Facebook now accounts for 1 in every 6 page views in the UK

Manhattanbound traffic
Image by LarimdaME via Flickr

Facebook accounts for 1 in every 6 page views in the UK. It is the most popular social network in the UK, with 55% of all visits to such sites, and contributes to social networks now accounting for 11.5% of all internet visits in the UK. This data from from a recent report from Hitwise looking at use of social media and social networking sites. It shows the growing importance of social media not just as a place to engage your audience, but also as a traffic driver.

With 11.5% of all internet visits, social media sites now account for more activity online than the combined visits to Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Social media continues to increase its lead over search engines and as it does so its roles as a source of traffic is taking ever-increasing prominence. Whilst Google remains, the largest driver of traffic to UK sites, now 1 in 10 visits originates from Facebook - making the social network the second biggest driver of traffic as well as the most visited social network. It lead the pack by considerable distance - with YouTube in a distant second place.

And this figure is growing. Taking just online retail sites as an example, the Hitwise report shows that traffic from social media sites has risen by 13% in the year to September 2010 with 9.1% of visits to all online retailers now coming from social media. This supports our own experience with Jimmy Choo, where we are seeing traffic from Facebook to the ecommerce site increasing at an astonishing rate month-on-month.

So social networks are not only taking an increasingly important part of our online experience, but also a real driver of traffic. Brands should acknowledge this and build a social media strategy that acknowledges social media as a place to engage and also to drive traffic to their ecommerce or other sites. Understanding where social media plays in the ecosystem of your brand online, how your outreach on social networks, blogs and other such sites sits alongside your main site, is critical. Build a real and clear understanding of who you are engaging, where. And make sure you are capitalising on this growing and increasingly important pattern of social media sites driving real traffic. Including a true social search strategy to compete with and compliment your existing SEO strategies.

Download the Hitwise report: Getting to grips with Social Media

Four luxury brands that lead the pack in social media innovation

Grand Escalier
Image by vincen-t via Flickr

2010 has seen a marked increase in luxury brands using social media and innovating with it. This is one of the findings in the latest L2 Luxury Digital IQ Index - research led by Scott Galloway, Professor of Marketing, NYU Stern. The report shows how luxury brands have really pushed their use of social media in 2010, realizing that the benefits for them come from not just having a social media presence but also from engaging people in social media and online communities.

The report takes an analytical approach to the use of social media in an attempt to quantify the digital competence of 72 leading global luxury brands. The ranking highlights some interesting observations - watch and jewelery brands on a whole perform relatively poorly, and a lack of investment in digital has seen brands such as Prada and Dior punch below their weight in the use of social media across their business.

But across luxury brands, the report highlights the innovation and successful use of social media that is happening. It showcases examples that are ahead-of-the-game and examples, not just to other luxury brands but to all brands using social media. Four notable such examples are below.

1. Coach

The leather goods brand is ranked first globally for it’s Digital IQ, notably for its social media enabled shopping and for its blogger collaboration. It has built a social media strategy that is directly linked to sales, and not just to building fans and Likes for the sake of it. This is evident in its use of all social platforms - making clear and contextual links to product from every post of Facebook so that if you are reading about an item you can easily click through to buy online.

In the summer of 2010 they ran a blogger outreach programme, the Poppy Project, which saw them engage 468 blogs to spread a trail of poppies across the web that were part of a competition for people to win gift cards for Coach products.

A great example of using social media to engage, but also to push people directly to sales, rather than just using social media for the sake of it and being unable to measure the rewards.

2. Louis Vuitton

Ranked joint-second overall for their Digital IQ, Louis Vuitton has integrated more innovative use of social media outreach into its overall digital campaigns. Of particular note is the use of video and an emerging trend among video bloggers - the haul video. In these videos, bloggers show on camera items they have just purchased on a shopping trip and discuss each item. This has become something of a craze online and one that Louis Vuitton has engaged to get exposure from these influencers for its products and for the brand.

A haul video created by JuicyStar07 about contents of a Louis Vuitton Speedy bag has had more than one million views online, putting the Louis Vuitton brand in front of other people and allowing consumers to showcase Louis Vuitton products.

3. Oscar de la Renta

Ranked joint-eleventh for their Digital IQ, Oscar de la Renta is a great example of how using social media can help to engage people on a lifestyle level, rather than just with your brand or your product. This can be a successful approach to social media when you are looking to engage (and engage with) a specific target audience that can be defined by their lifestyle. Oscar de la Renta achieve this primarily through their @OscarPRGirl Twitter account, which spent the summer tweeting about yoga, music and summering in the Hamptons. Rather than talking about their brand or products they are targeting people with a certain lifestyle and adding value to them.

4. Jimmy Choo

FreshNetworks client, and ranked 17th globally for their Digital IQ, Jimmy Choo are noted in the report as an overachiever - using social media to compete with search as a source of traffic and conversions - and as an innovator in social media that punches above its weight. The Catch-a-Choo campaign on Foursquare was highlighted as what the future of innovation in social media should look like - notably by taking social media offline and really engaging people in the product.

Also, Jimmy Choo is noted in the report for its ongoing engagement in social media. It is the third most successful global luxury brand at using Facebook not just to attract Likes, but to channel people to the ecommerce site, and so to lead to sales. This makes the report rank Jimmy Choo as an ‘overachiever’, where social media is competing with tradition search as a traffic driver and a driver of online sales.

Three social media marketing trends from the crowd at #smmuk10

The Open Road
Image by Stuck in Customs via Flickr

Today’s Social Media Marketing 2010 conference (search for #smmuk10 on Twitter) was a great mix of theory and case studies, presentations and debates, clients and the odd social media agency. We presented on why ongoing engagement is worth more than buzz and showcased our work in the retail industry with T.M.Lewin and Jimmy Choo.

In the final session of the day, I took part in a panel discussion on trends in social media and the areas where social media marketing will develop in the next 12 to 18 months. The panel debated and sourced ideas and then used the audience to vote for the ideas that the collective wisdom of clients and agencies in the room thought were the important trends to watch. The top three trends are below (and I’m rather pleased that my suggestion about geolocation tools made it to the top spot!)

Trend 1: Geolocation tools and the convergence of online and offline experiences

We’ve written before that we think 2010 is the year of location-based social media tools and geolocation is certainly becoming a much talked about issue at conferences and with clients. At this conference we presented our own case study of CatchAChoo, the trainer-hunt we developed and ran for Jimmy Choo using Foursquare and Twitter. There is also a lot of benefit that businesses can gain from working with Foursquare and other tools as they develop (even small businesses as this case study shows).

Geolocation is an interesting development. There is a much-recounted (but rarely-cited) statistic that says that 80% of all data 0nline has a geolocational element to it. But in most cases this data isn’t used. The steady rise of smart-phones (with their in-built GPS systems) will make this data more useful to users and easier for people to add to. It’s a trend to watch and for brands to capitalise on where relevant for their social media strategy. Geolocation tools are growing, and brands can benefit hugely from them.

Trend 2: Increased focus on ROI

There was a prediction that clients will increasingly focus on (and have to prove) the value or ROI of the work they do in social media. And so they should. Brands should not be using social media unless they have a clear view of what they want to achieve - the business aims that social media can contribute to. And when they start to use social media tools they should be ruthless in their measurement of success. This is critical because it shows that brands are thinking about social media in the right way and for the right reasons. Success and ROI is rarely a measure of how many people ‘Like’ you on Facebook or how many followers you have on Twitter. Real ROI comes from showing the impact your work has had against real business aims - increased sales, reduced cost of new customer acquisition, new ideas into the business. Real needs, real measures and a real focus on ROI.T

Trend 3: Consumer resistance to brands on social media

An emerging trend, associated to the privacy debate, was thought to be increasing resistance from consumers about brands engaging with them in social media. The real trend here is a need for brands to use social media and engage people in the right way. Trying to engage people in Facebook is often not the right answer. Infact Facebook is a place where people are often talking and sharing with friends and connections and don’t want to be interrupted by a brand. Better to choose the right place to engage in the right way. If not then consumers may start to filter out brands and brand messages and exert more control over their own experiences online.

What are your thoughts on these trends? Is Geolocation the next (or current) big thing?

Social media and the retail industry: the importance of strategy and passion

Matt Rhodes - FreshNetworks - Social Media and Retail

Matt Rhodes at the FreshNetworks Breakfast Briefing

Another successful FreshNetworks breakfast briefing has just come to a close. This time the topic was ‘social media and retail’. The two speakers were Naomi Paget (Head of Direct Marketing at TM Lewin) and our own Matt Rhodes.

The breakfast briefing was split into three main parts. First, Naomi talked about how TM Lewin has been using social media as part of their e-commerce site and then Matt presented the results of a recent campaign we ran with Jimmy Choo. He also discussed how to take the first steps towards looking at social media from a business perspective.

First up was Naomi. She is one of our clients here at FreshNetworks and has been working with us since spring 2009.

TM Lewin: the Off the Cuff online community

TM Lewin have a very clear strategy of what they want to achieve from social media (some of these aims include things like “educate and excite customers about the brand and product, Get customer insight into our product, marketing and services and be seen as an authority on business dress”) and they now have a presence on various social media platforms including a Facebook page, YouTube channel, Twitter account and their own community ‘Off the Cuff’. The strategy is performing well against their objectives (see #FreshNetworks tweets for some of the highlights) but one thing was clear from Naomi. Internal passion is the key to success.

TM Lewin has made the most of their community because the employees utilising it have a passion to proactively engage with community members. Because of this enthusiasm, community members have direct contact with the senior management team at TM Lewin, making them feel more valued and increasing loyalty. TM Lewin is using this engagement to help spread positive messages through its current (and prospective) customer bases, gaining valuable insight and feedback on their activities.

TM Lewin has also noticed that people who enter the ecommerce site via the community are more likely to convert on their first site visit and so the community is directly attributing to sales (we can’t share the exact numbers but they are not insignificant!). It was great to hear Naomi’s talk because it highlighted the fact that social media isn’t always about the £ sign - sometimes this comes second to the other benefits that engaging with social media can offer a business.

Jimmy Choo: CatchAChoo

Next up was Matt Rhodes talking about Jimmy Choo , the CatchAChoo campaign and the importance of having a solid strategy for the foundations or all your engagement.
We have just finished running a campaign for Jimmy Choo where we organised a treasure hunt around London using Foursquare to help promote the launch of their new trainer range. There were a number of clear objectives behind this campaign (full case study coming soon) but the main reason we used this approach was because learnt from working with Jimmy Choo on a previous project that the actual purchasing of the shoes is part of the appeal, therefore using Foursquare seemed like a perfect opportunity to bridge the gap between online and offline engagement.

Four steps to building a social media strategy

CatchAChoo, followed a process that was the basis of the second part of Matt Rhodes presentation - a four step guide to building social media strategy:

  1. Understand what people are saying – Before you start any social media strategy you need to know who is talking, where they are talking and what they are talking about. This is an important step as it allows you to identify the needs of the people you are engaging with and how you should go about approaching them.
  2. Know what you are trying to achieve – Matt used an appropriate analogy to sum up this point:“if you were going to the moon you would have a solid reason for doing so! You would just invest all your time and resources doing it for no reason”. Social media it is not as grand as flying to the moon but it does follow similar logic. If you’re going to be invest time and resources, have a clear strategy of what you want to achieve and how you will measure this.
  3. Experiment – Social media tools are changing all the time so using your initial insight from step 1, keep your aims in mind but try different things out. There are no right or wrong ways to use different tools; it all depends on your audience and your business so try different things out until you are meeting your aims.
  4. Ruthlessly measure the impact you are having – This is the most important stage. All your interactions however they are being undertaken should meet the aims of your initial strategy. Regular reporting will allow you to have a diverse strategy and understand what is working well (and what isn’t) so you can change your tactics to make them more beneficial to the business.

It was a great event with some really good questions and thoughts coming from the people that attended. Thanks to everyone that came and we hope that you all took something away with you (besides a load of chocolate muffins) and if you have any thoughts on what was discussed it would be great to hear your comments!

Checking in to check people out - innovative use of Foursquare data

Cupid's Heart
Image by Lady-bug via Flickr

Four the last six months, and particularly since the real push on Foursquare at SXSW in March this year, we have seen a real increase in both people using and people innovating with Foursquare. At FreshNetworks we have been using the location-based social media tool with some of our clients - most notably the CatchAChoo London-wide treasure hunt for Jimmy Choo (which ended yesterday with the Jimmy Choo trainer being caught by @tjsaul at l’Atelier de Joël Robuchon). But in addition to how brands can use location-based tools there is also a lot of innovation in how the data being gathered by tools such as Foursquare can be used. Social media tools gather a lot of data that is valuable to businesses and can be used to provide a service back to users.

One service that shows how Foursquare data can be used, and also raises again the privacy issues all users of such services should recognise, is Assisted Serendipity.

The tool is simple. It uses data from Foursquare - how many users have checked in to a particular location, and the gender of each user - to tell you when any location your interested in has a high ratio of males or females that you might be interested in meeting. Or as they put it:

[Assisted Serendipity] notifies you a soon as the male/female ratio turns in your favor at your favorite local hangouts. Using Foursquare’s check-in data, we monitor the venues you are interested in, and notify you as soon as the ratio “tips”. Meet new people through the power of location-based social networking.

So the  basic message is that you can use Foursquare people to find people you might want to meet and to identify the locations where the balance ‘is in your favour’. An interesting concept and an innovative use of social media data to help with offline dating (of a fashion). Of course the use of this tool depends wholly on increasing the volume of people who are checking into a location on Foursquare. Thinking of a busy bar on a Saturday night, unless a high proportion of those people are using Foursquare and have checked in it is unlikely that any assessment of the “male/female ratio” in that bar is going to be useful and help you make the decisions that the tool sets out to help with. But with more people using Foursquare its utility can only increase.

Perhaps more interesting are the lessons we can learn from Assisted Serendipity:

  1. For brands - social media is a great engagement tool, but it is also a great data-collection tool. You shouldn’t underestimate what we can learn from what people tell us and how we behave, but also how we can use this data to provide a real service back to them. Foursquare allows people to check-in to locations and find places near them. But we can use the data they provide in a number of ways.
  2. For users - we should all be aware of what data we are revealing when we use social media. The tools that are being developed are great and can add real value to some experiences. But they are not for everybody and not everybody wants to share information about their lives in these ways.

I for one am looking forward to watching if and how Assisted Serendipity grows and potentially our first Foursquare wedding. I don’t think we should be rushing out to buy hats just yet, though.