McKinsey report: What marketers are saying about social media

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A survey by McKinsey has examined the use of digital tools and technologies across the marketing departments of  792 companies from a range of industries, titles, company sizes and countries.

The report includes some very interesting findings in relation to social media. Generally, while marketing executives are aware about the importance and future of digital platforms, there are significant challenges posed from interpreting customer data and drawing insights from digital and social channels. Metrics and measurement of success is still seen to be a concern for those using social media, and there is an additional difficulty caused by internal collaboration issues.

Key social media findings from McKinsey’s report include:

  • Almost 75 percent of the surveyed companies are still in an experimental stage with social media - but they are using it to support some kind of business objective
  • 46 percent of these respondents said that their companies are using some social-media tools to complement their marketing.
  • In the next two to four years there will be a clear shift from using homepages and email as most-often used communication channel, to the use of social media sites and mobile apps
  • Of those who are responsible for brand health and reputation, 49 percent say that creating social media content or services would help, and that this should be catered for internally.

Other points of interest

  • In general terms there appears to be a awareness of the importance of using digital channels to draw customer insights, but difficulty in interpreting the data and creating actionable results.
  • Collaboration across departments and lack of leadership for overall digital

McKinsey digital marketing survey

Facebook engagement case study: Coca Cola v Pepsi

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Having already looked at the Facebook engagement and content strategy of two large rival consumer brands (Unilever’s AXE v P&G’s Old Spice) we thought it would be interesting to use social analytics tool Socialbakers to look at the engagement levels for another two rival consumer giants - Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

1. Fans

At face value, Coca-Cola has 29,368,850 more fans than Pepsi. Coca-Cola’s fan total stands at a whopping 35,454,838:

During October Coca-cola’s fans grew by 1,020,439  and Pepsi’s only grew by 188,349.

2. Engagement

We’ve always believed in building real engagement rather than “likes” or fans and so, to us,  the really interesting analysis comes when looking at the activity of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in terms of engagement.

Using Facebook’s “Talking About” metric, during October significantly more people were “Talking about” Coca-Cola instead of Pepsi:

While the people “Talking About” metric  seems to be fairly consistent for Pepsi, the increase and subsequent peak in people “Talking About” for Coca-Cola on 29th October could be because tickets for the Coca-Cola sponsored NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway  went on sale on Saturday October 29th.

However, even though more people were “Talking About” Coca-cola during October, in terms of other engagement metrics is appears as though Pepsi has the advantage:

Pepsi has an average engagement rate of 0.06% versus Coca-Cola’s 0.04%.  What’s more,  Pepsi has a total of 180,050 interactions (posts and comments) to Coca-Cola’s 117,964, again proving their higher engagement levels. Part of the reason behind this is that Pepsi used a lot of pictures and images to engage with its audience during October, rather than just links and text, thereby helping to generate a lot of interactions with the page.

Also, throughout October, Coca-cola made 21 posts, while Pepsi bordered on almost three times the activity with 53 posts, often posting twice daily. Updating and refreshing content on a regular basis is likely to have helped with Pepsi’s engagement rate.

So it seems that although Coca-cola has the more ‘famous’ Facebook page, with by far the most number of fans, in terms of engagement during October it seems that Pepsi is the winner.

It would be interesting to track this trend over a longer period of time than just a month to get a real understanding of the levels of engagement on each page.

China: the most valuable social commerce market in the world?

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A new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) claims that China could become the world’s most valuable e-commerce market within four years.

BCG claim that for the foreseeable future another 30 million Chinese people will go online to shop for the first time and by 2015 they will each be spending $1,000 a year—about what Americans spend online now.

BCG has also calculated that e-commerce could rise from 3.3% of China’s retail sales today to 7.4% by 2015. This is not just because the government subsidised high speed internet aids online shopping, but also because China’s has an expensive, inefficient ‘bricks-and-mortar‘ retail ecosystem and so a quarter of Chinese shoppers seek products online because they are not physically available in-store.

The rise in value of  e-commerce in China could also impact the social commerce market as Chinese e-shoppers are big users of social media.

As Chinese shoppers are somewhat reticent to trust sellers or advertising messages they turn to online customer reviews to form their opinions and according to BCG, over 40% of Chinese online shoppers read and post product reviews online. This is twice as likely as American online shoppers and four times as likely as Indians.

So what should retailers do to take advantage of the growing social and e-commerce market space in China?

Aside from considering the value of an e-commerce presence in Chinese, brands would do well to secure their presence on sites like Sina Weibo - a Chinese social networking site with over 200 million registered users - or other Chinese social networking sites like Tencent WeiBo or Ren Ren.

Retailers may also want to think about how to start engaging Chinese audiences online, not just in terms of where to engage them, but how to engage them in the context of a wider brand and social media strategy.

And as China is accountable for a large share of  share of mobile social media revenue at the moment, it seems that China could lead to some interesting new online revenue streams in terms of both e-commere and social commerce, as well as mobile shopping.

You can read the full BCG report here.

Identifying influencers using Google+ Ripples

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Google+ Ripples is an app that sits natively within Google+, allowing anyone to see the reach and influence of a particular post in G+ once it has been shared. On top of this, you can visualise the spread of the post over time with a scrolling bar that allows you to see the impact a post has at any point along its lifeline.

The magic of Google+ Ripples, however, is the ability to search out and target influencers.

People that re-share your content and get large numbers of subsequent re-shares have larger ‘ripples’ which makes it very easy to see who people pay attention to, and quickly.

While there are people who argue that influencers on Google+ don’t mean anything as the service is minute compared to Facebook, you have to consider the fact that influencers on other social networks that move to G+ often carry that influence across, so not only can ripples be used to find influencers on G+, but there is a good chance that these people exert clout in other arenas too.

There are other levels to the Google+ Ripples tool though. For example, if you were a recruiter looking for android developers to work on a project you could use Google+ Ripples to find people talking about and sharing content about android development.

As Ripples is completely public, this means that if two competing brands release content, they can effectively benchmark how successful those pieces of content are at a very granular level – to the degree where brand ‘x’ might get 500 shares, with 100 of those occurring at a second level, while brand ‘y’ might get 500 shares with 300 of those at the second level. In this example brand ‘y’ is more effective at leveraging key influencers to spread their message, while their first level influence is lacking. This creates a highly competitive environment in which brands need to stay creative and innovative in order to be successful in capturing the maximum share of voice.

It’s worth noting that Google does plan on plugging adwords into Google+, and that they will have something to do with Ripples. While industry chatter on this is vague and unclear, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that you could run adwords campaigns to reach out to influencers with  pretty impressive levels of detail and optimisation.

We’ve said before that Google+ isn’t a competitor to Facebook but the future of search engine marketing and with functionality like Ripples being one of the key USP’s of Google+ we think there are some exciting times ahead for the service.

If you haven’t added FreshNetworks to your Google+ circles yet, then make sure you do so now!

Forget being a Facebook competitor; Google+ is the future of social search

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If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already signed up for Google+ or you’re teetering on the brink. At the very least, you’re probably wondering why you should bother signing up for Google+ at all.

At the moment it seems like most analysts and digital types are being quite mean about Google+ , but whether you like it or not, Google+ will be a ‘success’. This is not a revelation - Google simply has the resources and network to make Google+ work.

Take Google’s staggered roll-out, for example. It wanted to get something out there early to make an initial impact; to say “We’re here in your social space”.

This, of course, led to condemnation and fear that it would be the next Google Buzz: “Nobody’s on it. What’s there to do? I’m going back to Facebook.” But a lot of this attitude and negativity comes down to viewing Google+ as a Facebook competitor. It’s not.

What Google+ is, though, is part of the future of search engine marketing and social search. It’s becoming clearer that instead of taking Facebook head on in Facebook’s domain, Google has created a network that will be an integrated part of Google’s entire ecosystem.

Google started by creating a seemingly ‘stand-alone’ social network. It has now reworked YouTube to focus on social video discovery and social video search. Google+ is not the only network to feature in its recommendation engine – you can add Facebook too.

What’s next? Well, this is only the beginning of these changes. We’ll see similar social integration in Google’s main search offering, Google Docs and even Gmail. This will be the culmination of a mix between improved search and the collaborative principles that underpinned (the sadly failed) Google Wave. With improvements, the extended Google+ integration will make sense. Imagine:

I’m studying history at university. My lecturer or course has a Google+ account and the video is broadcast live as a hangout to a group of students who may not be able to make it to the lecture hall. After the lecture is finished, the hangout will be uploaded to YouTube to share. Students can import it from YouTube into Google Docs as a video document which can then be annotated and shared on Google+ with other members of the class or directly to a mailing list from Google+ by clicking the ‘gmail’ option. We can base a hangout on one of these video documents as an informal seminar.

Soon, Google+ won’t be a choice; It will be a tool we use as naturally as gmail and Google.com. It will change the way we collaborate on, share and discover data. It will help change the way we enjoy information. Don’t think of Google+ as a social network;  think of it as part of our social future.