Archive for May 2011

The social media landscape in 2011 - infographic

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Social media landscape 2011Working for a social media agency means that I’m often inundated with infographics. Some are insightful, some show great design aesthetics…and some tell me absolutely nothing!

The infographic to the right, by Fred Cavazza, which highlights the social media landscape in 2011, stood out for two reasons (click on the infographic to enlarge it).

Firstly, it has removed Google and Facebook from all categories and placed them as a central focus point. This reflects the continuous evolution of these platforms and their multi-functional capabilities.

Secondly, it’s the first time I’ve seen social gaming highlighted within its own category. Social gaming is becoming an increasingly important area of social engagement, and the current speculations of a Zynga IPO is likely to reinforce this.

One notable exception from this infographic is SCVNGR, which intends to apply a gamified approach to real world activities, and it will be interesting to see where it might be placed in 2012.

Empire Avenue, social capital and the value for brands

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Homepage logo for Empire AvenueRecently quite a few of the FreshNetworks team have started buying and selling each other on the internet.

…It’s not as bad as it sounds!

What’s happened is that Empire Avenue, a gamified approach to measuring social influence, has sparked off some friendly rivalry as we work out just how much social capital we hold.

So how does Empire Avenue work? Basically, it measures your activity on certain social networks, and is not dissimilar from other influencer measuring tools such as Klout and Peer Index.

Where Empire Avenue differs is that your value can effectively be peer-reviewed by others buying and selling shares in your score, giving you an incentive to remain a valuable commodity and remain active on your social networks.

What’s the value for brands?

While it can be a fun (and distracting) way for individual users to interact, the value of Empire Avenue for brands is especially interesting.

Xbox is currently the most valuable branded stock, but other businesses in the top 20 include Nokia, Audi, Toyota and Ford.

The early adoption of automotive brands is interesting, as one of the features of Empire Avenue is the option to buy “luxury items” - like a fancy badge that displays a manifestation of your virtual wealth. At present these are generic items - cars, boats, houses etc. but I expect we’ll soon see branded versions being offered by companies as aspirational items, or even rewards for loyal fans.

Brands will also be able to communicate with their users as the Empire Avenue platform offers real time chat and status updates. It also offers users the chance to  purchase in-game adverts to encourage visits to their profiles and, hopefully, investment in their stock. The relationship works both ways and brands can also invest in their fans, which is certainly a new type of engagement that goes beyond what we have seen before.

If you or your company are already active on social media, now may well be the time to think about “investing” in Empire Avenue.

Why retailer Tesco bought a social media company

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Whilst some big retailers are still sitting on the sidelines considering whether social media has a role in their business, one of our biggest retailers has acquired its own social media company.

Yesterday it was announced that Tesco has bought US word-of-mouth social media company BzzAgent for a reported $60 million.

Bzzagent, a Boston based start up, uses volunteers to sample FMCG products and then encourages them to describe these products through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The company has 800,000 volunteers, working across brands like Unilever and L’Oreal, who spend their time describing their product experience online.

By purchasing BzzAgent, Tesco clearly want to better connect social media with product marketing. With access to some on the most comprehensive consumer data collected from their loyalty card holders, the extra content and data gathered from Bzzagent can only serve to enrich this further.

Tesco clearly recognise the significance of social media in influencing buyer behaviour. None of the other major retailers has gone this far in using social media - most seem to be focusing their efforts on communities that already hold great influence, like Mumsnet, NetMums and the hugely popular Money Saving Expert.

Tesco’s move to buy BzzAgent is another example of how social media is becoming a mainstream staple in the retailer marketing mix and the opportunity it represents can no longer be ignored.

3 challenges facing social TV

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Connected TV - is it the future? Social TV, or Connected TV as it’s also known, will be an exciting area for marketers in the future as the opportunity for integrating the Internet and social networks offers a whole new dimension to the TV experience.

But while large numbers of consumers are already using social channels at the same time as viewing TV broadcasts, there are still several challenges for connected TV, as discussed at a recent Econsultancy round-table event:

1. Consumer adoption

Despite a prediction that 28 million connected TVs will have saturated the UK by 2014, the transition to connected TV will have its difficulties. One concern is that after adopting HD and 3D TV there will be confusion and reluctance from consumers to upgrade their TVs yet again.

However, connected TV is already being adopted - DisplaySearch has reported  that nearly 20% of all TVs shipped in 2010 included some capability. This figure is due to rise  from 40 million units worldwide in 2010 to an estimated 123 million by 2014.

2. Regulation, privacy and security concerns

With connected TV, regulation will not be as simple, and we imagine that it will be some time before the jurisdiction of connected TV and related apps will be clear. Currently with dual screen viewing the second screen does not fall under OfCom regulation and we expect there to be several test cases before things are truly tightened up.

Consumers may also have issues about their privacy, and of course the new channel might have security issues that people will need to bear in mind to stay safe.

3. Changing our TV habits

TV viewing is already a social activity, but connected TV will take the once-passive activity to a new level of active involvement. A considerable amount of people are already using social channels while viewing TV, and a connected TV will be able to provide suggestions and playlists on the basis of your likes and recommendations from your social networks. Opportunities for viewers to interact directly with broadcasts and other viewers will greatly expand the involvement and experience of watching TV - in fact, “watching TV” may become an antiquated expression in itself!

The Future

We are still yet to see exactly what connected TV will be able to do, but with the introduction of YouView next year and must-see events such as the Olympics taking place, there will be plenty of opportunity to experiment and trial new techniques for communication with your audience using both social channels and television.

Should Facebook ‘Likes’ have an expiry date?

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how brands  are getting preoccupied with generating high numbers of Facebook ‘Likes’ rather than building deep engagement and this got me thinking -  if “Likes” are going to be used as  measure of engagement should they have an expiration date?

Why don’t fans of a brand have to reassert their allegiance to a particular brand from time to time?

For example, what if I “Liked” a brand last year because of some clever campaign but actually now also “Like” their rival brand, is the original brand still counting me as a fan of their product? And if I were able to renew my “Like” would I be more engaged with a brand than someone who has “Liked” a brand or product just the once?

Of course, this would put marketing teams under even more pressure to be innovative and creative in their use of campaigns and Facebook engagement. But surely this is what they need to do anyway to ensure people keep buying their products.

So how long should the “Like” last for? A month? 3 months? A year? It would be good to hear your comments and views about this.