Web founder says Facebook a danger

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FacebookThe man credited with inventing the internet has lashed out at Facebook and other social networking sites saying they are moving the web away from its founding principles.

In an essay in Scientific American magazine, Tim Berners-Lee says social networking sites are tightly controlling the information put on there by users meaning the internet’s being split into fragmented islands.

Berners-Lee said there is a chance Facebook could become so big that it could limit innovation.

Source: www.ninemsn.com.au

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.”

Small Businesses Change Social Media Expectations

About a quarter of small businesses now marketing via social media

After climbing steeply, according to research from Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, small-business adoption of social media marketing has plateaued at 24%.

The study of US small business found that those that do market via social media primarily use Facebook (82%), and that the most common activities are maintaining a company page on a social network and posting status updates or links to interesting content. About half of businesses that used social media also monitored brand chatter on social networks.

As small businesses have gained experience with social media, some have realized their expectations for the channel did not line up with the reality of the social web. As the wider marketing world begins to look at social as more of a loyalty channel than one for acquisition, small businesses are also finding that their hopes for spreading brand awareness and attracting new customers have not been fully met. By contrast, somewhat fewer small businesses had expected to use social media as an engagement channel, but nearly two-thirds have had success in that area.

Performance of Social Media Tactics, June 2010 (% of US small businesses)

The most common business objectives small businesses have achieved through social media marketing tell a similar story: Customers are connecting with companies through sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, but relatively few sales leads have been received through the sites.

Business Objectives Achieved via Social Media, June 2010 (% of US small businesses*)

Small businesses have found other frustrations as well. Many say their efforts take up more time than they had expected, although that percentage dropped from 50% to 43% between December 2009 and June 2010, suggesting companies are being more realistic about what’s involved in social campaigns. At the same time, however, the percentage saying their business had been criticized online nearly doubled, reaching 29%. Still, just a tiny 1% of small businesses said their image was hurt more than it was helped by social media—a number that’s also down, from 6% in December.

Consumers Force Retailers to Adopt Social Strategy

Confusion about ROI, disagreement about performance indicators

For most web users, online shopping is not a fully social activity. A few leading-edge retailers have begun allowing transactions to occur on sites like Facebook, but social media users do not typically report starting a search for a product on social sites.

Still, they do use social networks and other tools like Twitter to discuss brands and products and to get advice and feedback from friends and family on potential purchase decisions—and retailers have noticed.

According to August 2010 data from Aberdeen Group, more than half of retailers felt they had been pushed into using social media because more consumers were using it as a primary shopping vehicle. The second-largest pressure causing them to adopt social media marketing was increased use by the competition.

Leading Pressures Causing Retailers to Use Social Media, Aug 2010 (% of US retailers)

Social networks are a clear winner of retailers’ attention. The top social media tools used by the retailers surveyed by Aberdeen included social networks (85%), microblogging (51%) and blogging (43%). In Q1 2010, the e-tailing group also found that social networks were the top community or social tool retailers used or planned to use in the next year; Facebook fan pages specifically were cited by 91% of respondents to that survey. Four in five used or planned to use Twitter, 72% blogs and 71% Facebook Connect. The e-tailing survey was conducted before Facebook introduced its “like” feature, which has also been widely adopted by retailers including Levi’s and Sephora.

But like many marketers in other industries, retailers don’t yet have a clear picture of what social media success will mean. The top key performance indicator respondents to Aberdeen’s survey looked at was the quality of consumer insights they gleaned from social efforts, followed closely by number of repeat visitors and quality of new sales leads.

Retailers

The report noted that some disagreement on key performance indicators is to be expected, since their usefulness is likely to differ from retailer to retailer. “Retailers would be wise to explore which KPI provides the most value to the retailer, and use accordingly,” the report said.

Are Twitter Followers Better Than Facebook Fans?

Marketers looking to push out the most effective messages to opt-in recipients must understand how audiences differ across channels and what causes them to connect with brands. Marketing venues that seem similar may differ strongly if their users have different needs and motivations.

According to the final edition of ExactTarget’s “Subscribers, Fans and Followers” report, the differences between email, Facebook and Twitter also include their influence on customer loyalty.

Daily Twitter users who followed a brand were more than twice as likely as daily Facebook users who “liked” a brand to say they were more likely to purchase from the brand after becoming a social media follower. What’s more, Facebook fans were the most likely group to actively disagree with the question. Subscribers to opt-in marketing emails fell in the middle.

US Internet Users Who Are More Likely to Purchase from a Brand After Becoming a Subscriber, Fan or Follower, April 2010 (% of respondents)

The pattern among Twitter followers, email subscribers and Facebook fans was similar when asked about whether they would recommend a brand. A third of Twitter followers said they were more apt to make a recommendation now that they followed a brand, compared with 24% of email subscribers and 21% of Facebook fans. Again, those who “liked” a brand on Facebook were most likely to actively disagree with the statement.

US Internet Users Who Are More Likely to Recommend a Brand After Becoming a Subscriber, Fan or Follower, April 2010 (% of respondents)

A February 2010 survey by Chadwick Martin Bailey also found that Twitter followers were more likely than Facebook fans to say they had an increased chance of buying or recommending the brands they connected with in social media.

These factors make Twitter followers attractive to marketers, but as the ExactTarget report notes, because of Twitter’s much smaller user base just 3% of US internet users follow a brand through the microblogging service. Those who do follow brands on Twitter are likely to be influencers in general, while Facebook users are more like the average consumer. And since Facebook users often become brand fans on the site because they are already fans in real life and want to use the brand as part of their self-image, it may be more difficult for them to actually increase their spending or advocate for the brand more than they did before “liking.”

The Influence of Mobile on Social Marketing’s Future

Mobile platforms and location-based networks could take social marketing to the next level

As the increase in smart device ownership helps put the mobile web in the pocket of more and more Americans, mobile will play a greater role in all forms of content consumption—including social media.

US marketers surveyed in June 2010 by PRWeek and MS&L Group believed mobile social would have important consequences for their brand. Asked which social media efforts would have the greatest effect on their company, 17% said more usage of social media on mobile platforms and a further 12% cited uptake of mobile location-based social networking.

Social Media Efforts with the Most Impact* on Company/Brand, June 2010 (% of US marketers)

Another 4% said investing more in Twitter would be their most important effort. While a majority of users access Twitter from their desktop, the microblogging service is a major example of greater use of social media from mobile platforms. According to the company’s blog, mobile usage of the site rose 62% in about four months, and mobile sign-ups increased from 5% of the total earlier in 2010 to 16%.

Currently, PRWeek and MS&L Group found that few US marketers were using specifically mobile-based social media tools, but the sophistication of smart devices has narrowed the distance between the desktop and mobile for many users.

Social Media Tools Used, June 2010 (% of US marketers)

Much of the marketing opportunity in going mobile lies with the ability to use location data to bring consumers timely messages when they are already nearby and possibly considering a purchase. Social media could prove a smart avenue for such efforts; while pure location-based services like foursquare remain relatively niche, Facebook has picked up location-based check-in services, and social networking has been the single biggest driver of mobile app usage and browsing over the past year.

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.

4 Out of 5 Internet Users in Australia Viewed Online Video in July

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comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released its July 2010 rankings of the top video properties in Australia based on data from its comScore Video Metrix service. The report found that 81 percent of Australia’s Internet population viewed video online in July, with an average viewer watching more than 7 hours of video during the month.

“Online video has evolved to become an essential part of Australians’ daily web experience,” said Amy Weinberger, comScore vice president for Australia and New Zealand. “As advertisers look for ways to engage with consumers in an increasingly fragmented digital environment, online video offers the ability to reach large audiences in an engaging environment where ads tend to perform well.”

Google Accounts for More than Half of Online Video Market

In July, Internet users in Australia watched a total of 970 million online videos, with Google Sites ranking as the top video property with 539 million videos viewed, representing 55.5 percent market share. YouTube.com accounted for more than 99 percent of all videos viewed at the Google property. Microsoft Sites ranked second with 29.6 million videos (3.0 percent market share), followed by Facebook.com with 12.5 million videos viewed (1.3 percent market share).

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Average Viewer Watched 90 Videos in July

In Australia, 10.7 million unique video viewers watched an average of 90.8 videos per viewer during the month. Google Sites also attracted the largest video audience with 8.5 million viewers during the month (64 videos per viewer), followed by Microsoft Sites with 3.3 million viewers (9.0 videos per viewer) and Facebook.com with 2.7 million viewers (4.7 videos per viewer).

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Top Video Ad Networks by Potential Reach

In July, SpotXchange ranked as the top video ad network in Australia with a potential reach of 5.4 million viewers, or 50.7 percent of the total viewing audience. Adconion Video Network ranked second with a potential reach of 5.1 million viewers (48.1 percent penetration) followed by YuMe Video network with a potential reach of 4.1 million viewers (38.0 percent penetration).

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Mobile Twitter Use Explodes

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Mobile usage of the Twitter social network has increased more than 60% in the past five months, according to data from Twitter.

Mobile Twitter Usage Grows
The total number of mobile Twitter users grew 62% between April and September 2010, according to statistics compiled by Twitter. In addition, since that time, the number of Twitter users who start out using Twitter via mobile device has risen from 5% to 16%. Furthermore, close to half (46%) of all Twitter users at least occasionally access the network via mobile device.

Twitter cites its April 2010 purchase of the Tweetie iPhone application, which it turned into the Twitter for iPhone app, as the catalyst for this explosive growth. In addition, Twitter has partnered with mobile OEM RIM on a BlackBerry app and also developed an Android app since that time.

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Twitter.com Remains Top App
Tracking log-ins by unique Twitter visitors in the past 30 days, Twitter finds that the main Twitter.com site is still by far the most popular Twitter application, used by 78% of visitors (percentages add up to more than 100% because a single visitor may use multiple log-in methods).

The mobile m.twitter.com site followed with 14% usage. Other popular mobile means of accessing Twitter included SMS and Twitter for iPhone (8% each) and Twitter for BlackBerry (7%).

Mobile Website, SMS Beat Smartphones
As this data shows, while smartphone clients are important, there are even more people who use the mobile Twitter web site and/or SMS for mobile Twitter access. In addition, third-party clients continue to play an important role for many people, with what Twitter terms a “disproportionate” amount of the traffic from Twitter running through such tools.

Smartphones Drive 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.

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%.

Social Network Ad Spending to Approach $1.7 Billion This Year

6.7% of all US online ad spending to go toward social networks this year

Social network advertising is getting renewed attention in 2010. The US’s gradual economic recovery, combined with marketers’ incessant focus on reaching consumers in social media, has led companies to make big increases in social network ad spending in the first half of 2010.

eMarketer estimates US advertisers will spend $1.68 billion on social networking sites this year, a more than 20% increase over 2009. Spending will rise even further by 2011 to more than $2 billion.

In December 2009, eMarketer forecast $1.3 billion in social network ad spending for 2010. Strong performance from online ad spending in general, and Facebook in particular, has resulted in the increased forecast.

US Social Network Ad Spending, 2009-2011 (billions and % change)

Facebook will receive half of all social network ad spending in the US while MySpace continues to diminish in importance. Twitter, which finally launched its ad business earlier this year, is incorporated into eMarketer’s forecast for the first time. While spending on the microblogging service will be low in 2010, the potential for 2011 and beyond could be dramatic if it proves that its “resonance” model of measuring advertising effectiveness works.

Spending on social network advertising will grow even more quickly elsewhere in the world. In 2010, eMarketer estimates just over half of social network ad spending worldwide will come from the US, but 2011 will bring a reversal in that proportion.

Social Network Ad Spending Worldwide, US vs. Non-US, 2009-2011 (billions and % of total)

Another important development in the social network space is the role of online social games and applications. Advertising is not a primary revenue stream for game companies such as Zynga or Playdom, but their large audiences are drawing the interest of marketers. eMarketer expects such companies will attract $293 million in spending worldwide in 2011, up from $220 million in 2010.