OK, so I know it is a very glib saying and I hold my hands up and admit it is not one of my own. It was actually first seen in a very famous video on social media that you can watch below from 2009:
Eric Qualman was the brains behind the video, he is the owner of a website called Socionomics.net that offers insights, news and great looking infographics on social media with a dash of statistics and quotes to add weight and splendour to his highly persuasive point(s) of view.
The main essence of which is this:
“We dont have a choice of whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it”
Eric has been around the technology and social media world for 16+ years and has helped shape the online presence of many large American firms.
So where do you start?
It is very difficult for most business owners to get out of the mindset that you pay 10 pounds and get 15 back in return, this type of ROI is used in traditional advertising sales pitches and if all goes accordingly then great, you keep pumping the beast full until the ROI is at a level you are happy with and your company can service the new leads it has gained.
This is not what social media is about:
What happens if people are wanting to give your company feedback? They rarely pick up the phone to discuss small issues but they would be inclined to discuss with friends and this is where social networks offer a platform to the worlds mouths.
A strategy is needed:
With so much to gain from taking an active interest in social media, it pays to work out a strategy with a company or consultant who really understands how to go about effectively obtaining and analysing data related to your firm (this does not mean tweets that have your company mentioned in them, that is pretty simple to do). Then working with a variety of mediums and technologies that are in constant flux make sure that objectives are met and goals achieved.
Well let me pose you this thought for a minute:
Lets take an upmarket farm shop that is expanding as an example:
Essentially Aim Social provides high quality social media management services to clients we know will benefit from this activity and that we can get passionate about.
We work as a marketing, sales, PR, content creation and research department for your company, using online social media analytics and software as our means of achieving this.
The way we start a campaign is to identify a number of desirable goals (2-3) that will back up a businesses main objectives.
This may include:
Obtaining a set number of new visitors from another town/area in 4 months (specific) (measurable) (timed) (realistic)
By listening to relevant conversations that are occurring on blogs, facebook, twitter we would look to target these people and make them aware of your business, offering new visitors a deal, in exchange for their email addresses and physical address ideally (measurable).
Creating a great looking website with a news/blog section and writing regular articles related to activities of interest that go on at the business, this will include video where appropriate.
Obtaining a set number of facebook/twitter fans over 3 months (specific) (measurable) (timed) (realistic)
Creating a microsite to allow offers and deals to be placed and that also encourages people to visit and like your brand on social networks, other areas may tie in with the above objective/actions.
Obtaining a set number of feedback forms related to the new building and ideas that people would like to see implemented (specific) (measurable) (timed) (realistic)
Use software to create online forms and encourage people to take part in the survey, use social networks to effectively open discussion and report back all findings.
Some of the things we do to achieve targets and outcomes include:
PPC paid advertising
News aggregation/syndication – bit like a PR arm
High End Analytics
SMART works for social media services:
OK here goes for a cheesy abbreviation but one that also works a treat: “SMART” actually works very well for our services as it lets clients know where things stand during campaigns.
This stands for specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timed.
The above points are obviously just examples and would usually be determined by meetings and budgets, but I hope you see the point of a social media service when it is done well.
Social media is fun for all involved, we like to work closely with our clients and in this, learn a lot about your business and put our skills to good use getting you more clients and better insights into your company.
In truth it is not all about telling people about you, a lot of what we do is listen to discussions online before getting involved, we then find out ways of targeting people based on our findings.
So as you can see, delivering effective social media is quite involved, but definitely worth it.
Is your marketing department close enough to your IT department?
According to research by Forrester, marketing departments working for large multinationals need to start working closer with their IT cousins in order to fulfil customer expectations of their brands online services.
Perceptions need to be broken
One of the main issues is that currently many marketing and IT departments do not work in close proximity to each other and in the case of the IT department in particular are often seen as geeks who cause more problems than they solve and moan at any problems they are asked to solve.
In the case of the IT departments view of the marketing department, this is closer to seeing a load of school children who argue over what colour to choose for the new stripe down the packaging that is due to be redesigned.
In either case the stereotypes are widely exaggerated for effect but do have some truth in their basic essence, with the main issue being communication.
Social media and technology is too important to dismiss:
With product life-cycles becoming ever shorter, and purchasing decisions being influenced in their millions on a daily basis due to being intercepted by content or news that is shared on social media networks, it is time that all businesses really started to wake up to the power of social media.
Luca Paderni who is a Forrester principal analyst states:
“The changes that technology adoption has brought to the marketing landscape are enormous. More than half of consumers in North America and Western Europe make daily use of the web and a mobile phone as well as check their social profile online,”
Perfect time for departments to collaborate:
It is now perfect time for the two departments to work closer and in the case of businesses who perhaps do not have the strength in depth of a large multi national who may have a dedicated social media arm, with the help of a social media agency smaller firms can benefit too from this approach.
Driving revenues by better insights into how people interact online with your business:
In the case of a company such as Ford who have jumped onto Google + really quickly much to many social media marketeers delight, it is prudent for many companies to collaborate with their IT departments to create campaigns that are measurable and effective using new online technologies such as blogs, microsites, video, CRM software and social networks, and creating this interactive content with continuity to enhance the user experience which leads to better conversions.
“As marketers seek to link their marketing programmes to these platforms and with other customer activity, they need the IT department to help them develop and manage the use of these new channels in conjunction with the rest of the business,”
With companies in Western Europe set to invest €14 billion in 2011 on interactive marketing to include social networking services, it has eclipsed the TV platform as the main ad based platform for businesses large and small though in this particular example is more focused on large multinationals.
In a trial lasting only a few months, the potential Groupon killer called “Facebook deals” has not lived up to expectations and in the cities it has been trialled will now be pulled in the coming weeks.
A sign of things to come for other competitors to Groupon and LivingSocial
With many well known brands trying to cash in on the popularity of local deals including Google offers, Amazon local and Priceline, could it be that a report from Forrester research is starting to come true? They predicted that the daily deal phenomenon will have a limited lifespan, and in their own words consumers will simply overdose on the marketing tactic by 2016.
Forrester analyst and the report’s author Shar VanBoskirk states:
“Consumers will grow so conditioned to micro-impulse offers that they’ll lose practice at considered decisions – in all walks of life, not just when buying spa treatments. Facing a cultural descent into maladroit judgement, employers (and spouses) will blacklist impulse deals to keep people intentional.”
Sticking to what you know best:
Facebook have come out to say that they have learned a lot about hyper local daily deals and are committed to helping local businesses market more effectively to local people but will be (for now) sticking to what it knows and perhaps does best:
“We remain committed to building products to help local businesses connect with people, like Ads, Pages, Sponsored Stories, and Check-in Deals. We’ve learned a lot from our test and we’ll continue to evaluate how to best serve local businesses.”
Foursquare still a direct competitor:
Whereas the daily deal phenomenon requires a massive amount of advertising/sales force spend to create the interest to ensure deals are consumed in their allotted time. One report has stated that Groupon is more akin to a huge ponzi scheme with very little actual cash after huge swathes of sales people are required to keep the beast growing and the investment coming. Meanwhile the companies who take part and discount heavily find they only have a limited length of time to “cash in” on the interest, especially as the sales force move on so quickly, and the issue of fresh new people coming to expect a huge deal hits businesses hard.
Hyper local still on the cards just not as time sensitive or with quite the discounts that daily offer:
This however does not mean that the hyper local deal that Foursquare can offer does not make a lot of sense for Facebook as it very much does.
Check in deals:
In this model people are essentially rewarded for checking in to a business who has an account on either Facebook or Foursquare or potentially Google Places, in this marketing tactic you may be rewarded with a 10% discount if you choose to go for a coffee in one business over the other. The offer is never as generous as a daily deal (up to 75% quite often) but is simply an incentive to ensure that people aware (or unaware) of your business have more of a reason to go to you as opposed to a competitor.
This almost always requires the use of a smartphone and in my opinion is not hugely adopted by the general population but currently has some serious merit with the under 40’s.
Deals still a growth area:
I do however see serious growth in this area as adoption rates of smartphones soar and people generally become more aware of options to save money via applications and online sites and portals.
For a business, the ability to manage this kind of deal comes at a fairly small cost and allows people to trial various options in order to benefit the most from the marketing tactics available.
Expect to see more of the check in type deals in the coming months and years.
There is no doubt that a person speaking to a camera (piece to camera) in the trade is potentially worth more to a web site visitor than a written testimonial that has a lack of voice, face, look and feel.
Why are video testimonials so powerful?
When video testimonials are done in the correct manner you are able to see and feel the truth behind the person speaking and ideally the passion on the face of the speaker. You can also get a sense of how you actually compare to the person as a human being, how they dress, the way they look, the way they sit etc.
In the world of sales there is a common term pushed around that states that, “people buy from people they like.”
Psychologically, as humans, we are always assessing others and making quick decisions based on many factors that video testimonials allow us to do easily.
These decisions then inform our actions:
“Should I enter that shop, as to me he/she looks odd”
“Do I trust that person’s opinion they look shifty”
“I feel safe with their manner as I like the way they sit, dress and talk, i trust them” etc etc.
These kind of thoughts go on every day in many circumstances that affect our decisions in a multitude of ways.
So let’s start looking at how you can get the most from video testimonials.
Try to get a mix of ages, colour and sexes to speak to the camera:
Research has shown that given options of a number of thumbnail images of the people who are in the video, visitors will usually click on the person they feel is most like them in appearance, age and sex, and with viewers attentions in high demand and short supply, you need to cover seemingly small things like this straight away.
When shooting video it is vital to make sure that the face is lit up in an attractive and natural manner. Deep shadows under the eyes can look terrible, as can huge bright lights behind the subjects head that only goes to force the camera to underexpose the face area if you are not in full control of your cameras iris.
In serious video production you tend to use a number of fill lights and a key light.
The key light is the main light and the fill’s and any background lighting make sure shadows are reduced, they are often bounced off walls to reduce the intensity as they are not supposed to compete, but merely soften the edges.
This is quite an art to do effectively and whole professions are based on the techniques….this diagram shows a fill and a background light being used with a key light on the left.
Tell a story:
While testimonials should ideally be free flowing, there usually needs to be some restraint and general direction. You are wanting to lead the “subject” and of course the viewer when they watch the video.
Now this is not truly scripting in its purest sense but having some salient points that need to be conveyed in a particular order helps to make the process of delivery and then absorption of the information more natural and easier for both performer (subject) and viewer.
In order to do this you need to think creatively about what the message will be and how it will be delivered, story telling is also an art and you may wish to incorporate humour, a certain way of talking (regional accents) or many other techniques that will inform the viewer to the base meanings of the video.
Quality of video:
Arguments rage over what constitutes a quality image in video, but whatever the quality you want to obtain, the truth is that for many companies the end product will probably be hosted on a video sharing site such as Youtube or Vimeo or a number of other providers of this service.
And the thing to bear in mind is this; if this will be your end home for your edited video, you could potentially get away with using Flip style video for fairly decent quality testimonials instead of spending more money on more professional equipment.
There is a rule called “GIGO”, this stands for “garbage in garbage out” and is related mainly to technical specifications of the equipment you use, so for example, you can not expect to provide true HD quality video from a Flip phone even though they claim to capture full HD. Why? This is not true HD by a long shot as the incoming images are compressed to death, mainly due to being captured on a tiny sensor barely large enough to capture VGA (640×480) at full quality, coupled with the fact that data needs to be captured in huge quantities at fast speed by tiny micro processors in order to capture the stream of images onto a Flip cameras memory.
So are cheap Flip type cameras rubbish for video testimonials?
Not at all, so long as you do not expect to blow the images up to full screen on your HDTV or large presentation screen and expect HD clarity at any point and only actually want the edited video to look half decent on a Youtube channel then by all means go ahead.
Areas that Flip style video acquisition will suffer include:
Sound quality (lack of quality mic), image quality (grain and light issues due to small sensor), and depth of field.
With the above points noted the truth is that given the right team and a little know how you can obtain good quality videos that have a more natural feel as the cameras used are not in any way intrusive and the subject is often at ease a little more when talking to a smaller camera.
So there you go, a few professional tips to get you started on video testimonials, done right they are a truly fantastic tool to convey messages and information, but beware, done badly they can prove to be a negative reflection on your company so the decision is as always up to you on how you go about including this powerful tool into your social media arsenal.
Has your company decided it wants to embrace the huge potential of social media and then wondered if you have the resources internally to deliver a successful and effective strategy.
With serious social media campaigns taking a large amount of planning, content creation, syndication, monitoring and analytics, is your company better to deal with this in-house or would it be much wiser to outsource?
Read on and digest some of our own informed thoughts on this area:
Expertise | Marketing, Research and Sales:
When hiring skills such as a Social Media Manager you are looking at a professional service that buttresses a number of hugely valuable areas to businesses of all sizes and industries, namely; marketing, PR, research and sales.
While many firms have hugely talented marketing departments and PR staff, this does not translate into an effective social media team, though admittedly they are a much closer family than a team of accountants!
Having an active marketing department can however work very well as communication between a social media company and an existing marketing department can be fluid and meaningful due to the common language shared.
At Aim Social we use upward of 10 highly niche paid software solutions to analyse and implement social media strategies more effectively and in some cases more efficiently. Would your marketing department even be aware of the names of these services never mind knowing how to use them effectively?
This is very much a specialised and relatively new industry. Having a sound understanding and knowledge of SEO, useabilty, design and layout, internet marketing, video production, content syndication/aggregation, copy writing and market research would stand you in better stead to implement social media campaigns rather than being traditionally trained in PR and marketing…it is a brave and exciting new world after all.
In all honesty, most firms simply do not have the depth of staff to be able to dedicate a small team of highly skilled professionals who fully understand social media and have the ability to find relevant conversations and effectively take part in these on your companies behalf. On top of this, would they be able to create compelling content, (graphics, web design, microsite design, email marketing, video production, scripting, copy writing) and on top of all that, then have the ability to get that content out to people on mass and in certain niche areas in highly specific channels?
It is doubtful, unless your company name begins with a C and ends with OLA.
Costs | In-house v Outsource:
I can think of very few industries that are not currently feeling the pinch with a global downturn in most economies and industries still biting. The great news is that social media is a fantastic means of creating value and being able to engage with your new and old audience, and it is affordable.
“But agencies are expensive, I am much better off sending some of my staff away on a short training day and doing it all in house.”
I fear a huge mistake in almost all cases, here are a few warning signs:
Are your staff really passionate about social media?
This is difficult to assess.
Will your company all of a sudden have the depth of knowledge, resources and continuing professional development that an agency offer?
Almost a guaranteed, no.
Will the cost of your team of “newbies” end up costing more or the same as an agency?
Probably, and they could also be terrible at implementing what they are supposed to have learnt. On the flip side, if they prove to be excellent they could end up moving to a specialist agency as a result of your companies training expense, effort and time.
True value of social media often lost:
There is a real danger that people miss the value of social media, and here is why, a lot of emphasis is placed on listening. This involves finding groups of people, tribes of like minds and thought leaders within niches and geographical locations and building relationships up with these over time.
It is both an art and a science, and one that is very hard to put a monetary value on. But if it is not done right it is quite easy to say that it is probably money down the drain.
We use high end analytical tools to help us do this work and once we have information to report we pass this on to your company and then go about implementing social media marketing campaigns that are fully informed by this kind of research, it is not easy work, but done right it is very powerful.
Control | In-house v Outsource:
I have heard many seemingly valid reasons to keep social media work in house:
I would like to examine these closer, one by one.
This point states that a person already working for a firm is better suited to talk about that firm with prior knowledge and understanding shining through as a result.
It makes no sense whatsoever that a member of your own staff is going to be any more authentic while writing content for your business than someone who is employed as an experienced copywriter working on your behalf for a social media agency. In the early stages of working with companies, an agency will always take the time to learn about their new clients and this will continue to grow, what is more, our job will be to listen and learn at even deeper levels than is previously done by sheer virtue of the role a social media agency will undertake.
If there is any validity to this point, I believe that this would be mitigated in a very short period of time and by the fact you have a new arm to your company that allows authenticity to shine in more ways and to more people.
There is also an argument that trusting your social media campaign to people who are not properly trained and experienced to properly listen could lead to staff moral issues and huge masses of wasted time, as the business of social media is not all about numbers, this can easily be overlooked.
Trust me, real social media agencies understand the value of authenticity and strive for this in every possible avenue they pursue on your behalf, or at least they should!
The main argument here is that a company in control of their own social media campaign is better positioned to make sure that processes are in place internally that will stop the occasional tweet that causes a nuisance (Chryslers case) getting out. This is ridiculous, and here is why.
Firstly the problem was a mistake made by a person, and they work for your company and agencies.
This aside, if you want to stay in more control, why let your own staff take the reigns of your companies social media work? There is a greater chance that you are likely to offend one another within a company than staff at an agency who you can hire and fire at will via contractual obligations.
For instance, is lil Miss Annoyed or Mr Vendetta (who both have access to your companies twitter and facebook account) really the best choice of people to have control of your audience and your companies secrets? It is surely more likely that one of the firms begrudged will do something untoward than an agency who have an arguably more “professional” relationship with your firm. Of course many firms are lovely happy places where everyone gets along just fine, but a point made nonetheless.
Loose tweets sink corps:
It is not only the spiteful that can make a mess of your firms online presence, the inexperienced or careless ones are also to be watched:
Peter Castle an insurance broker at Bluefin insurance services has been quoted saying:
“As social media has become increasingly popular, there has also been a sharp rise in cases of employee misuse of this technology, in particular, many businesses and employees are not clear about the rules governing when and where employees can use social media which can lead to a number of problems.”
Using a social media agency mitigates a lot of these issues as the technology is not new and the work they undergo will be process lead anyway. Should mistakes happen, which of course they do in every walk of life, then with an agency you have a means of recourse through referring to your contract and can take things from there, this could be a get out clause, an amendment to the contract or a monetary penalty, either way, it is better than the limited options you have with an employee who makes a huge “mistake”, especially a disgruntled one!
This is another reason some say keeping social media services in-house makes more sense, though actually, it makes no sense.
The point made states that a member of your own staff will want to do the best they can to stay in gainful employment, especially in these tough times and will therefore work better for your firm. It is equally important to an agency to make sure that their clients are happy with work and an agency worth their salt will become an extension to your firm anyway and will have the same passion to deliver as a “normal” employee, this argument as such is pretty much pointless. Also there is a huge difference between boxing clever through experience and slogging away despite looking admirably tired in the process.
Resources | In-house v Agency:
Here at Aim Social we collaborate with other social media practitioners from the US, Australia, and Ireland, (this list is growing) and it is part of our nature to professionally develop and network in these ways, and as a result it always keeps us up to date with what is new.
An example of this outreach is our access to bloggers globally, it is in our interest to offer fresh content and resources to bloggers and news websites that help them differentiate their own content from their competitors. Working with clients a network naturally forms related to the clients sphere of influence (current and desired) that creates win-win situations for all concerned. Usually in the form of relevant traffic paid off with quality content.
As many will tell you, in the online world content is king…still.
And here is another list to help demonstrate why a quality (note not about size) agency will be better fixed to deliver than in house teams of newly trained social media managers:
Access to professional software to create content (video editing, post production, design software, coding tools)
Staff with proven skill sets related to social media service provision and the use of software outlined above
Use of high end analytic software and reporting
Contacts for PR and online news aggregation
It simply makes more sense to outsource work of this nature to a team of professionals. They really do not have to be a huge firm at all, but efficient and knowledgeable about their sector.
Imagine the heartache a small firm would face if they spent thousands training staff on all aspects of delivering social media to then find they were leaving with their new found skills for employment in an agency or in a related field. Or perhaps even worse that they could not do their job to its fullest and you had wasted time, effort and money on the project and people involved, only to go back to the drawing board.
It is blatantly much safer to get a social media agency involved who will guide you and work with you straight away, probably a lot cheaper and much less worry surely!
Measurement and Flexibility | In-house v Agency:
Having the ability to measure campaigns is crucial to most companies and brands. It both informs and validates the work that is being undertaken. It is also easy to misinterpret results of data and draw incorrect conclusions from this, using a professional social media agency with experience of working with statistical data programs is another huge bonus to partnering with an agency who will base their advice and work on this data.
When it comes to acting on the results of data, how quickly would your in-house team be able to act?
Imagine if you will that a major national newspaper or television broadcaster had picked up on an article or story that we had created and submitted or simply had news related to your company that brought a huge increase in traffic to your website.
To capitalise you may need to create a quick video production to tell another side to a potentially negative story that had emerged, or it could be a great opportunity to get more customers as the coverage was positive, so a new microsite is needed. The ability to act quickly in these times is crucial.
So very quickly I hope this article has answered some question that managers of companies and brands ask themselves when considering there own social media strategy, I also hope it has bee useful to interested people in general as to the real value of a dedicated social media arm that works with your company, it makes much more sense to me and I hope you can see why from the above points.
Your thoughts as always are very welcome, and I will do my best to answer comments raised.
Microsites* are basically highly targeted one page websites that are designed to perform a small number of key functions as efficiently as possible. Similar to the importance of copy writing, it is all about making the most of your visitors while they are there that counts, and hence microsite design is also very important.
Some firms rely on microsites, why?
An example of a good microsite was for a US based steak house, as you can see the site is built for one thing, obtaining an email address or phone call for chance to win a prize.
Why a microsite? Because unlike a big large “we are the best” website, marketeers with a background in internet marketing know that a good quality one page microsite (this is very important, and is often referred to as a squeeze page) can do wonders for a companies marketing objectives.
Put simply all your online and off-line marketing efforts can lead to this one page for one specific purpose which is usually to obtain a phone call (personal injury claims, B2B leads) or an email address or mobile phone number (retailers, entertainment providers etc) and why?
Simple. So you can stay in touch more easily and more often with customers.
Lets say you want email addresses:
Great, you have decided that you want to obtain email addresses so you can begin some high quality email marketing to entice new and old clients back to purchase goods or services from your business.
So how do you go about increasing the amount of quality email addresses you currently have on your list?
Firstly let’s think of an offer that you can give to people who take the time to indulge their private email address to your firm. Now this can be one of many things; money off vouchers, a prize draw, a free white paper, video etc. What is important is that you decide what your desired email list will be interested in and then target the right people in order to let as many relevant people see the offer.
So how does a microsite work?
In our case we would discuss options with a client and then look to integrate an email client form within a one page website that either appended your own existing website or was created solely for this campaign in mind, benefits exist for both options and are based on SEO and usability.
With attention to detail related to design, and colours used, typography and copy writing, the site would appeal in one or two ways, to make a call, or put in your email address in a box to get a benefit (prize, coupon, free information etc)
Why not just use your own website with a new page?
Simple, your own website will have links and other distracting elements that will vastly decrease the effectiveness of obtaining that precious email address, the one you can use again and again to say hello to the person you want to encourage to bring repeat business to your firm.
Of course not every single email address will bring you results but as this is very much a numbers game, the more the merrier.
How to get the visitors we need?
Traditionally people have used services such as Google’s adwords to target people they know may have some interest in the offer proposed by virtue of the words they are searching under. This could be an option, another method would be to let your followers on social networks know that there was an offer available and allude to the benefits of participation and how you can easily access this via a simple link to the microsite.
Why are microsites more popular now?
As we are all aware, marketing is more and more about utilising the internet, and firms such as ours know how powerful a properly implemented campaign such as the ones outlined above provide to firms.
In many cases a company has many different methods of marketing their business: Print, video, PPC, email campaigns, and social media, as well as mobile messaging and mobile applications.
All this activity must have a clear purpose and microsites are very handy tools for directing people to something that can extract a desired outcome and offer something in return.
*some large car manufacturers and brands have microsites that are more than one page and may be defined as a microsite, but not for the purposes of this article.
Is Facebook running scared after some reports have claimed that money spent on Facebook ads has been wasted?
A really complex question has emerged lately and it relates to the choice of Facebook as an advertising platform for various brands and companies.
Facebook has called for the online industry to move away from using measurements built for direct response marketing towards broader branding metrics.
CTR and CPA not reflective of how people use the web:
Facebook’s head of measurement research Sean Bruich has recently said that direct response measurements such as CPA (cost per action) and CTR (click through rate) are not fully reflective of how people use the web, and as such do not work for sites like Facebook. Citing a report by Comscore released last week aimed at learning more about individual Facebook networks and brands Sean Bruich states:
“When the internet started, the first business developments were e-commerce and, as such, they used direct response advertising to build traffic, which was the measure of success.”
Offline sales and traffic is as important as online:
He went on to explain that:
“Online advertisers now care about other results too – offline purchases for example. For some retailers online presence is key but the bulk of their sales come from in-store. The metrics CTR and CPA do not help a broader set of advertisers. This is affecting everybody, but Facebook is in a tougher position because it is not just about online display impressions, it is about earned media and as such we need to understand a broader set of measurement.”
Increasing reach aims to increase sales in the long run:
Mike Shaw the director of marketing solutions at Comscore has pointed out that an underexploited opportunity was present for brands to tap into friends of fans by creating compelling content and campaigns. Gaining access to these friends of fans allowed brands to increase their reach by a magnitude of 34.
“With the example of people’s likelihood to visit a brand’s own site as a measure of success, friends of fans are considerably more likely to visit than the average internet user. For Starbucks we found fans were 418% more likely to visit their site, but for friends of fans it was still over 200% more than the average web user,”
Bulk of activity on Facebook takes place in the news feed:
Brands are still trying to work out how to maximise the advantages of using Facebook. This Comscore report has made it clear that the news feed is where you need to be grabbing peoples attention. So thinking about the content you post in this area will help to make the most out of the attention of followers and friends of followers.
“The concepts here are not new, brands have been looking for ways to talk to advocates and get them to refer friends before – it all exists already. At the moment the internet is thought about in an isolated DR way and it doesn’t translate to what people are actually doing. It needs to translate to reach, frequency and audience, which already makes sense to a lot of brands.”
Content is still king:
The old adage that content is king still holds true. Put simply, if you have interesting copy (articles) to share, a well produced or interesting video, a well thought out offer or a whole host of other great types of content, you are more likely to engage with your fans and maximise the chance to push this on to other people. What theoretically should happen is that your content will get further than just your immediate fans and then hit the friends of fans, raising awareness and the likelihood that they will visit your brand online or indeed off-line. Facebook does work as an ad platform for brands, but needs to perhaps be looked at as a less obvious way of generating sales.
UK Businesses wake up to the power of social media finally
I have seen this research data coming for a long while, the UK business world slowly waking up to a new form of communication.
While it is true that the UK probably leads the World in creativity in terms of media, advertising and marketing, we probably lag a little behind in adopting certain types of communication methods such as social media. The truth is, compared to our American cousins we are much less interested in our customers feelings and thoughts than they are, and this has shown in the US adoption of social media compared to the UK (in general terms)
Good news for social media managers
The research published by Episerver has shown that out of 250 marketing decision makers, 73% of UK businesses are already running online communities or seeking to do this in the next 12 months.
This has lead to a growing need for community/social media managers as a means to effectively communicate and engage with new and old customers via specially designed and implemented pages on social networks and the web.
Knowledge is power, thankfully business is waking up to this more and more
As the old adage that knowledge is power holds true most of the time, it is a good thing to hear that UK businesses are now preparing to embrace social media and not dismiss it or wait to see what their competitors are doing before they consider engaging themselves as this may be too late!
The EpiServer report goes on to highlight that 69% of UK businesses will appoint social media managers in 2011, and 41% saying that they will be looking to hire a person to do this role in the next 12 months. 28% already have what they would term a community manager in place already.
In house marketing department utilised quite often:
With 51% of social media management currently being carried out by a marketing manager internally it does however seem that the job of social media manager is not really being given proper consideration and respect. It is doubtful that a general marketing person will have the skill-set to actively engage and implement social media tactics that can be assessed fully via analytical tools and also be as up to date with opportunities in the ever changing sphere of social media, simply updating to Facebook and Twitter every now and again is not social media management, this is tinkering, and I see huge companies on Twitter in particular who had a go and then stopped, usually as they did not implement correct methods and expected instant results and got dismayed.
Time to respect social media management services as a profession in itself?
While this report does hold some good news it is disappointing seeing companies that operate in a totally unrelated field attempt to manage their own social media campaigns, this type of work can be too rewarding for businesses to simply play around with and is therefore better provided by a dedicated team of people with experience of Internet marketing and social network advertising and online user engagement.