Category Archives: social media

What’s after WhatsApp

Now that Facebook has zucked up WhatsApp into their empire, many users of the service are looking to an alternative, it’s a question that came up again today in a meeting with a client so here’s a quick overview of some other cool services that can give you just as much, if not more;

1. Viber: Currently in use in 193 countries (so pretty much worldwide), this is similar to WhatsApp to adopt as it uses your mobile numbers to identify who from your contact list is a user. Once connected via the App you instantly message and away you go, plus you can also call your users so long as you’re connected to the Internet. In addition there are fun sticker packs and you can send doodles and short voice snippets, great meeting distractions!

2. LINE: Similar again but it registers your number to it’s database, so worth considering if you don’t like that. Otherwise much like Viber too in that if you’re connected you can also make calls to other LINE users and it gives you fun stickers and emoticons. There are over 300m users and it’s fast expanding into Europe with Spain being a top adopting country.

3. Skype: More popular for video calls, this service has been around for a while but let’s not forget that you can still use it simply for messaging too. The only added layer of intricacy is that you need to approve uses before you can start chatting, for me though, that’s a bonus!

4. Kik Messenger: Big at the moment in the US and Canada, and specifically with teens. You need to register with your email address, choose a unique name (much like Skype) but once up and running the app is a super simple messaging service, there are no calling capabilities but it’s growing fast with over 100m users already and funding secured to expand, so it’s one to watch.

5. KAKAO: This app is another up and coming that allows you to either message directly, or within groups, similar to WhatsApp, it’s totally free and despite the common misconception its’ only available in Asia, it is free to the whole world, yippee.

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Analyse this

I would imagine you’re all familiar with Google Analytics and Omniture, and seen reports for PPC, SEO and Display, no doubt clearly outlining the return for every penny spent including; entry sources, bounce rates, CTR, page views and so on.

I’ll also wager you’ve asked your planners and buyers what the return for Social Marketing is? Yes? You’ll have asked: What’s the value of a Facebook ‘like’ or a ‘retweet’? We’ve all stared at pretty diagrams that show us the reach and potential eyeballs hit but, so far, it’s been an algorithm we haven’t quite mastered with the confidence to go back to the board and solidly say that the money spent has returned an incremental profit of ‘X’ through social.

Well this level of measurement has just taken two more big steps forward.

Firstly, Google recently announced that they are adding social media reports to their analytics suite which will show the social value through measuring; visits and visits via social referral, the conversions this led to, plus assisted social conversions and last interaction social conversions.

Secondly, Adobe has just unveiled its social analytics tool: ‘Adobe Social’. Apparently a more comprehensive version of Adobe Social Analytics, according to their Product Director Matt Langie. The new software still provides the basic listening tools already familiar to users but in addition now allows management of creating and publishing content and ads. It also follows similar tracking to GA so you can report from seed to purchase or drop off.

I wonder what this means to the likes of Radian and Sysomos, will these two giants take over?

 

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Facebook and the Future

Facebook were in our basement the other night talking about what the future looks like for social. It was a really interesting talk with one subject in particular catching my attention.

More and more we hear about the influence fans of brands have on their friends but, increasingly so it’s more about friends of fans. These guys have for more influence as it’s perceived as unbiased, if, the message gets that far.

As it stands 90% of fan pages on Facebook have fewer than 100 fans. Mainly because the page isn’t backed by media so there’s nothing driving traffic (I’ve certainly had my share of clients who assume that just by sticking a brand page up, the world will ‘like’ them and share the love).

Shock, horror and revelation! This is not so.

Whilst the media buying and planning lot of you out there will know that’s old news, the exciting revelation is that bridging the gap between media spend v social currency seems to be closing, and it’s doing so in the guise of Polling Ads.

You still buy the initial space either on a CPC or CPM basis but the reach they can achieve improves the potential ROI several times over.

Facebook claim that current case studies have shown: 160% uplift in brand recall, 200% uplift in message awareness of the ad and a whopping 400% uplift in purchase intent.

That, coupled with the current predicted reach for potential customers falling in at around more than 500 million and as we all know, still being able to profile your audience by; location, age and interests really leads to a  no brainer.

I have a few clients trying this already and the rewards have been notable for them: extended reach, higher awareness, growing loyalty and a marked improvement of their brands resonating online.

My advice – get all over it!

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Google Moderator

What

Google Moderator is a service launched in 2008 that uses crowdsourcing to rank comments and questions from users to allow high volume management. Anyone can participate, that’s the main rule of thumb.

Why

Knowing and understanding what your audience are thinking and what they want is critical. By opening up the communication with your site visitors you’ll get to know and understand your audience, plus everyone gets their say, so, you get a rounded opinion.

How

Create a Google account, enter your question or topic, decide whether you want to allow both text and video responses, and decide how long your poll will run for.

And if you want to get clever you can play around with embedding it on a Google sites page, an iFrame or use the API…

You can read more about that here if you like

Who

Barack Obama used it quite early on in a public series called ‘Open for Questions’ which attracted 1m votes during the election in 48 hours.

But the guys attracting a lot of attention at the moment are Victors and Spoils. Founded in 2010 on the premise of crowdsourcing the agency enlists a database of 5,200 freelancers from around the globe. Their most recent project (and the reason I decided to write this blog post) is Virgin America Toronto Provocateur, which was designed and written using Google Moderator to launch the new service to Toronto. You can read more here (you’ll need to scroll down).

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Passion verses Fame: The Vimeo v YouTube debate

It’s often perceived that Vimeo is for people with a passion and YouTube is for people who want fame and popularity (cough, cough Mr Bieber), but lately the conversation has come up time and again both from a business point a view, a personal preference and just use as a technical platform.

Vimeo for me personally has always been slicker, cleaner and more professional, but then I work in digital marketing so I also see the benefits to clients of the traffic YouTube receives.

Going back a little to the earlier days, I remember YouTube storming the ranks but never really succeeding in impressing. 2008 saw YouTube really start to make improvements to its offering but it seemed they were always that one step behind on quality. For example; when they launched the 1GB upload they had a few thumbs up but hard-core users were still after more in the way of HD support and optional download links, again resolutions that Vimeo already offered. When they randomised the thumbnail options (eventually not leaving us stuck with the 25/50/75 rule) Vimeo were already offering at least 15 thumbnail options and if you weren’t happy with those you could choose and upload your own.

But then in YouTube’s defence they did improve and they offered more for free than other platforms. You could have a Vimeo plus membership and not really get more than you would with a free YouTube account.

Now, when you research YouTube you learn that 35 hours of video are uploaded every minute, YouTube is localised in 25 countries across 43 languages with a broad demographic of 18-54 year olds and in 2010 YouTube reached over 700 billion playbacks. YouTube partners with Disney, Turner, Univision, Channel 4 and Channel 5, it monetises over 2 billion video views per week globally and the number of advertisers using display ads on YouTube increased 10 fold in the last year.

If we consider a more social angle with YouTube we’d mention things like: over 4 million people are connected and auto-sharing to at least one social network, YouTube mobile gets over 100 million views a day and across the channel more than 50% of videos on YouTube have been rated or include comments from the community. Sounds a bit like a corporate giant doesn’t it? Well I guess that’s because it is.

Vimeo on the other hand haven’t ever really lost their personal touch, which I like; by fans, for the fans. They introduce their team and their background and have nice rules to adhere to so you don’t upset people whilst you’re on there like; be nice, keep on topic, don’t Spam and respect the Staff… by doing this they become approachable yet still remain professional. It works for me.

So in summary I guess I’d personally continue to use Vimeo, it’s still cooler (sorry YouTube), but if a client wanted heaps of traffic, something that could be on brand and be managed by an office intern, I’d go with YouTube.

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Video Marketing (VSEO)

Online Video Marketing has vastly become the coolest and most engaging way to effectively expose relevant content to your audience online.

Everyone’s heard of YouTube and we’ve known for a while it’s the second biggest search engine in the world so with video sites continually growing in popularity there can’t be much more  to convince you about, is there?

The main stumbling block for big brands and businesses is ownership. The bottom line is though, you no longer own your brand, your consumers do (I talk about it more in my post on ‘The value of digital to brands today’). So whether you have your own slickly executed high-end film cuts or a D.I.Y example, it’s your first step to engaging and informing your audience further.

So what makes a good video?

The success to any video lies within whether it is unique, funny, engaging and thought-provoking enough for everyone to pass on and therefore make it viral, more commonly known online now as ‘creating buzz’. Sounds simple when I put it like that but in short; make sure your concept is a good one, that it sits with your target audience and is executed in the relevant way; ‘Guerilla marketing’ if you want to coin a phrase from none other than Jay Conrad Levinson.

And once you’ve created an amazing video, where should you put it?

Video advertising can come in an array of formats; In-Video, In-Stream, Click to Play, Around Video and Video Search and there are more and more channels within which you can seed video content, the most popular of which I mentioned above; YouTube. If you’re a brand it’s worth setting up (or asking your agency to set up for you) a customised YouTube channel, this way you’re closer to your audience and have ample opportunities to engage.

So what are you waiting for, get shooting and get seeding!

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Google Social Search

One of the latest developments I’ve been exploring is Google’s Social Search feature designed to aid quick searches from within your online social circle.

The theory behind Social Search is that your online connections will likely be talking about topics more relevant to you because you’re connected with them due to shared work life or interests.

So how does it work?

Well if you’re logged in to Google, as you search for something you should see an additional search result pop up at the bottom of your results page “Results from people in your social circle.” The results will consist of things like blogs from your friends and colleagues, their website feeds, tweets and status updates.

Who’s in your circle?

At the moment Google Social Search is just that, a social search within all linked Google assets e.g. Gmail, Google chat, people in your contacts list or following you on buzz and so on. It’s not known at this stage whether it will branch out to the likes of Facebook but in theory this is great if you want to see what your friends are saying about a film you want to see or a new restaurant you want to check out.

I’d much rather take their word for it, wouldn’t you?

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oh behave!

Behavioural advertising or targeting is a much discussed subject (often closely followed by the online privacy topic) and one that brings with it an equal balance of aggression and nervousness.

Put simply behavioural targeting is a technique used online to deliver specific messages based on user trends. Information is collected by cookies (not the choc chip kind) on users’ computers based on what they’re searching for and looking at, then this information is profiled and collated into ‘user groups’.

By understanding these user groups we can more effectively target audiences online therefore deliver more relevant adverts.

Contrary to popular belief, it is safe and is really just designed to not waste consumer’s time. Big Brother aren’t recording your every move and sending it to MI5 and it is closely regulated by bodies such as the IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau).

If you want to learn a bit more, this video from the IAB puts in simple language what behavioural advertising is all about, the referenced URL http://www.youronlinechoices.co.uk/ is also a really useful site if you want to know more about cookies and how to protect your privacy online.

You can also read my recent blog post ‘Is Privacy Dead’ for more information surrounding this subject area.

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Search Marketing explained

Last year the search marketing industry was worth £2.15 billion.

That sounds like quite a bit of money doesn’t it, especially if you don’t really understand what it is and why it’s an integral part of your marketing mix.

Most brands/ businesses have now understood that the internet is here to stay and that if they are going to survive they need to have a presence in front of their consumers online. So, let’s take a quick look at what it’s all about and how to get the most out of search for your objectives.

So what is search media?

Search is not just about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click), in fact there are many aspects to a search campaign which, could further include; Google content placement targeting (otherwise known as GDN – Google Display Networks), Search Affiliates (networks of websites that you can place media on through a partner), Universal Search (which includes news feeds, video and images), Search re-targeting (specifically targeting those that have already engaged with one of your ads), Social Search, Mobile search, Live search… the list goes on.

That sounds interesting I hear you say but what does that actually mean? The bottom line is by adding search to your marketing mix YOU WILL strengthen your online presence, increase your visibility and in turn increase your business revenue.

And what makes a good plan?

At the offset you need to have a clear objective, do you want to increase awareness or generate sales leads for example. Quite often the conversion is the most important aspect of a plan but also the part that is given least attention. If you have a search plan that doesn’t complete the whole journey then you will likely end up spending money on traffic but losing money on conversions.

Ensure that your plan includes detailed cost breakdown and an attribution of value to each stage of clicks along the user journey. It should have detailed audience demographics and targeting information. If you have an agency doing the plan, interrogate the drop off rates and conversion rates for each stage of the journey, challenge how they will maintain visibility against competitors and ask about their management and optimisation. It’s all very well getting a campaign up and running but the internet bidding world is fierce and you need to stay on top of it.

It’s also a good idea to test your creative whether Ad copy, display or further along the user journey on your landing pages. Try a couple of versions; this is known as A/B or multivariate testing. Which creative performs better? You may find one gets higher CTR but the other drives more actions, work to get the message right for your user.

How do you maximise on your return.

Businesses are shifting their spend to be more weighted towards digital with a focus on PPC and SEO but most are still keen to see more spent on search media in general. Feedback shows that they feel they have an at least adequate return for spend due to its track-ability and therefore accountability.

But is adequate enough? Hardly, continually challenge the cost to conversion, what are you paying per click and how many clicks are you getting (CPC to CTR), are you scaling the spend in line with the reach, unlike some traditional media planning models, online search is very manageable and controllable so take advantage. Always remember to review against your original objectives; what did you decide was going to deem this campaign successful? Is it?

Is that it?

Hopefully that gives you a basic understanding of what search marketing is about but remember it’s a constant cycle:

Plan, Challenge, Review, Optimise, Plan, Challenge, Review, Optimise, Plan, Challenge… you get the idea.

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Is privacy dead?

We’re all used to ticking opt out boxes to keep our details hidden but in a world where everyone is connected over the media of the internet, is the ability to control who has access really that secure?

I’ve had this debate with so many clients, friends and family members and it comes hand in hand with just about every mention of Facebook (I’ll point out now that 95% of these conversations are with older generations).

How many times have I heard ‘But I don’t want people to know what I’m up to every minute of the day’ and then two seconds later a shrieking squeal followed by ‘Ooh look at that picture, my how he’s grown! Quick flick through the other pictures so I can see…’

There are many critics of the internet, Steve Rambam a private investigator specialising in internet cases once said ‘Privacy is dead – get over it’. He may be right, if someone digs hard enough they could probably find some dirt on me but I publicly display what I want people to see and control how that is presented. It seems more that it’s the lack of understanding that people are afraid of.

So in simple words these are the things you need to check for if you’re nervous:

  • Who your information will be passed to
  • Why the information is being collected (if you allow it to be)
  • How the information will be used and when
  • How you can access information the organisation holds about you

All this can be found in any disclaimer for any site you visit or use.

With particular reference to Facebook, read this blog by my friend and colleague Jim. Here he talks specifically about Facebook Privacy. I think you’ll find it very useful.

I don’t really have an answer for you all, being immersed in the digital world I suppose I have more trust in it, I’m just as wary of the next door neighbour who constantly tries to steal my raspberries, the man in the shop who tries to short change me and the estate agents not doing a very good job of selling my house. None of whom I deal with online.

I guess really it’s just having the understanding to make an informed decision about what you share… what do you think?

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