Archive for the ‘News’ Category.

Why we need to dig deeper to measure the true value of social

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A recent IBM report on Black Friday sales figures stated that social media generated only 0.34% of online sales, with  Twitter generating an outright 0% of revenue. Shocking headlines aside, what can we actually take away from the statistics?

Social media performance Black Friday

When you look at them like this, it does look rather bleak - if there were red figures for declines, it would be a bit of a bloodbath.

But this really doesn’t tell the full story. When I’m on Twitter or Facebook, it’s rare that I personally click on any sort of promoted Tweet or sponsored story, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t pique my interest. Often I will then go on Google and search for the promotion, or go directly to the website of the brand to find out more. If I then go on to make a purchase, this wouldn’t be attributed to social.

The most interesting part of the report for me referenced the positive mentions that people expressed post purchase; “Shoppers expressed positive consumer sentiment on promotions, shipping and convenience as well as the retailers themselves at a three to one ratio”.

So how could retailers find the true value that social attributed towards Black Friday?

A simple way would be combine social data with sales data. The chart in the IBM report, is a good start, breaking down over time the sales, but if a brand was able to break this data down and plot social discussions of products alongside it, it would be far more powerful. We would then be able to demonstrate if there were peaks in conversation about specific products and assess if these were driven by social mentions/conversations.

Tracking links through to sales is great, but the reality is that we have to make some assumptions. Brands are willing to pay £110,000 for a 30 second advert slot during the X Factor and use Marketing Mix Modelling to determine the impact on sales that the adverts have had, and social should be treated no differently.

If we are to judge the value of social, then we do need to use methods such as tracking links, but this should be one of a number of measures to make sure that we are accurately reflecting the value of any social activity and that it is comparable with other marketing disciplines.

Social media vs traditional news sources: How the UK differs from other countries

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The first Reuters Institute Digital Report has attracted much coverage in the UK for the finding that 16-24 year olds in this country now use social media as their primary news source. This highlights the changing way that consumers are getting information, and what they are doing with it. But perhaps more interesting for us to learn from is how social media as a new source varies by country - showing not only how consumer behaviour changes by market, but how traditional brands are innovating.

Traditional brands vs aggregators vs social media

Traditional brands vs aggregators vs social media

The research, conducted by YouGov, compares news consumption in the UK, USA, Germany, France and Denmark, looking at how traditional brands (online news and broadcasters) compares with aggregators (such as Google News) and social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter and the like).

Behaviour in these countries varies, with the USA leading for use of social media as a news source (41% of all consumers), followed by Germany (30%) and Denmark (28%) before the UK (22%) and France (21%). So when compared against these countries, use of social media for news in the UK appears to be less developed than reports are suggesting. However, the truth is probably a little more complex than this.

In the UK, traditional news sources are still very strong - with 86% of consumers having used them in the previous week; and it is striking to compare this with Germany and France where only 69% of consumers have gone to these sources. Perhaps there is a connection between the relatively high use of traditional news sources in the UK, and the relatively low use of social media when compared to the other countries in the study.

The study distinguishes social media sites (Facebook, blogs and Twitter) from traditional brands - focusing on the different places that people get information. However, how social media is changing consumer behaviour is often less about the places people go and more about the changed behaviour itself. And in the UK, the more traditional news brands have been fast to change the way they engage with their audiences - the BBC and Guardian, for example, have been quick to innovate with live blogging, data journalism and other ways to adapt their delivery of information as consumer behaviours change.

So, in the UK at least it is these ‘traditional’ news brands that are offering the new ways of engaging with people and content that better reflect how consumer behaviour itself is changing.

The impact of social media on news, as with any industry, should not just be measured in how many people go to new destinations for content and information. Perhaps even more important is to look at how traditional players in the market innovate and change as consumer behaviour itself changes; how they offer new and engaging services which mean that consumers don’t look elsewhere for their needs.

‘Crisis’ is a dirty word - how Femfresh could have handled their social media backlash

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In the last few days you might have seen the word vagina bandied about a fair bit online, and not just in the murkier corners of the internet.

In the US, Representative Lisa Brown was banned from the House, ostensibly for ‘permissive’ language, after using the word ‘vagina’ in front of the Michigan legislature in a debate about abortion.

Hot on the heels of this came the Femfresh debacle. Femfresh is a ‘feminine hygiene’ brand which has a new marketing campaign. Its ‘expert care for down there’ campaign has been broadcast in traditional one-way media: radio and out-of-home advertising.

However when Femfresh brought it into social media – a conversational media – things took a different turn. Consumers could respond to the campaign, and respond they did.

Femfresh became the target for an unrelenting stream of criticism on Facebook for its ‘go woohoo for your frou-frou’ campaign that also seemed to suggest that vagina is an unacceptable word.

Whether or not it was infantilising women, or trying to break taboos is a moot point. Femfresh had a crisis on its hands.

Here’s three things Femfresh could have done:

1. Respond to each comment to explain and wait for it to die down.

Probable outcome: a long time-intensive process, likely to further inflame critics. With no firm closure to the incident it would have prolonged the resolution of the crisis. The issue could possibly just rumble on, ready to blow up again in the future.

2. Make a simple, human statement outlining the facts of the matter, taking appropriate responsibility, explaining what the outcome or change would be of this incident and saying sorry. Then push the story down their Facebook Timeline with positive stories and status updates.

Probable outcome: it would have inflamed some critics, but assertively dealt with the issue. Again fairly prolonged resolution but at least putting a credible position from which to recover.

3. Use it as a catalyst for business transformation. Use that rare opportunity of public scrutiny and turn the negative passion into positive. Take the backlash on the chin, engage directly with the critics and influencers, and as a result of their feedback, change the campaign or even the company. Wholefoods turned from crisis to case study in just this way.

Probable outcome: it would have fuelled more debate, but Femfresh would have a chance to turn some of its detractors into advocates. It would be a resource investment. But it could take that valuable feedback from its customers, change its marketing, improve its products and build a better business.

We’re yet to see what the long term impact of the Femfresh backlash will be. Unfortunately the company chose to take its Facebook page down – which is a missed opportunity.

The moral of this story has to be if you court consumer engagement, be prepared for what you get. And perhaps further, that if customers care enough to respond to you, recognise that for the gift it is: be grateful and use that feedback to build a better company.

Image credit: debaird on Flickr

Facebook’s action links - new potential for branded apps

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On Wednesday Facebook launched action links: “a new way for people to interact with your timeline app directly from Facebook”.

An action link is a customised link which sits alongside the classic “comment” and “like” options in open graph stories on the timeline, newsfeed and ticker.

Action link Facebook Foursquare save this place

One of the examples of an action link, given by Facebook, is foursquare. When someone checks in, friends now have the option to “Save this Place” in addition to commenting and liking the story. Clicking “Save this Place” adds the location from Facebook, directly to your foursquare to-do list.

The other example is Fab.com, where the action link “Fave this Product” will enable people to add an item into their own Fab.com favourites.

What action can brands take?

The potential for action links is great. Each app now has the option to drive more people to engage in a single action. For example, after completing a purchase on Amazon, you are given the option to share what you have just bought with friends by posting a story to your Facebook timeline. On this story, Amazon could include the action link: “Add to Basket” or “Add to Wish List”, allowing friends to easily make the same purchase.

This new release will allow open graph apps on Facebook to integrate personalised actions into their stories, increasing the possibilities and removing barriers for interaction. With this extra level of integration, it appears that the Facebook timeline, newsfeed and ticker are becoming a more interactive and potentially engaging space. However, as apps become increasingly integrated, the line is further blurred between being on the Facebook platform and the wider web.

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.