When Eyeballs and Dollars Don’t Match Up

No one can be faulted for thinking that the size of someone’s Facebook friends list is a proxy for that person’s level of influence. After all, people who are influential are often also popular, and in a Facebook and Twitter world popularity is measured in friends and followers.

But a new report from Vocus and FutureWorks principal Brian Solis throws a healthy dose of skepticism on the supposed correlation between popularity and influence. The report—provocatively titled “Influencer Grudge Match: Lady Gaga versus Bono”—surveyed 739 marketing and communications professionals who work with influencers to gauge their perceptions of what makes an influencer.

A surprising 90% of respondents answered “yes” when asked whether there’s a big difference between popularity and influence.

Marketers Worldwide Who Think There Is a Difference Between Popularity and Influence in the Social Media Space, Sep 2010 (% of respondents)

Nearly the same percentage, 84%, believed that there was a correlation between an influencer’s reach and his or her ability to drive action. This indicates that respondents made a clear distinction between popularity and reach, and regarded the latter as the key that determines a person’s influence.

The survey did not define any of these terms, so it was up to the respondents to interpret them. From the results, it’s apparent that respondents regarded popularity as the sheer number of contacts on a social network and reach as the ability to actually communicate meaningfully with some number of those contacts. As one respondent put it, “A person can have only a few contacts and greatly influence just those few.”

Asked which type of social network participant would have the most measurable effect on an outcome, 57% picked someone who has “a handful of fans/friends/followers that are tightly connected,” versus 8% who picked someone with “millions of fans/friends/followers with little or no connection.” Quality over quantity.

Type of Person Who Is Most Influential in the Social Media Space, Sep 2010 (% of marketers worldwide)

Despite this data, many marketers are on a seemingly relentless quest to beef up their own social network profiles and reach users with lots of friends and followers. In the Vocus-Solis study, 57% of respondents said they’d be willing to pay for an influencer to help them “drive actions or outcomes.”

Further, Twitter recently unveiled its Promoted Accounts platform, which allows marketers to essentially pay for access to users based on the sizes of those users’ networks. Quantity over quality.

And an eROI study of social metrics tracked by US marketers found that two-thirds tracked changes in the numbers of friends, followers and fans. More qualitative measures such as reach of messaging were much lower on the scale. Again, quantity over quality.

Social Media Metrics Tracked, Apr 2010 (% of US marketers)

Story by Paul Verna, Senior Analyst

Social Media Training Day Auckland New Zealand – Last Chance to Register

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social-media training day NZ Mike Andrew Consulting What a fantastic response we’ve had to our next social media training day in New Zealand, over 550 real estate agents are confirmed as attending the 2 sessions on the day, we still have room for a small number of additional places for agents who’d like to attend the afternoon session on Wednesday the 6th October.

Location is The Great Northern Room, Ellerslie Event Centre, Ellerslie Racecourse Auckland New Zealand, as I mentioned earlier the morning session is now fully booked, so the only session available is the afternoon session commencing at 1:30pm.

You can download the flyer with all the information on the sessions Social Media Training Day New Zealand Registration Form or you can book by faxing the completed registration form to 00617 5534 1046, you can also email your registration form to amazing@iangrace.com.au or info@mikeandrewconsulting.com

Room is limited, so the earlier you register, the more likely you’ll reserve yourself a place.

Your speakers for the day will include Ian Grace and Mike Andrew

Companies Struggle to Keep Social Media Content On-Message

Nearly three-quarters of blog posts don’t reflect corporate messaging

Marketers and other corporate communications professionals may sometimes feel they have a thankless task: carefully craft messages about their company’s thought leadership, social responsibility efforts and new product or service launches, only to find those messages distorted as they’re disseminated through the media.

PR and communications firm Burson-Marsteller analyzed more than 150 messages sent out by companies in the Financial Times Global 100 list of firms and discovered a large gap between the messages that went out and how they were covered on blogs.

Message distortion was highest for companies in Latin America and the US, with a global average of 69% of blog postings not reflecting the message companies were trying to send. According to the report, bloggers tended to include “opinions, personal experience, knowledge of competitors and products, and speculation.”

Distortion of Company Messages Conveyed by Blogs, by Region, May 2010 (% of messages analyzed)

Distorted messages are not a new phenomenon; they have been a problem in mainstream media as well. Still, the message gap between companies and the traditional media is significantly smaller: Less than half of all messages in mainstream media failed to reflect company messages, and here the US performed above average.

Distortion of Company Messages Conveyed in Mainstream Media, by Region, May 2010 (% of messages analyzed)

But as blogs continue to grow in importance and become integrated in mainstream outlets, along with the growth of other forms of social media, the chances for message distortion are likely to be high.

One way companies can combat the message gap is to make the most of owned media. If companies create their own compelling content and distribute it across social networks, there is no room for such a gap. Bloggers are not likely to simply reprint such old-media items as press releases, but relevant branded content can attract links across Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the social web.

According to the “2010 Social Media Usage, Attitudes and Measurability” study from King Fish Media, HubSpot and Junta42, 73% of US companies with a social media strategy were using branded content they created in their campaigns. Such original content was considered the most important part of a successful social campaign, with nearly half of respondents calling it “extremely important.”

Social Media Training Day Auckland NZ

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Mike Andrew social-media training courses The next social media training day, this time for real estate agents will take place at in The Great Northern Room, Ellerslie Event Centre, Ellerslie Racecourse Auckland New Zealand on Wednesday the 6th of October.

The morning session is now fully booked, so the only session now available is the afternoon session commencing at 1:30pm.

You can download the flyer with all the information on the sessions Social Media Training Day New Zealand Registration Form or you can book by faxing the completed registration form to 00617 5534 1046, you can also email your registration form to amazing@iangrace.com.au.

The afternoon session is filling very fast as room is limited, so the earlier you register, the more likely you’ll reserve yourself a place.

Your speakers for the day will include Ian Grace and Mike Andrew

I’ll look forward to working with you on the day.  

How Social Media Is Changing Brand Marketing

Four in 10 brand marketers think social creates new challenges to maintaining brand integrity

 

Social media has changed much about how consumers communicate with one another, and has given them the ability to broadcast opinions about brands, products and services further than traditional word-of-mouth can reach. It has also meant something that can be scary for brands: Marketers are no longer fully in control of the message.

According to a study from branding agency MiresBall and KRC Research, 40% of brand representatives around the world felt social media posed new challenges to the integrity of their brand. More than a third said that social networking sites affected brands significantly enough to bring about changes in marketing strategy.

Belief that Social Media Creates New Challenges for Protecting Brand Integrity, 2010 (% of brand representatives worldwide)

But with 500 million consumers reachable on Facebook, and a host of other networking sites, services like Twitter and the rest of the social web, the challenges may be worth it. More than half of brand representatives told MiresBall and KRC that social media gave them an opportunity to reach new customers.

Belief that Social Media Provides an Opportunity to Reach New Customers, 2010 (% of brand representatives worldwide)

Brand marketers were split on whether social media helped create brand loyalty, however. While 35% agreed, another 30% disagreed, with the remainder neutral on the question.

The research also found a disconnect in how marketers thought about their brands and how they tried to reach out to customers on social media. The vast majority of respondents agreed that the brand must define what a company or product is, and that message should be communicated via various PR and marketing channels, including social media, and that the most effective way to communicate about a brand was to stay true to its message. At the same time, marketers were willing to stray from that strategy—especially in the case of social media.

The report suggested that attempts to find superficial social success might be leading brands to create a presence on networks that did not fit with the brand’s personality or use other inappropriate campaigns in the hopes that one would go viral, even if it did not truly convey the brand’s message.

Older Adults Double SocNet Use

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US adults 50 and older have increased their social networking use from 22% to 42% in the past year, according to data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Half of Adults 50-64 Use SocNets
Half (47%) of internet users ages 50-64 and one in four (26%) users age 65 and older now use social networking sites.

Young adult internet users ages 18-29 continue to be the heaviest users of social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, with 86% saying they use the sites.

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Adults 65 and Up Double SocNet Adoption
During the past year, the growth of social networking adoption among internet users ages 18-29 paled in comparison with the gains made by older users. Between April 2009 and May 2010, internet users ages 50-64 who said they use a social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn grew 88%, and those ages 65 and older grew 100% in their adoption of the sites; compared with a growth rate of 13% for those ages 18-29.

Older Adults Increasingly Share Daily Updates
The use of Twitter and other services to share status updates has also grown among older users, most notably among those ages 50-64. While just 5% of users ages 50-64 had used Twitter or another status update service in 2009, 11% now say they use these tools. On a typical day, 6% of online adults ages 50-64 make Twitter a part of their routine, up from the 1% who did so in 2009.

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One in five (20%) adults ages 50-64 say they use social networking sites on a typical day, up from 10% one year ago. Likewise, 13% of online adults ages 65 and older log on to social networking sites, compared with just 4% who did so in 2009.

Older Adults Maintain Interest in Email, Online News
Overall, 92% of those ages 50-64 and 89% of those ages 65 and older send or read email and more than half of each group exchanges email messages on a typical day. Online news gathering also ranks highly in the daily media habits of older adults; 76% of internet users ages 50-64 get news online, and 42% do so on a typical day. Among internet users ages 65 and older, 62% look for news online and 34% do so on a typical day.

Americans Get News on Multiple Platforms
The overwhelming majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get news on a typical day, according to other recent findings from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Americans get their news from a combination of on- and offline sources, including national TV, local TV, the internet, local newspapers, radio, and national newspapers. Six in ten Americans (59%) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day, and the internet is now the third most popular news platform, behind local television news and national television news.

About the Data: The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project surveyed 2,252 US adults 18 and older between April 29-May 30, 2010.

Mature Consumers Seek Edgy Brands

A growing audience of experienced, less-easily shocked, outspoken consumers appreciate brands that are a little bit more daring and outspoken, according to consumer insights firm trendwatching.com.

The Rise of ‘Maturialism’
trendwatching.com has dubbed this growing consumer trend “Maturialism.” According to trendwatching.com, consumers of today no longer tolerate being treated like yesteryear’s easily shocked, inexperienced, middle-of-the-road consumers. Able to handle much more honest conversations, unusual flavors and risqué experiences, these consumers increasingly appreciate brands that are pushing the boundaries a bit.

Maturialism Part of ‘Brand Fabric’
trendwatching.com deems maturialism as part of a larger social trend it calls “Brand Fabric,” which is defined as brands truly needing to focus on how to move with the culture. In addition to pushing boundaries, Brand Fabric also entails serving customers in an innovative manner, recognizing the increasing sophistication and intelligence of the modern consumer, transparency and authenticity.

‘Casual Collapse’ Fuels Maturialism
Casual collapse, or the ongoing demise of many beliefs, rituals, formal requirements and laws that modern societies once held, without predicted social annihilation, is a key driver of maturialism. Modern consumers are bored, if not distrustful, of the conventional consumer-producer relationship, and now look for brands and products that are more authentic, more human, and quite simply more mature.

In emerging consumer societies, there’s an obvious link between the broad spread of more liberal attitudes and increasing urbanization. As new arrivals are ‘liberated’ from traditional social and familial structures, and are exposed to a wider range of alternative goods, services, lifestyles and experiences, their tolerance to (if not their interest in) these alternatives grow. trendwatching.com advises that casual collapse happens at a very slow pace.

Online Culture Supports Maturialism
More than 2 billion people worldwide are online. The resulting ‘online culture’ is intense and uninhibited. Mature consumers are uninterested in sanitized corporate websites and seek a more real online experience. Live, unscripted online events and webcasts that go beyond the limits imposed on TV broadcasts are two methods brands can use to take advantage of the mature online culture.

Status Shifts toward Maturialism
Sources of status in mature consumer societies are moving beyond conspicuous consumption (see below). Increasingly sophisticated, increasingly wealthy, increasingly urban consumers are more try-out-prone, more demanding and more daring as they search for the next big thing to impress or discuss with people.

Constantly exposed to, and increasingly tolerant of and enamored by modernity, today’s mature consumers positively embrace innovation, creativity and unconventionality when it comes to consuming products, services and experiences.

trendwatching.com further advises that pure shock without innovation or thought behind it is never a successful marketing device.

Status Moves Beyond Consumption
The definition of status is diversifying and moving beyond simple consumption, according to a previous trend briefing from trendwatching.com.

Although the need for status is at the heart of every consumer trend, in mature consumer societies (such as the US), consumers are moving beyond owning the most and/or priciest items, according to Status is now also tied to less tangible symbols such as acquired skills, eco-credentials, connectivity and generosity.

Despite this shift, trendwatching.com says the lust for luxury will continue, especially in emerging consumer markets such as Brazil and Russia. In addition, consumers want to be “in the know,” to have deep and trivial knowledge they can share with less knowledgeable colleagues to gain status. Mobile applications that provide locations and other information serve this growing status need.

Twitter Use More than Doubles

Usage of Twitter has more than doubled in the past year, according to new data from comScore.

In June 2010, nearly 93 million internet users worldwide visited Twitter.com. This marked an increase of 109% from the previous year, as the social networking site achieved strong gains across all global regions.

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Latin American Twitter Use Increases Sixfold
An analysis of the five major global regions revealed that Latin America experienced the strongest audience growth between June 2009 and June 2010, surging 305% to 15.4 million users. Asia Pacific ranked as the second-fastest growing region, climbing 243% to 25.1 million visitors. The Middle East and Africa jumped 142% to 5 million visitors, while Europe soared 106% to 22.5 million visitors.

North America, where Twitter has reached a higher maturity level than other regions, saw a growth of 22% to nearly 25 million visitors in June 2010.

Indonesia, Brazil, Venezuela Boast Highest Twitter Penetration
Across the 41 individual countries currently reported by comScore, Indonesia had the highest proportion of its home and work Internet audience visiting Twitter.com (20.8%). Brazil ranked second with 20.5%, followed by Venezuela at 19%. With Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez joining Twitter in late April 2010, Twitter.com penetration in the country spiked 4.8 percentage points in a few months.

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The Netherlands (17.7%) and Japan (16.8%) rounded out the top five, while countries in Latin America and Asia Pacific represented many of the remaining top markets, including the Philippines (14.8%), Mexico (13.4%) and Singapore (13.3%).

Canada ranked seventh with 13.5% Twitter.com penetration, while the US ranked 11th with 11.9%.

Smartphones Drive Mobile Twitter Adoption in US and Europe
An analysis of Twitter usage via mobile for the six mobile markets currently reported by comScore (U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Italy) revealed that Twitter is gaining adoption among smartphone users.

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In the US, 8.3% of smartphone users (4.2 million people) accessed Twitter.com in a month via the browser on their mobile devices, outpacing each of the European markets. In Europe, 2.8% of smartphone users overall accessed Twitter.com (1.7 million users), with the UK experiencing the strongest penetration in the region at 5.8%, followed by Germany with 3.1% and France with 2.1%.

Twitter Has Higher Global Reach for Women
Twitter has a marginally higher reach among women than men globally, according to another recent study from comScore. “How Women Are Shaping the Internet” indicates that despite Twitter’s status as a new technology, which is typically tried earlier by men, on a global level, more women are using Twitter. Among all women age 15 and older, Twitter had a reach of about 7% in April 2010, compared to a reach of roughly 6.5% among men age 15 and older.

Social Media Training Day Kuala Lumpur & Singapore

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Mike Andrew Social Media Training Courses I just wanted to say what a buzz we all had at the Trueventus Social Media MBA that took place last week in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The team on both days were really involved and participated in each session making them very enjoyable from my point of view as the presenter of the sessions.

As you can see from the attached photo we all really enjoyed each of the 4 sessions on the day and I look forward to more of the same in the not to distant future.

The next round of sessions take place in Fiji on the 23rd and 24th August with our 3 day MBA for Marketing professionals course in Dubai kicking off on 19th to 22nd of September.

Fiji is full but there is a small number of places left for the Dubai sessions, to book or to get a brochure outlining the 3 day event, please visit the following link http://www.trueventus.com/event.php?intid=12

I hope to see you there.

Heavy Twitter Users Bring Social Activity to New Heights

Daily users comment and upload content at least twice as much as average

eMarketer estimates there are 26 million monthly users of Twitter in 2010. That makes users of the microblogging service a relatively small minority of internet users, at 14.6%, and daily users are naturally even fewer in number. But their voice is disproportionately loud.

According to ExactTarget, daily Twitter users are highly active across the social web. They are about three times as likely as internet users on average to upload photos, four times as likely to blog, three times as likely to post ratings and reviews, and nearly six times as likely to upload articles.

Monthly Online Social Activities, April 2010 (% of US daily Twitter users vs. general internet users)

They create, share and comment on content at high rates, making them valuable to marketers for much more than their potential influence on Twitter alone.

“Consumers active on Twitter are clearly the most influential online,” said Morgan Stewart, principal at ExactTarget’s research and education group, in a statement. “What happens on Twitter doesn’t stay on Twitter. While the number of active Twitter users is less than Facebook or email, the concentration of highly engaged and influential content creators is unrivaled—it’s become the gathering place for content creators whose influence spills over into every other corner of the internet.”

ExactTarget also explored Twitter users’ motivations for following companies and brands on the service. In a deeper drilldown into consumer sentiment than previous research has conducted, the April 2010 study supported the general findings that microbloggers have many reasons to follow brands they like. While discounts and sales are toward the top of the list, finding out news and information about the company and its products come out ahead.

Motivation to Follow a Company or Brand on Twitter, April 2010 (% of US Twitter users)

According to 360i, 75% of marketers’ tweets are informational, suggesting brands are responding to what consumers want—though they largely neglect to participate in conversations. Such deeper engagement might help them harness the power of frequent Twitter users across their other social activities as well.