Direct Messaging export – a missing feature in social networks?

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Some days ago, a Nielsen study said that in the US social network usage is more popular than email. This does not surprise me, when I think about Luis Suarez speech at the Web 2.0 Expo 2008 “Thinking outside the Inbox”. If we agree with him, then there is one feature definitely missing in social network…

How I came across this missing feature…
In my new job role I do a lot of business socializing which is quite normal when the business is done 90% with international business contacts. A lot of business brainstorming is being kicked off or happening on the fly and you don’t think where you communicate. Many of these conversations start via the direct messaging functionality -comparable to email communication- in social networks. Some of them end in nothing. Some turn out to be brilliant contacts which become interesting prospects. And suddenly these end up being leads or potential revenue drivers. And then there comes the problem…

Where is the direct messaging extraction functionality? Some kind of external saving or export module to save the content and communication? Not speaking of an “email archiving” technology?

If your business, or the business of the company you are working for, is meant to be compliant (and which is not today…?) how can you export a conversation that already started in a social network? OK, you could copy it, and send it via email again. Quite uncomfortable though, right…? Or you save all the emails that you get from the social network providers. A lot of redundant data saving…

In business networks like Bebo, XING or LinkedIn users are possible to export the database of their contacts in one go – … but not an email communication threat. Meaning, if you have had a good conversation and mentioned some kind of business critical data, pricing, or offering than you have to have the proof for tax or auditing service reasons – and ideally you can extract it in one go.

In my eyes, this is a missing feature that at least all social business networks should be offering. Don’t you think?

Soziale Netzwerke: Markenfreunde treiben Lieblingsmarken

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Soziale Netzwerke sind weiterhin einer der führenden Kanäle für Kunden, um mit ihrer Lieblingsfirma oder -marke auf dem Laufenden zu bleiben. Eine neue Studie von Invoke Soultions zeigt nun, daß Social Networking dank der Markenfreunde, ich bezeichne sie gerne als Brandvangelist, die Firmen antreibt, sich in Social Media zu engagieren.

Die Studie besagt, daß 65% der Social Netzwerk Nutzer mindestens einer Firma oder einer Marke folgen auf Facebook. Schon 47% geben an, schonmal einen Kommentar auf einem Fanpage-Profil einer Firma hinterlassen zu haben und 31% der Social Networking Nutzer folgen den Twitter Accounts einer Marke bzw. einer Firma nach den Studienergebnissen von Invoke.

Diejenigen, die einer Marke auf Twitter folgen, sind aktiver, engagierter und bringen ihre Lieblingsmarke schneller in Schwung, wie die Studie besagt. 68% dieser Nutzer kommentieren auf Firmenseiten, 47% schreiben Kommentare auf ihren Facebook Seiten und 25% bloggen oder schreiben Tweet über Marken. Diese Aussage deckt sich mit einer Studie, die gestern von ExactTarget publiziert wurde.

Spot On!
Das Düsseldorfer Marktforschungsunternehmen Innofact hat erst kürzlich festgestellt, daß auch werbliche Botschaften von Social Netzwerk Nutzern außerhalb von Social Communities stärker angenommen werden. 80% besagen, daß sie Fernsehwerbung wahrnehmen und 63% sogar Außenwerbung. Dies steht im Gegensatz zu den Nicht-Aktiven in sozialen Netzwerken, die in der Regel um 20 Punkte darunter liegen. Facebook treibt den Markenaufbau an. 28% der Befragten sagen, dass der Kontakt zu Marken auf Facebook das Markenimage verbessert hat. Kein Wunder, daß wir anzeigen, wie die von Adidas sehen, die nicht mehr die Homepage sondern den Facebook-Auftritt der Marke bewerben.

Wie man aber die Aussage zu werten hat, daß Werbung in Social Networks eher schlecht wegkommt, wenn nur 20% diese wahrnehmen, ist ein diskussionswürdiger Punkt. Denn in meinen Augen verwischen bei vielen Aktionen “redaktionelle Bereiche” und “Advertising”.

Oder wie seht ihr das, wenn im Status Update mal Kommunikation getrieben wird und dann auf einemal ein Gewinnspiel auftaucht?

Study shows, Twitter is a real buzz-generator

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It is undoubted that the Twitter users are the most influential crowd of people. A recent research by ExactTarget discovers now the outreach of the influence that these people have. It goes well outside the micro-blogging platform into blogs, forums and even the living room.

In it’s fourth study of their “Subscribers, Fans and Followers” research series, ExactTarget takes a deeper look at what makes Twitter users a special community crowd compared to other online channels. The study shows that the news that the users grab from the micro-blogging platform don’t stay on Twitter.

The news are spread via the following communication channels…
- 72% publish blogs at least monthly
- 70% comment on blogs
- 61% write at least one product review per month
- 61% comment on news sites

“While the number of active Twitter users is less than Facebook or email, the concentration of highly engaged and influential content creators is unrivalled – it’s become the gathering place for content creators whose influence spills over into every other corner of the Internet.” Morgan Stewart, Principal, ExactTarget’s research and education group

Spot On!
The study also provides insight that daily Twitter users are six times more likely to publish articles, five times more likely to post blogs, seven times more likely to post to Wikis. For business it has to be stressed that these daily Twitter users are three times more likely to post product reviews at least once per month than non-Twitter users.

Interested to know if Twitter users really create so many reviews and ratings? What’s your view on this topic?

Google Ads: Marketers have more influence on brand name key words in the future

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If your company runs a business in Europe using Google Ads, then the announcement of Google becomes of interest for you. From 14 September 2010 your company will be able to buy and include brand names in keywords in your Google Ads campaign which have been trademarked by other businesses. These changes are extension to the changes made in the UK and Ireleand in 2008. In the US, this has been possible since 2004.

Many companies use Google Ads in order to drive attention to their websites and increase visibility about their products and services. Up until now, it was a court issue for companies to stop third-party ads from being mentioned alongside the paid keyword results of a trademark name. The problem came up when the French luxury goods company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton complained that only they have the rights to be able to use and buy such trademark terms in search offerings. The objective behind this cause is obvious: Brands wanted to protect their brand name.

And in the era of the social web, this also becomes an important impact on brands and the influence on their consumers. “Google argues that selling brand names as ad keywords to multiple bidders helps consumers because it allows them to find product reviews, sellers of second-hand goods and other information. It stressed that the new policy would not extend to the actual display text in search findings.” The idea is that users will find more relevant context connected to the brand name. The bad news for brand owners is that a hifi dealer will now be able to use the products brand names in its keywords.

Spot On!
Seeing this movement from a Google perspective it is a clever approach to boost their Google Adwords business. Although Google stressed that the new policy would not extend to the actual display text in search findings. Nevertheless, questions arise if Google has to watch out for Facebook as a competitor in the fight on search revenues. If more and more people are spending more and more time asking for the opinion of their friends (see launch of Google Questions) instead of searching the answer via search machines, the world of advertisers and brand might follow.

So, did your company already move budgets from Google to Facebook?

Social Networks – Are niche communities the future of networks?

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More often people are fed up with all that self-referential talk of individuals on social networks. Or, companies which do not understand the idea of an online conversation, including clients and not just broadcasting the old-fashioned marketing and sales way. Just today, I had some people in my Facebook stream and my Twitter updates telling me how the weather was, what their kids had for breakfast, or that their wives don’t understand their affinity to social networks. OK, nice, fair enough… Interesting? No!

And then I hear my wife saying… “Why keeping up the contact to so many people if there is no option to even get actively into 10 per cent of the conversations happening in these online relationships?” True, but you never know when some contact might need you, or vice versa.

Checking Facebook and staying up-to-date on Twitter becomes challenging on a busy day, with kids that are happy to see dad in the evening for some minutes, and long-time friends complaining why they don’t hear anything from you anymore.

So, is there another trend coming up in the future that might go for niche social networks, niche communities? Why? We had that offline for ages. Years ago, people have spend hours in their football club bar after a training session, or went to book readings to enjoy the discussion afterwards, or went to a vernisage in order to “philosophy” about the latest gallery exhibition with someone they don’t know. The reason for doing it was just their share of interest in something, a hobby, a passion, or a kind of affinity. So, are we seeing social networks for art geeks going on virtual gallery tours in the future?

My father was telling me that he uses a Bridge community and plays daily for one or two hours. A friend of mine is a DJ and he spend hours in communities for DJs like My DJ Space or Mix DJ. Some even still (or again?) love vinyl and become members in a community there. These music enthusiasts do nothing more or less than share their interest in being DJs, and obviously loving to mix tapes. The special interest is the centre of their community engagement.

Some years ago, somebody approached me with the idea of an international golfer network (http://www.golffriends.com/welcome/community). As I love playing golf (though don’t have enough time to play often…), there was some interest to become a member, if not more to become more engaged in the business idea. But then, time and the thought of managing many private interest networks -as I have quite some hobbies- next to my business networks and the top networks made me not investing too much time in that vision. Maybe I should have done…

Mothers share their passion for coffee on Cafemom, and if we think about all the Starbucks communities it does not surprise us. Games exchange ideas and thoughts on Raptr, or real social activists use Care2. Even more “nichy” is the passion of men for their moustache that they express online to the public. And others share their interest in Whisky or Wine networks.

So, my question is if niche networks could take a big portion of the market share of global social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc.) in the future? Can you see people going away from the self-gloryfying popular networks that the mainstream web user is engaged in? Tell us of niche networks you know and how you see this trend?

News Update – Best of the Day

05.08.2010 von  
Kategorie: Daily Top 3

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The latest Nielsen study makes us believe that email is loosing momentum to social media and games and comes in third place in web usage of the Americans. Not really correct, when you think of email communication being some integral part of games and social networks…

Ever wondered how long a b2b sales cycle from lead generation to sales conversion can be? Marketing Sherpa got the answer by asking over 1.000 B2B marketers… Yes, it takes LONG!

While the experts are still talking about the Old Spice interaction, this Australian campaign for the Cadbury Picnic chocolate bar sounds quite intersting. The audience had to eat a Picnic in a .30 sec commercial break, using mobile phones, webcams and handycams to create their own TV ads and setting it up here. In an Australian first, every single ad that went to air on television (200+) was unique. Naomi made me laugh…

News Update – Best of the Day

04.08.2010 von  
Kategorie: Daily Top 3

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Studies can open up new knowledge in the way countries see the internet. So, one says Britains trust in the internet more than in friends. The openness they divulge information to social media space is interesting…

Full name: 92 per cent
Hometown: 62 per cent
Date of Birth: 59 per cent
Relationship status: 49 per cent
Secondary school: 40 per cent
Marital status: 33 per cent
University/College: 30 per cent
Partners name: 28 per cent
Employer: 20 per cent
Job title: 18 per cent
Parental status: 17 per cent
Primary school: 16 per cent
Children’s names: 9 per cent
Full address: 5 per cent

Whilst another study shows how promising the future of ecommerce looks like in China.

“99% of university students and professionals ages 22 to 35—the key consumers of the future—are online an average of four hours a day. And they are already comfortable buying goods and services online. (…) Some 39% of university students and 49% of young professionals shop online, spending an average of $294 each in 2008. The majority go to the Internet first to get product information and compare prices.”

And sometimes, you just need somebody who is taking a close look at the social media world… i.e. in Japan.

The next big brother vision is created in real life: on the social web. If you read this investigation, then you might stop using social networks… or you might understand how and in which way companies work with your secrets. This post makes clear how important it is for companies to be transparant in the way they are working.

Kids are the future. Essential that we all help them - no matter where they are living. Shivers going down my neck on that Altius Foundation campaign. Great idea, great concept and fantastic delivery…

The 3 types of social networkers that influence the buying process

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It’s been a rumour in the industry for quite a long time now: Facebook and Twitter are becoming indirect shopping platforms and their buttons can boost sales. A recent survey by the research firm Gartner Inc. discovered that most of the users appreciate and take suggestions from their friends through social networking sites before purchasing products. And furthermore, they rely on three types of social networking friends for their purchasing decision process.

The Gartner study asked nearly 4,000 consumers across 10 key markets. The interesting part is that people in the social networks are taking different positions inside the purchasing process when recommending products to people they are connected with. Gartner identifies three types of people and roups them into three categories: ‘Connectors’, ‘Mavens’ and ‘Salesmen’.

So, how do they differentiate from each other?
The ‘Connectors’ are defined as those who “perform a bridging function between disparate groups of people and enjoy introducing people to each other”. The ‘Mavens’ are “knowledge exchangers or information brokers”, who are experts in particular area and people go to them for advice. But they are not people who wish to convince people to buy certain items; they are more interested in acquiring new knowledge, it said. The ‘Salesmen’ are those, who have “extensive social connections” and the personality trait that persuade people around them to “act on information in highly directed ways”.

“Our survey results showed that one-fifth of the consumer population is composed of Salesmen, Connectors and Mavens. These are three roles that are key influencers in the purchasing activities of 74 per cent of the population.” (…) “Salesmen and Connectors are the most effective social network influencers and the most important groups for targeted marketing based on social network analysis.” Nick Ingelbrecht, Research Director, Gartner

Gartner advises companies based on the findings of its survey to pro-actively engage with these different types of people on social networking sites. Not surprisingly, they define these categories of social media influencers as the “critical, but underutilised, aspect of the marketing process” for the future.

“Companies attempting to use social networks should develop relationships with key customers over a period of time and progressively refine the social network profiles of those individuals.” (…) “Retailers who run small shops have instinctively done this with their best customers for years with the intention that these ‘VIP’ customers will not only buy the new products but recommend them to their friends.” Nick Ingelbrecht, Research Director, Gartner

Spot On!
For me, there is a strange thing about this study. It causes a Deja-vu, I have never had before in my life. Two years ago, I published and explained -in German- in a long post the importance of these three types of people in business networks for business decision makers, and how businesses should focus on them when talking about their social media approaches. And guess what: Two years ago, I came to the same conclusion and refered to the same types of people. In these days, I have read the book “Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell for the second time. And in this book you will find the same categories of people, and you are told to rely on them and work with ‘Connectors’, ‘Mavens’ and ‘Salesmen’.

The main question is now, how to address these social networking influencers? Can you call them up and talk to them directly? Send an email? Invite them for dinner or lunch? What is the best way to start the conversation with them?

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