The value of being “Linkedin”

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Although some people still mess about the value of social networking, some platforms have already proven their success and benefit for companies and brands. From a B2B point of view, LinkedIn and Twitter are probably the two platforms that make most sense to marketers.

If Facebook has some value for brands that might be seen more from a B2C perspective. LinkedIn and Twitter have immediate B2B business impact. And business people predominantly use it for people searches it seems to understand their 3 Ps of their business: profession, position and potential.

LinkedIn is the star in this space in terms of business input, lead generation and some deep information exchange with their groups. This infographic from OnlineMBA states some valuable and interesting data about LinkedIn…

- 150m+ professionals globally (LinkedIn company profile stats – February 9, 2012)
- 44m+ members in EMEA region (LinkedIn company profile stats – February 17, 2012)
- registered business professionals from over 200 countries
- executives from every Fortune 500 companies
- 74% have a college degree, 26% even a graduate degree
- 1% of users are responsible for 34% of the traffic
- 1 million new users every 12 days = equals 1 new user per second
- 69% of users with at least $60K annual income
- 39% of users with more than $100K annual income
- 2 Billion people searches in 2010

Why Social Commerce is not happening… yet

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Many companies are asking when Facebook commerce is really taking off. Especially as some consulting companies like Booz see in Facebook an emerging market that might reach $30 billion within the next five years.

However people spend a lot of time on Facebook, social commerce is still low. And the reason is…? No other than those people fear in e-commerce: traditional security topics.

These are the findings of a survey that Harris Interactive did on behalf of Digitas last month in the US, polling 2,630 adults. 2,247 of them were identified as Social Media users.

The key findings of the study were…
- 75% indicate they would be more likely to purchase a product or service that a friend openly endorses via social media
- 55% don’t feel comfortable giving credit card information via social media
- 45% are somewhat comfortable however especially men between 18 and 54 with an income of $35,000 or more
- 34% are more likely to share info about a purchase they made on a social media site with friends than one made on a traditional e-commerce site
- 50.7% access Social Media sites close to a full hour per day on average via a mobile device

Spot On!
Virtual currency like Bitcoin or Facebook Credits seems to be a “NoGo” as the new currency model. 74% of the respondents stated they wouldn’t use virtual currency to pay for a purchase made on a Social Media site. Nevertheless, it seems that trust is a new link for brands to get money through Social Networks. 20% agree they would purchase products or services from their favorite brands on a Social Media site. So, another emerging trend could become that brands will use their merchandise shops and make it accessible through Social Media sites.

Cisco: By 2016, there will be 100 million smartphone users in the world

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In 2010 Cisco predicted that internet video content would make up 57% of all consumer Internet traffic in 2014. They also predicted that online video (TV, video on demand, Internet, and P2P) is set to exceed 91% of global consumer traffic in five years. Although we cannot say yet, if this wll be reality, it is obvious that audio-video content on the web is on the rise.

As trends are chasing one another, Cisco is now foreseeing a future where by the end of this year, there might be more smartphones on the planet than humans. But they are going further: By 2016 Cisco sees a world with 100 million smartphones which means that there will be 1.4 mobile devices per capita according to their data.

Cisco finds the three main reason for groth in global mobile data traffic in the Middle East and Africa (groth rate of 104%) and Asia Pacific (84% growth). China will account for over 10% of global mobile data traffic in 2016 – more than doubled since 2011 then. Tablet traffic will grow 62-fold with an average traffic generation of 4,2GB/month.

And again it is the video traffic which they see as a massive argument for growth. With the increase of mobile network connection speeds, by 2016 two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be from videos. Cisco predicts a 25-fold increase in five years.

Spot On!
Today, many people have two devices – one for business, one for private use. The interesting part of this Cisco forecast is that the development of “Bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) could actually change our attitude towards the “multi-management” and “multi-ownership” of smartphones in the future which is already causing a headache for CIOs. Although, in our house, we have a ratio of 2,5 smartphones per capita, I am about to change it and would never again have more than one phone – whether self-employeed or working for a company.

How about you? How do you see the development and what do you think BYOD could become a turning page on this evolution of smartphones? Looking forward to your input…

Pinterest: First facts & findings (infographic)

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Pinterest is making the world crazy these days in 2012. Are you on it? Sure, most of the Social Media guys out there are exploring ways to make money with it. The funny thing is: You don’t need more than 16 employees to rock the Social Media sphere. That’s the actual size of the company.

A company called Lemon.ly collected some interesting data from the platform Pinterest. They found out that 10 million users are on Pinterest already, 97% of Pinterest’s Facebook fans are women, and it is obvious how the platform might have an influence on designers and marketers.

Some more findings and facts…
- 12 million monthly unique users
- 10,4 million registered users
- 9 million monthly Facebook-connected users
- 145% daily user increase in 2012

What is your perception of the platform? What is the main difference to picture and photo sharing platforms like Flickr, Picasa or Instagram? And what is the benefit using the platform from a business perspective?

Study: From Fakes to Facebook Friends

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In a recent research Barracuda Networks released some findings of their study “Facebook: Fake Profils vs. Real Users” which analyzed a random sampling of 2,884 active Facebook accounts. The idea of the study was to identify key differences between average real user and fake accounts which are coming form attackers and spammers.

As of their popularity in terms of personal and business communication, Facebook is consistently fighting attackers on their network in order to save their real users from spam or even worse attacks. According to their own stats Facebook has less than 4% of content shared on their network marked as spam. By comparison we could use some stats from Symantec which found that 74% of spam comes from email – however this will be filtered before it comes to our inboxes. Nevertheless, Facebook is in a lawsuit with a marketing firm that they accused of “spreading spam through misleading and deceptive tactics”.

These are some interesting findings of the Barracuda Networks study.

Fake accounts have..
…more friends than real users – six times more!
…use more photo tagging – over 100 times more!
…claim to be bisexual – 10 times more than real users!
…claim to be female (97%!) – only 40% for real user!

“Likes, News Feeds and Apps have helped lead Facebook to its social network dominance and now attackers are harnessing those same features to efficiently scale their efforts. These fake profiles and apps give attackers a long-lived path to continuously present malicious links to innocent users.” Dr. Paul Judge, chief research officer at Barracuda Networks

The study was done with Barracuda Profile Protector tool and illustrates how attacks and spam on Facebook are structured to undercuts real “friendships” concept and trust of widely-used applications. So, marketers and private people should watch out and check before friending an account. No matter if you are more addicted to Facebook or Twitter than smoking and drinking…

Another day made of glass…

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When we posted “A Day made of Glass” by Corning last year, we all got to know some intelligent opportunities how digital glass displays might organize our daily lives in the future. Now, Corning comes up with the next, extended version of their “Day made of Glass”.

Last year when we watched the video, we were wondering which technology and intelligence lies behind the highly engineering glass. Or which partners they might be using to create the technology intelligence in order to shape our modern world. This time a narrator leads us through the story to explain the details of the technology. The video gives us some clearer picture of what could be friction, and what (science) fiction. Bearing the new Samsung TV screen and Daimler’s DICE outlook in mind, we should be prepared for a future made of glass…

Study: Active social networking engagement has tripled during working hours in one year

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Are employees using social networks like Facebook or Twitter for private or business purpose? This is one of the question that management always asks me in workshops and seminars. Some new research called the “Palo Alto Networks Application Usage and Risk Report” could shed some light here. The report states explosive growth in global social networking and browser-based file sharing on corporate networks. In the last year, the activity has grown by 300% in active social networking (i.e. posting, applications) compared to 2010.

Some key findings of the study…

1. Social Media moves from passive to active engagement
Browsing Twitter at work alone grew by over 700% year-over-year which shows that the use of Twitter in the workplace has reached mainstream traction. Also Facebook usage has become more active with bandwidth consumption for Facebook Apps. Even more, Social Plugins and active engagement like posting has increased by 20% from October 2010 (5%) to December 2011 (25%) when measured as a percentage of total social networking bandwidth.

2. File sharing on social networks grows significantly
92% of the responding organizations reported that file sharing sites continue to be used on most networks. The report found 65 different browser-based file-sharing variants with an average of 13 being used in each of the organizations. The risks associated with browser-based file-sharing applications is based on the fact that these techniques are operating unchecked on corporate networks.

3. There is an evolution in types of traffic on company networks
While in earlier days, web applications using TCP port 80 were dominant, today it makes a minority of the traffic on enterprise networks for the first time ever with 25%, and 32% of the bandwidth observed. If companies don’t obey this development, it may cause problems as the standard web browsing-focused security model actually protects a minority of an organization’s traffic.

“Whether or not employees are using social networks or sharing files at work is no longer a question; this data clearly demonstrates that users are embracing and actively using such applications. Companies must determine how to safely enable these technologies on their networks so that users can maintain the levels of productivity that many of these applications can afford, while at the same time ensuring that their corporate networks and users are protected against all threats.” René Bonvanie, Chief Marketing Officer, Palo Alto Networks

Spot On!
Somehow these numbers might illustrate that companies and their bosses understand the value of Social Business and how the knowledge of employees might benefit from power of social networks. Especially the increase of the Twitter figures does not surprise at all, bearing in mind that European bosses support the use of Twitter for business purpose. And if you check out what people are actually doing on Facebook, then topics like consumer insights, work-life balance, or fun at work will reach different levels in organizations if CEOs or managing directors understand the real values of productivity.

The Psycho short film Siri – What happens when Siri is taking over control…

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Often shortfilms are a fantastic way to keep a storyline brief and sticky. In 3 minutes film makers create storyboards that is engaging and thrilling. Today, we have many 3 minutes film awards, i.e. here, here and here, and even Deutsche Telekom started a portal “3min” some years ago which was meant to carry only 3 minute films (…shame they have killed the project).

My Siri adventures were more or less as short and disappointing as some short films I have seen lately. And after 3 minutes I have often killed my Siri experience as it failed permanently from its linguistic capabilities. What happened was sometimes fantastic, outrageous and definitely something that I could not foresee…like the following short film Although it is not professional in production and gets out of the typical 3 minutes frame, I am sure you won’t be able to stop the video before it ends. Correct…?

Study: Web-traffic boosts in-store sales

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In a recent study the research companies comScore, Accenture and dunnhumbyUSA found some significant relevance between in-store sales and a company’s web presence. The study was based on a panel of CPG customers and one million U.S. Internet users who have given comScore explicit permission to have their online activities continuously measured and matched to their in-store brand buying behavior provided by dunnhumbyUSA.

The report comes to the conclusion that consumers who visit a website prior to their shopping experience in a company store spend 34% more with that company and 57% more on products or services based on their specific industry sector. It also states that visitors of brand websites are frequent buyers of the brand in retail stores. It shows that 42% more of these clients finish their transactions than non-visitors. Furthermore, website visitors are also heavier buyers in a brand’s product category. They are spending 53% more in their category dollars than non-visitors.

“Since website visitors have higher affinity to the brand and the overall product category, there is an opportunity for brand marketers to drive loyalty through personalizing the website experience, catering to the preferences of their best customers.”John LaRocca, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, dunnhumbyUSA

And again another study highlights the importance of content marketing as the new emerging trend in marketing. Shoppers were more aggressive in their approach to understand and evaluate their purchases prior to their visit in shops as a result of the massive information access through the web. According to the research, content marketing plays a significant role here. So, campaigns on the web not only add value to web shopping but also -and for some companies and brands more importantly- will help to drive and boost in-store habits and sales – apart from positioning a brand’s capability.

“Marketers who create compelling (brand) website experiences for consumers are extremely effective in driving incremental and profitable in-store sales. Analysis shows that consumers visiting the best of the 10 CPG brand websites evaluated in the research study, spent over 200% more on the brand than non-visitors.” Jerry Lohse, Senior Director, Accenture Interactive

Based on the fact that Brafton reported some weeks ago that the average consumer visits more than 10 web pages before a purchase decision, this study marks an important point in the relevance between online and offline shopping. This might be catalyzed by the new opportunities that smartphones, tablets or Augmented Reality (see real-life community shopping) offer, and shows the straight relationship between the two shopping experiences which more and more merge to one close shopping cycle.

Spot On!
More companies are realizing that offering web shoppers the same information and service as in-stores will lead to more purchase at both ends of the shopping cycle: online and at offline locations. The challenge for companies is to differentiate the shopping experience by using SoLoMo (social – local – mobile). Here the question for the future will remain whether in-store shopping needs to become more of a lifestyle experience or adventure to attract more consumers to join in-store activity (see IKEA Sleepover), or wether people will want to have real people around them and thus make it a social reality world, rather than a social web world…