Engagement in social media can be valuable to a brand. If it’s done right.


Day 30 - Falling dominoes

Day 30 - Falling dominoes (Photo credit: evil_mel)

I really don’t care how many people follow your brand on Twitter, or Like your brand on Facebook. Numbers like these are essentially meaningless - building the right kind of relationships with 500 targeted people will always be more beneficial to you then meaningless, un-targeted relationships with 500,000.

The same is often said about ‘engagement’ - what value is there in engaging people on social media? This is a valid question to ask, but it is not the same as just attracting more Likes or Follows. Done well, engagement is valuable to a brand.

There are two main challenges to the value of engaging people in social media as brand:

  1. Surely sharing photos and chatting to people online has no connection to sales
  2. If it does have a connection, is it just a correlation (people feel positive about our brand so they both join us in social media and spend more money with us) and not a causation (people join us in social media and therefore feel more positive about our brand and spend more money with us)

What’s the value of ‘just chatting’?

The first challenge is a valid one - you can spend forever as a brand mindlessly chatting away to people without it having any impact on what you do. Are the people you are talking to even valuable to you, and are your engagements helping at all with them to spend more money, to recommend you to more people or to do some other action that will be beneficial.

The truth is that nothing should be done in social media with a clear understanding of why you are doing it - what you want to achieve and why this will help your business - and a clear understanding of who you want to target. These can be difficult questions to answer, but if you are not completely clear on them then you just won’t get the same benefits from engaging people in social.

Imagine a luxury fashion brand. It is probably very easy to get lots of people to ‘Like’ you page on Facebook or to follow you on Pinterest, but are these people actually the ones you want to engage? Or are they just aspirants, or people who like looking at the beautiful pictures? If you haven’t clearly identified who you want to engage (who will be valuable to you) and are managing your activities to attract these, then you may just end up chatting away to people who could have little value for the brand.

Know what you want to achieve, know your audience and make sure you are working hard to attract the right people.

Is it a causation or a correlation?

The bigger challenge to the value of social media engagement is that it does not lead to greater value for a brand, but that people engage more and spend more because they already feel positive about the brand. In short - that this is an example of correlated events and not causation.

A great piece of work by Bain & Company last year addresses this. Their Social Media Consumer Survey looked at average annual spend of customers who have a meaningful engagement with a brand in social against those who do not. Overall, those with a meaningful relationship spend 30% more annually.

If we were confusing causation and correlation we would expect that it would be those who are already positive about the brand who are spending more; those who are less positive about the brand would not. But the research doesn’t show this - those who’s spending is increased the most are the ‘fence sitters’ (those ambivalent to the brand); even the brand’s ‘detractors’ spend 20% more annually if they engage in social.

Bain Social Media Consumer Survey, 2011

So what does this mean for engagement in social?

So having good engagement in social media can be valuable to a brand - it’s not another meaningless number like Followers or Likes. Meaningful engagement, with the right people can lead to greater value for the brand from those customers.

But getting good engagement is not easy - it involves having a clear view on why you are using social, on the audience you want to engage, and on how you turn them from being passive to having an active relationship with you in social media. Most brands could get better at this and a focus on quality engagement, with the right people, will always pay greater dividends than just hunting down a few more Twitter followers or Facebook Likes.

Social media management tips: Effective blogger outreach


Image courtesy of inblurbs

An essential part of social media management is blogger outreach. Here are our social media management team’s top tips to ensure you reach  your target market effectively:

1. Be relevant

It might sound obvious but make sure that the bloggers you contact are actually relevant for your message. Do your research.  If you’re not sure whether something will fit, it’s probably sensible to err on the side of caution and not bother (most bloggers will probably hate emails that start “I know you never write about X, but I’ve got this product…”).

And where do you find relevant bloggers? Google is the best place to start – advanced search features allow you sort to by date, time and location, helping you find the right people who are talking about the things that matter to you.

Also check out blogrolls from the sites you know are relevant – it’s always good to know what the bloggers you’re reaching out to  are reading.

Another big recommendation from the team here at FreshNetworks is PeopleBrowsr, which can help you find bloggers by filtering via location, influence & communities to zero in on who is worth reaching out to.

2. Get to know your bloggers and build relationships

Follow your bloggers on Twitter – whether from your brand’s or company’s account or your own - and talk to them. If you’ve got something interesting to say, they’ll  listen.

Take every opportunity you can to make connections offline – such as industry events and conferences – or even think about hosting a blogger event of your own.

3. Get your message right

Don’t just send a blogger a press release and hope for the best. Tailor your message and demonstrate that you know why you’re writing to them. Which piece(s) of content on their blog were interesting or prompted you to write to them?

Write to the blogger like they’re a human being but don’t be too over-familiar. Use an open and friendly tone of voice and unless you really think it suits, don’t be too formal . Get to the point!

4. Make it easy for the blogger

You want the blogger to write something for you, so don’t make their life difficult. Attach images that they’d otherwise have to take from your website, give them accurate information, include links and make the information you’re presenting straightforward.

5. To pay or not to pay and other incentives

We’d never pay for  blog coverage and we’d never recommend a client to. Firstly, your chances of being re-blogged by others is diminished if they see that a post talking about your brand is sponsored. Secondly, bloggers’ opinions count. Surely it’s better to get coverage because they think your brand or product is cool or your message is interesting rather than having paid for it?

Of course, products for review are a different matter and a nice freebie or two can definitely keep a good blogger relationship thriving!

6. Say thanks/ show you care

Finally, say thank you. And mean it.  A quick email, a re-tweet, a link posted on Twitter - simple things to show your gratitude, show-off the coverage to your audience and (hopefully) reward the blogger with some lovely traffic back!

12 community platforms: a list in development


There are a lot of community platforms on the market today and we thought it would be useful to collate a complete list of them.

Please let us know if there are any tools missing from the list - think of this as a kind of “wiki” which we will add to over time. We hope it will eventually become a useful community platform tool resource.

  • Drupal - Drupal open source content management system can be used for everything from personal blogs to enterprise applications. You can also build websites and use their “Pagebuild” option which enables non technical users to build their website quickly and easily.
  • Get Satisfaction - a cost effective platform for SME business solutions.
  • Jive - In addition to being a community platform, Jive ‘Engage’ offers collaboration software and social media monitoring.
  • Joomla - Open source and one of the most widely used, with an extensive existing community. It enables you to build websites and powerful online applications.
  • Kickapps - Everything built on the KickApps platform is powered from the same database of users and content, making it easy to create integrated experiences across your site, mobile app, Twitter, Facebook and more. That means you can update every single KickApps-powered experience from one place, keeping everything consistent and up to date, no matter how or where the audience accesses your content
  • Liveworld – They specialise in Facebook Wall, Facebook Forums, Facebook interactive tabs. LiveWorld offers a series of applications and platforms designed to stimulate more conversation and engagement with customers. Comes in more than 60 country/language combinations.
  • Lithium - available in 19 languages and dialects. It plugs customers into one powerful network by creating opportunities for them to engage in a community on your own site and connect to other social customers through Facebook and Twitter.
  • Mzinga – Cloud based community platform enabling you to embed apps and create private/public communities.
  • Ning - claims to be the world’s largest platform for community site building, offering an easily customised structure that can include a real time chat feature. It can also be integrated with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to create a digital hub.
  • php-nuke - open source and despite being one of the older, more traditional platforms, it still has a rapidly increasing market-share.
  • Pligg - offers an unlimited number of authors and the ability to add modular plugins to the platform according to your needs and desired social networks.
  • Telligent - Evolution platform which allows for scalability and integration with existing software programmes.

Additions to the list since the post was made:

  • EPiServer Relate - allows you to segment visitors based on location, interests or other profile data, meaning you can personalise each user’s experience to show them relevant articles, content or adverts.
  • Social Engine - social network software that helps you build your own customized community websites.
  • BuddyPress - Open source, out-of-the-box software to help build your own social network.
  • IGLOO - SaaS-based enterprise social networking company. Managed solely in the cloud, IGLOO unites document managementweb content management, collaboration and social features in one integrated suite.

5 changes to Facebook Pages and Places to help global brands


On 13th July Facebook will be launching new Pages and Places functionality to enhance the existing parent-child Page structure.

Facebook will be adding mass management features to help businesses, in particular global brands, establish a more localized presence on Facebook, making it easier to manage multiple locations in a more scalable way.

The new features will appear automatically in all existing parent-child set ups, and the admin functionality will be available via the Pages API.

The 5 new changes to Facebook Pages and Places are as follows:

1. Locations tab

A new Locations tab will appear on the main parent Page. The Locations tab will automatically load nearby locations for a user, and it allows someone to search for locations by zip or postcode. The tab can be moved up or down, or removed altogether.

2. Parent-child linking

Facebook will add a link below the name of each child Place Page that links back to the main parent Page. This will help tie together multiple store locations to a main brand Page.

3. Check-in aggregation

All check-ins from child Places will be included in a parent Page’s overall check-in number.

4. Mass Places management

All parent Page admins will automatically have admin access to their child Places. The parent Page will appear as an admin on every child Place and only the parent Page will be able to remove themselves as an admin from a child Place.

5. New Pages API features

You will be able to edit multiple Places at once using new features in the API, including ‘wall settings’ (you will be able to set a default landing tab, set up an open or closed wall, allow fans to post photos, etc.), ‘custom tabs’ (you will be able to add or remove these), and ‘Check-in Deals’ (you can create/edit Check-in Deals for individual locations). You will still be able to use the Page publishing feature in the API to localize your posts at scale.

It will be interesting to see if this influences how Global brands use Facebook moving forward. Is it better to have seperate pages for each location or just have one main page. What are your thoughts on this?

How do different age groups interact across the social web?


Online community moderation company Community 102 recently published an interesting infographic which looked at how different age groups interact online across the social web.

Key takeaways include:

  • When it comes to age distribution across the social web, the most active age range is 35-44 year olds (25%) in comparison to just 9% of 18-24 year olds.
  • The highest majority of Facebook users are aged between 18-25 (29%) while on Twitter the highest majority of users are 26-34 year olds  (30%).
  • The average LinkedIn user is 44 years old.
  • The average Twitter user is 39 years old.
  • The average Facebook user is 38 years old.
  • 26% of Millenials (people born between 1978 and 1994, so aged 16-32, and the first generation to be “raised” on the internet) access social networks at least once a day. Millenials also spend an average of 23 minutes online every day.
How different age groups interact across the social web

How different age groups interact across the social web