Archive for the ‘Jon Stokes’ Category.

Facebook ads - focus on growing and engaging your fan base

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General Motors Facebook adsFacebook has been very much in the spotlight, with a great amount of press attention on the run-up to last week’s IPO and the company’s recent stock performance.

One big headline was the announcement that General Motors was pulling its $10million Facebook ads account. This has clearly rocked confidence in the effectiveness of advertising on Facebook, but may not come as a surprise to many, as a social media setting is not necessarily the prime location for people seeking product information on a car.

It is important to note that while GM may be pulling its advertising, it will continue to develop its large Facebook presence across its brand pages, and keep a focus on engagement.

Here at FreshNetworks we take the approach that Facebook ads need to be aimed at growing the audience and engagement level of a page or app. By keeping ads within Facebook itself, the barrier to entry for a prospective fan is much lower than sending them to an external site.  Having said that, there are some important steps to consider when planning a Facebook ad campaign:

Testing the effectiveness of a Facebook ad

As with any marketing activity, you need to test and evaluate various approaches before committing a large outlay to a campaign.

What metrics should you be looking at?

While the click-through-rate is an important measurement, we’ve found that optimisation should be focussed on Facebook’s “Connections” metric, which measures activity in terms of engagement (likes, comments, app use etc.) so that the effective reach of your ad is maximised.

Optimising your Facebook ads

Splitting your adverts into campaigns makes it much easier to segment them according to target audience and content. We’ve found that breaking your ads up into campaigns of five ads each makes it much easier to manage and measure the effectiveness of particular ads.

Selection and formatting of images is vital. The imagery used obviously has to be eye-catching, but also something that is personalised and relevant to your target audience.

Following up a Facebook ad campaign

Once you have tested, optimised, and run your Facebook ad campaign, it’s important to carry the momentum and keep your new audience engaged. As with any social media activity, it is important to keep a clear strategy in mind, and determine why a new fan will want to come back to your page or engage with you.

WalmartLabs - taking Big Data into retail

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Walmart Labs

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, acquired social media firm Kosmix just over a year ago, creating @WalmartLabs, with the intention to use this specialist R&D unit to define the future of commerce by merging social, mobile and retail.

So far WalmartLabs has released two interesting developments using social:

ShopyCat gift recommendation engine Walmart Labs• ShopyCat - the gift recommendation engine

This Facebook application uses your Facebook profile to suggest suitable products for you, based on the interests and hobbies of your friends. An interesting aspect of this approach is that the app will offer links to other retailers if Walmart do not stock a suggested item in their own stores.

The notion that the app may steer customers away from Walmart may seem unusual, but the brand sees more long-term gain in making the service as useful and relevant as possible to its customers.

• Get on the shelf - innovative product pitching

‘Get on the shelf’ was a contest that allowed innovators to pitch their products to Walmart customers, who then voted for the ones they would like to see Walmart stock.

Over a million votes were cast, narrowing the field down to three products that will now be available to purchase in Walmart: a DIY-screw replacement system for glasses; an airtight plate cover for food storage; and the overall winner - a socially conscious bottled water whose company donates its profits to provide clean water supplies.

The next step - Big Data

These examples are innovative approaches to using social media to encourage sales and generation of inventory, but the area that I think will prove the most fascinating is how WalmartLabs will leverage “Big Data” to develop the retailer’s ability to predict market demand and so optimise their supply.

Understanding and fulfilling local demand

This is where the situation becomes truly interesting - stores will be able to optimise their inventory according to their area’s specific tastes and seasonal demands.

One of the examples WalmartLabs’ Venky Harinarayan offers is that of college football. By monitoring social media buzz during college football season, Walmart is able to determine when discussion about college football in a certain locality is beginning to heat up. This lets them know when they should be stocking products that are related to the season and local teams.

Creating demand and making recommendations

As ShopyCat has demonstrated, recommendation engines enable customers to discover new and relevant products, either for themselves or their friends. As I mentioned above, ShopyCat currently directs customers to alternative suppliers, but from understanding customer behaviour and using Big Data, a logical evolution would be for these alternatives to become increasingly niche as Walmart develops supply according to consumer taste.

The ability to bring all of these channels together in-store via mobile will be significant. WalmartLabs are developing in-store navigation using mobile, so I would expect to see apps that offer customers information and the location of recommended items, or prompts for items of interest that are already in close proximity. A reminder of a friend’s upcoming birthday and interest in fishing, while you are passing the sports section, for example, would help you make a relevant purchase while saving time and hassle.

Are Facebook ‘likes’ a measure of customer loyalty? - Infographic

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Brand loyalty and likes for Facebook brand pages

Here at FreshNetworks we are big advocates of the concept that engagement makes for a better metric than the number of ‘likes’, and this infographic by Our Social Times provides a thought-provoking reminder to brands as to the reasons people declare themselves a fan. (Click the image to see it full-size).

Customer loyalty is the top consumer motivation for ‘liking’ a brand’s Facebook page. This is closely followed by the desire to keep on top of brand news and to receive rewards for engagement.

So you ‘like’ us, now what?

The crucial element is what happens after fan acquisition - converting this initial interest into long-term engagement.

Research into fan engagement suggests that only 1.3% of fans are actively engaged. The reason for this low figure? Brands are failing to deliver fans with what they expect, such as offers, interactions with other fans, and customer service. When you consider that on average, a page’s updates are only visible to 17% of its audience, it becomes even more important to provide a reason for fans to engage.

Give something back to your fans

I would not suggest that all brands use their Facebook page to distribute exclusive offers; this would not, for example, work for a luxury brand aiming to avoid diluting the value of their marque. It does show, though, that fans expect something in return for their loyalty, and they can be rewarded in other, exclusive ways, such as through receiving special content before anyone else.

…but don’t overload them

Knowing your audience and offering content that means something to them is crucial - irrelevant updates will just lead to fans “unliking” your page, however what is even more of a turn-0ff is when a page posts too often. This is where taking an analytic approach to your social media management is crucial - understanding the type of content that really connects with your fans, and the best time to post it, means that your efforts will go much further, and so will your levels of engagement.

Want to learn more about the science of social media?

Matt Rhodes, our Strategy Director, will be sharing his social media expertise in two free webinars:

  • 9th May - How to Analyse & Optimise Your ROI
  • 20th June - How to Identify and Reward True Advocates

Visit the Our Social Times page to view more details and register your place.

How are the top hotel brands innovating in social media?

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A recent report has ranked the digital performance of 52 global hotel brands. The latest L2 Hotels Digital IQ Index rated brands according to the performance of their sites and use of digital marketing, mobile and social media.

The top 20 brands:

1. Four Seasons =10. St. Regis
2. Hilton Worldwide 12. Renaissance
3. Marriott International =13. JW Marriott
4. Hyatt =13. Omni
5. The Ritz Carlton 15. Le Méridien
6. Intercontinental =16. Mandarin Oriental
7. Westin =16. MGM Resorts
8. Sheraton =16. Radisson
9. W Hotels =16. Sofitel
=10. Fairmont 20. Jumeirah

How hotel brands are using social media

Keeping things local

Hotel social media strategies

The study notes that 95% of the brands have both global and property Facebook pages, increasing from 73% in 2011. Twitter saw an increase from 56% to 70%. Taking a property-centric approach allows for a higher degree of relevant content to be shared and thus keep an engaged audience. An additional benefit of property-level presence comes in terms of immediate customer service and local expertise.

One brand which has been innovative for adding value with local knowledge is the The Ritz-Carlton, who have taken advantage of Foursquare to share tips from the concierge staff at 75 properties.

User reviews

Only 17% of the indexed brands offer on-site ratings and reviews. The report suggests that these sites send 39% less traffic to online-travel-agents, indicating increased confidence from customers, and presumably a lower need to navigate away to other pages for research.

Two noteworthy example of sites that feature reviews are Starwood and Four Seasons. Starwood have opted to create their own, independent reviews site, which requires a reservation code to ensure authenticity. By taking reviews in-house, the brand is able to monitor and respond to customer comments in a controlled environment.

Four Seasons have taken a different approach. Nine of the indexed brand sites link to TripAdvisor, but the Four Seasons has gone beyond by integrating reviews directly on their property pages, allowing customers to see them at a glance and without having to navigate away from the Four Seasons site.

Emerging social platforms

How hotels use new social media platforms

As for new social platforms, Google+ and Foursquare are the most popular, and offer clear value for SEO and local representation.

The visually rich nature of travel content means that there is clear scope for further use of sites such as Pinterest and Tumblr. The Four Seasons and Hotel Indigo are noted as pioneering Pinterest brands. I would expect to see further use of Instagram, yet again the Four Seasons are leading the way with property-specific accounts. I expect to see more brands joining Instagram, especially following its acquisition by Facebook which demonstrates the importance of images in social media.

The Chinese take on Pinterest

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New Chinese social media sites have long been inspired by popular sites and trends from the West, such as Facebook’s distant cousin Renren and Twitter’s brother Sina Weibo.  It is no surprise then that they have embraced Pinterest with both arms.

Rather than just creating direct clones of the site, they have been inspired by the image-heavy, ‘waterfall-like’ layout (the Chinese describe the dynamic grid as ‘Pubuliu’, meaning ‘waterfall stream’), creating new sites that use this layout but add different features or use it in different ways to Pinterest. We’ve found over 30 Chinese Pinterest variants (and we reckon the number is growing); here are a selection of the most interesting ones.

Chinese pinterest sites
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General interest sites

Huaban (meaning ‘Petal’) and Pinfun (no translation needed; even the logo looks familiar)

These sites closely emulate Pinterest , with users collecting, pinning and sharing images, video clips (Huaban) and gif files (Pinfun) of interest.  However, the content is mainly related to Chinese culture, such as upcoming Chinese festivity, popular Chinese stars, food and scenery in China.  Pinfun also has a link called ‘Pandora’, linking merchandise images to the online shopping website Taobao.

Food-specific sites

Meishixing (meaning ‘Gourmet Journey’) and LSKong (‘Lingshi’ means ‘Snacks’; ‘Kong’ means ‘Control’)

Meishixing allows users to share pictures of restaurant dishes they’ve eaten and liked, and ones that make them drool.  Click on the images and the restaurant name and its Google Map location are displayed.  Foodies can browse images according to cities in China; so far there are 38, and likely to increase.  LSKong focuses on snacks, finger food, tea, wine and Chinese medicinal drinks.  What makes LSKong different is its focus on each user’s profile page.  Like Facebook’s profile timeline feature, user’s ID page displays pictures and comments on their snacks; this invites other nibblers to comment on your discoveries too.

Fashion-based sites

Faxian

Early in March 2012 Alibaba Group launched their social shopping website Faxian (meaning ‘Discovery’) beta version.  Specifically targeted at female users, the site allows fashionistas to share and comment on items on virtual pin boards.  By clicking on images it also allows users to purchase items on Taobao.

Mogujie (meaning ‘Mushroom Street’)

Finally, we should look at the growing success of Mogujie (meaning ‘Mushroom Street’), launched in 2010.  The founder Chen Qi developed the concept of combining online shopping and web forums in 2008 by first experimenting with a cosmetics community website his wife was using.  He discovered that users are often unsure of what to buy and which products are stylish, or suitable to them.   Mogujie was already popular amongst females aged 18 to 25 (hence the site’s cutesy mushroom mascot), but when the site incorporated Pinterest’s visually attractive, image-heavy ‘waterfall’ layout, its number of daily visitors soared.  Since last December there were 400,000 registered fashionistas, and 120,000 daily visitors.

Mogujie has a rigorous user registration process; not only do you have to register your name and date of birth, you can add details of your height, weight, skin condition, shoe size and vital statistics. Like LSKong’s focus on profile pages, popular users become models showing everyone what and how they dress (like the UK site What I Wore Today), and provide fashion guidance to her followers.  There are pages dedicated to fashion brands, such as Topshop, Zara and H&M, and the items all link to the relevant pages on Taobao.

Mogujie is also not only about materialism.  During the Chinese Valentine’s Day (the 7th day in July according to the lunar calendar), the site set up a forum for single ladies spilling out their singleton woes, which became hugely popular and only adds to the site’s financial success.

Chen Qi is quick to point out that apart from the ‘waterfall’ layout, Mogujie is different from Pinterest in content and community management style. It is still early stages to decide which of the few Chinese Pinterest variants are here to stay, but we know that to copy like for like will not be sustainable.