Facebook for fashion brands - it’s about more than the product

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WaveMetrix have published their review of Q4 2010 social media trends and it highlights some interesting moves for fashion brands using social media, especially Facebook.

Burberry and Lacoste joined Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton and Gucci with a greater focus on brand-related content, such as music and sport which positively affected engagement, brand sentiment and purchase consideration.

Burberry, by running their Burberry Acoustic music campaign alongside content on the Burberry clothes collections, have succeeded in engaging consumers with the wider culture of the brand and this significantly increased consumer discussion. You can see from the pie chart below which areas the audience were engaged around.

Lacoste use a mix of fashion and non fashion content, such as their ATP Tour sponsorship to engage consumers and positively affect sentiment, as this pie chart shows.

That trend is not universal however. The report also highlighted that for other brands engaging consumers closely on product range can drive purchase consideration, with Xbox and BMW notable winners here.  Zara on the other hand, with its focus on product discussion, failed to drive notable purchase consideration – which shows the importance of the right strategy.

As an aside, a new report I saw recently, which will feature in another post, showed that a high percentage of consumers ‘Like’ competing brands on Facebook showing that on social networks genuine brand loyalty is hard to come by.

The Economist on Social Networking

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The Economist on social networking - world of connections

The Economist on social networking - world of connections

What joy. This week,  The Economist, every Capitalist’s favourite magazine, has published a special report on on social networking.

A World of Connections, provides an excellent overview of the current state of social media for those still trying to get to grips with it. You can download a free pdf of the report here. Or check out my summary of key highlights below.

Introduction: A world of connections

  1. “Online social networks are changing the way people communicate, work and play”
  2. Facebook users post over 55m updates a day. 70% of users live outside the US.
  3. Social networks are superb tools for mass communication [NB the report is a bit light on their strategic use as a driver of 1-to-1 customer-to-company communication]
  4. “the most avid online networkers are in Australia, followed by those in Britain and Italy”
  5. Social Networks have “become important vehicles for news and channels of influence”. Indeed, they “played a starring role in the online campaign strategy that helped sweep Barack Obama”
  6. To sceptics all the “talk of twittering, yammering and chattering smacks of another internet bubble in the making“. Social networks still “need to prove to the world that they are here to stay”

“This special report … will argue that social networks are more robust than their critics think … and that social-networking technologies are creating considerable benefits for the businesses that embrace them, whatever their size. Lastly, it will contend that this is just the beginning of an exciting new era of global interconnectedness that will spread ideas and innovations around the world faster than ever before.”

Facebook’s growth: Why social networks have grown so fast—and how Facebook has become so dominant

  1. How the network-effect can drive lightning fast growth on a relatively modest marketing budget.
  2. An openness to external developers helped create thousands of apps. These apps provide part of the service and additional reasons to spend time on Facebook.
  3. Social networks have been beneficiaries of a fall in the cost of data storage and have also been “able to use free, open-source software to build systems that scale quickly and easily”
  4. In a feat of technical wizardry, Facebook’s engineers “quintupled the performance of an open-source memory system called memcached, which allows frequently used data to be retrieved faster than if stored in a database.
  5. Facebook Connect is one of the firm’s most important innovations as it allows members to take their social graph wherever they go on the web.

Twitter’s transmitters: The magic of 140 characters

  1. A key difference between Facebook and Twitter comes from the nature of relationships that underlie them. “On Facebook, users can communicate directly only if one of them has agreed to be a “friend” of the other. On Twitter, people can sign up to follow any public tweets they like”
  2. The most prolific 10% of Tweeters account for 90% of all tweets
  3. Another big difference between Twitter and Facebook is in the kind of content that gets sent over their networks. Facebook allows people to exchange videos, photos and other material, whereas Twitter is part-blog, part e-mail [I disagree with this. On the surface Twitter looks like a text tool, but many tweets link to videos, photos or other media].

Social Networks making money: Profiting from friendship

  1. When it comes to turning users into profits, social networks face two issues. Firstly, users are taking part to spend time with friends, so they do not pay attention to ads. Secondly, brands are nervous about appearing alongside unregulated comments and other content.
  2. Click-through rates are low, but the amount spent on adverts is increasing despite the recession.
  3. In part this may be because Marketers recognise the value that personal recommendations can have on buying behaviour. And social networks provide an opportunity for viral marketing.
  4. During 2009, Facebook turned cash-flow positive on revenues thought to be in the region of $500m.
  5. Games, virtual gifts, premium services and search rights are becoming an important part of some social networks’ revenue streams

Social Media for Small Business: A peach of an opportunity

  1. They cover the well known Kogi BBQ social media success story and mention that according to Razorfish 44% of people follow brands on Twitter  for deals [NB the methodology used in this research was rightly brought into question by Susan Braton in a recent DishyMix podcast]
  2. Social networks can provide a great launchpad for startups thanks to their reach.
  3. This article then randomly veers off into social gaming. A subject that deserves it’s own dedicated piece. But you can’t have everything.

Internal social networks: Yammering away at the office

  1. Social networks are being used to break down internal barriers in the corporate world.
  2. Informal conversations they allow can be a catalyst for creativity and new ideas.
  3. “The networks are also a great way to capture knowledge and identify experts on different subjects within an organisation”

Recruitment in a social world: Social Contracts: the smart way to hire workers

  1. Social networks, such as Linkedin and Xing help firms cut search costs
  2. Business social networks help improve the efficiency of the labour market
  3. They have also made recruitment more transparent as recruiters go onto social networks to check up on candidates ahead of making an hire

As an aside, if you’re interested in social media for recruitment here are a few relevant posts from our sister company, FreshMinds Talent:

How to use Web2.0 for recruitment
Social Media and the forefront of the job market
How to imporve your Linkedin profile

Privacy in social media: Privacy 2.0

  1. Privacy could be the Achilles heel of social networks. Users could decide to start reducing what they are prepared to share with the world online.
  2. Social networks have been developing privacy controls that give users the ability to edit what can and cannot be seen. However these are often hidden away within sites and social networks are making blatant attempts to encourage more sharing of data not less.

The Future of Social Media Towards a socialised state

  1. Social connectivity could become ubiquitous
  2. Mobile adoption will fuel future growth in social networking
  3. Facebook says that mobile users of the site are almost 50% more active than regular users
  4. Geo-networking apps may be the next big thing [unsurprisingly, the Economist can't resist a fleeting mention of Foursquare, the social network tipped for big things in 2010]

Conclusion

It’s great to see social media and social networking getting reported in such depth by mainstream media. This Economist report is not exactly cutting edge when it comes to social media insight or analysis. However it does provide a great base level for the 99% of the business world who do not spend their days glued to Tweetdeck.

Even if the above is not new to you, I recommend you read the report purely for a lesson in good business writing. As ever, The Economist delivers on elegant prose that neatly and efficiently flows from point to point.

Was there anything in the report that leapt out at you?

What’s the biggest mistake a community manager can make?

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image coutesy of shutterstock

image coutesy of shutterstock

We’ve put the question to leading community managers across the world, and they have outlined the classic community clangers that we should all avoid.

Lack of engagement

Toby Metcalfe, Community Manager and Social Networker, is straight to the point on this: “The big mistake is to not be engaged - to have a forum and not be interacting with those in the community. Not listening to the community: building in features for your product, service, site, or forum. Not being honest.”

Game producer, Frank van Gemeren, agrees: “Having a CM who doesn’t post anything. When I asked the Forum Manager for a reason, it was ‘She’s reading and knows everything, she’s just too busy to post’. My reply was: ‘Why have her name listed as CM then anyway?’”.

Christoph Geissler, Podcast Author and Senior Forum Moderator agrees: “No communication = worst communication possible.

“I always had the impression that a community manager [or] moderator is meant to communicate with the people - I mean it’s probably the most important part of their duty.

“Saying ‘I’m currently busy, but I’ll get back to you later’ is, in my opinion, better than just saying ‘I’m busy so I won’t reply’.”

Lack of discipline and communication

Antonio King, Virtual World Community Manager agrees with Toby and adds “Inconsistency in discipline (can sort of fall under impartiality)” and “obliviousness to subtle community signs”.

By far the most cited error, was a lack of communication. Communication, explains Senior Moderator Christoph Geissler, is absolutely vital.

“As soon as the community get’s the impression that you’re just a press release-posting bot with no personality whatsoever, your reputation (which also means your success in maintaining and expanding your community) is doomed.

“In other words: Communities want to talk with persons, instead of bots.”

Not supporting moderators

Sue John, Online Community Manager at BritishExpats.com cautions that moderators must be supported.

“A community needs to know that its CM is behind the moderators and supports them. On occasion I’ve had a mod make a decision that I didn’t agree with but I’ve supported them publicly and then we’ve discussed the issue behind the scenes.

“I’ve haven’t had one make a really bad error in judgment yet, but as with most things in life we don’t always see eye to eye. However, I always listened to their comments, suggestions and feedback, because they are on the front lines and happy mods help make a happy community.”

Making unexpected changes

Betty Ray, Community Manager at Edutopia - The George Lucas Educational Foundation comes back to the message of communication: “One of the worst ones in my experience is rolling out a giant change in your product without warning the community first. (Nowadays, we don’t just warm people, but get their feedback on the decision in the first place!)”

“Would very much echo what Betty Ray said,” says Chris Deary, Community Manager at Gurgle.com.

“Not communicating upcoming changes is disastrous. There’s a common assumption that communities will love new tools and platforms just because they’re more up to date (which usually means trying to mimic Facebook), but most users are stuck in their ways and hate change. One of the things I’ve learnt is to make sure users have at least some involvement in the process of change, and ideally your most loyal users should be heavily involved. “

Inattention

“Inattention to building the vision/purpose of the community. Inattention to building relationships amongst the members. Inattention to enabling the free flow of information amongst the members and from outside membership.

“Every problem of a community can be traced back to these three simple community management principles,” believes Lisa Belsito from Austin.

Do you agree? What have we missed from our list?

Facebook takes Rage Against the Machine to Christmas No.1

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Rage Against the Machine on Facebook

Rage Against the Machine on Facebook

Rage Against the Machine (RATM) have just had their first UK Number 1. They got it thanks to an extraordinary underground Facebook campaign, beating X-Factor winner Joe McElderry.

The successful single, Killing in the Name, was released over 15 years ago. RATM spent nothing on marketing and yet they made it to Christmas No.1. Whatever your opinions of Rage Against the Machine, Simon Cowell, Facebook or Joe Mcelderry, this has been a great show of social media might.

A week ago X-Factor Winner Joe McElderry appeared to be a shoo-in for Christmas No.1. Every year, for four years, the Winner of X-Factor has been number one at Christmas. But this year Jon Morter (@Jon_Magic), a HiFi Technician from Essex,  decided to set up a protest campaign on Facebook and promote Rage Against the Machine as a possible contender.

Why does this classify as an impressive victory for social media? Here’s a brief summary of what each single had going for it:


Joe Mcelderry and the X-Factor machine

- 13 weeks of prime time TV appearances
- 4 years of X-Factor Christmas No.1′s (i.e. a great process for getting the result)
- Professional promotion – Simon Cowell’s company has been pulling out every stop.
- A pleasant song for Christmas – ideal stocking filler for mum’s across the UK
- 3 months of press articles, morning TV chat show appearances & radio interviews
- Online and offline advertising spend
- Store sales - Joe’s got a physical single that’s on sale in all good record stores - 500,000 in HMV alone (their largest ever singles order). The RATM single has not been re-released so it is not in store.
- Playlists - Joe gets lots of radio airplay thanks to being on key playlists
- Massive discounting - Tesco are selling Joe McElderry’s single The Climb for 29p. That’s less than half the 67p you’d pay for Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine.
- Point of purchase marketing - both in store, and also on the homepages of iTunes, Amazon, Play.com and Tesco.com (the four major MP3 retailers in the UK).

Xmas#1 adverts facebook

Rage Against the Machine had:
- £0 marketing budget
- an offensive song that caused 138 complaints last time it was played on Radio1 (Killing in the name)
- an unofficial facebook group set up by a fan
- a “charity angle” - I don’t think the donations to Shelter have been a large driver of success, but they helped prevent the campaign being seen as bullying of Joe and raised over £65k.

This seems like an appropriate way to end 2009 – a big year for Social Media.

Google Wave vs Twitter at conferences

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Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Twitter has quickly become the must-have channel for conference back-chat. Reading what other people tweet during a speech provides an extra dimension as you get a sense of what the audience is thinking. And just like passing notes in class, it’s also a lot more fun than simply sitting and listening. (and empowering - remember that Facebook interview from SXSW’08?)

Twitter is also a great way to attend a conference without actually being there - just follow a conference hashtag (e.g. #smib09 or #figarodigital) and find out all the gossip and the key points from the comfort of your desk.

But watch out Twitter. Google Wave is going to take this digitally-enabled conference back-channel a step further.

At the recent Ecomm conference delegates were provided with Google Wave accounts. What resulted was a fantastic showcase of collaboration and crowd-sourcing. Sprinkeled with a good dose of integrated offline and online real-time social media.   <- way too many social media buzzwords.

Here’s what happened: an audience member would create a Google Wave and others in the audience would edit the wave during the presentation. The result would be a crowd-sourced write-up of the presentation: a transcript of key points and a record of audience comments.
Here’s an example:

1. Audience member starts a Wave

google wave edits

2. Others join and edit the wave as the speaker talks

google wave edit1

3. By the end of the talk there are lots of people using the Wave (their photos are along the top) and the Wave became a complete record of the key points plus audience commnets below.

google wave finished
For this conference the organisers created a Wave directory so that you could find what was said in each presentation.

google wave conference schedule

The organisers also added waves so that the audience could give feedabck about the conference in general and ideas for next year.

google wave conference feedback

It’s worth pointing out that Twitter is still an early-adopter phenomenon, and Google Wave even more so. As a result, whilst I am a complete junkie for following conference tweets, I suspect it’s going to take a couple of years before this goes mainstream. But it will. And the impact on conference organisers and speakers is significant.

And just in case you are new to social media, make sure you check out the other excelent social media platform for conference notes: Slideshare. This is always the best place to find presentations from conferences.

Have you tried following conference tweets? Or waves? If so, have you found them useful? and will augmented reality will be the next major influence?