It’s no secret that social content has exploded. Your fans are always on and are always talking about you. Social chatter goes on 24 x 7 and it’s up to you to be able to keep up with it.
What is a secret however is how brands can use all this social content to engage users and drive sales. Now, if you promise not to tell anyone we may let you into our little secret. Are you ready? Promise to keep it to yourself? Ok then, here it goes…no longer is your Facebook page your primary social destination – your website should be!
The nature of websites are changing. They need to be destinations fit for the social consumer, that are deeply connected to marketing tactics that are cross channel, driving traffic from a deeply social and mobile audience.
It may sound simple and the truth is, it really is. All the content is there, credible, authentic content, all you have to do is find it, curate it, and publish it into a social experience on your webpage. To give you some inspiration we have showcased five great examples of some social hubs and website experiences.
RedBull and Nokia #LumiaXRedBullPhotography
Air New Zealand #AirNZShareMe
As you can see, social hubs are a great way of delivering social content generated by advocates, consumers and the broader community. They can be used to feature owned content, product information, ratings and reviews, relevant links to e-commerce, and competitions that drive onward engagement and data capture.
Why not use these social hub examples as inspiration to finally create that website experience you have always wanted for your brand, you know your brand is ready for it. And once you are done, simple sit back and enjoy more traffic, higher conversion rates, increased dwell time and a really really awesome looking site.
The obsession with social media, the importance of updating your Facebook status with the perfect one-liner to sum up your night, adding the perfect filtered Instagram picture to make you look better than you normally do and tagging your 10 mates to only realise you left one out and having to start all over again. Whatever happened to a simple night out with a good old-fashioned click-camera, 25 shots and you’re done ‘til you remember to buy another roll of film.
This never-ending activity around social and the growing obsession just reinforces marketers’ push to increase their social media spend in order to expand their brand visibility. But when it comes to budgets, what is the hot pick for digital marketers, what really turns them on, where do their priorities lie and what does the future look like for social marketing platforms?
According to new research by Gigaom, social media marketing budgets are still increasing at speed and show no signs of slowing down. The survey, which covered a few hundred digital marketers, looked into the big spenders in the marketing space. Those with the million-dollar plus budgets compared to those with a smaller marketing budget and what was important to each of them.
Source: Gigaom Research Digital Marketers Survey, 2Q14, n = 300
Looking at the graph above, it’s no surprise that social marketing came out top when it comes to the platforms those with big budgets regularly use, at eighty three per cent it is clearly top dog. It is however followed closely by the rest of the digital tactics, clearly showing that those who have the luxury of big budgets tend to try out every trick in the book. For the little guys it’s email marketing, SEO and of course the winner of the day, social media marketing that are all taking a leading role.
When it comes to looking at the spend and which area has more of a push there’s a clear winner. More than half of those with big bucks to spend said their social media marketing budgets are going to increase. Thirty five per cent of those with less deep pockets agreed, with content marketing coming in a close second.
Source: Gigaom Research Digital Marketers Survey, 2Q14, n = 300
This research just reinforces the importance marketers are placing on social media. Increased brand reach and exposure, more granular ad targeting than on any other channel, better website dwell times, improved search engine rankings, higher overall revenue from socially engaged customers, it has never been more important to use social marketing techniques to get closer to your prospects and customers.
Adopting user generated content (UGC) into the heart of product marketing campaigns is proving to be very popular with a range of consumer brands. And when done well, these brands can use the authentic and credible voices of their consumers to drive advocacy, engagement and commerce. In fact, research from Nielsen suggests that 92% of consumers trust word of mouth over other forms of advertising. So, it’s a no-brainer to socialize your digital channels with this type of content.
However, using social content to promote your products is not without its dangers… Take the poor people over at Vanish. They’ve put a massive media spend behind the Vanish Tip Exchange and hosted questions, answers and tips from their community of people who are actually interested in removing stains from a variety of household objects (with the main emphasis being that Vanish is the major way to remove most stains). All good so far… But, what happens when people with a different agenda start posting content to the pages hosted on both their website and Facebook?
Well, you get a stream of obscene tips and questions (the least offensive of which are posted above) that will make your average housewife blush, but will certainly provide the type of hilarity (and associated publicity) that wasn’t envisioned at the outset of the campaign. Here’s a quick example from the Daily Mash to illustrate the point
So, what went wrong? You’d have hoped that when the good people at Vanish were planning this campaign, someone should have said “What happens if people decide to post some unsavoury content?” The reply should have been “Well, we’ll put a layer of curation and moderation in place to ensure that this type of thing doesn’t happen, and we’ll set-up a series of blacklist terms to ensure our sensitive marketers don’t have to review certain words and phrases.” They should have also agreed a process to remove offending content i.e. get it down as quickly as humanly possible. However, it looks like those conversations never happened and Vanish trusted that the polite housewives of middle England would keep it clean… Unfortunately, they were wrong about the content and have (at the time of publishing this blog) still not removed the range of lewd posts.
We understand the benefits and also the dangers of using content from fans to power marketing campaigns. And, we have a large range of customers who feature social content from networks like Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Facebook and Pinterest on their websites, microsites and Facebook pages. However, they use the features of our platform to ensure they can filter, aggregate, review, curate and publish valuable content generated by their advocates, consumers and broader community.
A recent example from Royal Ascot shows all of the sights, sounds and news from this spectacular race meeting, without allowing mischievous people to post defamatory or offending content. Take a look at it here. Maybe Vanish should have spoken to us about how to keep it “clean”.
If Brazil were hoping to forget their embarrassing thrashing from Germany any time soon someone may want to tell them not to turn on any social media today as their dreams maybe over but the social inquest has only just begun.
Poor Brazil, the hosting city, the original golden team of the World Cup have had their biggest World Cup defeat ever after a spectacular 7-1 triumph by Germany. It was the first competitive home defeat in 39 years and I think it’s safe to say there has never been a World Cup semi-final quite like that, and it seems a lot of people agreed.
According to Twitter Data, Twitter’s official source for stats, during last night’s match there were 35.6 million tweets, making the game the most tweeted single sporting game ever! The tweets-per-minute record was also broken when Sami Khedira scored to make it 5-0 Germany. That 29th-minute goal saw the tweeting rate reach 580,166 posts per minute.
So where were those 580,166 posts per minute coming from? Twitter Data kindly shared an animated gif that shows a world heat map of geo-tagged tweets mentioning key terms around the #BRAvGER game. The gif highlights the key moments in the game, I urge you to check out 17 minutes and 20 seconds in, the beginning of those amazing 6 minutes that saw the score go from Brazil 0 Germany 1, to Brazil 0 Germany 5.
As well as sharing the quantity of tweets, the location and the reach rate, Twitter Data also shared some data on which players were mentioned most during the game. Whether the stats will go onto share the love / hate divide, I am not so sure but I guess it’s safe to say if Miroslav Klose or Toni Kroos need any reassurance today, a small trip to Twitter will keep them going for months, but for you, Julio Caesar, it’s probably best to stay clear for a few days…
On Monday, before the semi-final had even kicked off, Facebook announced that the 2014 World Cup had already claimed the title of the largest event – sporting or otherwise in Facebook history, with more than a billion Facebook interactions. Mix that with the Twitter news that the #BRAvGER match was the most tweeted sporting event ever and it just goes to show that the “social media age” is more important than ever and will continue to see record levels of global interactivity.
The sharing of passion, experiences and emotions in not just words but images and videos has never been easier to share on social. There is so much social noise, it’s now more critical than ever for brands to make sure they’re jumping in and using this data to create authentic web experiences for now and for the future.
The world cup may be over on Sunday but the social content around it will last forever and now is the time to take advantage of all that wonderful social buzz. Keeping football in mind, a great example of a team using the social content from their fans in an innovative way is Arsenal FC, who before their big game against Hull City in the FA Cup Final, the players took time out of their busy training schedule to read messages and view images from their fans on a big screen at their training ground.
If Germany need any world-cup winning inspiration for Sunday’s game, I suggest they should do the same!
There have been some dramatic changes in the social media marketing landscape, the most newsworthy of these was Google’s recent announcement to terminate Wildfire, leaving many companies without a long-term vendor partner. At the same time, it has become ever-more challenging for marketers to decide on the best mix of social marketing technologies, especially when there’s such a wide variety of solutions to choose from.
A few months ago we featured a blog post on the Social App Map by social media software review site, Software Advice that enables marketers to select a platform based on a number of predetermined criteria. And, with many brands looking for a mix of platforms that feature content curation, community management, sentiment monitoring, analytics, customer service, gamification, audience engagement, etc? The choice can be bewildering. This is compounded by the fact that vendors describe their services in different ways and many offer a range of solutions that appear to overlap with other vendors.
So, what’s the best mix? One stop shop or best of breed?
On the 2nd July, we will be hosting two webinars to delve deeper into this topic. During these 45 minute webinars, Richard Jones, CEO of EngageSciences will give you his perspective on the market and share with you the five key things that every marketer should know when defining their marketing platform strategy.
Whether you’ve been abandoned by Wildfire, reviewing your current list of suppliers or just wondering about the optimal mix, this webinar will equip you with the insights and guidance you need to make the right choice. A choice that will ultimately make your life easier, make your marketing more effective and prove the value that socially powered marketing can deliver for your brand.
To cater for different times zones, we’ve scheduled two times for the webinar:
It’s that time of the year where the little town of Ascot becomes home to one of Britain’s favourite summertime highlights, Royal Ascot.
The streets turn into a flood of top hats and fascinators, the bars stocked full with Champagne and Pimms, and the race cards are at the ready for a day of winnings!
With so much going on Royal Ascot wanted to create a place where they could share all of the experiences from the week and let people join in the social chatter and become part of something special, EngageSciences had just the thing.
Working together with the team at Royal Ascot, EngageSciences designed a social hub featuring the best Instagram photos, YouTube videos and Twitter updates to capture the days leading up to the races and from tomorrow, the week itself.
If you’re heading to Ascot this week and want to get featured on the social hub, simply upload your image or tweet using the hashtag #RoyalAscot or #GreatBritishDrama and become part of this 300 year legacy.
Our CEO, Richard Jones, chaired a panel at #SMWF North America last week that looked at ways social influencer outreach needs to change if it is to stay successful. The panel was a great success and delved into the how Amtrak, Origins, Coca-Cola and Arizona Beverages rate and perceive influencers, how they find and select them and even went into what core metrics they use to get buy-in at board level.
Before his panel Richard was interviewed by Liz Morrell around his thoughts on why social influencer outreach needs to change and what brands need to do to get ahead of the game.
1) Stop targeting the same people
The more traditional approach for influencer outreach has been to use social listening technologies to understand who are the major influencers in a category and then connecting with them, with incentive or sponsorship driven influencer outreach programs. But Jones says that needs to change. “Those influencers are typically the people that everyone else is chasing, so you have a lot of brands targeting the same individuals. Those people are easily discovered so everyone is going after them so you may spend a lot of money and get little for it.”
2) Look at your wider public influencers
Jones advises brands look closer to home for their influencers. “In the age of social media isn’t everyone an influencer of some sort?” he asks. “We are seeing some brands trying to look at social influencers at scale looking at the Joe Public who are influential in a smaller way but with so many more of them can deliver far greater reach and at a cheaper price point.”
3) Avoid closed influencer programmes
Although some brands have been looking to do exactly the above with advocate programmes, these are often closed programmes where they have to register and brands give them some sort of reward based on their sharing. “Those have been rolled out by a number of companies in the last year or so,” says Jones. But he argues as to whether they actually work “Is that actually fake advocacy? Are you really just paying for people to spray content.”
4) Move instead to open influencer programmes
Jones says it’s time for change. “What we need is a bit of a mindshift. Brands need to look at any consumer connected with them as a potential advocate. Your social influencer programmes are really about connecting with all your advocates.”
5) Structure your management of such influencers
Jones argues that simply by funnelling such customers through a more structured programme they can move rapidly from simply joining in the conversation, to sharing content, to championing your brand. “That funnel is much more of a genuine organic influencer programme.”
6) Look again at your budgets
Jones says that budgets are starting to shift with brands such as Nokia moving to such tactics, enabling fan communities to move through to become true brand ambassadors and realising that lesser, but more targeted spend can lead to a better return on investment.
7) Track your influencers through audience analytics
In managing the process audience analytics is key, according to Jones. “You need to have visibility of who is connecting with you and how they are influencing their friends over time,” he says. “Once you are tracking the right things you can track what kinds of interactions you have that drive people through that funnel.”
8) Incentivise them but in a more subtle way
Of course influencers will still want some sort of reward for their time but Jones says this can still be done easily and cheaply. “Provide more of a structured programme where everyone can sign up to be friend of the brand, where they can get content first, have input on new products and get a chance to win ambassador competitions. We see a significant uplift in repeat engagement when you have a structured programme around social influencer outreach,” says Jones.
9) Keep it real and balance the value exchange
Jones warns brands to treat it more like a loyalty framework for their customers, so people believe in what is being said. “It’s always a balancing act between the hard reality for anyone to give up some of their time on social media for you rather than their friends, there has to be some value – whether that’s fun, interactive experiences, closer access to the brand or surprise and delight rewards for advocates. You have to balance that value exchange.”
10) Treat it like a long-term relationship, not a short-term fling
Most importantly, such tactics move brands away from advocates that are just ‘of the moment’ and focus on genuine, lifelong brand ambassadors – a much more powerful tactic. “You need to track the lifetime of interactions with your brand and understand the lifetime value of your advocates.”
Social Media World Forum (#SMWF) the must-attend event for social media and digital marketing folk returns to New York next week for two jam-packed days of debates, workshops, strategic advice and networking.
The event, which takes place on 28th and 29th May, aims to deliver top-level insights into digital marketing with keynote sessions from some of the biggest brands in social. As well as having breakout sessions focusing on social business data and analytics, digital marketing and PR.
Keeping in mind EngageSciences’s people powered marketing approach, looking at every fan and influencer as a network, this conference was high up on our agenda and we will be at the event in force. As well as having the obligatory stand where we will be showcasing some of our latest platform developments, including our social hub designed especially for #SMWF, our CEO, Richard Jones will also be hosting a panel looking into successful social influencer outreach.
During the panel Richard will be joined by Julia Quinn, Director of Social Media at Amtrak, Mark Ferdman, Executive Director at Origins and Ojon, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc, Emily Bucherati, Digital Communications Specialist at The Coca-Cola Company and Jennifer Smith, Communications Director at Arizona Beverages.
During the session Richard will be quizzing the panelists. He’ll ask them on their views of what makes a good influencer, how do you keep your audiences engaged and build trust, and how to maximise that relationship to help increase your brand’s profile and profitability.
If you can’t make it along to the event, keep up to date with our social hub for all the online chatter and pics from the sessions. And, if you want to be featured on the hub, simply start tweeting, instagramming and blogging. Just make sure you use the event hashtag, #SMWF.
You’ve heard it before, you know what it means but maybe you didn’t know it could have such a huge impact on social & digital media marketing.
When it comes to digital marketing and specifically efficacy, so few of us really know that we’re missing it. So few of us know that there are whole lines of business setup to ignore it. Yes, to adeptly lift from your pockets the hard earned, and usually fought for, budget dollars that may mean success for this year’s marketing plan. All by not letting you in on a small but powerful secret.
What is it?
Context. I want to challenge you to do something that will fundamentally transform how you look at information. I want to challenge you to ask this question of every report or meeting you’re ever going to be in this year. I promise that this IS the super-secret decoder ring that makes all words, analytics and if it were possible, TPS reports make sense. This can even be fun, try it this week. Trying it begins with a simple question:
What’s the context?
You may be startled by the lack of comprehension to such a simple question at first. You may also be suddenly foisted into a shining light of expertise and become known for your critical thinking and leadership! Ask the question and just measure the response. If they don’t know the answer to THAT question, then why should you trust anything else they’d say? Without context, there isn’t a success metric that can ever be expected to deliver, and many of us are badly in need of a successful campaign! After all, one data point doesn’t mean anything. Without asking this crucial question we can all easily be wowed by the fancy creative and lulled by the sexy color palette and forget that at the end of the day, we may need to prove the assertions that come from a digital and social marketing campaign.
It’s too easy to get mired down into the bog of “damn you Facebook and your edge rank!” and “Now we’ll only be able to count on paid media!” or “Is google + going to be good for my brand?”. A healthy knowledge of context puts the mind that frets over these things quickly at ease because it provides to us the proof that what we’re doing is trackable, disprovable and meaningful to the brand. Otherwise we’re caught in a sea of numbers, charts, presentations and promises. And, I hate promises that don’t get delivered on.
EngageSciences Labs, our monthly webinar series that gives our customers the tools and knowledge they need, is back on your screens this June with a 30 minute session on “How to Socialize Your Digital Channels“.
Brands can’t ignore the fact that their connected and increasingly mobile audiences are massively influenced by their peers. In fact, research* suggests that 84% of millennials say user-generated content has influenced what they buy (compared to 70% of boomers). And that millennials also trust user generated content 50% more than they trust traditional media.
Brand websites started off life as informational. They were places to find out more about a company, their products and services. As the internet developed they became not just informational, but transactional. The rise of ecommerce has been staggering over the last 15 years. Governments are currently trying to legislate against companies like Amazon because of the impact on physical retail businesses. The French government believes Amazon destroys ‘bibliodiversity’, killing its culture of book shops and has been in a process of legislating to stop the online retailing juggernaut, whilst trying to build a European consensus so they don’t just act alone. The French government may just find the ship has already sailed on that one!
It isn’t just online retailers that have embraced the transactional opportunities of websites, from Converse to Apple, brands have built up huge transactional businesses through their websites. However we are entering a third stage of brand website development. The information and transactional nature of websites is also becoming social. 27% of online time is now spent on social networking and 65% of that is done through mobile. So if you want your website to be relevant to the social consumer, it better reflect the way people are now connecting online. Improving the transactional performance of websites is now deeply linked to improving the social connections to content and services. Brands, media companies and service providers have to think through how they make their websites social hubs.
So how do you allow the social consumer to connect with their friends around your website content and services? Large percentages of the online population are using multiple social networks to connect and share content as the latest research from PEW suggests, so how do you make your website an integral part of that behaviour?
Jeremiah Owyang, Chief Catalyst at Crowd Companies and Member of the Altimeter Advisory Board joined Richard Jones, CEO of EngageSciences for a webinar entitled ‘How to succeed in a mobile and connected world’ where they addressed how websites can become true social hubs, connecting social consumers to content and services. Watch it on demand now.
A lot of marketers are bemoaning the fact that they’re reaching less of their Facebook fans than ever before with organic posts. While this may be annoying, it is not to be unexpected. Social networks are incentivized to attract brands to participate in the early years, so that in later years they have access to their brand budgets as they search to monetize their services. That’s exactly what has happened at Facebook, and other social networks are following suit.
Whilst some companies may see this as a threat, I believe smart marketers should see this as opportunity. It requires a change in mindset, from one of social networks as independent silo channels with their ‘followers’ or ‘fans’, to a wider view of community, where brands can transfer and track audiences across multiple networks, continually linking back to a socially optimized brand website that operates as a social hub of owned media. I predict 2015 will be all about transferable audiences. So get ahead of the game now.
Because newer social networks are incentivized to partner with brands to build their networks and provide future monetization opportunities, there are fantastic opportunities to take advantage of the rich social features on these new platforms without incurring paid media charges. As competition for brand participation grows amongst a larger number of social networks, we may find there is real pressure to provide value added services to brand marketers for little or no investment. Marketers should think of social networks a bit like credit cards – which network is offering you the best deal? Does it make sense for you to move your audience to that network from others that are perhaps not giving you the best deal?
Just with managing money, managing an audience is best done when it’s diversified across different channels. This spreads risk and allows you to be insulated against the monetization strategy of any one network, whilst quickly taking advantage of new opportunities.
So if you currently have an unbalanced social strategy, with too much of your audience residing in one social network, this is the time to think about transferring audiences. It requires some joined-up thinking, but is actually more straightforward than you might think. I was advising a Fortune 100 company on this recently. They had tens of millions of Facebook fans but very small followings on other social channels. It was time to rebalance. This involved stepping-up activity on Twitter and Instagram, as well as experimenting with new channels such as Kik Messenger.
As with most companies, the brand website had been neglected for years as simply an informational and transactional hub. This would need to be re-designed to incorporate social features that make it more of a social hub, fit for the social consumer coming from multiple channels. Onsite activations to encourage sharing of content back out through different social platforms are a must, as we move into a world where thinking of social as a ‘channel’ separated from the rest of digital just doesn’t make any sense.
The first step of transferring audiences is to define a series of campaigns on other networks such as Instagram, Twitter and Kik Messenger that are promoted to multiple channels (including to your Facebook fans). Encouraging more of the Facebook audience to connect with the brand on different platforms will build a broader social community, with many more ways to both connect and organically share content.
Take Kik Messenger for example, this network has free one-to-one mobile messaging for brands if users connect with that brand’s ‘Kik Card’ and includes very easy sharing mechanics for friends to collectively engage with that brand’s content. With very few brands on the Kik platform, it presents a fantastic opportunity to get in early and open up a new way to connect with mobile users and to get them to share your content to their friends. Kik has 125m registered users, primarily between the ages of 17 and 26. That’s not a bad opportunity if you’re targeting the youth demographic.
Transferable audiences makes sense, particularly when a brand has a social infrastructure that allows it to build-up an audience database of how people are connecting with content and campaigns across channels. But, make sure you have the capability not just to engage social consumers, but to also track them to understand their behavior and preferences. It’s your audience and you need to understand as much as possible about them in order to target marketing that drives revenue. Don’t forget that key point as you explore new channels and methods to connect with social consumers. Looking forward, 2015 may be about transferring audiences, but 2014 will be about putting in place social infrastructure that allows you to make the most of that effort next year.