver Falck and Ludger Woessmann of the Ifo Institute in Munich – reject the claim that the internet isolates people and erodes traditional social foundations. They will explain in detail through their paper presented at the Lindau Meetings towards the end of this month (August 2011).
The trio say their work demonstrates the internet is actually making us more socially active. The study shows that a home broadband connection positively influences social activities of adults as well as children.
Yet, less than 28 weeks ago we were being reliably informed that social networking was well dodgy, as tide of cyber-scepticism swept the US and here, (but in an understated British way). The coverage around Twitter and Facebook suggested that a rising number of academics believe that social networks don’t connect people â€“ they isolate them from reality.
These academics pointed to the way in which people frantically communicate online via Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging which could be seen as a form of modern madness.
The story rolled out a leading American sociologist, MIT professor Sherry Turkle who was quoted at the time as saying: “A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological.”
Mind you, she was publicising her book, Alone Together, apparently was â€œleading an attack on the information age.â€
Madness? Pathological behaviour? Hardly. I agree with the three economists â€“ the internet is a force for social good. Other networks, ooh letâ€™s say, the financial global networks, are a force for bad. These are the networks that rot our brains, make us feel powerless and stupid.
They are weapons of mass destruction and they will kill us all, slowly but surely. Perhaps Professor Turkle and her Facebook-fearful colleagues might want to turn their forensic gaze towards these networks and leave the socialising to us?
August 5th, 2011
New ComScore data that shows how Facebook users spend their time on the platform are very intriguing. According to ComScore, users spend most time engaging with News Feed, learning about Friends.
By way of contrast, users spend only 10% of their time using apps. Itâ€™s that nugget of information that interests me.
At first view, it appears that companies seeking to engage and convert Facebook users through apps might have spent ever-dwindling marketing cash on Facebook apps that do not deliver ROI. But closer examination shows why apps rule.
Facebook statistics indicate that people spend around 700 billion minutes per month on the platform. I have no idea whether this figure is independently audited by trusted third parties.
Whatever, 10 per cent of 700 billion is the reason why the biggest app company, Zynga has filed to go public while other apps developers are in investor heaven as VCs queue up to dump development and marketing cash on them.
If Facebook is the meta Social Object, then apps are a range of Shared Objects or Instances. This is the way the web works now, and how its broad culture will develop.
Facebook says that its users install more than 20 million apps every day. Given the evolving social nature of the Web around the concept of Social Objects, appsâ€™ sharing capabilities help to embed businesses and allow them to engage in new, useful and relevant ways with their customers and influencers.
The app as a Shared Object becomes a perfect marketing tool. Iâ€™m indebted to Cite Social for its categorisation of Facebook Apps:
1. Showcasing your companyâ€™s products or services.Â This type of App enables Facebook users to learn more about a company through participation.Â Often they involve releasing new information or targeting new audiences.
2. Gaining followers quickly and for a short time. In some instances Apps are time-sensitive and focussed on gaining short-term activity.Â They are generally used as part of a promotional push for a specific campaign. Often this relates to subjects that are deadline driven like competitions or special events.
3. Creating long-term interaction with users. These Apps offer some sort of value that encourages the user to keep returning.Â They focus on developing relationships over time and help improve brand loyalty. Examples can include games and apps that users can regularly update.
August 1st, 2011
Blimey! This is a long post for which I apologise. Hope you have time to read and get something from it because itâ€™s about the end of social media as we know it. There. Iâ€™ve said it.
I scribbled this because a man who Iâ€™ve never met or engaged with online wrote a post about social media that, frankly, was a little discombobulating. Whether it deserved this post is moot, but there we are.
In his post on ELEARNSPACE George Siemens says:
â€œGoogle+ was a bit of a breaking point for me. After recreating my online social network (largely based on blogs from early 2000) in Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Quora, G+ was a chore.
â€œI spent a few weeks of responding to G+ friend requests, trying to engage with a few people, posting a few random links, all the while trying to upkeep (occasionally) Twitter and (almost never) Facebook.
â€œIâ€™ve concluded that most of the hype around social media is nonsense and that people, particularly the self-proclaimed social media elite are clothing-less.
â€œSure, Iâ€™ll still continue to participate in those spaces periodically â€“ as soon as this post is done, Iâ€™ll tweet it and share it on G+. Beyond that, however, social media is getting credit for things itâ€™s merely flowing, not actually creating.
â€œMerely flowing, not creatingâ€ â€“ now there is an inchoate phrase wrapped around a relative truth.
He makes a reasoned argument for his dystopian focus:
â€œA few things over the last few weeks have helped to crystallize this view. First, I saw this very silly post by Jeff Jarvis, pretending that a hashtag was the equivalent of a power movement. For me, this was a threshold moment where the noise of social media and the actual impact were starkly contrasted.
â€œThe notion that a hashtag=power or the no one owns a hashtag appeal to power and fairness is absolute and utter nonsense. And reveals just how vacuous power social media users are in their orientation.
â€œWe are left then, with a small group elitist new media users, trying to build consultancy around the tools, and telling others how wonderful they are. What has social media actually done? Very, very little. The reason? Social media is about flow, not substance.â€
You should read the full post but meanwhile Iâ€™d add some thoughts and hope they are useful. First, he is positive about how online engagement has played an important part in his life, a feeling that we all draw on from time to time.
He drifts into personal contradictions as he pursues the central idea that social media is less than we think it is. Being online has helped him, social media sucks as a conduit and enabler of change. Contradictions are the way we progress so thatâ€™s a benefit.
He separates social media, which he describes as â€œemotionâ€ from blogging, writing and transparent scholarship, which he equates with â€œintellectâ€.
Isnâ€™t that where the argument dissolves?
Maybe I have misunderstood the function of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and SuckOnThis (sorry, I made that last one up).
But I thought that these platforms were now being used, whatever their antecedence, as a head of a funnel, a way to say â€œLOOK AT THIS. ITâ€™S VERY IMPORTANTâ€. These are a first-base promotional opportunity, whether you want to share ideas around self-ventilating hats or the crisis in global economy,
Now, given the sceptical natures of the great majority of people on social networks, aided and abetted by the extraordinary numbers of social messages, the only differential is authority. And that is hard earned by being useful, relevant, positive, forward-thinking and sometimes right.
Twitter is the new Headline, backed by a degree of authority and trust. Facebook is the new Features, Gossip and Op-Ed pages, and LinkedIn is the new Business pages, to use imprecise analogies (arenâ€™t they all?).
The new forms of constructed, detailed, thoughtful, edited, curated and often wrong information are being created as you read this. Same as it ever was â€¦ but with a twist. They will almost certainly not be the final form. Indeed, the social web works against any form of dominance in the means of communication. And that, alone, is a perfect joy.
Agreed on the hashtag, though. That was a big DUH!
George blogs regularly on ELEARNSPACE and on his connectivism site from time to time. Heâ€™s with the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University and you can follow him on Twitter @gsiemens.