In 2011 Social Media caught the attention of most businesses and their bosses. Dream Systems Media visualized the most important data in a nice infographic that illustrates the main Social Media stats in 2011 and gives a starting point for 2012. The summary of data was done by Sarah Evans at AdAge.
As most of us know Facebook has grown their business to 800 million active users which is an increase of incredible 200 million users in one year. LinkedIn and Twitter were also very successful. LinkedIn has 135 million active users (64 million in North America alone!). Twitter knocked down the 100 million user barrier.
Some more key stats that the infographic points out…
- The average Facebook user has 130 friends and likes 80 pages
- Every week there are more than 3.5 billion pieces of content shared on Facebook
- 56% of consumer are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan
- 55% of Twitter users access the platform via their mobile
- 40% don’t tweet but monitor conversations
- 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter
- 30% of B2B marketers are spending millions of dollars each year on Social Media marketing
- Almost 30% of these users are not tracking the impact of this marketing
- 20% of Google searches each day have never been searched for before
And, believe it or not… From the more or less 7 billion people on earth 4.8 billion have a mobile and only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush.
In the last weeks, I came across the same issue in many meetings with clients. Social consumers increase their use of Social Media and social networks to state their opinion about a company, brand or service. Sometimes to rate the way companies make use of Social Media, or how they engage with them in campaigns or branded social hubs. Sometimes to complain about incredible customer service, or the quality of products. Sometimes just to link or share some content piece that attracted their attention.
The input described above by consumers can be summarized under the 3R’s: ratings, reviews and recommendations. These 3 R’s will challenge companies and brands in the future. Companies know that they have to find a way to deal with all the content published, as well as to establish ways to make use of it in the context of their business.
Years ago, we would have seen ratings on Amazon, eBay or rating platforms Ciao. Today, there are external and internal rating opportunities for customers. Most modern content management systems have implemented rating systems. Content and shopping pages have their 5-star systems, percentage scales or „thumbs-up-and-down“ to evaluate the quality of the content or product provided. Facebook, Twitter and other social sharing buttons act in the same way, reach out and distribute ratings to a wider audience to name just some options the social consumer has here.
While the chance to find yourself as a brand in a Twitterstorm was low in the past, the tables have turned. Companies like H&M, Motrin or BMW have become victims of reviews in the last years. Whether through crowdsourcing or blogging, reviews could leverage or damage your business success in a day’s time. The question remains the same for brands. Most consumers don’t differentiate between the trusted and personal reviews. In which reviews can they trust, what not, and what could end in a brand nightmare? The list of review sites is long, the one of personal blogs, social networking accounts, etc. even longer, and getting intense the more people review their personal views. And then, organizations have to bear in mind that 97% of purchase decisions are based on digital experiences.
Probably, the most dynamic part of the 3R’s is the recommendations part. In social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn) people hint, share and forward quick opinions about a film, a hotel or a show in minutes – and forget about it. Companies and brands need to take a position on these recommendations, or clear up the damage as best as they can. Well, if they find them and have the processes, people and resources in place to react. Some recommendations are still in the stealth mode as of semantic detection issues, or as they are only shared within the social graph of a person. And some recommendations are not even recommendations. They get catalyzed through social banner opportunities with Googe Plus buttons inside Google ads or via recommended people of the personal social graph in Facebook ads. And some will stay invisible for brands – most offline spoken words.
The challenge for companies in the future will be to educate social consumers on their way to social purchase. Social consumers often don’t pay attention to who said what, their gender, habits, age and preferences. Customers tend to be affected by a negative scale although it may be positive. 97% is not 100%, 4 start is not 5 star, the last opinion that was the only one negative, and so on. Most consumers don’t check who or how many people have rated the hotel on tripadvisor or booking.com. So, what is better? One rating in the 100% range, or 5 ratings getting 95%? A review where companies can react and improve the quality of their service? Or a recommendation that they could use as a statement to their blog? In my eyes, we will need to have seal of quality buttons that tell people to be aware of the fact that the 3 R’s are a good orientation for quality but not the final truth. And marketers should think about the best alternative to straigthen and strengthen their brands whatever effective the 3 R’s might be for their business.
Would you agree…?
The question is… Are Social Media guidelines necessary or are employment contract not offering enough guidelines for the use of Social Media at work, too?
For companies it is a challenge to manage employee’s use of Social Media. A new study by DLA Piper now found that one third of employers have disciplined employees for something posted on a Social Media site. It also states that 21% of employers have given warnings for posting something derogatory about a colleague or the business.
Although I would have thought that most employees today know the relevance and impact of Social Media, the study makes clear that companies need Social Media policies. However, it also found that three quarters don’t have any Social Media policies.
Some key findings of the study illustrate some negative development where many of us might think, people should be clever enough to understand the meaning and reach of their words on the Social Web. Some use Social Media too often, some inappropriate, some unclever…
- 31% of employers have taken disciplinary proceedings because of information an employee has displayed on a social media site about the organization
– 30% of employers have taken disciplinary proceedings because of the level of usage of social media sites while at work
- 25% of employers have taken disciplinary proceedings because of information an employee has displayed on a social media site about their activities at work
- 21% of employers have taken disciplinary proceedings because of information an employee has displayed on a social media site about another employee
Some further findings also show that people need training on how to manage the relationsship and converations they have during working hours and with colleagues. Employees who use Social Media for personal use…
- 39% have befriended a colleague or business contact in Facebook
- 39% have connected to a colleague or business contact on LinkedIn
- 28% have posted photos of colleagues or business activities
- 22% posted a status update or tweeted about a colleague
- 14% have posted a status update or tweeted about work issues
- 1% have posted confidential business information
The business world is changing. Colleagues connect with each other on different social platforms – no matter if for private or business use. Having a personal Social media strategy where people might not connect with colleagues on Facebook but prefer LinkedIn might become a problem as they might loose out on conversations and information between the lines. On the other hand, people might use it too often to connect with them. Whatever people do, they might use Social Media wrong… in the eyes of employers… at the workplace. Thus, companies will need to have Social Media policies in the future (see international database of Social Media policies). And employees need to find a way to deal with them… Or do you see some other opportunity?
The guests in the pub did not expect very much. A drink was their desire. A tasty sandwich was luxury to them. Competition amoung pubs was tough, even in this little village a long time ago. There were many pubs around in that coal distrinct north of Germany. The owners of the other pubs in the village changed more or less every year, some even earlier. My grandparents’ business stayed for over a decade, until they decided it was time to stop working. The guests loved their attitude, their individual touch, their personalized way of talking to them. My grandparents’ business was successful.
What was the key to their success story?
Before I answer this question, let me ask you something… When did you shake hands last time with a friend, or a business partner? Do you remember? Did you ever think about why we are shaking hands with people? Have you ever not returned a handshake? It is a common habit of introducing ourselves and of saying Goodbye. We just do it. Well, let’s say in the offline world we do it…
Those days, whenever somebody came into my grandparents’ pub, my grandma and granddad gave them a personal handshake, embedded in some small talk about the weather or last nights sports results. The conversation made people feel good, feel wanted, not just being anonymous guests. They created a living room. People started talking with them about their personal hopes, fears, issues. The handshake had broken the ice…
In our social web world of today, customer relationship management and social networking become an increasingly important factor to be maintain a successful business within a more and more challenging and competitive world.
Many relationships today begin with a virtual handshake. So you may ask: What is a virtual handshake? Today, it comes in the format of a comment on a blog post, a LIKE on a status update on a Fanpage, an introduction mail inside a social network, or an invitation to join a community (Facebook or LinkedIn or a company specific).
In the offline world, nobody would turn away and not return the handshake. However, in the online world individuals put effort in terms of writing, talking and engaging with companies and brands, making their brand passion transparent, or just opening their minds to “business” (or privat?) conversations. All of that often before having received a virtual handshake with those companies that are reaching out to them via their -often anonymous- social hubs.
By participating in a community or engaging in conversations, customers take the initiative, they state a case and describe an act of will. Companies tend to forget that this is a virtual handshake. “Hello! Here I am! Look what I am telling you…”.
Many companies and brands do not answer. They don’t reply on social networks. They don’t value the hand that is right in front of them waiting. The hand which feeds them and their business. The free opportunity to connect, collaborate, or convert. Lack of time and resources is the killer of many of their social web activities.
My grandparents never forgot to shake hands with people that came to visit their pub. This was their success story. So simple, right…?
Think about it next time you set up a group or a community. Relationships start with a handshake – whether real or virtual. There just needs to be somebody that returns the handshake. For some this might be a change management process, for some it is just natural attitude towards customers…
Is this a good sign for the acceptance of social media in the business world? The use of Twitter as a business and marketing tool has increased from 31% to 61% among Europe’s top business leaders, finds a recent study by CNBC.
Even more, 61% of the business leaders see the growing impact of Social Media. They believed Social Media was changing the way their business is done today. 77% of the business executives have Facebook accounts (from 81% in 2010). LinkedIn gains tracktion from 52% to 56%.
The study polled 650 European business chiefs as part of their CNBC Europe Mobile Elite 2011 survey. The idea was to get more knowledge about the use of the latest technology features in the C-Level area of companies at work and in their free time.
Although the increase of Twitter popularity among business leaders is obvious, the busiens decision makers admit that the are unable to keep track ith the latest technological innovations. Apart from that, another study some weeks ago showed that they are also not sure how to leverage Social Media for business.
The most popular device is the iPhone which 21% of the business chiefs call their own now – up from 19% in 2010. Similar numbers gets the Blackberry in terms of popularity – an increase from 18% to 20%. The iPad is also becoming more popular among business leaders, with 15% of them now owning one.
“In a rapidly changing world, Europe’s decision makers are challenged with not just keeping up with technology change, but also ‘driving change’ within their respective sectors. Throughout 2010, Europe experienced some the most advanced innovations in mobile technology the region has ever seen.” Mike Jeanes, Director of Research, CNBC EMEA
The CNBC study states the importance and changing development of mobile use for the business decision maker. The message is that websites will continue to lose value against apps on mobile devices among business leaders. News apps are the most popular application segment for the respondents. 75% of respondents said they use them followed by weather (54%) and social networking (39%). The study makes clear that top management is trying to get in touch and keep up with the pace of technology innovation. However, time still seems to be their biggest enemy…
What’s your guess? What is the leading social network for journalists? And what does this mean to business decision makers, managers and PR professionals?
The answer by far is LinkedIn with 92% – with a remarkable increase of 7% compared to 2009. However, this does not mean that it is their main source of information. At least, this is what the latest study tells us which is called 2011 Arketi Web Watch Survey: Inside BtoB Media Usage of Social Media.
For me it was a bit of an eye-opener as I thought journalists might prefer to use Twitter to monitor sources for trending topics and breaking news. Probably, the statement has some value still. For Mike Neumeier, Pricipal, Arketi Group was not surprised…
“It comes as no surprise more BtoB journalists are participating in social media sites, especially LinkedIn. (…) LinkedIn provides an online outlet for them to connect with industry sources, find story leads and build their professional networks.”
The second largest still is not Twitter. It is Facebook. 85% of journalists are on Facebook (increase by 30% to 2009). However, Twitter comes in nearly at the same result (84%) and with the highest growth of 60% to 2009. And nearly half of the responding journalists (49%) say they blog or read blogs regularly.
“When compared to the 2009 Arketi Web Watch Survey, this year’s results show significantly more journalists are using social media tools (…) This means companies have more online channels through which they can reach media targets. This is both a blessing and curse for today’s PR professionals.” Dr. Kaye Sweetser, associate professor of PR, University of Georgia’s Grady College
Findings where journalists have their news sources…
- 80% via public relations contacts
- 77% rely on news releases
- 74% turn to newswires (i.e. BusinessWire or PRNewswire)
- 71% get from email pitches
- 56% from blogs
- 44% from micro-blogs (such as Twitter), and
- 39% from social networking sites (such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace).
More than nine out of ten journalists responding (96 percent) say they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they know, and 95 percent of business journalists say they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they don’t know but are in industries they cover.
Journalists get crucial information regarding breaking news from the following sources…
- 85% Industry experts
- 81% Company website
- 80% Industry website
- 80% Other interested parties
- 57% Industry blog
- 53% Company blog
- 41% Industry Twitter feed
- 33% Company Twitter feed
Although LinkedIn is very popular among journalists, it does not seem to be the centre of attention to get a big story. Still, the direct contact and company websites have massive power and as they are probably the most trusted sources, they still lead. Still, social networks make it easy for journalists to get in touch with relevant people for good quotes. It should assume that investigative journalism is on the rise. Reading newspapers and websites today, I personally get the feeling that blogs have far more to offer.
What is your view?
Nearly every type of business today has some tie to the web. Even traditional storefront businesses need to have a highly functional website to remain competitive. However, the greater connectivity that being online allows for also comes with greater responsibility.
If you are interested in keeping your name and brand viable on the web, you need to be concerned with online reputation management. What is Reputation Management you ask? Online reputation management is when you remain proactive about how your business looks to the average consumer online. Although many large companies will employ firms to personally manage their online reputations, there are a few basic steps any entrepreneur can take to properly perform Online Reputation Management:
Obsess Over Social Media
Any business interested in remaining competitive needs to be on various social media sites. Not only do businesses need to be on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but they need to be actively participating on these sites on a day-to-day basis. Owning a Facebook account that you log in to once a month can be disastrous for your online reputation. Not only will posting frequently keep your customers engaged, but it will also help keep your name high on the search engine results pages.
All of your websites, blogs, and social networking accounts need to convey the same message about you and your business. If your blog conveys one message about your business, and your social networking accounts convey another, your customers and potential customers will notice the incongruity and be less likely to trust your company. If they don’t trust you or your company, they won’t be likely to trust your products and services and business will suffer.
Quick Damage Control
To remain highly visible online, you need to promote yourself through every online avenue possible. However, while promoting your company, you also need to be highly aware online image at all times – and this includes anything that is ever said about you. Online forums and social networking sites can become a hotbed of negative press if not closely monitored. When negative press does arise on these sites, you need to be able to quickly respond politely to deter any more negative comments from being made.
As more and more businesses move online, online reputation management has never been more important. It takes years to build a brand and only a few seconds to completely tear it down with a neglected Facebook page or poor Tweet. To effectively stay ahead of the competition, you need to properly employ online reputation management on a day-to-day basis.
This post is a guest post from Online Reputation Management which is a partner of Growth Partner Company.
About one and a half years ago, the guys from Mediamind asked me if I want to write a guest post on the future of banner creatives on their blog. Well, I flashed back to find the future – the old strategic approach… What came out was a headline called “Engagement creatives reloading the future”. Seeing what was happening on LinkedIn in the last months, it seems I had quite a good feeling on what the future might look like.
In the Mediamind post, I focussed on the response banner functionality of Facebook creatives and how the referential potential of social graph marketing intelligence let the personal network get engaged. One individual creates buzz just by being integrated with a linked name in one line of the graphic. So, people know your name and get dragged into campaign activity, just by curiosity, just by wanting to know why, what and how. Just by … you name it.
In the last weeks, LinkedIn came from being just another platform selling space to opening the potential for intelligent career online advertising, and leveraging the network potential with clever display advertising. Companies were focussing on personalization, the social targeting opportunities and the API potential to enable innovative campaigns creatives on the business network.
While some social media marketing companies (funny right…?! see picture above) use the traditional way of banner creatives, Volkswagen identified the evolution of the pick-a-boo effect and the competitive aspect of having more contacts, more recommendations and better education. Just the things that make up a career…
Another example is AMEX. They took their social advertising career campaign even a step further by not spoting you, but the person next to us that helps successful managers, the teams and you: the administrators. People could nominate their business supporters, and by voting promote these “second liners” to have a chance to win a gift card courtesy of 2.500 USD.
In the end, the most convincing career social display campaign is when you find yourself in the middle of a personalized creative. When I checked one of my contacts from SAP today, a rectangle banner appeared next to the SAP contact profile of the person I am linked with. Now, guess what happened? I got offered a job from SAP. Well, maybe not the job I wanted but still a great approach.
The banner was personalized using my LinkedIn picture and my name. It was really somehow talking to me. It detected I could be in the software industry, I could be a consulting sales person, and yes, the creation is clever in terms of straight interaction and sharing. Don’t you think…?
We are still early stages with these new (career) display advertising opportunities. Still, the advertising evolution is happening, and publishers need to have a close look at the opportunities if they don’t want to loose the battle to social networks. These examples might be geeky – however, they are engaging, personalized and conversational. Just what traditional banner cannot offer far too often…
When you do Social Media marketing seminars and trainings (and I have done many in the last 24 months), most of the times marketers want to know everything around Facebook and Twitter (maybe Google Plus these days). However, according to the Pivot Conference that released their study “The Rise of the Social Consumer”, with the response of 230 brand managers, executives, and marketing professionals yesterday, some new hypes from marketers can be seen. Just check out the platforms that marketers are planning to invest in…
Although the big players on the market dominate at present, the next wave is already approaching marketers mindset. YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Zynga have made their popularity in the Social Media market and might get the future attention of the marketers. The second column shows an increase of those four platforms between 13-26% which obviously have some good business value if seen from the right customer service and customer relationship management spot.
For B2B companies LinkedIn got some great assets, not only with their special groups. YouTube is some higly underated platform in my eyes. It can be used for different visual aspects in B2B, but also viral topics and campaign opportunities in B2C. If restaurants, service providers or entertainment brands want to head for local promotions, Foursquare (and Gowalla in some areas – also 5% increase forecasted) offers some fantastic buzz potential. Whether Zynga is really so powerful for marketers to promote their offerings, needs to be seen and proved in the future. I would rather recomment and elaborate on reward advertising models.
The study also showed that 84% of brands encourage user involvement with social advertisement campaigns. This is interesting as very often the perception of marketers was that people don’t really see the ads next to their streams. The intention of marketers why they invest in Social Media advertising is manyfold…
Over half of respondents of the study (see full report) said they were shifting money away from other forms of marketing towards Social Media. 23% of respondents even stated that social advertising delivers a greater ROI than other forms of advertising. Although this sounds great, the strategic approach to every social advertising and Social Media engagement needs to be double-checked. The development of the results need to be aligned with the expectations and targets set before the Social Media activity started. At least if they don’t want to lack business credibility in front of their bosses…
A lot has been said about Twitter versus Facebook versus the rising star Google+ the last fourteen days. And sometimes you are just glad that great people are challenging the effort to compare stuff in (info)graphics, you have had no time for yet…
Stefano Epifani generated a wonderful infographic comparison of the three competitors in the social networking industry…
Another graphic by Hutch Carpenter, VP of Product at Spigit, did an even more detailed version in terms of highlighting where Google+ comes closer to Twitter or Facebook. And it is starting from one of the main differences in my eyes. The symmetry strategy of Facebook (but here we could also add XING or LinkedIn) versus asymmetry strategy of Twitter and Google+ in allowing the connection between people…
And if you ever wondered who really is the leader of the three platforms in the world of tomorrow, we should start understanding these number. How long did it take the platforms to reach 10 million users (according to Paul Allen’s Google+ Account):
Facebook 852 days, Twitter 780 days and Google+…? 16 days!
Any more questions…?