What Makes Up a Social Marketing Strategy?

JUNE 24, 2010

Company Policies for social media…  Yes!

It’s quickly becoming common wisdom among marketers that a strategy is needed to use social media effectively. Of course, that doesn’t mean a majority of those involved in the space have gotten on board yet and created such a well-thought-out approach. According to a May 2010 study by Digital Brand Expressions, 52% of social marketers are operating “without a game plan,” similar to the 50% found in April 2010 by R2integrated.

Further, many that do have a strategy find it doesn’t address all their concerns or fit their needs. The most common elements included by companies with a social media communications plan were resource-allocation guidelines for ongoing activities, registration of branded usernames on social sites and research into competitors’ use of social media.

To be sure, those are all critical components of an effective strategy, but they are only the beginning.

When respondents were asked what they thought should be part of their company’s plan, their answers had a somewhat different focus. While resource allocation was still top of mind, 71% were concerned with preparing and distributing policies for ongoing communications, such as how to respond to comments on social sites. Just 45% of companies had such policies.

Respondents were equally concerned with the ongoing monitoring of brand reputation, at 71%, but only 52% had a plan for such activities.

The greatest disparity related to departmental protocols detailing how social sites should be used by sales, human resources, customer service and other groups within the company. While more than two-thirds of respondents saw a need for these policies, 29% were prepared.

That desire also highlights how social media has spread throughout many organizations and is not limited to marketing or PR departments. A majority of companies with a social strategy included marketing, PR and sales in their plans, but most respondents also thought that human resources and customer service should be added. Respondents agreed that, in general, responsibility for creating strategies should fall to marketing departments. 

“Companies that have held back on adopting social media throughout their organizations would benefit from starting with a cohesive plan that involves all of the key groups within the organization,” said the report, while those that have already adopted the social channel should get all departments and employees on board with a complete strategy

US Internet Population Diversifies

APRIL 9, 2010

Demographic shifts online

Change is happening within the US Internet population on many levels. The average age of Internet users is rising in tandem with that of the general population, for example, and racial and ethnic characteristics are more closely mirroring those in the offline population.  eMarketer predicts that in 2010, 221 million people in the US will be online, about 71% of the total population.

Marketers already know they are navigating a dynamic digital landscape in 2010,” said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, “US Internet Users, 2010.” “In five years, the results of some demographic shifts now taking place will become more evident. Internet users will be older, and many will have lower levels of education and annual income.

“One thing is certain,” she said. “They will be more diverse racially and ethnically and expect marketing messages to appeal to them.”

 Growth is still occurring among all races and ethnicities of Internet users. eMarketer estimates the Internet population will increase 13.4% between 2010 and 2014, compared with 3.9% for the general population. Despite their already high Internet use, non-Hispanic whites and Asians will see further penetration by 2014, to 81.2% and 81%, respectively. Blacks and Hispanics, while still underrepresented online, will see steady growth in penetration rates, to 72.3% of the black population and 70% of Hispanics.

What’s the Value of a ‘Fan’ on Social Media?

April 13, 2010 – Brian Morrissey,

Brands have rushed to Facebook to build fan bases, with some amassing millions of connections. The nagging question has been: What is the monetary value of these fans?  
Social media specialist Vitrue, which aids brands in building their customer bases on social networks, tried to put a media value on such communities.

The firm has determined that, on average, a fan base of 1 million translates into at least $3.6 million in equivalent media over a year.
The company’s findings are based on impressions generated in the Facebook news feed, the stream of recent updates from users’ networks.

Vitrue analyzed Facebook data from its clients — with a combined 41 million fans — and found that most fans yielded an extra impression. That means a marketer posting twice a day can expect about 60 million impressions per month through the news feed.

“It’s important to understand that once you build that fan base, you want to make sure you’re leveraging it,” said Michael Strutton, chief product officer at Vitrue.
Not all brands are created equal. Vitrue found wildly divergent impression-to-fan ratios. Some marketers generated just .44 impressions per fan, while another saw 3.6 impressions. Strutton chalked that up to sexier brands having more engaged connections, giving them access to the news feed more often. The impressions are not unique.
Vitrue arrived at its $3.6 million figure by working off a $5 CPM, meaning a brand’s 1 million fans generate about $300,000 in media value each month. Using Vitrue’s calculation, Starbucks’ 6.5 million fan base — acquired in part with several big ad buys — is worth $23.4 million in media annually.
“It helps [marketers] justify the spend they’re making, especially in acquiring a fan base and engaging that fan base,” Strutton said.
Of course, the figures don’t include perhaps the most powerful incentive for brands building fan bases: social customer-relationship management. Marketers often use their Facebook hubs to inform fans of new products, services and promotions.
“When you start to [add] engagement value, it goes higher,” said Strutton. “We were trying to get an easy-to-understand valuation terminology.”

How Much Time People Really Spend with Online Ads

Clicks don’t give the full picture!   Marketers are used to low click-through rates—but they also know the click isn’t the only way users engage with advertising. Other metrics are needed to measure the full range of interaction that might take place with online advertising.

 Eyeblaster set out to develop a new type of measurement, dwell rate, in its “Trends of Time and Attention in Online Advertising” report. “Dwelling” on an ad is spending time with it, including mouse-overs, user-initiated video duration, user-initiated expansion duration and other user-initiated custom interaction durations.
“Recent research shows that the lack of suitable metrics as a top frustration for marketers,” said Gal Trifon, CEO and co-founder of Eyeblaster. “Technology allows us to analyze consumer time spent with display advertising and indicates that consumers intentionally spend nearly a minute with online ads on average.”
The difference between clicks and general interaction was huge in 2008. For example, the average worldwide click-through rate for rich media ads studied was 0.35%. The average dwell rate for those ads was a much more impressive 8.71%.
Broken down further, in North America expandable banners had only a 0.3% click-through rate, but a 7.1% dwell rate and an average user dwell time of more than 45 seconds. Other rich media formats saw similar improvements in engagement measured by dwell or interaction rate.

As the report notes, dwell time is an important metric. Internet users in North America spent the longest time dwelling on online ads appearing in the mail category, at nearly 85 seconds. Instant messaging ads were a close second, at nearly 74 seconds, with news, technology and games rounding out the top five.

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Off to Vancouver in 3 short days

Vancouver-2010-olympics-logoBy 7:30am this Sunday morning, I’ll be up in the air, headed to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

23 Days.  That’s how long it’ll be til I set foot back in the states.  With any luck, I’ll find enough time to blog and post photos.

Online Privacy Restrictions May Open Ad Targeting Doors

FEBRUARY 1, 2010 (eMarketer)

Industry responses to government could boost behavioral targeting spending

With the effective mixing and mining of audience data becoming increasingly important to online advertisers, the role of behavioral targeting has grown more central.

eMarketer estimates online advertisers in the US will spend more than $1.1 billion on behaviorally targeted advertising. By 2014, spending will hit $2.6 billion. The estimate represents steady growth rates of about 20% from 2009 through 2014.

The figures include spending on online ads displayed to a select audience whose interests or intentions are revealed by Website or ISP tracking data, audience segmentation or predictive analysis.

Behaviorally targeted ad dollars will rise as a proportion of online display spending from 14.2% in 2010 to nearly 20% by 2014!  

However, with ad targeting and privacy issues in the public eye, marketers face the possibility of regulation or legislation that sets boundaries on how they can use audience data.

While that warning might imply lesser spending growth than estimated, it could also make for a more stable market with clarified rules.

“A more open deal between the two sides, the ad industry and consumers, could help draw more ad dollars to behavioral targeting,” said eMarketer senior analyst David Hallerman.  For more information, see the upcoming eMarketer report, “Audience Ad Targeting: Data and Privacy Issues.”

What Social Media Followers Want

JANUARY 22, 2010

Deals aren’t the only thing

Brand marketers want consumers to follow them to build buzz and engagement, but social media users often desire something in return. What they’ve come to expect is a good deal, but many consumers—including the most active users of social sites—are also interested in deeper engagement.

A December 2009 MarketingSherpa survey indicated that learning about specials and sales was the top motivation of those who friended or followed a brand online, supporting the results of earlier surveys. But looking for savings was followed closely by learning about new products, features or services.  

Users described as “max connectors”—those with at least 500 social connections—were less interested than average in getting deals. Instead, they cared about new products and company culture, demonstrating the deeper engagement expected by social media power users.

An earlier study, by Razorfish, also found that exclusive deals and offers were the primary motivation of US Internet users following brands on Twitter.

Respondents who friended a brand on Facebook or MySpace responded similarly, though they were more likely to become a fan because they were a current customer (32.9%) than were users of Twitter.

Sharing interesting content that users care about, along with the deals and discounts they have come to expect, will both keep them engaged and spur them to pass along marketing messages.

Using Facebook as a Marketing Tool

Using Facebook as a Marketing Tool

Does your business have a Facebook profile? Facebook is a social tool that not only connects individuals, but it can also facilitate connections between people and businesses. One of the best reasons to have a Facebook profile is that it can be indexed by search engines. Since Facebook is one of the most highly trafficked sites on the web, you’re wasting a valuable marketing opportunity if you haven’t created a profile yet.

Here are a few tips on how to use Facebook as a strategic marketing tool:

  • By inserting keyword-rich text throughout your fan page and updating it regularly, you can create tremendous search engine optimization.
  • In addition to sending regular updates to fans, you can also use Facebook Events to promote upcoming events and activities. Because activities that members engage in are reported on a news feed, word about events spreads very quickly without being intrusive.
  • Select an easily recognizable graphic or photo that is familiar for visitors, and write an appealing About Us/Bio to summarize what you do. Or include a call to action, click-able hyperlink for more information.
  • Encourage fans and visitors to add content on your “wall” to become part of your online community. Also, their content goes out into news feeds, creating more visibility for your site.
  • Actively respond to your fans’ comments, questions, suggestions, etc. to show that you are listening and want to be involved with your online community.
  • Try Facebook’s Social Ads to drive targeted traffic from the entire Facebook site directly to your fan page. Just remember that many people don’t visit social networking sites to view advertisements; they visit to be social.
  • Secure a unique user name (or vanity URL) that is short and memorable by using your brand name, company name, etc.

For additional ideas on how to increase brand awareness and share information with your customers and prospects, give us a call today!

Is Mobile Couponing Catching On?

Huge redemption increases to come

2009 has seen consumers not quite ready for the full possibilities of mobile commerce. Deloitte found that this holiday season, just 19% of Internet users plan to use their mobile device for shopping, and only one-quarter of that group will actually make a mobile purchase.

But mobile research—and saving money—is more popular. Yankee Group found that in 2009 more than 90% of US consumers were at least somewhat interested in scanning images or bar codes with their mobile phone to get more information or coupons for a product.

Getting coupons via SMS or MMS was nearly as popular, although only 7% of respondents had received mobile coupons in the past three months.  Yankee Group expects involvement with mobile coupons to increase dramatically over the coming years, however. The number of mobile coupons redeemed in North America is set to increase more than tenfold in 2010. Triple-digit increases will follow in 2011 and 2012.

The value of mobile coupon transactions will climb commensurately. Yankee Group forecasts nearly $2.37 billion in North American mobile coupon transactions in 2013, up from just $5 million this year.

Hurdles remain for mobile coupons, which require infrastructure at the point of sale to deal with SMS codes or bar codes readable from mobile devices, but Yankee Group expects these challenges to be confronted successfully in the next few years. And since mobile coupons have been available for some time already, the research firm doesn’t predict consumer education will be a limiting factor

Ad Market Recovery Won’t Lift All Media

Published: December 03, 2009

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Most people in the media business are excited to put 2009 behind them, but a stabilizing or even recovering ad market won’t help everyone equally, according to a new forecast by Fitch Ratings.

First national broadcast TV, and then cable networks and large-market broadcast TV are likely to participate in any recovery, but some media will fall short of even their depressed 2009 levels, Fitch said.

“Fitch expects print mediums, namely newspapers, yellow pages and consumer magazines, to be down again off very easy comparable periods due to permanent shifts in advertiser sentiment and excess ad inventory that will plague the industry for years to come,” it wrote in the forecast.

The New York Times Regional Media Group seemed to be anticipating continued difficulties when it announced Wednesday that this year’s 2.5% pay cuts will remain in place next year. Ad revenue declines are expected to slow but continue, Chief Operating Officer Michael Golden in a memo to staff. Many magazine publishers, on the other hand, have said they expect to improve on their 2009 showings next year even if ad pages across the industry don’t reclaim their old heights.

Radio ad revenue next year will likely come in flat compared with 2009 or down slightly, Fitch said, while outdoor advertising should begin a “slow recovery” later in the year.

The forecast also predicted:

  • Media companies with print products will erect and then dismantle online pay walls next year. With exceptions like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, small local papers with limited competition and business-to-business magazines, Fitch said, most publishers face too much competition to get consumers to pay on the web.

Some publishers have already decided not to focus on pay walls, despite a crescendo of attention to the idea this year, but many others remain committed to trying some form of pay scheme.

  • Audience fragmentation will continue but the pace of “legitimate” new media entrants will slow. “Fitch believes the field of legitimate online platforms is possibly set in video and music,” the forecast said. New cable network arrivals should slow as well.
  • Consumers aren’t likely to cancel cable subscriptions to watch shows entirely online. “While viewers want 100% on-demand optionality,” the forecast said, “Fitch continues to believe they also want a backbone of live TV channel lineups.”

The four major broadcast networks, including the NBC network that GE is selling to Comcast, will remain in 2010. But at least one could explore becoming a cable network as early as 2011, according to Fitch, which called NBC and ABC the most logical candidates.