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Social media and the 2011 Rugby World Cup

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The world of social media has changed dramatically in the four years since the last world cup - back then, MySpace was the largest social network in North America with more than 110 million active monthly users,  Facebook had a mere 50 million active users and Twitter hadn’t even launched.

Move forward to the 2011 Rugby World Cup kicked off and while New Zealand are again the heavy favourites, as was the case four years ago, things are very different in the world of social media.

At the last count, Facebook had over 750 million active users, which, as I saw in an interesting infographic, would make it the third largest country in the world. Twitter has reached 100 million active users (although there are approx. 200 million registered accounts) and MySpace, which at its peak had 125 million active users, now has around 63 million.

Social media stats about the rugby world cup discussion so far:

Image and data source: Ubervu

Since the start of the rugby world cup last Friday there have been almost 32,000 mentions of “RWC” or “Rugby World Cup” on social media sites - unsurprising 71% of these from men. The potential total impressions has been almost 24m to date.

The majority of these (almost 24,000) featured on Twitter, with Facebook discussion coming in second. It’s important to keep in mind though that this is only the content from Facebook that people have made publicly available.

Different Twitter policies for teams at the rugby world cup 2011:

Graham Henry, the New Zealand head coach, has decided to take a simple approach to preventing players from causing gaffes on Twitter by banning them from using the platform for the duration of the tournament:

“We haven’t had a policy up till now,” he said. “We’ve just asked them to make good decisions about that and, in the All Blacks camp, most of the time, they’ve made good decisions. But, at Rugby World Cup time, zilch.”

Meanwhile, the England team has not been banned from using Twitter, but they have been given some simple guidelines, and told to “think before they tweet”. Toby Flood, the England player was asked about the instructions given to the team and said:

“You just use your common sense. Don’t write anything that will become controversial or daft, and I think that’s the safest way to be.”

Of course, while sports stars and celebrities have much higher followings than the average person, the principles are the same for everyone. Back in January, O2 who sponsor a number of international rugby teams, including England, wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece on the O2 blog titled ‘5 Twitter Commandments for famous rugby players’.

And what about the numerous, non-celebrity social media users and what they discuss on social media during the rugby world cup?

The message for everyone should be the same – you are accountable for your actions, or in this case Tweets or comments on social media. The chances are that your boss will be following you, as well as some of your clients, so like the England rugby team have been warned, always “think before you tweet”.

The role of data in social media and reaching your audience

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Data is the new oil. Apparently.

While this may be a slightly strange and annoying cliché by now, data is vitally important for enabling businesses to learn more about their customers and their audience.

I went to a talk this morning titled ‘The importance of growth and the data economy’. There were a number of speakers at the event, but with data at the heart of each of their presentations, there were some key questions answered:

1. Where is all this data about us coming from?

In short, cookies. Cookies are small, often encrypted text files, located in browser directories. They are created when a user’s browser loads a particular website. Cookies can track your surfing habits, that over time build up a profile of your interests.

2. What is being done with this data?

This data is used to target you and show adverts that are meant to be the most relevant to you. For example, on its website, HP is transparent and answers the question about how it uses automatic data collection tools

“HP or its service providers send cookies when you surf our site or sites where our ads appear, make purchases, request or personalize information, or register yourself for certain services. Accepting the cookies used on our site, sites that are “powered by” another company on HP’s behalf, or sites where our ads appear may give us access to information about your browsing behavior, which we may use to personalize your experience.”

This implies that as soon as you enter the HP site that they will be harvesting all of your personal data.

3. So should I be concerned?

What is most important to note about cookies is that you provide the information to them. If you fill out a form on a website and provide sensitive information such as your name, address, email, credit card etc, then this data can be stored in a cookie. If you are concerned about a certain site, you can of course choose not to accept a cookie. In this instance however, I doubt you would want to enter your information into that site anyway.

Ultimately, cookies provide personalisation for each user and the ads that you see are targeted so that they are most relevant for you. After all, an advertiser selling life insurance for over 40′s will not want you to see the ad if you are a healthy 25-year-old.

4. What is the role of data in social media?

Ensuring that there is a joined up approach across the organisation is key. When running a campaign, it is essential that the target audience is the same for the various activities, be it ATL or social media.

Targeting these people can then be done with social advertising on networks like Facebook. However, beyond this it’s important that personalised conversations are happening within your target audience and this is the key place where social activity can differentiate itself.

Establishing relationships with people in of social networks and online communities will help create a more engaged audience and increase the likelihood of these people becoming customers and, in turn, brand ambassadors or influencers, thereby spreading the word in the communities they are active among your key audience.

5. How can I engage with my target audience?

In order to engage with your target audience, you first need to identify them. This can be done by carrying out social media monitoring or using the various listening tools that are avaliable on the market place.

This is only the first step, though. While automated solutions are a great way to keep your costs to a minimum, the real work is then in reviewing the information and then refining it.

Report download - The growth, current use and future direction of LinkedIn

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Today sees an end to our focus on LinkedIn and the launch of our new report about the growth, current use and future direction of LinkedIn.

You can DOWNLOAD A FREE COPY OF OUR REPORT HERE.

Our report looks at:

  • How LinkedIn has grown to become the world’s biggest professional online network.
  • Our predictions for the future growth of LinkedIn.
  • How brands and businesses should use LinkedIn.
  • The top 10 companies on LinkedIn.
  • LinkedIn’s tops tips getting started.
  • The future direction of LinkedIn.
  • An Interview with Ngaire Moyes, Director of Communications EMEA, LinkedIn.

It would be great to hear any comments or thoughts you have about the report, as well as how you’re currently using LinkedIn as part of your own personal or company’s social media strategy.

4 ways brands and businesses can use LinkedIn

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Last year, Guy Kawasaki,  wrote a guest post for the LinkedIn Blog about how small businesses can use LinkedIn.

In his post, Kawasaki advised companies to be transparent in order to attract both prospective clients and employees.

While the post focuses on small businesses, some of the points he raises can be applied to businesses of all sizes.

Here are some of our own thoughts, as well as some of Kawasaki’s own words of wisdom, on some of the ways that brands and businesses can use LinkedIn.

1.    Win new business by answering questions in your area of expertise

Currently 17.8 million LinkedIn users are members of groups and 1.2 million post comments to groups every week.

If employees are demonstrating expertise and providing sound advice within the conversations relevant to their industry, then others will want to find out who they work for, thereby increasing a company’s reputation.

2.    Convince potential customers about your expertise by sharing content

The profile of your company will increase by having a presence in groups on LinkedIn and by sharing knowledge through these groups.

It’s important to think of these people as prospective customers or employees and try to captivate them as much as possible with your content, and then try to convert where possible.

Content can range from adding comments and joining in discussions in relevant groups on LinkedIn, to posting your company’s blog and twitter feeds to your own profile, as well as that of your employees, in order to help people learn more about your brand and business.

If you have resource you could even set up your own group on LinkedIn.

Either way, make sure you only post relevant, timely information that relates to the audience in order to avoid clutter or annoying people with irrelevant content.

3.    Acquire new customers through online recommendations and word of mouth

Nielsen’s Global Online Consumer Survey , which sampled 25,000 Internet consumers from 50 different countries, demonstrates the value of word of mouth, with 90% of respondents trusting recommendations of people they know.

Having a company presence on LinkedIn increases word-of-mouth about your brand.  Plus, getting recommended by a connection on LinkedIn will help to validate your business credentials.

4.    Cut recruitment costs

LinkedIn is a great platform to showcase professional qualifications and experience, and as such it can help businesses save money on recruitment. HR and internal recruiters can view information about potential candidates, as well as contact them, without having to use expensive agencies to provide names and contacts. A leading software provider managed to cut its recruitment budget by 50% significantly thanks to using LinkedIn for recruitment purposes.

The top 10 companies on LinkedIn

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Having already charted how LinkedIn has grown over the last eight years, as well as comparing the growth of LinkedIn to Facebook,  it’s time to take a look at the top 10 companies on LinkedIn.

Users on LinkedIn can be linked to a company in one of two ways; by being an employee or by following the company. The top 10 followed companies on LinkedIn are  IBM, HP, Accenture, Microsoft, Oracle, Deloitte, PwC, Cisco, Apple, Google.

When looking at theses top ten companies on LinkedIn in more detail it becomes clear that there is a leader in both the number of followers and the number of employees on LinkedIn:

The chart shows there’s a clear trend between the size of the company (based on the number of employees on the platform) and the number of followers it has.

On average, each company has almost 2.5 followers for each employee on the site.

However, there are a couple of ‘top performers’ - Apple has six followers to every employee while Google has eight. Perhaps this is not suprising given the ‘aspirational’ nature of both these brands from a professional and personal perspective.