Stop reading this blog post if you are a Facebook fan. You might hate it. You might like it. Stop it! You won’t? Well then, don’t try to be a consultant and just read this and act like a Facebook user. This is our idea how Facebook could become even better…
When I wrote about The Social Globe -a world of paid social networks- some years ago, people called me „mad“ and „crazy“ teasing such „wild“ and „early“ paid ideas around social networks. Sometimes, I wondered why The Social Globe – a „network“ of social networks like the broadcasting network Sky (earlier Premiere in Germany) never kicked off, bearing in mind all big social networks needed revenue. Maybe it was too big an idea. Maybe too superficially explained. Maybe… Whatever. I never found an answer. Well, maybe one. All major networks want to outplay their competitors. Collaboration is out. Although, we all have the social media philosophy in our heads: Sharing is caring. It does not count for social networks it seems.
Some years are gone since, and we all think about and discuss the value of Facebook. We wonder about it’s algorythm deciding what we see, watch and read. And we blame their advertising programs which often don’t make the user happy, nor does it seem to meet the personal targeting criteria. Well, in case people even notice the ads.
Traveling a lot, I have discussed a new monetization approach with social media and social networking insiders all over Europe. What happened if Facebook would change their business model according to the following „freemium“ scenario. Yes, I know that Mark Zuckerberg has said, Facebook will never cost the user anything.
But what is the value of restricted and filtered content? What if I cannot see the content of my real friends? What if I don’t see (the ads of) my favorite love brands anymore on Facebook? What if Facebook loses it’s personal benefit and value for me more and more?
So, this is the moment of truth. Users get two account options on Facebook in the future…
a) Free Account
Filtered user account. Ads and branded content to be displayed according to Facebook’s targeting system. Facebook decides what content the user sees. Who your „real friends“ are is decided by the algorithm.
Costs: 0 EUR per month
b) Paid Account
Unfiltered user account. Opportunity to personalize the own stream. Ads and branded content of the user’s favorite brands will be displayed according to their love brand personalization. The users decide what content they see. Who their „real friends“ are is decided by the user.
Costs: 1 Dollar per month
Facebook has opened up a new field of communication, a new way of bringing people closer to each other. No matter how far separated they are. It is a great way to make us aware how close we are living, breathing and experiencing our daily lives.
The idea of paid for Facebook accounts is out there to being discussed. Go ahead and give us your thoughts.
Maybe this is the start of a new way of thinking about Facebook. Maybe we can start a real discussion on how to make Facebook a better social networking place with more personal value, less self-glorification, and so on. One that leverages „real“ personal connections.
Would you use such a paid version, or stick with the old free account?
It is one of these questions, we always get asked in meetings and seminars. How much is social media growing, or is growth already declining? Search Engine Journal provides some good overview on the topic of growth and use in an infographic just recently released.
The most popular sites -in terms of how they are used by marketers- are still Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Same as in the study from Global Web Index in 2013, Twitter still shows the fastest growth in social networks from an active user perspective, especially in the 55-64 age group.
In the time period from June 2012 to March 2013, Google+ increased their active user base by 33%. The age group of 45-54 years showed the fastest adaption growth in Google+ with a 56% increase.
And Facebook? Although they showed a 23% increase, especially the age group of 45-54 years is adapting the fast moving „Likes and Hypes“ network.
The questions we get asked by management team all over Europe are quite similar whenever it comes to best possible conversion times, or perfect hours and days to posting on social networks, to send out updates and to generate engagement. Although this might be an option to boost your social and web activities, it should be clear to everyone that if we all obey these options, we are challenging our clients more and more in generating engagement.
Above all, not all social media platforms are alike. The user types of social networks are different, depending on whether these are coming with a purchase intent, the idea to keep their friends up to date about their latest spare time activities, or whether they are looking for new job opportunities in career networks. Sentiment, time and openness for your updates might vary from minute to minute.
Mitt Ray summarizes some advice on when could be the best and worst time to publish your updates on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and Tumblr. Take it for whatever it is worth to you…
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…
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%)
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.
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%).
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.
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.
Some 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?
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.
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?
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.
In 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.
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.
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.