Facebook made a news splash last week (when doesn’t it, these days?) with its announcement that it will allow marketers to buy sponsored stories on mobile platforms separately from desktop. Responding to growing criticism about the ROI for brands of the social network’s ad platform, particularly in the mobile space, Facebook added an option that many marketers and agencies have long sought.
Among those looking to Facebook to open its ad platform to more targeted opportunities is MediaWhiz President Ed Kats. He spoke with AdExchanger.com recently about why the news is welcomed and how the segmentation it offers will benefit brands — and Facebook.
According to Kats:
As far as breaking out and segmenting, that makes complete sense for Facebook in particular. It’s clear they have a specific need for growth, and today I don’t think they’re monetizing their mobile – whether mobile access or mobile traffic — effectively.
As far as what it means for agencies, it’s just another opportunity for us to segment and target deeper. Facebook has given us some ability, and it’s going to continue to evolve in terms of how we access the inventory. Segmentation is going to be key. They’ve got some great opportunities for us to segment.
They want to be able to show value in return for the advertising dollars agencies are spending. The more we can drill down into … data that’s already available through their interface, that’s going to increase conversion rates.
They have to do this because if you look at the display landscape, their conversion rates aren’t what you would want to see. It might make sense that that’s the case. Consumers are there to interact and have social conversations and not necessarily interact with ads that are displayed. The ability to target better and go deeper will have benefits for both the agencies and the revenue Facebook is hoping to achieve.
By Keith Trivitt | @KeithTrivitt | Director, Marketing and Communications
Of all the hot marketing trends that have emerged in the past year, perhaps none has garnered more attention — and scorn — than Quick Response Codes (QR Codes). Alternately viewed by brands and marketers as the “next big thing” or a silly and unnecessary gimmick meant to demonstrate brands’ coolness in the digital age, QR Codes have plenty of fans and detractors.
Stepping away from the debate for a moment, it’s worth asking: Are QR Codes undervalued?
That is the question Digiday posed to brand marketers last week in an informative analysis of the state of QR Codes. After laying the groundwork with some interesting stats on QR Codes’ use by brands and their ROI (see below for details), reporter Giselle Abramovich offers examples from three well-known global brands — Coca-Cola, Taco Bell and HP — that have seen success from using QR Codes.
Before diving into those case studies, let’s look at the stats.
According to Digiday, and based data from Scanbuy, a company that provides QR Codes to brands and reports back-end analytics on their use, more than 13 million QR Codes were processed in the first quarter of 2012, a 157-percent increase from 2011. Of the QR Codes it delivers, Scanbuy reports that the most popular QR Code marketing campaigns are delivering video, app downloads and product details. And, not surprisingly, marketers are going gaga over QR Codes; 96 percent plan to use them in 2012.
With stats that strong, what’s not to love about QR Codes? Quite a lot, actually.
Part of the consternation stems from the technology behind QR Codes. Long used in Europe and Asia, where consumers are highly adept at using their mobile phones for regular Internet use and mobile purchases, U.S. marketers are faced with a multitude of providers, none of which use the same platform. The possibilities that QR Codes offer marketers are numerous, but in order to reap those benefits, the U.S. market will have to develop some sort of consensus platform for 2D barcodes. At the moment, the lack of one consistent platform is confusing to consumers, which muddles the overall value of QR Codes. (more…)
By: Steve Goldner | @SocialSteve | Senior Director, Social Media
Social by Design … not a new buzz phrase but, rather, a fresh business imperative.
For years I have been professing that social media is not a tactic but, rather, has to be a way of life for brands. It is not about putting up a Facebook page and a Twitter feed and posting away. Social media must be at the core of a marketing strategy. Yeah, I know … you’ll think someone named “SocialSteve” is likely to say that … how self-serving of me. But wait a minute and hear me out.
The most powerful call to action a marketer could hope for is to have one friend, one colleague, one family member refer to another a suggested product or service. The recommendation comes from an objective source, a trusted source. Let’s face it: an ad is a recommendation from a most subjective source.
Social by Design means putting a brand in the hands of your target audience to produce organic sharing and word of mouth. Social by Design yields brand amplification. Maybe the one brand that understands this most of all is Coca Cola. As Coke has an objective to double their business it looks at programs that are Social by Design. As Coke states it, it is moving from creative excellence to content excellence. Coke calls its content strategy “liquid content,” and looks for its target audience to be the source of brand proliferation.
This video is a must see as it crystallizes what is meant by having a strategy that is Social by Design.
By Keith Trivitt | @KeithTrivitt | Director, Marketing and Communications
For years, public relations professionals have known of the power of brand advocacy. But in the digital age brand advocacy is evolving into the realm and responsibility of nearly every type of digital marketer. Whether you’re working on a search marketing campaign or overseeing a client’s display strategy, every marketer needs to understand and believe in brand advocacy.
Thus, a recent eMarketer report, titled, “Brand Advocates: Scaling Social Media Word-of-Mouth,” was a timely addition to marketers’ library. The report highlights the stunning growth of brand advocacy over the last five years while providing helpful tips companies can use to cultivate brand advocates and how to avoid common pitfalls of annoying those who most appreciate your brand.
Not surprisingly, the report’s executive summary sums up what most marketers already know: “Brand advocacy is becoming a critical part of the social media marketing mix.”
But there’s more than the obvious that underlies successful brand advocacy campaigns. Consumers aren’t just “liking” a brand and commenting about it on social networks for the fun of it. As eMarketer reports, they are doing so because many desire to see their favorite brands succeed. And that can have powerful positive effects on companies — if they respect and utilize their brand advocates properly.
One interesting point I took from the report was that while brand advocates are interested in companies’ content, more important is their loyalty to a brand. A CMO Council study found that brand loyalty (48%) was far more important to brand advocates than whether a company had great content on its social networks (30%). This suggests that great content is helpful but being a great brand that your customers can feel proud to be associated with is more important.
So what makes for a successful brand advocacy program? And who are these “brand advocates” anyway? Let’s take a look:
eMarketer defines brand advocates as consumers who “use social media to not only interact with brand pages, but also to actively promote the brands, products and services they love.” They provide valuable insight to marketers about what is, and is not, working with a brand’s products and services and how the brand is being perceived outside of its four corporate walls. (more…)
So, you are tired of reading about Facebook this past week. From the controversy with GM pulling its $10M Facebook ad program to the Facebook IPO. And then the surprise wedding of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to his longtime girlfriend one day after the IPO. And in all this coverage, no one put the real Facebook issue on the table.
Everyone is asking if Facebook ads provide a winning ROI. Frankly, that is the wrong question.
Facebook should not be your social media program. It should be part of your social media program, but social media is bigger. And for that matter, social media is only a part of marketing (and other important business functions as well like customer support). To look at every slice of a marketing program and see if there is an ROI does not make sense. I’ll explain why shortly.
Before I explain the ROI issue, let me first rewind the tape from last week’s events. I was asked to provide comments and answer some questions for a number of publications. As is always the case, my comments were taken out of context. I was asked about GM publicizing that it was pulling its Facebook ads and my thoughts on that. Here was my complete response …
“WSJ reports that General Motors plans to stop advertising on Facebook as GM marketing chief Joel Ewanick said the auto maker ‘is definitely reassessing our advertising on Facebook, although the content is effective and important.’
“The news could not come at a worse time for Facebook, but states some strong commentary on both Facebook and GM.
“First GM … this is the same company that went before Congress looking for hand-outs to save their fledging company. Was Ford in front of Congress? No. Is it a coincidence that Ford has an extremely productive social media program that is fully integrated into other marketing programs? No. What Ford does, that is absent from GMs social media effort, is that they have a strategy, plan, execution, and metrics that integrate ALL owned, earned, and PAID media endeavors. They do not have an isolated Facebook paid media program. Furthermore, I question if Ewanick understands that, on average, only 16% of brand postings on Facebook reach their ‘like’s’ newsfeed as revealed at the fMC on 2/29/11. He should look at Facebook’s reach generator (paid offering from Facebook) with regards to “content (being) effective and important.” The fact is that GM does not know how to integrate social media into a winning business strategy. The issue is not Facebook ads.
“As for Facebook … this news is very detrimental for Facebook right before their IPO. It paints a picture that a struggling company cannot rely on Facebook to help turn them around, but the same could be said about any pure-play marketing advertisement program. The reality is that Facebook advertisement, by itself, is not a great use of precious marketing dollars. Facebook has done a poor job positioning and describing how their platform drives quantifiable business results. Facebook is not the equivalent of having a social media strategy and it is time for Facebook to communicate how they are PART of a winning solution and stop making ill-advised marketers believe they are THE social media solution.” (more…)
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from an op-ed by Steve Goldner, senior director of social media at MediaWhiz, as published May 16, 2012, in Digiday.
The impact that Google Plus will eventually have on the search marketing industry is arguably greater than its influence on social media. It will ultimately be used to track user behavior at every level and serve up ads based on that behavior to a degree marketers have never seen.
While Google Plus offers favorable benefits for users, there are equally powerful opportunities for agencies and brands. The robust integration of search and social that is built into Google Plus means that there is an added value for brands to establish relationships with individuals. As those relationships build, users will include brands in their social circles. When brands are added to users’ social circles, they will automatically jump to the top of the queue for that group of users’ relevant topic searches.
Google has been the Internet search leader for more than a decade. In that timeframe, it has made numerous attempts at becoming a social media power. Unfortunately for Google, its history in the social space — Orkut, Dodgeball, Jaiku, Google Wave and Google Buzz — has left the impression that when it comes to social media, Google is more Friendster than Facebook.
Many brands and agencies talk a big game about the value of integrating search and social, but Google is taking the first step in delivering a solution. Think about this common scenario: a consumer hears about a product from a friend and his interest is piqued. He wants to find out more about the product, so he performs a simple online search. What happens if a competitor’s brand shows up higher on search? Is there a propensity for the consumer to be diverted to the competitor’s brand? Perhaps. But what brand would want to take that chance?
When Google launched Google Plus, it incorporated what it calls “Search Plus Your World.” The outcome is that search is personalized. Google Plus’ social data is incorporated into users’ Google search results. When Google Plus users perform a search, postings from their Google circles, relevant to that search, appear at the top. For example, if a given user searches for “accounting services” and one of his circle connections has posted or commented about a topic relevant to “accounting services,” that user’s reference appears at the top of the search output. The search is relevant to the user based on his circle’s contributions.
We talk about influence as if it is something new. Actually the definition has not changed in the past 1,000 years or so, but tactics for influence engagement certainly have changed due to the digital revolution. And while many might consider my use of the term “digital revolution” trite, I think it deserves the entire superfluous connotation as I intended it to be. The fact is that the digital world and, even more importantly, the related behavior changes that have transpired, are extremely important. Thus, we must look at “influence” as it relates to digital behaviors.
So before we have the “Klout (popular social influence scoring platform) — should we care debate?”, let’s make sure we understand why influence is important to brands. And second to that, let’s make sure we understand the types of influencers that are valuable to brands. I break this down in three groups:
Traditional influencers. These are the individuals that traditional PR agencies court. They are pinnacle media establishments (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post) and celebrity-like figures (Mario Batali, Roger Ebert, Tim Gunn) in a specific area of subject expertise.
Emerging (digital) influencers. These are bloggers that have established a large audience following and drive thought leadership in a specific space. The poster child of emerging digital influencers is Robert Scoble. Scoble is a tech blogger whose rise to vast influence started from strong participation and guidance in Microsoft’s NetMeeting support newsgroups, and for maintaining a NetMeeting information website. Another example of an influential blogger emergence from nowhere is Tavi Gevinson who commanded quite a following for her fashion blog. At the prime age of 13, she was a special guest at New York Fashion week. (It still astounds me how she came up in conversations at ELLE magazine when I worked with them.) Emerging digital influencers could also be blogs (PitchFork, Mashable, Gizmodo) rather than individuals by name.
Influencers by connection. Here we have your everyday “Max” and “Maya.” People who have hundreds of friends — no, let me correct that — hundreds of Facebook friends and Twitter followers. These people make posts and tweets and their connected friends react. “Saw a great movie.” “New sports drink was killer.” Their posts create response and action. If you represent a brand, you want to court these people to produce brand action. (more…)
Earlier this week Twitter unveiled its new Discover tab, which the social network claimed in a blog post will make it “easy to discover information that matters to you without having to follow additional accounts.” The news received a lukewarm reception in the blogosphere with PCWorld calling the changes a “double-edged sword … that involves some degree of privacy infringement — or at least erosion.” Others in the tech media and blogosphere expressed similar apathy about its value to brands and marketers.
To get some deeper insight into what the Discover tab will really means for digital marketers, I sat down with Steve Goldner, senior director of social media for MediaWhiz, and head of the agency’s social media practice. Steve works with a broad range of major clients in developing their social media strategies and campaigns, and he expressed hope for a new level of insight from Twitter regarding what consumers are saying about brands and the ability to more finely target key brand advocates.
The F8 Developer Conference didn’t reveal much about Facebook. Oh wait, my bad. It kind of did. After leaving the San Francisco conference stage last Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg effectively tossed aside the social network you’ve come to know and love, at least most of the time. Unless you’ve been living under one of Mark’s old, worn-out hoodies, you know about the changes that make up the new Facebook. But just in case, here they are in broad strokes:
The integration of Spotify and Turntable.fm making Facebook a premier entertainment hub. Somewhere, Justin Timberlake is cursing Sean Parker. ‘Why oh why did I play you?’
A complete profile redesign and increased user control over news feeds
The introduction of “Timeline” or what Mark continuously referred to as, and I’m paraphrasing, the story of your life. It enables users to add photos and events making your profile look like a really cool Apple commercial
Pretty exciting stuff. Actually for marketers, it’s all a little frightening. Why? Because it ups the ante on the whole notion of compelling content. We’ve all heard the term engagement ad nauseum. Content has to be engaging blah blah blah. Now, it really does. For content to hit a user’s news feed, it has to be amazingly compelling, authoritative and relevant. It has to mean something. And that brings us to the world famous Like.
In one of the unintentionally funnier moments of the Zuckerberg presentation – Andy Samberg wins the funny award hands down – Mark announced verbs are coming to Facebook. Yes, verbs! Though tempting, the follow-up question shouldn’t be ‘What about adverbs and pronouns?’ but rather ‘What does this mean for the Like button?’ Certainly, the Like lost a little luster on Thursday. By adding buttons like Read, Watched, Listened, brand ambassadors will be able to go further with endorsements. Advertisers and marketers obsessed with getting likes will finally have to come to terms with the fact that a like means nothing if it doesn’t convert. With Read, Watched, Listening and down the line perhaps Purchased buttons, advertisers and marketers will have quantifiable and measurable conversion metrics.
So what’s the marketing story? Delivering compelling content and measuring conversions.
Everyone talks about Facebook, Twitter and to some extent Foursquare when addressing the power of social media. Sometimes – IPO news notwithstanding – it seems like LinkedIn is the forgotten stepchild. People know it’s there but they don’t know what to do with it. Companies may have a hard time viewing LinkedIn as anything more than an online resume repository. But like any other social network, LinkedIn offers opportunities to increase brand awareness and user reach in search space. When properly leveraged, LinkedIn can help you tap into your career-minded audience and build your professional network – connections that could drive client relationships.
Many companies place LinkedIn solely in the hands of human resources. LinkedIn is a great recruiting tool but it is also a great way to improve your page one rankings on Google, Bing and Yahoo; therefore, it should be part of any Search and Social optimization campaign. Incorporating relevant keywords into your LinkedIn profile and joining or creating LinkedIn Groups can build up your search authority on the major search engines. Also, utilizing the LinkedIn RSS feed is a great way to drive traffic to your corporate blog. According to HubSpot, small businesses that actively blog get, on average, 97% more inbound links, 434% more indexed pages and 55% more site visits. That is some serious SEO mojo you could be giving your LinkedIn page.
Unfortunately for LinkedIn, it is lacking the cool factor inherent in Facebook and Twitter. People don’t like – Facebook pun not intended – updating is as often. But content additions and revisions help improve search rankings, which makes incorporating them into LinkedIn important to your overall search strategy.