How social search helps marketers boost their brands (Infographic)

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How important do you see social search for your brand or your company? Not much. Well, you might reconsider this answer when you have read some of the stats provided by Prestige Marketing in the following infographic.

The compilation of figures and data gives some insights in why brands need to understand the benefits of social search.
– When exposed to relevant branded media, consumers are more likely to click your information: search click-through rates increase 94%.
– Comparable to the Nielsen findings some months ago, 78% of consumers trust personal recommendations over search result rankings.
– In order to make purchase decisions, 48% of digital buyers use search and social media for their buying decisions.

“Social search engines use data from social networks and online relationships, including rating, shares, and likes, to determine the display order of search query results,” claims the infographic.

The following infographic will tell you more about a toppic you might not really be spot on…

trends-in-social-search-infographic

Study: Business Elite increasingly embraces mobile technology

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Harald Wanetschka  / pixelio.de

Harald Wanetschka / pixelio.de

Does mobile technology really have “more influence on global change than countries, governments or corporations”? Well, at least if we can believe in the 50% of respondents of a new European research by CNBC called “Europe’s Mobile Elite 2013″. The study states that Europe’s business elite continue to embrace the latest smartphones, tablets and devices. In general, most European business executives (73%) believe that they are keeping up with technology change within their sector, however almost less than four in ten are not confident with their companies’ technology change.

The study shows that most business leaders own a mobile device (90%), live and like the mobile business and are agreeing that life is “easier” (68%). Even more, 64% see their lives becoming more productive and enjoyable. Apple is still leading with 44% owning an iPhone versus Android users with 35%. Obviously tablets are on the rise as well with almost. The merging worlds of private and business becomes clear with the fact that 72% (up 39% from 2011) use their tablets for both work and leisure.

Not surprisingly, two thirds value tablets “useful business tools”. Also second screen usage is big among the business elite: 75% watch TV at the same time as using their tablet. The engagement effect of the tablet is striking with nine in 10 of these consumers taking some form of action on their tablet as a result of seeing TV content. And when the study shows that a third of the business executives are responding to TV advertising, marketers should think about ow to implement clever brand and lead generation campaigns in their TV spots. And when marketers want to reach the business elite, they are best in sending out their messages in the evening and at weekends (tablet usage). Smartphones are always-on, so no special advice here.
 
“This study shows the huge influence mobile technology has on our lives. Europe’s elite are keeping up with technological change, owning more devices than ever and using each in different ways. In the area of social media and its value in business, the jury is still out and it will be interesting to see where this leads next year.” Mike Jeanes, Director of Research, EMEA, CNBC.

Top content for tablets…  
– business and financial information (72%)
– web browsing (70%)
– news updates (70%)
– email (69%)
– reading newspapers/magazines (69%).

Top content for mobiles…  
– email (79%)
– business and finance (72%)
– web browsing (70%)
– news updates (70%)
– GPS (69%)
 
Spot On!
Despite some common disagreement that the business elite is not on social networks, the study makes clear that 85% are a member of at least one network with 61% on Facebook, 58% on LinkedIn, and 43% on Twitter. It is important to note that 40% (up from 19% in 2011) of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter users are now connected to all three social networks. Furthermore, 58% of the business decision makers use social media for business (still private use is the standard for 75%). It could be that private and business worlds are really not kept as separate any longer. The commercial impact of social media is seen critical. When 46% see social media “neither useful nor essential” (compare study 2012), it shows that most business decision makers had either the wrong advice or the wrong expectation raised by consultants. One of the reasons why we are always very critical in analyzing the benefit of social media for a company or brand, and trying to show the realistic benefit for companies.

Customer Service Report: Phone support still top, Twitter comes before Facebook

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In an interesting report by Zendesk across the globe, it becomes obvious that telephone is still the preferred way to the customer service of companies. The report shows insights based on actual customer service and support interactions from over 16,000 companies across 125 countries.

According to the Zendesk report, customer all over the world were most satisfied with customer support they received on the telephone. The insights done in Q3 2013 show that 91% of customers liked the way they got help on the phone. In the second place of the satisfaction ranking came Chat (85%), followed by Help Centers/Web Forums (83%). On the social networks side Twitter (81%) came in before Facebook (74%).

zendesk satisfaction cs channel 2013

Not surprisingly, the report also made clear that during normal business hours the support got the slowest first reply times (FRT) plus the lowest satisfaction scores. In the time period between 5-6pm local time -often when the service teams change or leave business for the day- companies have got the longest FRTs.

Interesting to see that Brasil and Canada received the highest customer satisfaction scores although there was no real indications on what the reasons could be. United Kingdom finished in position 6, US in 11 and Germany only in 14. From an industry perspective, the IT services and consultancy business, government and education achieved the highest customer satisfaction rankings.

zendesk industry cs 2013

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Companies would be clever to combine these findings with their customer churn and growth rates to see the impact of customer servcie on the development of their customer base. Although many companies do custoemr servcie via Twitter and Facebook, which is steadily growing and improving since 2012 according to the report, we have experienced that social media in customer service if often just used to calm people down and get them engaged in a phone call to solve their issues. A trend that has shown the best customer service satisfaction results.

Ratings, Retweets, Repins & Likes: Automated response creators = killers of insight creation?

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twitterview-2Some years ago, I have written about the Retweet button being the “killer of positive blog comments”. Over the years in many seminars and speeches, I have stressed the point that the ROI of the social web is not about generating high quantity in “thumbs up” on Facebook or Retweets on Twitter, or anything automated that comes along with similar meaning.

Retweets, Repins & Co. are only of value for your business, if…
– you accept those automated response generators as the pillars of your ROI system.
– you are a marketer who builds their business on proving the capability of accelerating reach rather than relevance.
– you are a brand that struggles to understood the value of building a community-centric business.
Still: Are ratings as insightful as a written comment – be it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other community platform out there in the social web?

Yesterday, it became public through a post on TechCrunch that Facebook is testing out a system of openly displaying star-ratings on Pages. Will this be another killer of value creation?

I definitely agree that the Facebook “Like” has become confusing, and in some way worthless. Many users just click on the Like button out of a pure and immediate emotion, nothing sustainable, lasting or resilient. Some are expressing their solidarity with it. Some are missing the dislike button, and click the Like button.

Do those automated responses tell us what they really feel? Do they tell us what people really think? Do they help us to evaluate our position? Fair enough, these automated response creators are some word-of-mouth catalysts. Well, I admit by adding these five star ratings, there is at least some specification in the differentiation of generating feedback.

Obviously, the new rating system puts Facebook in a different position and moves it more to the likes of Foursquare, Yelp and traditional trend shop systems. Furthermore, it allows users to be more concrete in defining their opinions. Users might get better orientation in why a coffee shop or a business or restaurant deserves to be tested.

Spotted by TechCrunch

Spotted by TechCrunch

But does it really help us? What is a 4.2 with twelve votes compared to a 4.9 what two people have build up? Do we know who gave the votings, and if these people have the same interest and preferences that we have got? Doesn’t orientation get even more confusing? What will we book on travel websites when there are less and less reviews and recommendations?

Spot On!
The 3 Rs of the social customer (ratings, reviews and recommendations) might make our lives interesting and exciting for new stuff. But maybe there is too much new trends and products out there to get our heads around. Maybe a real review or recommendation will sometimes help (one positive and one negative like Amazon does it already). Still, automated feedbacks -be it stars, RTs, Likes, etc.- are the least valuable insight creation generators on a relevance scale that helps defining internal and external social web ROI.

PS: If your managers are still happy when your numbers of Likes go up, be happy and tell them nothing about this post. If not, let’s discuss further how social networks should constitute in order to deliver deeper insights in the mindset of our customers.

Interview: “Social influencers move prospects through the consideration cycle”

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Kevin BobowskiIn order to demystify the myth around social influencers, brand fans and brand advocates, we will discuss the topic in the future with different leading marketing specialist of emerging platforms and different cloud marketing providers.

In this first interview The Strategy Web spoke with Kevin Bobowski, Vice-President Marketing at Offerpop, about social influencers, their relevance for brand perception, and how he sees the future of brand advocates.

TSW: Will social influencers and brand fans ever play a role in the sales process of companies?

Kevin Bobowski: Brand advocates and social influencers already play a key role at every stage of the customer journey – often simultaneously. Through sharing branded content and recommending products, they build brand awareness, move prospects through the consideration cycle, and help convert those prospects into customers. Companies must do more to nurture the relationships with influencers and advocates, formalizing their involvement in the buy cycle.

TSW: Why is it so challenging for marketers to find and leverage real brand fans?

Kevin Bobowski: I think that most social marketers have a sense of who their real brand fans are. The challenge is in translating that knowledge into real business value. To do this, social marketers must break out of the “social silo” and play a bigger role in impacting marketing strategy. For example, they might work with email marketers to create campaigns that target brand advocates they’ve identified with exclusive rewards. Their ability to communicate their insights across marketing organizations will have a long-term impact on conversions.

TSW: What is a successful tactic to build a strong database of brand fans?

Kevin Bobowski: Marketers should run consistent, engaging social marketing campaigns. These campaigns build strong, active fan bases, and hit other key goals like email capture and sales. One standout tactic: hashtag campaigns. They incentivize fans to share user-generated content, which deepens their relationships with brands. Many brands promote them through traditional channels like TV, and encourage participation through multiple social networks. This grows their viral reach, leading to fan growth and engagement.

TSW: When is a brand fan converting into a superfans?

Kevin Bobowski: Our definition of a superfan is a customer who consistently shares your content, advocates your brand, and influences others to form relationships with your brand. Marketers should track the interactions, loyalty and influence of their fans, and use those insights to create more targeted, ROI-driven marketing efforts across every channel.

TSW: How does Offerpop help to boost the value of brand advocates?

Kevin Bobowski: Offerpop social campaigns help brands boost the value of brand advocates in a number of ways. Number one, we encourage fans to amplify brand messages (through retweeting, sharing, etc.) Number two, we help brands run campaigns that inspire engagement and brand affinity. Brands use our platform to capture rich data about their fan base, which enables them to cultivate relationships with them through multiple channels, like email, direct mail, etc. And they also help brands capture user-generated content, which brands can choose to showcase in a number of ways. All of these actions help brands deepen relationships with their advocates and increase the virality of their messaging.

TSW: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Kevin Bobowski leads all marketing efforts at the social marketing platform provider Offerpop including branding, product marketing, demand generation and digital marketing. Prior to Offerpop, Kevin was the Vice-President of Product & Solution Marketing at ExactTarget where he was responsible for the strategy and execution of ExactTarget’s go-to-market strategy, demand generation programs and product launches.

Rise of Social Media as a Profession (Infographic)

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When I started my blog some years ago, people in my industry were shaking their heads and wondered what the benefit was to be a “social media professional”. Some asked why I was wasting time on social networks like Twitter, Facebook & Co., and what the ROI is in writing blog posts and then sharing them. Some wondered how I managed to stay on top of the main trends and developments in the “social web” world. Well, time is passing by and people start to be getting answers.

In the last years, many companies have thought about hiring a social media specialist, or have even given it a proper job description. Still last year, we went into companies and found some young interim or part-time freelancer being responsible for the feedback on the 3R’s (ratings, reviews and recommendations!) of their own social customer. Often these people earned nothing but a smile from their colleagues.

These days seem to change. Can it be that companies understand the value of engaging with their customers on the social web – the place where they not only spend a lot of their spare time? They actually do marketing, sales, customer service, employer branding and much more for companies and brands. Some companies still have not understood though…

Now, the social marketing platform Offerpop has created a nice infographic based on data from LinkedIn that shows a staggering 1,357% increase in social media jobs posted on LinkedIn in the last three years.

Rise-of-Social-Media-Profession

Big Data Opportunities (Infographic)

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We discussed this topic in many panels at dmexco this year, and in the last couple of years I assume not many buzz words have made their way through so many blogs and articles: Big Data. Some see the value of it in measurement and analytics for marketing purposes. Others try to identify new potential and hire Corporate Data Scientists for their web strategy to leverage the potential of unstructured data. And some are still on their way to understand how their data can be embraced to exchange with the data of some partner or even their clients.

The topic Big Data will stay. Just look how much data is generated daily: 2,5 Exabyte. A number that doubles every year according to an infographic the guys from Elexio have put together. It illustrates the potential for companies and how Big Data might generate bigger opportunities in several sectors. Especially, in retail or e-commerce where Big Data let’s brands analyze customer behavior and deliver more personalized messages in order to create an exciting user experience, more engagement, and sure i the end more sales. However, sometimes you wonder if they are doing it right.

As Big Data also let’s us analyze offline data, some clever marketers might combine those with online data to get a clearer view of consumer activity. On the one hand, this might be good as it keeps them from delivering the wrong banner or engagement outdoor advertisement and content to the wrong customer. On the other hand, there might be people arguing that Big Data is still in its infancy as long as companies cannot extract critical and unstructured data from the valuable data that creates a new customer journey experience.

The main challenge will be how we bring Big Data and security together in the future. Consumers get stressed these days as they realize that promotion banners and branded content are following them across channels – with products and services which are often not wanted, or already bought. But how can companies deliver a seamless customer experience? How can they make use of Big Data that boosts their lead generation or sales numbers while still showing careful approach that consumers appreciate?

With all the social media sharing and curating of content via social networks and their buttons, does it really make sense talking about Big Data and security? Or, do we need organizations that audit how companies handle customer data? What rules do companies and brands need to obey to enable a social and secure shopping experience? Many questions that we will discuss on a panel at the ChapmanBlack “Future of Digital” event in Berlin next week. Sure, I will change those afterwards…

Please find the infographic of Elexio with latest insights into the new opportunities that Big Data can offer to brands and companies.

Big Data Infographic Cloud

Study: Fortune 500 are getting better in Social Media

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They are on increasingly on Twitter (77%), Facebook (70%) and Youtube (69%): Fortune 500 companies. However, in terms of blogs (34%), Google+ (35%) or Pinterest (9%) they seem to be a bit behind or not seeing the value. And the report obviously forgot to look at LinkedIn. This is the findings of one of the latest research pieces of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

Fortune 500 Companies Blogs 2013Although from our perspective, blogging is seen to be the essential starting point of a social media strategy, most companies are not there yet. Not all industries see corporate blogging similar. The use varies significantly by industry. It is striking that no company in the pharmaceutical and tobacco section blogs. In contract, 53% of Fortune 500 companies in the telecommunications industry do. Almost 80% of the blogs show regular activity, have got RSS feeds, appreciate comments and offer subscription.

Fortune 500 Companies Social Media 2013Twitter is used in eight out of the top 10 companies (Apple, Chevron, Exxon, Ford Motors, General Electric, General Motors, Phillips 66, and Wal-Mart). All these companies offer frequently status updates on Twitter. Just Berkshire Hathaway and Valero Energy are missing out. Interestingly enough, Facebook has got most followers on Twitter. Google comes in second, then Starbucks, Whole Foods Market, Walt Disney, JetBlue Airways, and Southwest Airlines. 

On Facebook only Exxon is not showing up with an account. The rest, nine of the top 10 companies (Wal-Mart, Chevron, Phillips 66, Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, General Motors, General Electric, Valero Energy, and Ford Motors), has got a Facebook page. Obviously, the special retail shows strong use of Facebook (96% with a Facebook fanpage) versus 44% in the utilities sector. That Facebook has most Facebook fans is not surprising. Coca-Cola is number two with 66 million fans, followed by Walt Disney, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and Target. These companies all collected more than 20 million fans. 

Spot On!
What we found interesting in the report is the mention that 59% of companies link to the social platforms from their corporate homepages, whereas for the other companies it required the research team some additional searching. Looking at further social networks and results shows the different strategies. From companies ranked in the top 10 just Berkshire Hathaway has got its own YouTube account. In terms of Google+, 35% use their Google+ accounts actively while 19% set up corporate accounts which are unactive. 50% of the top 10 companies got actove Pinterest boards (Apple, Exxon, Ford, General Motors and Wal-Mart). And although Instagram is now a part of Facebook, only Ford Motors opened an account here, as Wal-Mart is the only top 10 company making use of Foursquare.

Study: Digital advertising found “annoying and invasive”

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Sometimes studies bring some flashback to your mind. This time it was some study results that reminded me of two of my four moderations of the dmexco Night Talks.

In a recent country comparison study by Adobe half of the respondents made clear that digital advertising is distracting, invasive and annoying – in the UK less than in Germany and France though. The study which asked 1,750 marketers and 8,750 consumers across the UK, France and Germany, shows that two out of three users find TV campaigns still more important than online ads (US 66%, UK 70% and Germany 67%). Consumers even responded online ads were “annoying” (US 68%, UK and Germany 62%), “invasive” (US 38%, UK 45% and Germany 17%) and “distracting” (US 51%, UK 44% and Germany 31%).

Mark PhibbsThere is still some negative perception of digital advertising that the repondents described in their feedback. However, web ads came in the top three preferred advertising tactics in the UK. In France print magazines (31%), billboards (24%) and TV ads (23%) were the leading three categories. For Germany, print magazines were also the leader with (28%), billboards (23%) and window displays (21%) came in second and third. In the UK 39% favoured print magazines, 23% TV ads, and 12% websites.

Some weeks ago, I have been interviewing Mark Phibbs, VP Marketing EMEA at Adobe on the dmexco hot chair in Cologne. Nice seeing some statements on the study from him:

“Some digital advertising is failing to hit the mark. While digital provides great promise, often it is not being delivered in an emotionally compelling or targeted way.”

Adobe Banner Ads not wanted

The storytelling boom was again also highlighted in this study. Even in the ad world content plays an important role. 68% of UK users responded that ads should tell a unique story which mentioned John Lewis and Guiness as good examples. One of the main ingredients should be the humour factor of the story. Funny is the driver for happiness, and outplaces “sexy” ads (92% thought so).

“We think online advertising can learn from traditional advertising in three ways. Is it beautiful and eye-catching? Is it integrated? Do consumers have control over it? Creative agencies have had decades to get traditional advertising right. It’s not wholly surprising that online and digital isn’t resonating to the same degree – not only is it still relatively in its infancy as an advertising channel, but the digital landscape and the corresponding opportunities for brands are constantly changing,” said Phibbs.

Spot On!
The study also made clear that targeted banner ads based on programmatic buying in Social Media like i.e. in Facebook could be “creepy” (76%). Even more, 49% would like a dislike button in Social Media for it. Again this reminded me on my last dmexco Night Talk moderation in Munich when I could ask Scott Woods, Commercial Director Facebook DACH, how it can come that I get banners for social networks 60+ years old people. Facial recognition (do I look so old)? Bad programming? Bad automation or bidding process? Maybe the people behind? The answer was “Well, technology can only do what it is capable of!” Fair enough… It seems we will have to live with that weakness for some time.

dmexco Night Talk Munich 2013

Microsoft Study: 40% of employees see a lack in workplace collaboration

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The management view of the future workplace is still not yet fully evolved to a real social workplace. The main concerns are still loss in productivity and security concerns which still don’t give employees access to social tools. This is the main findings of a new study commissioned by Microsoft. However, employees (40%) still believe that there isn’t enough collaboration in the workplace.

The question managers asking themselves remains whether social tools help foster better teamwork, or not. And whether here lies the disconnect between employees and the management, and where companies should have a look at when they want to detect the reason why employees brought their own technology and software to the modern workplace. Via social networks and testing them out, employees found tools to share content, communicate across business borders and grow business through networking.

Microsoft-Recognizing-Value-In-The-Workplace-Study

The report with nearly 10,000 respondents in 32 countries states that 34% think their company underestimates the benefits of social technology. The misperception of management versus social tools becomes more obvious when 37% believe they could perform their jobs better if management gave access to the use of social tools.

“Freemium products let employees try new tools in small groups before the IT department even knows about them. Work is becoming more global and less routine. People are more dispersed than ever and there’s a stronger need to stay connected regardless of location. The workplace is changing, and that’s causing tension.” Microsoft’s Brian Murray, Director Enterprise Strategy, Microsoft.

Spot On!
Although the perception of employees remains positive about the value of social networks, management stays resistent to change their attitude towards social workplace. Probably as they are backed up by Gartner reports concluding that 80% of enterprise social networks won’t deliver real business value. The Strategy Web would argue that most managers have never thought about getting a deeper insight in a social business strategy, hene the social workplace opportunity.

The question is whether it is just easier for managers staying away from a cultural change and all it’s implications like new technology, training and management coaching? But maybe some managers want to answer this question after reading through this infographic…

Microsoft-Social-Tools-in-the-Workplace-Study

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